While Hublot celebrates 10 years of the iconic Big Bang line with a series of 10 unique haute joaillerie Big Bang Unico creations priced at $1 million each, the brand is also releasing a new Big Bang Ferrari Speciale model which is definitely more suited for everyday wear. Available in two editions, black ceramic with red, white and blue details, or gray ceramic with gray and white details, it pays tribute to one of the very best of the Cavalino Rampante’s creations: the Ferrari 458 Speciale. Scroll down to read the review from Monochrome Watches contributor Robin Nooy.
The Hublot Big Bang Ferrari Speciale Ceramic, in either of the two color options, is still a very outspoken watch, not least due to its size. It is not a watch for gents who prefer to fly under the radar. When you consider the car that served as its inspiration, this shouldn’t be a surprise: both are quite ostentatious creations in their own right.
The car that inspired the Hublot Big Bang Ferrari Speciale
Just for those (like myaself) who are into cars as much as they are watches, the Ferrari 458 Speciale is a beefed-up, “this one goes to 11” version of an already awe-inspiring car. The designation “Speciale” was first assigned to the 458 Italia’s predecessors, the 348, 360 Modena, and F430.
Compared to the stock 458, the Speciale boasts an engine update, aerodynamic upgrades, a cosmetic stripe down the center of the car, and the extended use of weight-saving materials. A 35-bhp increase, a 90-kg drop in weight, and a 1/10-second quicker to 60 mph are the primary results of these adaptations.
Whereas most car manufacturers try to improve from a 6 to a 7, Ferrari tries to go from a 10 to an 11, or even maybe a 12 — always skipping one or two steps to offer a car that seemingly pushes the boundaries of engineering even further and does things that were considered impossible before. Even though the speed vs. power war between sports car manufacturers is an ever-present one, I do feel that the past couple of years, things have moved forward at an extremely fast rate. This is most definitely not a bad thing, because 10 years ago cars like the 458 Speciale and the bonkers LaFerrari (The “Ferrari TheFerrari” according to ex-Top Gear’s James May) wouldn’t have been possible.
However, it does raise an age-old question: where does it all end? Who cares! I’ve got my lotto ticket – if it pays off, I’ll send you a picture of my new car!
Moving from the car to the watch, it’s immediately evident that a lot of design cues from the car have been transferred to the watch. The most obvious would be the matching strap, with either a white-blue or a white-grey racing line from end to end. The same racing line runs along the center of the car, from bumper to bumper, as a clear distinction from the standard 458. Furthermore, the mesh used for the various air-intakes and grills on the 458 Speciale are mimicked on the dial, a trick we have seen on more than one occasion with racing- or car-inspired watches. To set off this limited-edition piece even more, a polished prancing horse has been placed upon the dial, and one of the pushers features a Ferrari logo in red or gray.
The 45-mm-wide case is constructed from black ceramic, with a satin or polished finish on various surfaces. The black ceramic bezel features six trademark H-shaped screws in black titanium, with a red composite-resin lower bezel. The highly scratch-resistant material Hublot uses is a zirconium-oxide mixture. Starting with a powder, pigments are added to obtain a certain color, after which the mixture is injected into a mold, which is then baked under intense heat and pressure, and then pressed into a pre-formed cast. The result is a material that is extremely hard and durable. Hublot is also exploring new varieties or composites with ceramic, for instance bright red or yellow ceramic or their Magic Gold composite claiming to be the only scratch-resistant gold alloy in existence.
Inside the black or grey case ceramic case you will find the HUB 1241 Unico automatic flyback chronograph movement, developed in-house by Hublot. The story behind the movement is quite interesting, finding its roots in the now-defunct movement specialist BNB Concept. Parts of BNB Concept’s assets were purchased by Hublot’s Jean Claude Biver, including its machinery and its lead designer, Mathias Buttet. One of the results of the partial takeover is Hublot’s in-house-made Unico movement, developed to replace and reduce the number of outsourced Valjoux 7750 movements used in Hublot timepieces.
The HUB 1241 Unico movement is made up of 331 components. It measures 30 mm in diameter and 8 mm in thickness. It operates at a rate of 28,900 vph and has 72 hours of power reserve. The movement has a 60-minute chronograph with a flyback function, allowing the counter to snap back to 12 o’clock instantly after resetting the chronograph. It also includes a skeletonized date wheel, visible through the date window at 3 o’clock. A nice touch is the yellow piece beneath the window, in the same color used for the Ferrari logo. The yellow is the official color of the city of Modena, Italy, the birthplace of the brand. Of course, both front and back are covered by sapphire crystal, and the caseback allows a big view onto the movement and the wheel-like rotor — another hint, albeit a more subtle one, to the car that inspired the watch’s design.
The Hublot Big Bang Ferrari 458 Speciale Ceramic comes on a black rubber and red or gray leather strap and includes a separate black leather strap. Both color versions are limited to 250 pieces, and are available at a price of 24,800 euros.
Ferrari is one of the most prestigious, if not the most prestigious, car manufactures that a watch brand could partner with. Its fanbase – for both road cars as well as its racing team — is one of the most devoted such followings in the world. Over the past few decades, the link between Ferrari and high-end watches has been as hair-raising to watch as a Formula 1 race. Hublot made its initial splash in the early 80’s with its then-unprecedented rubber-clad sport watches – but the brand really did not get the attention it deserved until that grandmaster of the watch industry, the inimitable Mr. Biver, took to the helm and quickly made Hublot into a cultural phenomenon with its porthole shaped cases. It is nice to finally see the elite carmaker paired up with a watchmaker that can match the brand, not just in styling and performance, but also in the luxury and pride of ownership.