A grand Bavarian tradition was given a horological twist at Hublot’s Munich boutique on Tuesday, September 19, at the kickoff of Oktoberfest, the world’s most famous festival. At exactly 4:00 PM, the traditional hour at which the first kegs of Oktoberfest beer are tapped, the Hublot Big Bang Bavaria, a timepiece that represents a partnership with an ancestral German leather purveyor — and also features the collection’s first bronze case — was unveiled to a group of international media and guests.
Hublot Chairman Jean-Claude Biver, Hublot CEO Ricardo Guadalupe, and Markus Meindl, CEO of German leather footwear company Meindl — family-owned since 1683 and the official provider of authentic Oktoberfest lederhosen — hosted the boutique event and represented the two partnering brands. After the watch’s official introduction, adding to the festive and traditional atmosphere, Guadalupe tapped a keg of Hublot-branded beer with three tips of a wooden mallet, while Meindl uttered the famous German expression “O’zapft is!” (“It’s tapped!”)
The Big Bang Bavaria straps, made by Meindl in its own traditional process, are reminiscent of lederhosen, the short leather breaches that originated in Bavaria and have been the traditonal clothing of the region’s mountain people since the 18th century. Like lederhosen, the straps are cut from deer leather and hand-embroidered in a pattern that is only possible to create on this material. Meindl’s age-old technique — which has been passed down from father to son for centuries — requires fully 3 to 4 months to tan the hides, which are then salted, immersed in a limestone-based liquid before being washed, treated by hand with cod-liver oil, and dried. The last two steps are repeated several times until the leather is entirely soaked with the oil. These treated hides are then left to dry in the sun to develop their light brown coloring. Rubbing them with sandpaper afterward brings out their velvety texture, and in the final step, Meindl applies and brushes the leather with several tropical wood bark colorants, a procedure repeated as many as five times.
The watch’s 45-mm-diameter case is made of bronze — a material that is becoming increasingly trendy in the watch world but is used here for the first time ever by Hublot. The brand chose bronze for this timepiece’s, it says, not only for its antimagnetic properties, resistance to corrosion, and rustic appearance, but also for the natural patina that it will develop over time and exposure to the atmosphere — just like the Meindl leather strap. Like the tanning of the strap, the burnished finish of the case is also executed by hand. In keeping with Hublot’s “fusion” concept, other materials also make an appearance in the details: black ceramic for the caseback, 3N gold for the hallmark H-shaped screws in the bezel, yellow gold plating on the hands and applied indices, and black PVD-coated titanium (with a brushed bronze insert) on the straps’s deployant buckle.
Such meticulously worked cases and straps also deserve a top-notch, in-house-made engine, and Hublot obliges, equipping the Big Bang Bavaria with a manufacture movement, Unico Caliber MHUB 1242. This bidirectionally self-winding movement is fitted with a flyback chronograph function powered by a column wheel — one of the 330 total components, many of which are visible through the openworked dial and glare-proofed sapphire crystal — and amasses a 72-hour power reserve when fully wound.
Each watch in this 100-piece limited edition (actually, 99; Biver assured the crowd at the launch event that he’s snapping the first one up himself) is delivered with two of Hublot’s patented, easy-change “One Click” straps: one with a cuff in natural light brown deer leather, enhanced by two leather tabs embroidered with a deer head; the other in “altsalzburg” (black-brown)-colored deer leather, embroidered with oak leaves. The Hublot Big Bang Bavaria is priced at $28,300. The Oktoberfest beers are flowing in Bavaria until October 3; does this timepiece get your horological juices flowing also? Let us know.