When Jean-Claude Biver was still running Hublot, the brand released an interesting new model in 2011, which was the result of a challenge of sorts. Jean-Claude Biver said that someone challenged him to make an Hublot version of a Richard Mille an — even more high-luxury timepiece brand. Richard Mille (the man) and Jean-Claude Biver were not exactly rivals since their products mostly competed at different price points. Also, the two brands had more in common than most other luxury watch houses, if only because of Hublot and Richard Mille’s focus on more modern designs and a mutual respect for engaging and innovative marketing strategies and spending.
I recall being there in Geneva in 2011 when Jean-Claude Biver debuted what was then simply called the Hublot Masterpiece (aBlogtoWatch hands-on here). Hublot later carved out a new line of high-end watches within the Masterpiece collection that included this tonneau-cased model, plus others. Models with this case design were later referred to as the Hublot MP-6, and still later, this tonneau Big Bang case was further clarified to be named the Hublot “Spirit Of Big Bang” — which is the name that all Hublot models with this case style have today.
Over the years, Hublot has played with the case size and included a number of movement options in the Spirit Of Big Bang ranging from various in-house made calibers to a Zenith El Primero chronograph movement (Zenith and Hublot each belong to the LVMH luxury group). Today I look at a modern Hublot Spirit Of Big Bang watch that is modern and luxurious in much the same way that the original Hublot Masterpiece was. Hands-on today on aBlogtoWatch is both the Carbon Blue and Carbon Black of the Hublot Spirit Of Bang Tourbillon Carbon 42mm. The Spirit Of Big Bang Tourbillon 42mm Carbon Black is the reference 645.QN.1117.RX while the Spirit Of Big Bang Tourbillon 42mm Carbon Blue is the reference 645.QL.7117.RX. Both are limited to 100 pieces.
At 42mm-wide, the tonneau case is actually rather sizeable, and I’d say this is about as large as I’d want to go for this case size. That said, the Spirit Of Big Bang collection goes up to 45mm-wide, and down to 39mm-wide for women’s models. The images in this article are of the Hublot watches on our David Bredan’s wrist — so that’s not me, but he and I actually more or less share the same wrist size (yes, we can swap watches) so you can get a good idea of how the 42mm-wide Spirit of Big Bang case wears.
For the case material, Hublot mixes titanium and a particular style of carbon fiber that is black and gray tones for the Carbon Black, and black and blue tones for the Carbon Blue model. One of the reasons I spent as much time above talking about the history of Richard Mille connection to the Spirit Of Big Bang is that, once again, Hublot offers an homage to the even more high-end luxury brand by offering carbon as a case material, which Richard Mille has famously been specializing in for the last few years. The case, by the way, is water resistant to 30 meters (so don’t go swimming with it just yet).
Carbon is a quizzical luxury watch case material but the material itself is hardly high-end. It is the particular formulation and machining process that can make carbon more or less luxurious. The material is valued for its durability and relatively light weight. In the luxury sphere, carbon is mostly celebrated because of the interesting and often colorful organic surface textures that can be achieved. This is true in both timepieces and fashion overall. My theory is that in a world of perfect-looking synthetic materials and artificial computer designs that aren’t always life-like, organic textures help many of today’s products be more relatable to a human wearer. In any event, organic textures and patterns on otherwise utilitarian surfaces are a very hot thing right now in fashion — and in my opinion, for good reason.
It has been a while since aBlogtoWatch has seen a new Spirit Of Big Bang watch model with a tourbillon movement inside. The Spirit Of Big Bang Moon Phase, Chronograph, and Mecha-10 models are the last ones that I recall. A return to a tourbillon movement with an elegantly skeletonized dial and view of the mechanism is a welcome return to the lavishly high-end mechanical watches we saw being released much more often prior to 2012.
The movement inside the Hublot Spirit Of Big Bang Tourbillon 42mm Carbon is the in-house-made Hublot caliber HUB6020. Manually wound with 115 hours of power reserve (operating at 3Hz), the movement includes the time, 60-second tourbillon, and power-reserve indicator on the dial. The movement itself is not revolutionary in performance or mechanics but is meant to be mostly artistic. Hublot designs its in-house tourbillons for aesthetics and to play with how the bridges and gears can be designed and finished for visual excellence. A timepiece such as this isn’t going to be for everyone’s taste for sure, but when viewing the intricacies of the movement, it is impossible to deny that Hublot’s movement designs didn’t apply a lot of time and love to the HUB6020 movement project.
On the plus side, the off-centered means of reading the time on the otherwise busy dial is actually quite legible, and the asymmetric layout of dial components is nonetheless visually balanced. While I still prefer the round Big Bang case, the Spirit Of Big Bang case is a true tonneau (barrel-shaped case) alternative complete with the Big Bang’s side flanks, crown style, bezel construction, and button-release for the straps system. Attached to the case are Hublot’s industry-leading stylized rubber straps and comfortable fold-under deployant clasps.