With the launch of its Unico movement, Hublot became a manufacture. In this in-depth review from WatchTime’s March-April 2012 issue, we find out how the Unico performs inside the brand’s King Power Unico All Black. Scroll down to read the full article, with stunning visuals by Zuckerfabrik Fotodesign. Click on the pictures for larger images.
Hublot’s path to manufacture status was an unusual one. In 2007, three years after becoming the brand’s CEO, Jean-Claude Biver decided to make an in-house movement. Because Hublot had limited production capacity, he planned to make no more than 2,000 or so pieces per year of the caliber, which he dubbed “Unico.” But when the Swiss movement maker BNB Concept went bankrupt in early 2010, his plans changed. Hublot bought BNB’s machinery (and hired 30 of its watchmakers), and suddenly had the capacity to manufacture some 20,000 Unico movements per year.
To make the shift from small-series production, 80 percent of the movement had to be redesigned. This caused a delay of several months between March 2010, when Biver first introduced the movement, and the time when the finished version was ready for its stepped-up production runs.
The movement, Caliber HUB 1240 Unico, made its debut in the King Power watch. With an impressive diameter of 48 mm, the watch made a very big splash in our editorial office. The piece we borrowed to review was a member of the 500-piece All Black limited series (it was, in fact, the very first piece in the series). Opinions about it were mixed. “Much too big” was the verdict of some editors. “Too expensive,” others said. Comments such as “barely legible” and “drearily dark” were also heard. But let’s not be hasty. This article may shed a different light on this big watch.
The uncommonly large King Power case was created especially for the Unico caliber. Although the watch’s stated case diameter is 48 mm, the watch actually measures well over 50 mm when measured across the crown or across the lugs. The watch is 17.6 mm thick. It embodies the brand’s concept of “fusion,” the combination of different and often unusual materials in the same watch, which Biver introduced with the launch of the Big Bang in 2005. The watch also illustrates Hublot’s fondness for avant-garde styling.