In a sea of similar and largely conservative watch releases, every so often there is a new watch that is so left-field, so unique, or so different from the norm that it sticks in enthusiasts’ minds for years after its initial announcement (for better or worse). Hublot’s first limited edition collaboration with famed French leathermaker Berluti in 2016 was a textbook example of this, with a wild embossed leather dial concept unlike any other and a rich, patinated colorway. The two brands have since paired on several explorations of this leather dial technique, and for its latest release Hublot returns to the unique leather-centric design with a sharp new monochrome look. The new limited edition Hublot Big Bang Unico Berluti Aluminio combines new finely crafted leather elements with an ultramodern gray-on-gray colorway to create one of the most memorable and handsomely reserved Big Bang interpretations in recent years.
Despite what the name suggests, the case of the Hublot Big Bang Unico Berluti Aluminio contains no aluminum and instead refers to the textured, patinated Aluminio Venezia gray leather finish used throughout. Instead, the 44mm integrated case is rendered in titanium, with the Big Bang series’ usual complement of complex modernist layers, sharp angles, and a blend of brushed, polished, and matte black surfaces in images. The real change to the standard Big Bang formula here comes courtesy of the bezel, which uses an insert of Aluminio Venezia leather held in place by a layer of adhesive resin and then attached to the case with the Big Bang’s signature H-pattern screws. By leaving this leather ring open to the elements, the Big Bang Unico Berluti Aluminio’s bezel should develop a natural patina over time, just like a leather strap. Despite leather’s less-than-stellar track record when dealing with water, Hublot rates the Big Bang Unico Berluti Aluminio at the line’s standard 100 meters of water resistance – although how its bezel would fare in those conditions is an open question.
As with the brand’s previous collaborations with Berluti, the semi-skeleton dial of the Hublot Big Bang Unico Berluti Aluminio is crafted out of a thick, durable layer of Berluti leather. Through the process of gauffering, the bold cutout numerals, indices, and the border of the 3 o’clock subdial are branded into the dial surface with a hot iron. This leaves a deep recessed charcoal gray effect for the Big Bang Unico Berluti Aluminio, which combined with the porous neutral gray of the main dial surface gives an almost concrete-like effect in initial images. Beyond the modernist monochrome colorway and unique use of materials, this is actually one of the simpler and more reserved dials in the Big Bang Unico stable, with a central skeleton window exposing clean brushed bridges, elements of the gear train, and the 9 o’clock running seconds display. The Big Bang’s signature broad skeleton sword handset also makes an appearance here in rhodium, providing a brightly reflective counterpoint to the matte leather surface below.
Hublot powers the Big Bang Unico Berluti Aluminio with its in-house HUB1280 automatic flyback chronograph movement. As with most of Hublot’s movement designs, finishing is simple and modernist, restricted mostly to brushing across the skeleton bridges and cutout tungsten rotor. In terms of performance, however, this column wheel chronograph movement is thoroughly up-to-date with a beefy 72 hour power reserve at a 28,800 bph beat rate.
Naturally, any collaboration design with a leather company will rely heavily on the quality of its strap, and the Hublot Big Bang Unico Berluti Aluminio does not appear to disappoint here. Using Hublot’s sporty modern rubber-lined concept, the tapering integrated leather strap is finished in a burnished Aluminio Venezia gray to match the bezel and dial. Strongly textured and nuanced in initial images, this strap is paired with a titanium deployant clasp.
Combining a surprisingly reserved and minimal aesthetic with truly unique crafted leather components, the limited edition Hublot Big Bang Unico Berluti Aluminio is a stylish departure from the norm for the brand in more ways than one. Only 100 examples of the Hublot Big Bang Unico Berluti Aluminio will be made