For the next edition of the Baselworld exhibition, Hublot has prepared a very special and innovative piece called Hublot Big Bang Unico Sapphire. The watch is made with a completely transparent housing which is almost exclusively made of sapphire. This material is extremely hard which makes the production of such cases very difficult and which is why these sort of watches are extremely scarce and expensive. However, Hublot has mastered the technology to create the new model in a series of as much as 500 pieces, which has never been done before. It also helped the manufacturer to lower the price to around $60,000 which is palpably less expensive than the similar models of this sort. The additional appeal of the transparent newcomer is the fact that it is supplied with an in-house self-winding flyback chronograph movement.
Thanks to the know-how which was developed during the creation of one of its previous models, MP05 LaFerrari Sapphire, Hublot has developed know-how in work with the material. This expertise was used in the creation of the new model on the unprecedented grander scale and creation of fairly large 500-piece limited series. Such feat has never been seen before in the world of watchmaking. The brand has thus shown its inclination to development of new techniques and materials, which was previously embodied in its experience with Magic Gold alloy. Additionally, it is also in accordance with the current trend of incorporating various new high-tech materials in the the creation of luxury watches, which is clearly visible in the industry.
The reason why no one has made a large series of sapphire-bodied timepieces like the new Hublot piece from the Big Bang Unico series is in the properties of the material itself. Sapphire is an extremely resilient material which is why it is so widely used in the creation of watch’s crystals. Actually, it is only slightly below the diamond when it comes to hardness and durability. Whereas diamond scores maximal 10 grade on Mohs scale of hardness of minerals, sapphire scores 9. In combination with crystalline transparency, this qualifies sapphire as the material of choice in watchmaking.
However, the scratch-resistent material’s use in manufacturing of timepieces was mainly reserved to creation of crystals, since extreme hardness implies similar amount of difficulties when it comes to the machining of the material to the desired complex shape. With the help of the specialist from Switzerland, Hublot has been able to overcome all the issues and to make a housing which is almost completely made of sapphire. Its bezel, case band and case-back are all made from it and subsequently polished for an additional appeal.
The only exceptions are the components made of titanium which make the backbone of the structure, as the watchmaker states. These are the crown (which is additionally satin-finished and over-molded with yet another modern material, silicon), chrono pushers and screws (of which six in H-shape are used to attach the bezel to the rest of the structure). It should also be said that the case is attached to the strap with transparent lugs made of resin.
The impressive completely seen-through housing of Hublot Big Band Unico Sapphire is 45 mm wide and features water resistance of 50 meters.
Just like the lugs, the dial of the model with white luminescent numerals is made of the same composite translucent resin which allows a complete view on the model’s movement. The dial sports four Arabic numerals, bar-shaped hour markers, as well as two chrono sub-dials (small seconds and 60 minutes). The right subsidiary dial at the three o’clock position is also the location of its date display.
All the transparency of the housing allows an uninterrupted view on the watch’s in-house movement. The manufacturer supplied its newcomer with proprietary HUB 1242 UNICO caliber. It is a mechanical self-winding movement with a flyback chronograph with a column wheel whose double clutch can be seen on the dial side. The movement has a power storage of three entire days and sports a black PDV treatment.
HUB 1242 Unico functions at the frequency of 4 Hz and includes 330 components altogether. It features an escapement wheel and a pallet fork made of magnetic-resistant and non-corrosive silicon which also enables a lower level of friction. The exposed chronograph movement with 38 jewels also incorporates a pearly-black finished rotor which can be seen on the case-back.
The transparent housing of the Hublot’s newcomer features the matching clear strap which will make the whole watch appear as an integral part of its wearer’s wrist. The translucent, structured and lined strap fastens with a titanium deployant buckle.
One of the biggest advantages of the model with the reference number 411.JX.4802.RT is the fact that it offers innovations at a very affordable price. Thanks to the larger scale of production, the steep costs of machining of sapphire are considerably lowered, which makes its price tag substantially lower than it could have been expected. The 500-piece limited series model from the Big Bang Unico series will be available for around $60,000.