CREATING THE BIG BANG

13th January 2017

Hublot’s iconic Big Bang focuses on the “Art of Fusion” by combining objects and materials that don’t appear together under normal conditions. Browse our interactive guide to the Hublot Big Bang and explore the contrasting components that make up this striking natural masterpiece.


Hover over a component to view more information. bits Barrel Case Movement Clamp Caseback Screw Caseback Screw Movement Clamp Caseback Screw Caseback Screw Caseback Screw Movement Clamp Screw Caseback Screw Movement Clamp Screw Case Ring Movement Holder Dial Auto Weight Hammers Hammer Spring Clutch Hour Hammer Operating Leaver Spring Date Platform Chronograph Seconds Hand Minute Hand Automatic Bridge Chronograph Bridge Stem Rachet Wheel Day Disk Day Jumper Spring Day Jumper Main Spring Chronograph Wheel Friction Minute Wheel Recorder Rachet Wheel Driving Wheel Intermediate Minute Wheel Great Wheel Minute Wheel Escape Wheel Chronograph Wheel Reverse Wheel Train Bridge Chronograph Cam Hammper Cam Jumper Switch Hour Hand Seconds Hand Minute Hand Intermediate Minute Wheel Minute Recorder Wheel Hour Wheel Third Wheel Hour Counting Wheel Date Change Wheel Reduction Wheel Second Wheel Hour Recording Hand Base Plate Date Platform Stop Lever Hour Hammer Spring Hour Counter Lock Intermediate Setting Wheel Setting Lever Balance Dust Minute Recorder Wheel Intermediate Calendar Wheel Setting Lever Oscilating Pinion Hour Hammer Operating Lever Friction Wheel Set Wheel Rachet Wheel Clutch Spring Double Corrector Barrel Arbor Pallet Sliding Pinion Yoke Rocking Bar Cam Screw Rachet Wheel Screw Calendar Bridge Screw Calendar Bridge Screw Calendar Bridge Screw Calendar Bridge Screw Calendar Bridge Screw Calendar Bridge Screw Calendar Bridge Screw Bridge Screw Bridge Screw Bridge Screw Bridge Screw Bridge Screw Bridge Screw Bridge Screw Bridge Screw Balance Bridge Screw Pallet Bridge Pallet Bridge Screw

Creating the Big Bang

You can’t get very far talking Hublot and its iconic Big Bang without mentioning the name, Jean-Claude Biver. Something of a Swiss watchmaking legend, this larger-than-life and refreshingly outspoken character has certainly earned his right as ersatz spokesman for his industry, as he can be credited for almost singlehandedly reviving the Blancpain name in the Eighties, selling it back to Swatch Group for a song, and kickstarting the renewed interest in mechanical watches. After a similarly phenomenal turnaround at Omega, Biver was helicoptered into ailing Hublot in 2004.

Hublot Big Bang Watch

The revival

Despite being one of Switzerland’s youngest brands, it had found itself stuck in a rut, still trading solely on its odd combo of vanilla-scented rubber strap and porthole design. To inject new life, Biver was too clever to engineer a false or borrowed heritage as so many revived old brands have done. Instead, he embraced the collision of traditional watchmaking with the future, “fusing” high-tech materials with mechanical timepieces, distinguishing Hublot in its own right as the ultimate contemporary watchmaker. And the Big Bang was and still is the posterboy for this “art of fusion”.

Hublot Big Bang Watch

Its uncompromising proportions and Riviera bling giving Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak Offshore a real run for its money, and quickly put the Big Bang on the Christmas lists of every self-respecting CEO or footballer. The partnerships that Biver’s marketing genius forged has yielded some far-fetched watches too, from Ferrari to Paris Saint-Germain and Kobe Bryant.

The result of all this? Sales at Hublot increased more than fivefold between 2004 and 2007, a record that enticed LVMH, the luxury-goods conglomerate, to buy the firm a few years later. The ribbon has now been cut on a huge extension to the factory, and the Big Bang special editions continue to come thick and fast, always limited enough to keep collectors hungry or – when they’re lucky – very satisfied.

The Movement

It’s not all fur coat and no knickers though – the purpose-built factory’s R&D team spent two years on a proprietary chronograph movement, and the result, the “UNICO” calibre looks set to be a classic, rocksolid workhorse of the modern era. The finely engineered mechanics look great through a skeletonised dial, too. Hublot’s reputation for materials science has also been fired by the Big Bang’s success – literally in the case of “Magic Gold”, a virtually scratchproof, ceramic-infused 18-carat metal, forged in-house, which’ll ensure your chunky bit of wristcandy stays pristine, despite the inevitable knocks and scrapes.

