THE TOP WATCH REVIEWS OF 2021 – The Hublot Big Bang Integral Ceramic (#28) THE TOP WATCH REVIEWS OF 2021 – The Hublot Big Bang Integral Ceramic (#28)

THE TOP WATCH REVIEWS OF 2021 – The Hublot Big Bang Integral Ceramic (#28)

Fergus Nash

Editor’s note: There were a lot of watches released in 2021 and the Time+Tide team boldly endeavoured to review as many of them as we possibly could. Here we count down the Top 30 reviews of the year by traffic in our best radio DJ voice: at number 28, it’s the innovative spirit of the Hublot Integral Big Bang Ceramic.

The Big Bang range of watches isn’t just about what consumers want, it’s also Hublot’s love letter to watchmaking. Whether it’s a new material, movement, or even digital technology, the Big Bang is a platform from which Hublot can experiment incrementally, and the Big Bang Integral is the latest variant to be given a full ceramic treatment.

The dial

The dial, or lack thereof, is really a celebration of the UNICO 2 movement, and a masterclass in depth. The effect of layering is first established with the Hublot logo printed on the underside of the sapphire crystal, ensuring the brand presence is never lost behind the sweep of a hand. Next, the sloping chapter ring leads down towards the multi-faceted indices, those too having a gorge cut through them for added complexity. From there the dial is only really made up of two circular frames that form the subdials, counting the running seconds at 9 o’clock, and a 60 minute chronograph register at 3 o’clock. It’s beneath that minutes register that you can see the cutout for the date display emerging from a smoked sapphire disk.

The case
In a crisp snow white, slate grey or ultramarine blue, the Big Bang Integral in ceramic looks deceptively simple from the front-facing photographs. At an angle, however, the thought-out architecture of the solid ceramic cases are more akin to an industrial take on a scavenger’s spaceship. The chamfered edges are wide and polished, providing a huge flat surface for light to reflect on the liquid-smooth material and further contrast against the brushed surfaces. The sides of the case are carved further, creating a channel which neatly fits the sporty rectangular chronograph pushers and leads the eye towards the “ears” of the case, from which the large gear-shaped crown emits. The lugs have a sharp downturn, which alongside the integrated bracelet makes this 42mm Hublot a surprisingly good fit on an average wrist, even though the lug-to-lug measurement comes in at around 52mm.

The movement
The in-house UNICO 2 is visible from both the sapphire caseback and the skeletonised dial, not just leaning into the sporty high-tech aesthetic, but also highlighting Hublot’s approach to watchmaking as a holistic expression where the movement is just as important as the rest. From a technical standpoint, the UNICO 2 (also known as the HUB1280) is no slouch. An automatic flyback-chronograph with 72 hours of power reserve at 28,800 vibrations per hour is quite hard to come by, not to mention its reduced size keeping the watch to a modest 13.45mm. Being that it makes up a lot of the dial, the components are also designed with visuals in mind. The column-wheel, especially, is a joy to watch as it’s engaged by the pushers.

The bracelet
Ceramic is something that Hublot take a lot of pride in, and deservedly so. They are one of the industry leaders when it comes to finding ways of making the super-tough and scratch-proof material in new colours without compromising its stability, a task that’s much harder than it sounds. The bracelet is always the most attractive part of a fully ceramic watch, casting a spectacular light show any time you move your wrist. The effect on the Big Bang Integral is controlled by fine brushing on the front faces, leaving the brightest reflective fireworks to the polished edges of the links. This bracelet is also as practical as it is gorgeous, following the quick slope of the case to drape over the wrist without overhang, a titanium deployant clasp, and short screw links for ease of

The verdict
At $32,200AUD, the Hublot Big Bang Integral in ceramic has a lot to offer. Its high-tech case, movement, and design combine to epitomise form with function, especially with 100m of water resistance legitimising it as a true sports watch. Whether your choice is to go for the ever-appealing blue, the grey which looks truly greyscale, or the Stormtrooper-esque white model, you’ll be sure to be staring at your wrist for much longer than you’d ever need to check the time.