Hands-On with the New Hublot Novelties at Watches & Wonders

Over the course of three years visiting Geneva with the Worn & Wound team, a handful of traditions have begun to take shape. We carve out a night for a team dinner at Jeck’s, a hole-in-the-wall Singaporean restaurant that we stumbled upon in year one, and is consistently the best meal of the entire trip. We cover Tudor first, every year. I am in the habit of buying a Swatch at the Geneva airport on my way home. And every year, I have a meeting with Hublot, and I write a breathless article about the weird and wonderful stuff I’m shown. It’s consistently the meeting that underscores the “Wonders” bit about the week more than any other. 

When I first took on the task of writing about the new Hublot novelties at Watches & Wonders, it felt like a defense of sorts. Of the brand, the watches, and even our decision to cover them. I think, thankfully, we’ve all moved on a bit from a time when Hublot was just universally lambasted as a loud and unserious brand for loud and unserious people. They have never really been that in my opinion, but there was a time when the watches, if not really interrogated, could have given you that impression on a surface level. Hublot is covered differently now, and in recent years I’m glad to see them getting their flowers from a watch media that previously skipped them entirely or openly derided them. 

There are a variety of reasons for that, but a key one has to be that Hublot has, perhaps, calmed down a bit at the entry point in their lineup, and there are a suite of novelties this year that exemplify that particularly well. The centerpiece at the consumer oriented level is the new Big Bang Integrated in a sleek new 38mm case (Griffin covered those watches here). This is maybe the most normal, straightforward and approachable watch that Hublot makes, and goes against everything you think you know about the brand by shrinking a case size (by 2mm) to give us a true medium, dare I say unisex version of their signature sports watch. 

On the wrist, the Big Bang Integrated is compact, thin, and wears like a dream at 38mm and a little under 10mm tall. There are three case and bracelet materials: King Gold, titanium, and blue ceramic. The gold and titanium options are certainly very nice, but I think colored ceramic (dark blue in this case) is why most will be drawn to Hublot in the first place. It takes their most subtle and under-the-radar case and gives it just a little bit (OK, maybe more than just a little bit) of that Hublot brashness. 


The other somewhat approachable release from Hublot in this year’s batch of novelties is a pair of Big Bang Unico chronographs in new shades of colored ceramic: orange and green. Both are limited editions of 250 pieces, and continue the slow expansion of a chronograph collection that has become a cornerstone for Hublot. The colors are great in person. Green ceramic has become almost common in recent years, but orange feels fresh and Hublot very much nailed the tone here. It’s absolutely unmistakable and could easily be spotted from well across the room, or perhaps on a deer hunt. The Unico as safety gear for a day in the woods is a fun idea.

Also, can we just agree that the Unico is a top tier chrono from a big brand? I have a collector friend who proudly alternates between his Royal Oak Jumbo and white ceramic Unico, and if that doesn’t tell you all you need to know about how these watches should be embraced, I don’t know what will. The dials are extremely legible for a watch that veers this heavily into the avant-garde, the case/strap integration on the 42mm models is second to none and provides for a extremely comfortable wearing experience, it has a very nice in-house movement with all the modern tricks up its sleeve you’d expect, and, as ever, the quality of the finishing on the ceramic cases is best in class. Ceramic is a tricky material and doesn’t always feel premium (something we’ve been acutely reminded of as we see it trickle down into more affordable watches) but Hublot are masters with this stuff. Their ceramic watches, in addition to being imbued with color in a way that’s unapologetically dramatic, are crafted in a way that makes them feel like precious orbs of a foreign matter that is somehow beyond humanity’s reach. Not quite the monoliths in 2001: A Space Odyssey, but not totally dissimilar. 

And that brings us to the Hublot releases that have been properly turned up to 11. My favorite stretch of time at Watches & Wonders is perhaps when the sapphire cases begin to show themselves. There were two in particular this year that left my jaw on the floor. The Spirit of Big Bang Sang Bleu Sapphire is a clear sapphire take on the collection introduced in partnership with tattoo artist Maxime Plescia-Buchi last year. This ultra stylized take on the tonneau inspired Spirit of Big Bang case was already ridiculously complex in ceramic and gold – I can’t imagine the challenge involved in rendering all of those facets in sapphire, and to do it in a way that clearly involves zero shortcuts. Again, the finishing is immaculate, and the complexity of the design is accentuated, not hidden, by the choice in materials. 

But that’s nothing compared to the MP-11 in “Blue Water” sapphire, a new sapphire case color for Hublot that conjures a tranquil, aquatic vibe. The MP-11 is a massive showcase for Hublot’s seven barrel, 14 day power reserve movement, and features those barrels prominently on the dial side with a unique linear power reserve indicator that counts down the days from 14. Again, the case complexity here is off the charts. Those barrels protrude from the display side, leaving a bulge at the bottom of the case that gives the MP-11 a distinctive shape unlike anything else in watchmaking. There is a lot of sapphire here and absolutely none of it is in a shape or size that is in any way standard.

The MP-11, on the wrist, is impractical and kind of hard to wear. The new MP-10 Tourbillon Weight Energy System Titanium, introduced earlier this year at LVMH Watch Week and brought out toward the end of our session with Hublot, is even more unwieldy. But that’s kind of beside the point. These are not watches one chooses for their ability to slip under a cuff, or coordinate to an outfit. They are ballsy, no-holds-barred expressions of a Hublot aesthetic that has been cultivated over decades. For me, they confirm that Hublot deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as indies like MB&F and Urwerk, brands that are similarly driven by an apparent desire to break with convention, experiment, and flaunt a considerable bubbling over of creativity. 

As much as I love it when Hublot pulls out the sapphire for their watches in that six figure price point, this is the first year I’ve come away from the Hublot meeting feeling like they’re really working on creating something accessible and approachable for a consumer that may, at one time or another, have shrugged this brand off. The 38mm Big Bang Integrated, if they aren’t too late to the integrated bracelet sports watch party, are undeniable in their appeal. They aren’t exactly value propositions (they feature Sellita derived movements, and the titanium cased models retail for $13,100, while the blue and black ceramic references carry a $15,300 price tag) but they get you into the Hublot ecosystem with a design that gives you a small taste of what they’re capable of at the higher end of their catalog without sacrificing (indeed, prioritizing) everyday wearability. I imagine for many longtime fans of the brand they won’t be quite wild enough, their relatively sedate nature (compared to stuff like the MP-11, at least) could make for a watch with some genuine crossover appeal. Hublot

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Zach is a native of New Hampshire, and he has been interested in watches since the age of 13, when he walked into Macy’s and bought a gaudy, quartz, two-tone Citizen chronograph with his hard earned Bar Mitzvah money. It was lost in a move years ago, but he continues to hunt for a similar piece on eBay. Zach loves a wide variety of watches, but leans toward classic designs and proportions that have stood the test of time. He is currently obsessed with Grand Seiko.