Hublot Big Bang Watch

Dismantled at Hublot’s service centre in Manchester, the full extent of the Big Bang case’s and the HUB4100 movement complexity is immediately apparent. Laboriously milled out of stainless steel in this case, the 44mm model comprises five case rings components, not counting their adjoining gaskets, strap anchors, plus the bezel in black ceramic and the sides are made from Kevlar. It’s this modular jigsaw puzzle of interchangeable parts that makes the Big Bang such an easily customisable construct, allowing an almost infinite spectrum of limited-edition permutations.

“It‘s intelligently designed,” says Hublot’s head UK watchmaker Darren Lee, “all the components are effectively bolted onto a central container, making it watchmaker-friendly.”

Then there are the details. Without its round bezel’s six “H”-shaped screws, it could look like any other generic pretender to the Big Bang’s throne (and there have been many since 2004). But there are few watchmakers of Hublot’s calibre who’d (a) bother with such small flourishes, and (b) who boast the engineering clout to manufacture such intricate screws, then finish them so finely.

This is a modern classic of a watch, which ain’t going anywhere fast.

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The individual parts are listed below with some descriptions of the more critical elements.

Case

Case

It’s all about the case with the Big Bang. Incorporating traditional and modern techniques and materials, this chronograph’s complex construction embodies ‘the art of fusion’, a concept at the centre of Hublot’s identity. This model features a 44mm, satin polished finish stainless steel case, with an anti-reflective sapphire crystal caseback. Within the case is the Big Bang’s iconic bezel with six H-shaped titanium screws.

Dial

Dial

The dial of this model features woven carbon fibre, providing a texture that contrasts with the bezel’s mirror-like finish. Luminova-filled hands, rhodium-plated indices and unobtrusive printed subdials make this dial very legible.

Case Ring

Case Ring

The circumferential ring – in white ceramic in this case – sandwiched by the Big Bang’s iconic octagon-and-porthole bezel and a caseback fitted with a sapphire crystal “window” into the movement works.

Movement Holder

Movement Holder

Used by the watchmaker to hold the movement in place on the workbench while dissembling or reassembling its components.

Auto Weight

Auto Weight

The asymmetric weight mounted to the back of the movement that swings around with every movement of your arm, keeping the barrel wound up.

Main Spring

Main Spring

A 60cm-long metal spring, just a tenth of a millimetre thick, is tightly wound within a 1.2cm-wide barrel, providing over 40 hours of power to the Hublot Big Bang’s chronograph movement – in this case, ETA’s legendary Valjoux 7750 calibre, pioneered in the Seventies and generally regarded as the most robust on the market.

Hammers

Hammers

The strangely shaped duo of levers, which engage, stop and reset the chronograph timing mechanism.

Clutch

Clutch

The lever that engages the chronograph mechanism with the always-running timekeeping power train.

Chronograph Seconds Hand

Chronograph Seconds Hand

The minutes and hours hands, plus the thin “sweep seconds” hand of the chronograph, counterbalanced by Hublot’s “H” logo.

Minute Hand

Minute Hand

The minutes and hours hands, plus the thin “sweep seconds” hand of the chronograph, counterbalanced by Hublot’s “H” logo.

Automatic Bridge

Automatic Bridge

The bridge on which the automatic winding mechanism is mounted – i.e. the rotor and the gearing that connects it to the barrel.

Chronograph Bridge

Chronograph Bridge

The bridge from which the chronograph mechanism is suspended, separate from the timekeeping works.

Escape Wheel

Escape Wheel

Part of the “Swiss lever escapement”, which regulates timekeeping like a clock’s pendulum, along with the balance and lever. As the balance oscillates back and forth, it transmits its steady “tick” to the geartrain (to which the hands are connected) via the escape wheel.

Base Plate

Base Plate

The foundation upon which everything is mounted, precisely machined from a piece of solid steel by a computer-controlled 5-axis mill, which even changes its own drill bits automatically throughout the process.

Balance

Balance

The “pendulum” of the movement, ticking steadily at 4 Hertz (or 28,800 vibrations per hour) to regulate the rate of timekeeping. The large three-spoke balance wheel (made of brass) is mounted axially on a tightly wound spring, made of a secret alloy that’s resistant to magnetism and changes in temperature. As the wheel oscillates, it bats the pallet lever back and forth, locking and unlocking the escape wheel and therefore eking-out the transfer of energy from the winding barrel through the gear train.

Chronograph Cam

Chronograph Cam

The means via which the hammers connect to and control the chronograph mechanism. Hublot’s own in-house chronograph, the Unico, uses a “column wheel” to co-ordinate the stop/start/reset, but the Valjoux’ 7750’s cam system works equally well.

