Hands-On: Forty-Eight Hours with the Hublot Spirit of Big Bang Ceramic Carbon Beige Camo

If you’ve listened to the podcast, follow me on Instagram, read what I write here on the website, or even have just had a five minute conversation with me about something innocuous, like who makes the best fast food cheeseburger, there’s a good chance you already know that I’ve kind of become obsessed with Hublot. I try not to waste an opportunity to be sure people know that to overlook this brand on the basis of their perception in the larger watch community is to be, frankly, a snob. I don’t much care for snobs, or gatekeeping, or for not looking beyond the surface of a particular watch or brand, so the widespread Hublot-hate that cuts across the watch community is a continued annoyance. 

Because the thing is, Hublot is very good at doing what they set out to do, and judging them on the merits of fulfilling their intention seems like the only fair way to evaluate them, or any brand for that matter. Hublot, as it exists today, is essentially a brand full of statement pieces, but made with intention and a real focus on materials. The common gripes that they’re gaudy, or over-the-top, or even overpriced miss the point entirely. They are exactly what they are supposed to be. For a watch to be “gaudy” it would have to be so unintentionally, and as far as I’m concerned, a watch that’s over-the-top should wear that attribute as a strength. 

As much I like and admire Hublot for being a weird mix between class clown, Rebel Without a Cause, and, I don’t know, a swirling combo of ideas shared by any number of contemporary artists, I’ve never had the chance to spend more than the length of a boutique or Watches & Wonders meeting visit with one. Reviewing a Hublot, which for me means spending at least a few days wearing one nonstop, has been on my watch writer bucket list for quite some time. Well, we’re checking one off the list today. 


Hands-On: Forty-Eight Hours with the Hublot Spirit of Big Bang Ceramic Carbon Beige Camo

Beige Camo
Water Resistance
100 meters
42 x 52mm
Lug Width
Screw down

A few days before Windup NYC, Blake posed a question in our company Slack, asking if anyone would be up for reviewing the Hublot seen here, the Spirit of Big Bang Ceramic Carbon Beige Camo limited edition that was only recently released. Of course, I’ve never responded to a Slack message so quickly. And while part of me wished I’d be spending some time with something made of SAXEM, and perhaps with a tourbillon, I get it. You’ve got to work your way up the food chain. 

I’ll let you in on a little behind the scenes information here. Sometimes, when a review is set up, it can take some time to actually get the watch in hand. There are shipping logistics to work out, and press samples frequently make their way from reviewer to reviewer, and for me working remotely, a watch will often hit the office first for photography before being sent up to the Granite State. So I happily claimed the Spirit of Big Bang as a future review piece, but had no idea when I’d actually have the watch on my wrist. I expected it would be sometime after Windup. 

Cut to Friday morning of last week, just before the doors of the Altman Building are set to open, and Blake hands me the Spirit of Big Bang Camo as nonchalantly as you’d pass someone the cream for their coffee. I had planned to wear my Tudor Black Bay all weekend as a neutral, generic choice while visiting with our huge roster of brands at the show (it was the only watch I brought to New York) but suddenly that plan went out the window. It was going to be a Hublot weekend. And what better venue to experience a watch like this than an enormous watch event, filled with curious enthusiasts? 

The Spirit of Big Bang is a big, imposing, tonneau shaped chronograph with a ceramic case, carbon bezel, and titanium pushers and crown. This mix of materials is core to the very idea of Hublot as a brand, and the mixing of tech forward materials like ceramic (especially colored ceramic), precious metals, and lower cost materials like rubber and stainless steel is something they’ve been doing from the beginning. Brands at all price points do this now and we barely pay attention to it, and I suppose most of the time it’s something of a non-event, born out of practicality. But there was a time when it was somewhat radical, and Hublot was leading the charge. 

In the case of this watch, the materials aren’t really at the front of mind in the way they would be if the case were made of the more exotic materials in Hublot’s arsenal, like the aforementioned SAXEM, or even a brightly colored ceramic. To deal with this watch is to confront every feeling you’ve ever had about wearing camo. You will probably not be surprised to learn this, but I don’t typically wear camo in my day-to-day life. In fact, I find it kind of off-putting when someone who is not in the military is just rocking camo as they’re out and about. But the execution of the camo pattern here, while not exactly subtle, doesn’t immediately make you think “stolen valor” either. The inspiration here, more than anything military related, is the landscape of the American west, and a rough desert terrain. The prominent hits of beige through the dial, bezel, and strap reinforce this. 

After sizing the strap through the fold-over deployant clasp so that the tonneau case fit snugly against my wrist, it immediately became clear that I’d be explaining myself all weekend. “Wrist presence” doesn’t really begin to describe the way this thing takes over. I didn’t have a chance to take calipers to it, but Hublot calls it 42mm wide and 14.1mm tall. I’d say it wears bigger than that because of the case shape, which extends across the entire wrist, even if your wrist is kind of big, like mine. That said, because of the curvature of the case and lack of traditional lugs, it’s not at all uncomfortable or fatiguing to wear for long periods of time. 

I know I was at a watch event and people are perhaps a little predisposed to asking about what you’re wearing, but the immediacy with which I began fielding questions about the Hublot was surprising. Before the doors officially opened, I’d say I went through at least three or four versions of this conversation: 

“Woah! What are you wearing?” 

“Well, it’s a Hublot…” 

“Oh man congrats you finally did it!” 

“Oh, no. No no no. This is in for review, not mine, lol” 

“Well what do you think of it?” 

“I mean, I think it’s pretty cool! I don’t know if this one is really to my taste, but…” 

“It’s sick, I love it. Can I try it on?” 


::Hands over watch, always keeping a laser focus on exactly where it is, constantly assessing whether or not I could take this guy, because I don’t have $30k in the bank to replace it if he tries to run:: 

“Damn this is cool.” 

And that’s basically how it went for most of the weekend. People who spotted it were very into it, which I thought was an interesting phenomenon, because the rap on Hublot is that, well, they aren’t well liked among the enthusiast crowd. But Windup is about as enthusiast focused as it gets, and the watch was met with near universal plaudits. 


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. 

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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.