THE IMMORTALS – The Hublot Big Bang Sapphire sits at the bleeding edge of technology and opulence THE IMMORTALS – The Hublot Big Bang Sapphire sits at the bleeding edge of technology and opulence

THE IMMORTALS – The Hublot Big Bang Sapphire sits at the bleeding edge of technology and opulence

D.C. Hannay

Editor’s note: The Immortals is a new series that examines a watch that we believe deserves recognition as a bona fide modern classic. You’ll already be familiar with most of the watches, we imagine. But DC will delve a bit deeper into these timepieces to explain why they’ve quickly established themselves in the horological canon. Today, it’s the Hublot Big Bang Sapphire.

Swiss luxury powerhouse Hublot has long been known for their outsize watches for outsize personalities. The man responsible for the brand’s rise to fame, Jean-Claude Biver, always had a knack for making a big splash, none bigger than Hublot’s Big Bang line. Since its introduction in 2005, the Big Bang has been produced in a wide range of materials, including steel, carbon fibre, titanium, King Gold, and in 2016, a case material that had never been produced on a large scale before, man-made sapphire.

While brands such as Corum had experimented with sapphire cases in the past, the watch world at large hadn’t seen anything like this before. Here was a lightweight, completely transparent, ultra-hard case material that represented the bleeding edge of technology and opulence all in one go. Destined to be the last word in exclusivity, the sapphire cases were technically astounding, requiring hundreds of hours to produce. Sapphire crystals were grown over several months in a lab, then cut, CNC-milled into separate case components, and diamond-polished to a mirror-like shine – an extremely labour-intensive series of processes that understandably pushed prices into the stratosphere.

Needless to say, the Big Bang Sapphire’s 2016 debut indeed made a big bang in the watch space. In addition to the crystal-clear 45mm case, the dial was also clear, affording an unobstructed view of the Unico HUB1242 flyback chronograph movement. The automatic column-wheel 28-jewel movement had a power reserve of 72 hours, the perfect choice for a highly technical timepiece.

High-rolling customers lapped up the 500-piece introductory limited edition, and the myriad permutations that followed. Not content with merely a flyback chrono, future Hublot sapphire models included tourbillons, mechanical digital displays, and the utterly insane LaFerrari Sapphire edition that required special keys and a power drill-like tool to set the time. The sky, it seemed, was truly the limit.

hublot big bang sapphire

Chemistry is a large part of the magic of sapphire watchmaking, and since the Big Bang Sapphire’s introduction in 2016, experimentation with different formulas resulted in sapphire blocks that were capable of being produced in a multitude of colours. As you might imagine, Hublot took that ball and ran with it, releasing a rainbow of different case variants in the years that followed.

hublot big bang sapphire

hublot big bang sapphire

High-end rubber straps have long been a visual calling card for the Big Bang lineup, but hang on: as if just casing a watch in sapphire weren’t enough, Hublot offers versions with matching integral sapphire bracelets, amping up the wow factor to 11. It goes without saying that the price tags can be truly eye-watering at this level.

hublot big bang sapphire

And if you want to hop on the rainbow trend, there’s a gem-set sapphire Big Bang for you too.

hublot big bang sapphire

Billionaires, football stars, and Hollywood types perpetually flock to the brand, and Hublot has never been a choice for shrinking violets. But if you’ve got the personality (and pocketbook) to hang with this crowd, precious few options in high-end wristwear are more baller than a sapphire-cased Big Bang.