Seconds Hand

Seconds Hand

These three tiny hands indicate the chronograph’s running minutes and hours at 3 and 6 o’clock respectively, and the normal time’s seconds at 9 o’clock.

Minute Hand

Minute Hand

These three tiny hands indicate the chronograph’s running minutes and hours at 3 and 6 o’clock respectively, and the normal time’s seconds at 9 o’clock.

Hour Wheel

Hour Wheel

These connect the winding barrel and escapement, the latter of which ensures that the energy of the former drives the gear train steadily and precisely rather than unwinding all at once. The wheels mesh with each other via co-axial pinions, precisely geared so the connected hours, minutes and seconds hands rotate accurately.

Reduction Wheel

Reduction Wheel

These connect the winding barrel and escapement, the latter of which ensures that the energy of the former drives the gear train steadily and precisely rather than unwinding all at once. The wheels mesh with each other via co-axial pinions, precisely geared so the connected hours, minutes and seconds hands rotate accurately.

Second Wheel

Second Wheel

These connect the winding barrel and escapement, the latter of which ensures that the energy of the former drives the gear train steadily and precisely rather than unwinding all at once. The wheels mesh with each other via co-axial pinions, precisely geared so the connected hours, minutes and seconds hands rotate accurately.

Pallet

Pallet

A pitchfork-shaped component that translates the oscillating motion of the balance wheel into a gradual locking and unlocking of the escape wheel. The “tick-tick-tick” you hear from a watch is the sound of the entry and exit pallets on the end of each “prong” of the fork (actually two wedges of synthetic ruby) engaging with the teeth of the escape wheel.

Day Disk

Day Disk

The circumferential date disk, which is visible through a square dial window between 4 and 5 o’clock, is moved along a notch at midnight by the date-change wheel, which rotates once every 24 hours. Its single “tooth” nudges the jumper cam, whose power is provided by the jumper spring.

Train Bridge

Train Bridge

Date Platform

Date Platform

Barrel

Barrel

Hammper Cam Jumper

Hammper Cam Jumper

Rachet Wheel

Rachet Wheel

Date Platform

Date Platform

Stem

Stem

Movement Clamp

2x Movement Clamps

Caseback Screw

5x Caseback Screws

Movement Clamp Screw

Movement Clamp Screw

Hammer Spring

Hammer Spring

Hour Hammer

Hour Hammer

Operating Leaver Spring

Operating Leaver Spring

Day Jumper Spring

Day Jumper Spring

Day Jumper

Day Jumper

Chronograph Wheel Friction

Chronograph Wheel Friction

Minute Wheel Recorder

Minute Wheel Recorder

Rachet Wheel Driving Wheel

Rachet Wheel Driving Wheel

Intermediate Minute Wheel

Intermediate Minute Wheel

Great Wheel

Great Wheel

Minute Wheel

Minute Wheel

Chronograph Wheel

Chronograph Wheel

Reverse Wheel

Reverse Wheel

Switch

Switch

Hour Hand

Hour Hand

Intermediate Minute Wheel

Intermediate Minute Wheel

Minute Recorder Wheel

Minute Recorder Wheel

Third Wheel

Third Wheel

Hour Counting Wheel

Hour Counting Wheel

Date Change Wheel

Date Change Wheel

Hour Recording Hand

Hour Recording Hand

Stop Lever

Stop Lever

Hour Hammer Spring

Hour Hammer Spring

Hour Counter Lock

Hour Counter Lock

Intermediate Setting Wheel

Intermediate Setting Wheel

Setting Lever

Setting Lever

Minute Recorder Wheel

Minute Recorder Wheel

Intermediate Calendar Wheel

Intermediate Calendar Wheel

Setting Lever

Setting Lever

Oscilating Pinion

Oscilating Pinion

Hour Hammer Operating Lever

Hour Hammer Operating Lever

Friction Wheel

Friction Wheel

Set Wheel

Set Wheel

Rachet Wheel

Rachet Wheel

Clutch Spring

Clutch Spring

Double Corrector

Double Corrector

Barrel Arbor

Barrel Arbor

Sliding Pinion

Sliding Pinion

Yoke

Yoke

Rocking Bar

Rocking Bar

Cam Screw

Cam Screw

Rachet Wheel Screw

Rachet Wheel Screw

Calendar Bridge Screw

7x Calendar Bridge Screws

Bridge Screw

8x Bridge Screws

Balance Bridge Screw

Balance Bridge Screw

Pallet Bridge

Pallet Bridge

Pallet Bridge Screw

Pallet Bridge Screw