Hublot is renowned in the watch scene for its ‘art of fusion’. It is where the manufacturer combines various innovative materials to create the next big thing. With the new, Spirit of Big Bang Meca-10 – presented earlier this year before the pandemic got bad – a different kind of fusion is in play. This is the first fusion between between Hublot’s popular Meca-10 manufacture calibre and the Spirit of Big Bang design. The Spirit of Big Bang collection may not be the most iconic from the polarising Swiss brand, but it is one that has been gaining traction and importance. And spoiler alert: implementing the Meca-10 calibre – originally for the Big Bang collection – in the Spirit of Big Bang wasn’t merely a ‘cut-and-paste’ job.
Here, we bring you the low-down and our thoughts on the new Hublot Spirit of Big Bang Meca-10.
The Spirit of Big Bang case – unlike most of Hublot’s watches – is barrel-shaped. It reminds us of the watches of a certain brand at a higher price point that is named after its founder, but we digress. With its six H-screws crossing through the bezel, lugs on either side of the dial, imposing crown that facilitates winding, and its bezel strap attachments, the Spirit of Big Bang Meca-10 has all the features of the original famous Big Bang, Hublot’s flagship model. In true devotion to the ‘Art of Fusion’, the case has a ‘sandwich’ construction that makes it possible to vary and blend an infinite number of materials. The Spirit of Big Bang Meca-10 is currently offered in satin-finished and polished grade-5 titanium, satin-finished and polished 18K King Gold (an alloy of gold and platinum), and microblasted black ceramic, otherwise known as Black Magic. And as you would expect from a manufacturer that uses them extensively, the rubber strap is supple, durable, and provides excellent comfort on the wrist.
The King Gold version of the Spirit of Big Bang Meca-10 offers the greatest colour contrast among all the variants.
As is the case for the bulk of Hublot watches, there is hardly any dial proper to be found in the Spirit of Big Bang Meca-10 – it has mostly been openworked to reveal the skeleton movement behind. All that can be considered ‘dial’ are the hour, minute, and small seconds tracks. There is also a power reserve display but that should be considered part of the movement. And as you would expect from openworked watches, legibility is pretty sub-optimal. Fortunately for the Spirit of Big Bang Meca-10, the hour and minute hands (the most important time-telling hands) are fairly thick and coated with luminescent material, so it’s not actually too bad.
Driving the Spirit of Big Bang Meca-10 is none other than the 228-part, 26-jewel manufacture Calibre HUB1233. It beats at a stately 3 Hz and boasts an exceptional 10-day power reserve thanks to its parallel twin barrels. This power reserve is displayed in a most entertaining way. At 12 o’clock, there are two racks sliding on a line between 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock with a new rack and pinion, whilst the opening at 3 o’clock shows the number of days left on the power reserve. Another technical feature worth mentioning is how Hublot managed to fit the Meca-10 movement into the Spirit of Big Bang. They did not settle with minor adjustments, but, rather, revised the whole construction of the movement so that it would fit in its new home as efficiently as possible from a technical and aesthetic point of view. To achieve this, Hublot replaced the usually round plate of the movement with bridges with a fixed length on either side of a ring that serves as the base of the movement – kind of like joists in construction.
The most memorable parts about the aesthetics of the Calibre HUB1233 is undoubtedly its architecture and its industrial finish. It is a gear head’s wet dream. The movement is sprawling with beam-like bridges and has been cleverly skeletonised to evoke a sense of depth. The industrial finissage, while not the most refined, certainly is fitting of a contemporary watch. We particularly love the contrast between parts made from crude steel with satin or polished finishes, and parts with blackened finishes.
If you’re into contemporary casual watches, there is a lot to like about the Spirit of Big Bang Meca-10. There’s the innovative materials, the openworked dial and movement architecture, the non-round shape of the case, and of course, the sublime 10-day power reserve. For fans of the watch, the good news is that it is fairly priced: EUR22,700 for the titanium, EUR26,900 for the Black Magic, and EUR43,500 for the King Gold.
vIt is also good to know that pricing for the Spirit of Big Bang Meca-10 had translated well from its predecessor, the Big Bang Meca-10 in Blue Ceramic. The watch, introduced in 2018, was priced at USD22,000. It – along with the other Big Bang Meca-10 variants – is the obvious competitor to the new Spirit of Big Bang Meca-10, albeit an in-house competitor. Though the movement layout is slightly different, it unsurprisingly has the same functions as the barrel-shaped Calibre HUB1233. For those who prefer round cases, the Big Bang Meca-10 is the one to go for.
