Hands-On With The New (Shockingly Wearable) Hublot Integral Time Only

Ok, let’s get it out of the way right off the bat. We don’t talk much about Hublot around here. And by not much I mean never. While their watches haven’t always been to our personal tastes, there’s no denying the reputation they’ve created for themselves thanks to their creative use of materials and the larger-than-life design language. I’ll admit, it’s not a brand I’ve traditionally paid much attention to, even if some of their releases have caught my eye over the years. You can imagine my surprise, then, to find one of their new releases, the Big Bang Time Only Integral, among the most compelling, and certainly most comfortable, watches I came across during my LVMH Watch Week preview. 

As you can see, the Integral still looks every bit the Hublot that it is, so if you’ve never been a fan of their aesthetic, this isn’t likely to win you over. It’s not entirely to my taste, either. But, on the wrist, this is a watch that starts to make a lot of sense. Setting aside the hype around watches like the 5711 and 15202, a big part of their overall charm (to me, at least) is just how well they wear. They are perfectly sized, svelte, and each have bracelets that seem to melt around the wrist. All qualities that Hublot has given this new Integral Time Only.

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A quick note about the name… the term ‘time only’ is what we generally use to describe watches with no complications. They just tell the time. You’ve no doubt noticed that this watch, despite being literally named Time Only, does indeed have a date complication. I’d argue that calling this watch the Integral Date would have been a more accurate choice, but alas, we’re left with this, let’s call it quirk. 

The Big Bang Integral was introduced last year with a trio of chronographs that featured integrated bracelets constructed of either titanium, gold, or black ceramic. The long, thin links provided a comfortable, luxurious (?) feel on the wrist despite the chunkier dimensions of the watch itself. This year, Hublot builds on these themes with this new Time Only Integral collection that feature the same material options and bracelet design, packaged into a 40mm case that measures a scant 9.25mm thick. The 5711 and 15202, for comparison, measure 40 and 39mm respectively, and a touch over 8mm in thickness. Hublot is in the ballpark with the Time Only Integral, and paired with the integrated bracelet, wears very similarly to the Patek and the AP. 

I had a chance to handle the titanium and black ceramic Time Only Integral samples, both of which made for a featherweight experience on the wrist. A yellow gold model is available as well, which I’d imagine will add some heft, but thanks to the case dimensions, shouldn’t add up to too much. In fact, it might even be welcome. The titanium and black ceramic nearly fall into uncanny territory with their lightness.

The case itself gets the porthole treatment we’ve seen for many years within the Big Bang family, complete with the exposed screws on the bezel and the flare out at the 9 o’clock side. The bezel measures 39mm across and that’s how the watch presents, but if you take the measurement from the flared parts of the case at 3 and 9 o’clock, you’re looking at closer to 42. The case narrows to form the lugs so in reality the watch feels like 40mm both in appearance and physically. 

The crown is not doing the case any favors, however. It feels tacked on and protrudes about 4mm away from the otherwise very tidy case. Tucking the crown into a small recession in a similar manner to what Patek did with the Nautilus would have gone a long way here. It’s a minor quibble, but then this is not a cheap watch. Worn on the right wrist (as I do), the crown tucks neatly out of view under a cuff.

The dial here is completely open, just like the chronographs from last year. I hesitate to call it ‘openworked’ as the view is simply the plates that make up the topside of the movement. I wouldn’t call it ugly by any stretch, as it has a certain appeal, but it’s not as graceful as something like an openworked AP or Piaget, or even this Hermes. It’s clearly not trying to be, however, so I’m not sure it’s fair to judge it against those (frankly, far more expensive) watches.

The plate covering the keyless works and a portion of the going train get a vertical brush finish, while the others are simply matte. The different finishes create some contrast behind the dial which pairs well with the visible jewels and gears. The escape wheel is also partially visible at the 10 o’clock position under the dial. It’s just enough movement to catch your eye but not enough to be a distraction. 

