HANDS-ON: The Hublot Big Bang UNICO Full Magic Gold

HANDS-ON: The Hublot Big Bang UNICO Full Magic Gold

Fergus Nash

Black and gold has traditionally been a colour combination that oozes refinement, having reached a peak of sophistication in the old-world charm of the Art Deco movement that evokes black marble bars and brass telephones. But, Hublot have created a black and gold watch that truly bucks this trend, with the Big Bang UNICO Full Magic Gold that looks more appropriate for an action-movie hero than a smoky jazz club, taking that black and gold classiness and undercutting it with militaristic, tactical intensity.

The case

There’s always been an aspect of hypocrisy to gold sports watches. We see impressive depth ratings on divers with thick sapphire crystals and rubber straps that can deal with sweat, all in service of a watch which could pick up scratches from a shirt button. It’s difficult to believe anyone would wear them doing anything strenuous, but Hublot have tackled this issue head-on. Their proprietary material 18K Magic Gold is not just scratch-resistant, but actually advertised as “scratch-proof”. I can’t think of another example of any watch being advertised as anything-proof since the 1960s, when watch companies began to realise that their “water-proof” watches couldn’t actually handle more than a few metres of pressure.

Not only is Magic Gold appropriate for sporty scenarios in its toughness, but also in its appearance, with the desaturated lustre of the yellow gold coming through as slightly more brassy. This has the effect of bringing the watch back into a tactical realm, with an almost olive or army-green undertone that wouldn’t look out of place in the desert or the jungle. The luxurious quality that gold always brings is definitely still present, but it’s quite a refreshing break from the rose golds we’ve been seeing for years. The large flat facets of the 42mm case give the material a lot of opportunities to shine, with the blackened H-shape screws and ears of the case providing a balanced contrast.

The dial

The design which follows the Big Bang UNICO series is itself an aggressive-looking watch no matter which materials it’s made from, with the Arabic numerals represented in a militaristic stencil style. The skeletonised dial has two purposes, firstly emphasising the extremely technical attitude behind the watch as well as showcasing the Hublot UNICO 2 movement, but more on that later. The gold tones are surprisingly legible against the dark silver background, and the chronograph seconds hand is given a blood-red tip to match the minute markers on the black chapter ring and subdial.

The movement

As the dial layout and name suggests, this Hublot Big Bang UNICO Full Magic Gold uses the in-house calibre HUB1280, also knows as the UNICO 2. While some people are quick to write Hublot off against the likes of other, more historic movement manufacturers, the UNICO 2 is one of their main claims to being a horological heavy-hitter in their own right. The automatic flyback chronograph is no slouch, with  72 hours of power reserve and a 28,800 beat rate. You can tell that Hublot are proud of this achievement, as indicated by the fact that the dial is making way for its viewing, and that the double-clutch mechanism and the column wheel are both visible from the front of the watch. It’s not to say that the back of the watch isn’t worth viewing through the sapphire caseback, given the movement’s simple yet endearing finishing, but you don’t need to take it off your wrist to fully appreciate the craftsmanship going on within.

The verdict

It’s clear that this watch was intended to look as rugged and as capable as the scratch-proof Magic Gold material demands, being one of the first gold sports watches that you can actually be as rough as you please with. For $48,300AUD, the ultra-luxury vibe is certainly intact before you even consider the R&D that must have gone into producing this watch, but it’s definitely not going to be a safe queen. I do have a perverse desire to see luxury watches that I can’t afford well-loved and banged up, so it’s good to see Hublot embracing the active lifestyle without totally destroying the watches.

Hublot Big Bang UNICO Full Magic Gold pricing & availability:

Hublot Big Bang UNICO Full Magic Gold is now available from Hublot and priced at $48,300