As far as luxury watch brands go Hublot has copped more than its fair share of criticism over the years. From being accused of not having original designs to being outright denounced as simply a marketing machine that happens to produce watches, the company has run the gauntlet of detractors on numerous occasions, somehow always emerging unscathed.
In part this heightened level of scrutiny is attributable to Hublot’s omnipresent approach to marketing. The brand and its distinctive timepieces can quite literally be found everywhere. This is not simply by coincidence of course, this is a well-planned, brilliantly executed strategy. As Hublot’s former CEO and industry legend Jean-Claude Biver once told me; “…wherever our customer goes, he must meet Hublot. It is our goal to make the customer feel that we belong to his world, to his life style, to his emotions and to his dreams.”
It is this sort of mentality that has allowed the brand to prosper unperturbed by those who doubt it. In fact sometimes I think they even enjoy it, after all, as Oscar Wilde once said; “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.” Whether this manner of thinking had any impact on Hublot’s decision to release its first-ever tonneau-shaped Big Bang earlier this year I’m sure we’ll never know. One thing is certain though, it definitely got people talking.
To be perfectly honest, I didn’t particularly like the new Hublot Spirit of Big Bang when I first saw the original press pictures. There was no one reason, I just didn’t really like the dial and case combination and thought the watch looked aesthetically over-engineered. That being said I thought it was an interesting direction for the brand to take, and one that at the very least deserved a closer look. So I made the necessary arrangements, waited patiently for the new models to make their way over to New York and then got down to the task of getting ‘hands-on.’
The first thing I noticed is that despite the obvious change in case shape, the new Hublot Spirit of Big Bang is every bit as chunky as the original round-case Big Bangs and makes just as much of a statement on the wrist. This is not necessarily a bad thing depending on your personal tastes but is something to be mindful of, especially if your wrists are of the more slender variety. That being said the slight arc of the case of the Spirit of Big Bang does mean that it sits a little more flush on the wrist, which I quite liked.
Additionally the new tonneau-shaped case also features many of the same touches as the original Big Bangs, such as the six H-shaped screws on the bezel and contrasting rubber flanks on the side of the case, as well as rubber on the crown and the pushers. Similarly the gold-plated, baton shaped hands and indices are also hallmarks of Hublot, ensuring the Spirit of Big Bang still offers a respectable level of legibility.
As you can see in the photos the dial is completely open, allowing for uninterrupted viewing of the movement below. This design decision has drawn what I think are unfair comparisons to Richard Mille timepieces, which also often feature a tonneau-shaped case paired with an open-worked dial. Whilst there are definitely some similarities, no one is going to mistake the Spirit of Big Bang on your wrist for a Richard Mille and nor do I think that was Hublot’s intention to begin with. Rather the idea was to highlight the skeletonized, automatic chronograph movement beneath, otherwise known as the HUB4700 caliber.
Based on an automatic El Primero from fellow LVMH stable member and modern day masters of the chronograph, Zenith, this new movement beats at a frequency of 36,000 vb/h and has been fully skeletonized to exacting standards. Its high visibility gives the watch a very technical, almost industrial feel and to be honest takes a little getting used to. Even the date wheel is visible in its entirety, although the clever use of contrasting colors makes it easy to identify what the current date is. Personally I felt the design was a little too raw for my tastes but I am sure plenty of others will find its rugged construction alluring.
In total four combinations of the new Hublot Spirit of Big Bang will be available; King Gold, King Gold + ceramic, titanium and titanium+ceramic. According to Hublot the 18k gold case of the King Gold is comprised of 5% platinum, which supposedly gives it a deeper red color than would have otherwise have been achieved. The prices range from about US$24,000 for the entry level titanium piece up to about US$47,000 for the King Gold Ceramic.
Overall I have to admit that I liked the Hublot Spirit of Big Bang Full Magic more than I thought I would. It’s well made and just different enough to make it stand out from its peers in the Big Bang collection. That being said, I’m not necessarily sure if that’s a good thing or if it’s just paving the way for a whole new wave of limited edition watches based on a tonneau-shaped case instead of a round one. We’ll just have to wait and see on that one.