Last year around now, aBlogtoWatch debuted the Hublot Big Bang Integral watches here. This was the first Big Bang product with a truly integrated bracelet (meaning that the bracelet seamlessly integrates with the design of the case) — though, of course, it isn’t the first Big Bang watch to come on a bracelet. Last year’s look at the Hublot Big Bang Integral focused on the all-titanium version, but a black ceramic (as well as 18k King gold) version of the Big Bang Integral was also released. For early 2021, Hublot debuts three new version of the Big Bang Integral in new ceramic colors. Those colors include white, gray, and blue ceramic.
It was probably Chanel that proved to the world that ceramic watches on ceramic bracelets are a very good idea. Even though the Paris-based brand’s J12 timepiece family did not introduce ceramic watches or those on ceramic bracelets, it proved the long-term durability and fashionably utility of “high-tech” ceramic as a luxury timepiece material of choice. Colored ceramic (i.e., not just black or white) is a much more recent phenomenon. In that regard, Hublot was indeed an innovator, and their expertise with colored and traditional zirconium dioxide ceramic material is beautifully expressed in the cases and bracelets of the Big Bang Integral models. The cases are 42mm-wide and 13.45mm-thick. The idea was to base the case off of the more medium-wearing Big Bang UNICO 42mm watch (aBlogtoWatch review here), as opposed to the larger 45mm-wide Big Bang case.
The watch case’s water resistance is 100 meters, which is pretty decent for a ceramic watch. Inside the watches is the in-house-made Hublot caliber HUB1280 “UNICO” automatic chronograph movement that is a more recent upgrade over the outgoing UNICO HUB1242 movement that has the same configuration. The HUB1280 has the same 4Hz operating frequency and 72 hours of power reserve as the “gen 1” UNICO movement, but it does have a number of new parts, many of which are patented. The upgrades in the movement are there to make it more reliable, easier to service, more visually attractive, a bit thinner, and also a bit more efficient.
That said, this automatic chronograph with date movement is still on the more complicated side, constructed from a total of 354 parts. The 60-minute chronograph has a flyback mechanism and is also operated by a column-wheel transmission. Much of the Big Bang Integral watch dial is open, with a clear view of the movement. The application of large applied hour markers and matching hands help these timepieces maintain a very legible, sporty appeal.
Compared to the standard Big Bang case, the Big Bang Integral has some different parts aside from how the lugs look and connect to the bracelet. This includes new chronograph pushers (with grippy rubber elements on the outside), the dial, and how the case is aesthetically finished. Though at a glance the case very much looks like a Big Bang 42 with a more Gerald Genta-esque tapering bracelet design.
The bracelet has the look of three links and is appreciably thinner than older Hublot Big Bang watch bracelets. Ceramic is also a bit lighter than steel but is probably a little bit heavier than the existing all-titanium version of the Big Bang Integral watch. Hublot nevertheless finished the ceramic links as though they were metal, with a combination of brushed and polished surfaces.
With white, blue, and gray ceramic colors for the 2021 Big Bang Integral watches, Hublot is playing it a big safe. These, along with black (a color released for this Hublot watch collection last year), are probably the most conservative choices. But while white ceramic watches on bracelets (for men) are becoming a bit more popular, gray and blue are colors that are still rare for ceramic watches, in general, and this is the first time I can recall seeing a mainstream luxury timepiece with a gray or blue ceramic bracelet. The bracelet deployant clasps themselves are in titanium.
Another benefit of a watch like the Hublot Big Bang Integral is that it is, more or less, entirely hypoallergenic (between the titanium and ceramic case materials). What can be criticized about this watch collection is that it shows Hublot following trends a bit more than being the innovator many think of when they consider the brand. With that said, Hublot entrant into the luxury integrated bracelet watch area is fresh and free-spirited. Even if the bracelet and lug designs have some clear parallels with trendy Gerald Genta Royal Oak, and similar wristwatch designs with a lot of contemporary popularity. I think these will be really fun to try on, and I look forward to seeing the Hublot Big Bang Integral Ceramic watches for 2021 in the flesh. Price for the Hublot Big Bang Integral reference 451.HX.1123.HX (white), 451.EX.5123.EX (blue), and 451.FX.6923.FX (gray) watches is $23,100 USD each. Learn more at the Hublot website here.