Hublot Big Bang Unico Magic Sapphire

It’s All Wonderfully Clear

The Hublot Big Bang Unico Magic Sapphire features an eye-catching sapphire crystal case, a flyback chronograph and an impressive manufacture movement. After only a few brief moments in its company, the virtues of this timepiece become abundantly clear.

Hublot Big Bang Unico Magic Sapphire

All too often a mediocre product is shrouded with a veneer of virtue, deceitfully fooling the unaware and hiding its woeful inadequacies.

Take a fashionable garment, delivered in a seemingly sumptuous fabric. In some cases a lining is absent and the stitching is wayward. It is only with close examination that the meritorious can be identified and the inferior can be rejected.

Hublot has removed any veneer from its latest timepiece, inviting the potential purchaser to see everything without any inhibiting factors hiding potentially fundamental flaws.

The case of the Big Bang Unico Magic Sapphire is formed of sapphire crystal. This is not the first time such material has been used to create a watch case, but historically it has hitherto proved monumentally expensive. I remember only a few years ago wearing a sapphire watch with a seven figure price tag. The rationale for the eye-watering price tag can be attributed to the difficulty in machining the supremely hard material. Indeed, sapphire crystal is nearly as hard as diamond.

Now Hublot, a company with a prowess for mastering materials, has acquired the know-how to make sapphire crystal cases at a fraction of the cost found only a few years ago. Since 2016, the Swiss watch brand has been tantalising horophiles with a brace of eye-catching timepieces equipped with sapphire cases.

With the Big Bang Unico Magic Sapphire, Hublot has simplified the design language of its former sapphire crystal models and, in so doing, delivered a wonderfully pure aesthetic. The asking price of £48,000 has brought the watch into the grasp of a much larger audience.

The dial

Congruent with the clear bodywork of this magnificent timepiece is an open-worked dial. The hour and minute hands are also partially open-worked and the dial canvas exposes the date display for the delectation of the mechanically curious.

Hublot Big Bang Unico Magic Sapphire

The hour markers are lined with white luminescent coating and presented in a modern font sans serifs.

At 3 o’clock is a 60-minute chronograph register incorporating a date aperture. This subdial features a combination of white and red strokes together with white Arabic numerals. Everything is clean and simple to interpret.

Located opposite, at 9 o’clock, is a smaller subdial which displays the small running seconds. It is less prominent than the 60-minute chronograph register, eschewing numerals and featuring merely a silver-grey circlet to frame its extremities. Nevertheless, despite its demure character, the small seconds display proves easy to read.

Encircling the periphery of the dialscape is a flange, adorned with a combination of red strokes and white numerals. The flange, together with the central chronograph seconds hand, makes determining the elapsed seconds very user-friendly. The central chronograph seconds hand has a very interesting tip, partially split along its form to eye-catching effect.

Despite the dial being open-worked with a plethora of details it remains eminently legible.

The case

The pigment-free case bestows an unusual, but highly attractive aesthetic. The sapphire material extends to the bezel, save for the bezel lug which is formed of ‘polished transparent composite resin’.

Hublot Big Bang Unico Magic Sapphire

The design of the case is interesting as it reveals the natural rubber strap integrating with the case, granting an unusual mien. The strap is paired with a titanium folding buckle.

Hublot has wonderfully blended titanium with the case. The iconic six H-shaped bezel screws are titanium, delivered in sunken and polished form. The crown and push-pieces are also formed of titanium.

While the diameter of 45mm may prove too large for some would-be wearers, I found the shape and size of the case afforded a very agreeable union with my wrist.

A pane of sapphire also graces the case-back, providing sight of the manufacture movement within.

The movement

The HUB 1242 UNICO movement has been ‘developed and manufactured by Hublot’. Its specification includes a flyback function and a lovely sight of the column-wheel dialside, a detail I find particularly endearing when actuating the chronograph.

Hublot Big Bang Unico Magic Sapphire

Pressing the pushpieces is a wonderful experience, rewarding fingers with a silky-smooth feel. The movement features 330 components, including 38 jewels and an open-worked oscillating mass.

Closing remarks

There are no hiding places with the Hublot Big Bang Unico Magic Sapphire, everything is exposed and made available to scrutiny. Thankfully everything is refined to a very elevated standard.

The dial proves simple to read and the pushpieces grant an impressive tactile experience, courtesy of their supremely slick motion. The manufacture movement is attractive to look at with its modern appearance which forgoes traditional finishing such as Côtes de Genève motif. I especially appreciate the flyback function and the sight of the column-wheel in the lower portion of the dial.

However, ultimately, all roads lead me back to the case which is truly magical and invites curious eyes to investigate. A few years ago such a case was financially the domain of oligarchs and royals, but thanks to Hublot’s unrelenting materials research, sapphire cases have become more affordable. While the Hublot Big Bang Unico Magic Sapphire could never be described as a cheap watch, it is more affordable than similarly equipped watches on the market. Moreover, with every element exposed, there are no sins to be found and everything is open and honest. This is clearly a brilliant watch.

Technical specification

  • Model: Hublot Big Bang Unico Magic Sapphire
  • Reference: 411.JX.1170.RX
  • Case: Polished sapphire; diameter 45mm; water resistant to 5 bar (100 metres); sapphire crystal to front and rear.
  • Functions: Hours; minutes; small sweep seconds; date; chronograph
  • Movement: HUB 1242 UNICO movement; self-winding movement; 38 jewels; power reserve 72 hours; 330 components
  • Strap: Black rubber presented on titanium folding buckle.
  • Price: £48,000 (RRP as at 25.2.2017)
  • Limited Edition: 500 pieces

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Angus Davies

Angus is a self-confessed watch addict and is frequently asked to contribute to various printed magazines and websites around the globe. He also writes for individual watch companies on matters of horology and has appeared on television and radio as an industry expert.