In an early contender for what has to be in the running for the most unexpected and head spinning collaborative watches of the year, Hublot has partnered with Nespresso, the Swiss coffee company, on a big green chronograph made in part from recycled aluminum coffee capsules. It’s an effort by both brands to highlight their sustainability efforts, and an opportunity for Hublot flex some of their materials muscle. The end result is undeniably Hublot in its appearance, and kind of an under the radar coffee watch, which is more than can be said about LVMH stablemate TAG Heuer’s Carrera from a few years ago, with a dial made from actual coffee grounds. I actually quite like that coffee Carrera, and enjoy taking any opportunity available to remind people that it’s a real watch that actually exists.
Anyway, back to Hublot, and the Big Bang Unico Nespresso Origin. To fully grasp this watch, you first need to have an understanding of Nespresso’s core product, which is a single serving coffee platform built around little aluminum capsules (containing the coffee) that get popped into a Nespresso machine, and at the touch of a button you get a perfectly brewed cup of coffee, espresso, or a selection of other hot and cold beverages. Nespresso, of course, isn’t the only game in town when it comes to this sort of single serving coffee machine, but one thing that sets them apart from some of their competition is a focus on the materials used for those capsules. The aluminum pods are designed to be recycled, and can easily be separated from spent coffee ground residue that lingers after brewing, which can also be recycled. If you’ve ever worked in an office that uses a different brewing platform, or even old fashioned drip coffee machines, you know how much waste can be created from just a day of coffee consumption. Nespresso’s idea is to make new aluminum capsules out of the old, as well as other aluminum products. Like, for example, a big green watch.
The Big Bang Unico case seen here is 42mm in diameter, and made primarily from recycled aluminum. According to Hublot, 28% of that aluminum comes directly from Nespresso coffee capsules. During the manufacturing process, the aluminum is anodized in a bright shade of green, chosen to match Nespresso’s “Master Origins Peru Organic” coffee capsules. The bezel, chronograph pushers and crown are made using the same process, and these components are all satin finished and polished to give the aluminum a premium look and feel. The caseback is titanium, and the only major component of the case to not be made from recycled aluminum.
But the case isn’t the only part of the watch that is made from recycled Nespresso materials. The included green rubber strap is made in part from recycled coffee grounds, reclaimed from used Nespresso capsules. Hublot isn’t saying much about their manufacturing process here, but they do imply that it took a great deal of precision to achieve the proper color and a strap that meets a quality standard that Hublot was satisfied with. Each Big Bang Unico Nespresso Origin also comes with a fabric strap made in partnership with SlingTex, a company specializing in the production of fabrics made from recycled coffee grounds. This strap is 100% recycled, and is composed of 5% coffee grounds, and 95% recycled polyester.
On the surface, this watch might appear to be something of a gimmick. And it’s certainly easy to make jokes about a brand like Hublot partnering with a coffee company. But consider the challenge involved in achieving the exact same tone of green across each recycled component, and you begin to understand the complexity of the project, and that this isn’t just a big, green, aluminum watch. For Hublot and Nespresso, it was essential that every time green is used on the piece, the tones match. That includes the case itself, of course, but also individual components of each strap, and even the paint used on the dial and the Hublot decal on the sapphire crystal. This type of consistency is even more challenging when using recycled materials, so the finished product here is a real accomplishment.
Inside the watch is the HUB1280 automatic chronograph movement, which can be partially seen through the skeletonized dial. This is a 4 Hz movement with a 72 hour power reserve, and is made up of 354 components. As with other Unico models, this one passes a 100 meter water resistance test, and measures 14.5mm tall. One spec that Hublot doesn’t list that I’m actually quite curious about is the weight. Unico chronographs made of ceramic are very easy to wear in spite of their larger footprint, largely because they’re lighter than steel or precious metal watches of the same size. It stands to reason that a case made from aluminum is going to be even lighter, and that much easier to wear as a result.
The retail price on the Big Bang Unico Nespresso Origin is $24,100. It is a limited edition of 200 pieces. Hublot