A set of chunky hands blend with the dial, but thanks to their size don’t really get lost. I wouldn’t call this a highly legible watch, as the dial is monotone throughout, but given that fact, it’s surprisingly readable. There’s a character to the dial that I’ve warmed up to, save for one detail, which is the Hublot “H” logo on the counterweight of the seconds hand. It feels tacky and unnecessary but it’s kind of their thing. For the record, I’m not terribly fond of the trident seen on the seconds hand of Christopher Ward watches, either. It just feels a little too ‘cute’ for a watch like this.  

In total, it’s a unique looking watch, and yes, the RO comparisons invite themselves, but to my eye they are immediately different watches at a glance, and honestly I’m over that part of the Hublot discussion. A big differentiator with the Integral watches is the execution of the bracelet. A wide link runs down the center but the height is kept in check, so there are many links, offering many break points to fold around the wrist, which it does very well. The tops and bottoms of the links get a substantial chamfer so there’s less stiffness that you’d expect with a bracelet like this. It wears very organically, which is vital with this type of thin, flat case.

Hublot is using the automatic HUB 1710, which is based on their LVMH stablemate Zenith’s Elite 670 movement. This is obviously not one of Hublot’s in-house units, but it is a great movement nonetheless. It’s been around since the early ‘90s, and its 3.3mm thickness has made way for the lovely case dimensions Hublot has gone with here, and its use keeps the price south of the exorbitant category. Hublot has clearly built value in other areas here, but what excites me is the fact that Hublot made this with parts and materials that are increasingly common these days, and there should be nothing stopping smaller, even entry level brands from creating something similar (not in look, hopefully, but in stature). 

In recent years we’ve seen stuff like forged carbon, injected carbon, titanium, ceramic, silicon movement parts, trick bracelets, and more all making appearances in watches well under $5,000. I like this Hublot, and I think they’ve made a hell of a watch in the Time Only Integral, but there is nothing wholly unique to Hublot about it, other than its look (which is a good thing). I want to see watches like this pushing smaller brands to play on a similar level.

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The Hublot Big Bang Time Only Integral starts at $17,800 for the titanium model, $19,900 for the black ceramic model, and $49,400 for the yellow gold model. There are two ways to contextualize this watch at that price. First, compared to some of the other watches referenced in this article, which quickly get into six figure territory, the Hublot feels refreshingly approachable. It might even be available to purchase, which also feels refreshing. On the other hand, $17,800 is a lot of money, especially considering the movement in use here (for reference, this recently released Zenith Defy Revival uses the same base movement). Sure, there is value in the material and execution, but again, we’re seeing more of that trickle into the micro-brand space at compelling price points, so when seen at use in brands like Hublot, it doesn’t add as much value as it used to. 

If you like the look of this Hublot, but the svelte dimensions aren’t vital, Zenith makes a variety of Defy models with the same movement, and even openworked dials, for well under $10,000 retail. If the slim case and bracelet are important, those options from Zenith won’t hit the same notes as this Time Only Integral. For that, you’ll need to look elsewhere in the LVMH portfolio, where you’ll find even thinner and lighter offerings from the likes of Bulgari in their Octo Finissimo range. They even do black ceramic, and while the case shape is a bit less traditional, it’s a mere 5.5mm thick and costs $16,500, over a grand under the Hublot. 

This Hublot has a lot to love, which is a phrase I’ve never uttered before. It’s simply amazing on the wrist, the fit and finish are quite high (the hands and hour indices hold up well under a loupe), and the look is, well, pure Hublot, for better or worse. I haven’t traditionally paid much attention to Hublot, but spending some time with this watch has me thinking maybe I should be a little more often. Hublot

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Blake is a Wisconsin native who’s spent the past decade covering the people, products, and brands that make the watch world a little more interesting. Blake enjoys the practical elements that watches bring to everyday life, from modern Seikos to vintage Rolex. He is an avid writer and photographer with a penchant for classic cars, non-fiction literature, and home-built mechanical keyboards.
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