Since introducing its classic porthole design in 1980, Hublot has earned the reputation for turning understated rubber-strapped watches from cheap to chic. Its latest, the Big Bang, is a bold sports watch that's making a huge impact. In the last year, the Big Bang has accounted for about 80 percent of Hublot's sales in the United States and its success has prompted the release of several limited-edition versions in 2006.
As its name suggests, the Big Bang is a muscular-looking wristwatch. Available in stainless steel and 18-karat red gold, the timepiece can also be purchased with a black ceramic bezel. The limited editions (numbering 250 watches in each style) include an all-black model, as well as one with an ultralight magnesium case, and both can be fitted with a titanium bezel. The black-on-black version is the most fashion forward of the new releases. "It's for someone who wants to make a statement and who doesn't really care about keeping the time," says one spokesman—only half jokingly.
Each Big Bang incorporates a number of special materials—including ceramic, Kevlar and rubber—that are more commonly found in sports cars and motorcycles. Hublot calls this the "Visionary Art of the 21st Century Watch Making."
The watch also has solid components under its handsome face, including a mechanical chronograph movement with an automatic winding mechanism developed by famed Swiss movement manufacturer La Joux-Perret. The Big Bang's bezel—in ceramic with six sunken screws that have been polished and blocked with H-shaped slots—highlights the brand's style. The adjustable rubber strap adapts instantly to different wrist sizes. Some watch lovers may feel that the Big Bang resembles sports watches by Bulgari or Audemars Piguet, but Hublot says it's not intentional.
Most of the Big Bang models are priced in a range from $8,500 (the all-stainless-steel model) to more than $25,000 (some limited-edition pieces). But a bling version, which is loaded with diamonds and other precious stones, can run as much as $70,000, and there's a Tourbillon model in platinum for $160,000.