Having unveiled a series of integrated-bracelet watches in candy-coloured ceramic at Watches & Wonders 2022, Hublot has followed up with a “high complication” in ceramic, the Big Bang Integral Cathedral Minute Repeater Ceramic.
While complicated watches in end-to-end ceramic already exist, striking watches in ceramic are rare, with only Hublot and Audemars Piguet having made such watches. The Big Bang Integral is novel for combining both a tourbillon and repeater, one with longer-than-usual cathedral gongs in fact.
And it manages to be water resistant in contrast to most striking watches that are merely moisture-proof, due to the challenge of sealing the slide while allowing maximum sound transmission.
The latest Big Bang Integral perfectly encapsulates Hublot as a brand, illustrating its strengths (and a few weaknesses). It’s powered by a complex, in-house movement contained matched with a case and bracelet that showcases the brand’s proficiency with unusual materials – all of which is possible thanks to the brand’s expansive yet agile manufacture.
In typical Hublot fashion, the watch is loud – visually rather than acoustically – even in black. It looks like a Hublot, and the brand has essentially only one aesthetic. It has a technical, modern aesthetic that goes well with the open dial, a feature that’s uncommon in minute repeaters but useful since it reveals the entirety of the strikework.
At almost US$300,000, the Tourbillon Repeater is an expensive watch, but par for the course for such a watch. At the same time, it boasts a higher level of finish on the ceramic case and bracelet compared to older Hublot models, which makes it a more compelling proposition.
Ceramic and integrated
The Tourbillon Repeater is the flagship model of the Big Bang Integral line, which was the brand’s first-ever integrated-bracelet watch but one that arrived only two years ago. Though recent, the watch still feels familiar thanks to a well designed bracelet that flows into the case.
While an open dial is common for Hublot, it’s relatively rare for a classical haute horlogerie complication such as the minute repeater. Here it serves to reveal the chiming mechanism that is usually hidden under a dial, providing a look at the racks and snails responsible for facilitating the chiming of the repeater.
And the repeater utilises cathedral gongs that loops around the circumference of the movement twice, instead of once as with conventional repeaters. The extended length delivers more sonorous chimes.
Notably, the movement construction also incorporates a thoughtful detail. The tourbillon isn’t obstructed by any gears of the going train, as is often the case with tourbillon movements. Instead the centre wheel sits just past the rim of the tourbillon cage. This shows the attention paid to the aesthetics of the tourbillon, though it’s let down by a relatively simple cage.
The decoration of the movement can be observed to be a mix of machine and hand finishing.
Most of the bridges, for instance, sport wide, flat bevels with faint machining marks, indicating the anglage was done in a CNC machine. At the same time, the decoration of the more crucial components such the hammers and bridge for the governor have rounded, polished bevelling that can only be executed by hand.
And over on the front, the visible steel parts are neatly finished with straight grained surfaces and hand-applied bevelling.
Key Facts and Price
Hublot Big Bang Integral Minute Repeater Ceramic
Ref. 458.CX.1170.CX.YOS (Black)
Ref. 458.HX.1170.HX.YOS (White)
Diameter: 43 mm
Height: 14.15 mm
Water resistance: 30 m
Functions: Hours, minutes, tourbillon, minute repeater
Frequency: 21,600 beats per hour (3 Hz)
Power reserve: 80 hours
Strap: Matching ceramic bracelet
Limited edition: 12 pieces in black ceramic and six pieces in white ceramic
Availability: Only in Japan
Price: US$295,000, or ¥31,190,000
For more, visit hublot.com.
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