If you’re a watch fan (like me), Watches & Wonders is like Christmas come early.
The week-long trade expo, the most important for the watch industry and one of the most elaborate trade shows in the world, is a veritable smorgasbord of horological delights. This year, the show was a mostly online affair, but if anything that raised the stakes even higher, with the world’s most prestigious brands furiously fighting it out for our attention. It’s been a wild ride.
One watchmaker that stood out as having particularly unique products this year was Hublot. A relatively young brand compared to the centuries-old titans of the Swiss watch industry, Hublot has always prided itself on its iconoclastic, colourful character. And colourful is certainly the name of the game when it comes to their 2021 novelties.
The most immediately eye-catching novelty they unveiled this year was the Big Bang Unico ‘Yellow Magic’ (ref. 441.CY.471Y.RX) – the world’s first bright yellow ceramic watch. Yellow is a particularly difficult colour to reproduce in a material such as ceramic, so it’s a real testament to Hublot’s R&D that they’ve been able to pull it off, and in such style, too.
The 42mm super-sunny beauty isn’t all whoa and no go, either. A 72-hour power reserve, 100m water resistance, flyback chronograph functionality and a subtly introduced date window make this a thoroughly capable watch – and the beauty of that yellow ceramic is that it’s scratch-resistant, too. It’s the horological equivalent of a supercar.
Indeed, one Instagram comment that stands out amongst the lavishing of praise Hublot’s received for the watch online reflects just that: “Wow… most people want to buy a Ferrari, I want to buy this.” Says it all, really.
From colour to a total lack of it: another impressive watch Hublot unveiled at W&W 2021 was the Big Bang Integral Tourbillon Full Sapphire (ref. 455.JX.0120.JX), which as the name implies, is totally made out of crystal sapphire (except for the movement).
Previously, Hublot’s sapphire-cased models have come with matching translucent rubber straps, which certainly maintain that overall transparent theme, but arguably undermine the technical brilliance of their sapphire cases. Many unflattering (and somewhat unfair) comparisons to Casio G-Shocks or jelly sandals have been made about those straps before.
But this new watch puts those snickers to rest, as its bracelet, as well as its case, is made out of sapphire. It’s hard to overstate just how impressive the Big Bang Integral Tourbillon Full Sapphire. Even parts of the movement are made out of sapphire. Oh, and it has a tourbillon, in case all that crystal wasn’t enough of a flex. This is visual drama writ large.
A similarly luxe release emerged in the Big Bang Integral Tourbillon High Jewellery (ref. 455.WX.9000.WX.9904), which swaps sapphire crystal for hundreds of diamonds and white gold – an altogether different sort of shimmer. It features the same HUB6035 Manufacture Automatic Tourbillon movement its sapphire sibling does, but somehow manages to be even more visually impressive thanks to its sparkling cavalcade of precious gems. Not a watch for the faint of heart (or weak of wallet).
Hublot also unveiled a new trio of new Big Bang Sang Bleu II models for all the design nerds in the audience. Sang Bleu is a multi-disciplinary creative agency based in London quite unlike anything else in the art world: tattoo art, industrial design, print media and typography are just some of the fields they’re involved in, and have enjoyed a fertile partnership with Hublot since 2016.
Featuring distinctive, geometric designs – a theme that defines Sang Bleu founder Maxime Plescia-Büchi’s artistic practice – these are some seriously futuristic watches. Available in blue ceramic (ref. 418.EX.5107.RX.MXM21), white ceramic (ref. 418.HX.2001.RX.MXM21) and grey ceramic (ref. 418.FX.8007.RX.MXM21), these 45mm chronographs are true statement pieces. Very sci-fi.
In summary? Hublot continues to reaffirm its position as one of the most avant-garde and intriguing watch manufacturers coming out of Switzerland – or anywhere, really. Full of fun yet technically impressive, 2021’s novelties will have watch fans talking for ages… And demanding more, no doubt.