A watchmaker that endlessly experiments with new materials, Hublot has once again employed a novel alloy for its quintessential sports chronograph. Inspired by the brand’s celebrity-chef brand ambassadors who include Anne-Sophie Pic and Yannick Alléno, the Big Bang Unico Gourmet has a case of Damasteel, a striking, patterned steel that’s often used for high-end knives.
The Unico Gourmet is typical Hublot in how it employs a novel material for visual effect. For that reason it will surely appeal to existing fans of the brand who enjoy the Hublot aesthetic.
But the case material is Damasteel – not generic Damascus steel but a proprietary alloy made with a patented process by a Swedish specialist. While the alloy has been used in watches before, it’s more often used for pricey custom knives. The unusual metal means the watch will appeal to nerds who appreciate materials technology.
The watch happens to look good and also different from the average Hublot. The patterned steel echoes the aesthetics of the skeletonised movement, creating a coherent combination of textures. In other words, the material is perfect match for the Big Bang. In contrast, it’s easy to image that an ordinary round watch with conventional dial would have been overwhelmed by the intricate texture of Damasteel.
Since the watch is already loud with its striking pattern, it has been wisely been scaled down to just 42 mm, which is small for a Big Bang. As a result, it will sit well on most wrists.
And at US$24,100, the Unico Gourmet reasonably priced for what it is: a chronograph with an in-house movement inside a case made of an unusual alloy.
High-tech powdered steel
Historical Damascus steel, also known as wootz steel, is a mysterious alloy the secret to which has long been lost (though reportedly rediscovered by scientists). Originating in Indian and made famous by the blade smiths of Damascus, it was unnaturally sharp and ideal for edged weapons.
Modern-day Damascus steel, however, is essentially an alloy made up of two types of steel welded together and then folded numerous times, resulting in its distinctive grain. As a result, such Damascus steel is also known as pattern-welded steel.
Damasteel, on the other hand, is a proprietary steel made by Erasteel, a Swedish specialist in powder metallurgy. Damasteel is naturally produced with powdered steel where various steel alloys are first atomised into powder and then pressed under high pressure and temperature in a furnace.
The result is a mixed-steel alloy available in a variety of patterns, making it a favourite of artisanal knife makers since patterned steel inevitably adds an artistic edge to a blade (no pun intended).
That characteristic pattern is actually layers of constituent steels within Damasteel. Because each type of steel reacts differently to acid, Damasteel is etched with various acids to bring out the layered texture. The particular type of Damasteel used for the Unico Gourmet consists of 304L and 316L, both stainless steels that are widely used for watch cases.
The steels inside Damasteel explains its unusual nature and most important quality: it is a stainless-steel alloy. Stainless pattern steels are rare as they are more difficult to forge than ordinary high-carbon steel.
While the material is a first for Hublot, the case construction is standard Big Bang. It’s essentially a sandwich made up of Damasteel plates on the front and back with a case middle of black carbon composite.
Inside is the in-house HUB1280, a modular chronograph movement, hence the column wheel is visible on the dial at six o’clock.
The movement has a flyback function, which allows for an instantaneous restart of the chronograph without having to first reset it. And like most Hublot movements, it has been partially skeletonised with most parts treated with a matte black finish.
Key Facts and Price
Hublot Big Bang Unico Gourmet
Diameter: 42 mm
Height: 14.5 mm
Material: Polished Damasteel
Water resistance: 100 m
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, and chronograph
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 72 hours
Strap: Rubber strap with folding clasp and additional fabric strap with Velcro closure
Limited edition: 200 pieces
Availability: At Hublot boutiques and retailers
For more, visit hublot.com.
Back to top.
You may also enjoy these.
Hublot simplifies the construction of its sapphire crystal watch case.
Hublot has just announced its first ever all-sapphire Big Bang Chronograph, with the case middle, bezel and back made of clear sapphire crystal. Here are the details, including the price.
A practical dual time zone wristwatch that's easily set back and forth across time zones.