A topic of conversation that came up over and over again with respect to this watch was the unusual dial, that continues the camo theme from the bezel. The grays, blacks, and beige accents work nicely together, but it is, after all, camo. It doesn’t exactly lead to great legibility. Many jokes were made throughout the weekend on this point. I personally love the idea that Hublot is so committed to the bit that they decided to camouflage the time itself, making it nearly impossible to read. That’s a slight exaggeration, but this watch is among the squintiest I’ve come across, testing my vision frequently. The chronograph registers (and the date, which is allegedly at 4:30) are downright hidden from view in most lighting situations. If this watch is inspired by desert landscapes, perhaps the idea of a date on this dial is just a mirage.
The dial being somewhat tough to get a handle on, the components of the watch that really stood out to me as essential pieces of the design were the bezel and strap, both of which take the camo motif about as far as it could possibly go. The bezel is messy and looks as much like a Jackson Pollock as it does camo to me, and the strap is a bit lighter in tone than the case and dial, making the whole thing a kind of accent. Because the ceramic of the case is so dark and the carbon bezel is defined so clearly by the camo pattern, we don’t really get a sense of the unique ways these materials contrast with each other. To put it another way, you could have told me both the case and bezel were ceramic (or carbon) and I probably wouldn’t have batted an eye. At the end of the day, I don’t think that matters too much for this specific watch, as it’s so much about the desert camo concept, but it’s a different approach for Hublot, who typically want to make you keenly aware of the materials being used at every step along the way.
Over the course of my extended wearing experience (if you can call two days “extended”) I found myself thinking about how this watch, or something similar, would integrate into my daily life if I ever decided to pull the trigger. I usually don’t think too much about how a watch will pair with my wardrobe, but I realize now that that’s a function of the clothing I wear being a somewhat standard uniform of button-down with denim or chinos. That’s a fairly blank slate that most of my watches will match with quite easily, but I feel like the Spirit of Big Bang demands something more, like a heavily tattooed arm, pops of color that go beyond my usual grays and blues, or, obviously camo. It’s a loud watch, and I like its aesthetics, but I’m not a loud person, and I came to understand that even though I like designs that are unusual or mold-breaking in some way, perhaps I’m not someone who can handle a watch this aggro.
I keep thinking about the SAXEM tourbillon and its cousins in blue and purple sapphire. These watches are in another stratosphere in terms of their price and accessibility, but somehow (and maybe this is wishful thinking) I can see myself actually wearing watches like that in my day-to-day in a way that I can’t with this particular Spirit of Big Bang. They’re playful in a way that appeals to me and I think is more in-line with my personality, and ultimately what I want to convey to the outside world with my choice of watch. The colored sapphire feels like it would be appropriate for a VIP experience to see U2 at the Sphere. The camo Spirit of Big Bang is the watch you wear to train with Seal Team 6. I’ll let you guess where I’d feel most at home.
That said, I loved wearing this watch and came to really like the colorway in spite of some initial hesitation. Wearing it to a watch event was a perfect way to experience it, because it generated all kinds of questions about the brand, taste, value, and many, many other things. I still have the sense that a lot of people who are quick to criticize Hublot either haven’t spent a significant (or insignificant) amount of time with one, and certainly haven’t thought critically about the brand and what they’re trying to do. Because it struck me that at Windup, a place lined with brands that are experimenting with watches and watch design on every conceivable front, this Hublot seemed to fit right in. And if you came to Windup to see the impossibly intricate new dials that anOrdain had on display, or the cloud-like mother-of-pearl Brunswick that had a crowd at the Fears table all weekend, or the new Moonshot Chronograph from Isotope, which is like a prop from a long-forgotten science-fiction movie from the 1980s, than Hublot might actually be more up your alley than you ever thought.
For me, Hublot is all about a type of unabashed creativity that is a thread running through all of my favorite watches and brands. Scrolling through their current catalog, it’s hard to pin down a house style – everything is so varied. I’d describe the tone of the watches throughout their collection – and this certainly includes the camo Spirit of Big Bang – as exuberant, youthful, and experimental. These are all qualities that I prize in the brands we host at Windup each year, and it was fun and weirdly appropriate to reflect in the watch I wore throughout this year’s show.