Hublot has long been known for its bold use of non-conventional materials and combinations of materials in its watch cases; several years ago, the brand even created its own scratch-resistant “Magic Gold” alloy that it has since used in several watch models. This year, Hublot makes horological history with the first large-scale series of watches with cases cut from pure sapphire blocks.
Up until now, only a few one-of-a-kind pieces or extremely limited series of watches — Richard Mille’s RM 56-02 and Hublot’s own MP05 LaFerrari Sapphire among them — have been available commercially with pure sapphire cases. The Hublot Big Bang Unico Sapphire, launching at Baselworld 2016 in March, will be an edition of 500 pieces — still exclusive, but offering an extremely difficult-to-make timepiece on a much larger scale. The middle, bezel, and back of the 45-mm-diameter case are cut from blocks of sapphire, which Hublot reminds us is nearly as hard and scratch-resistant as diamond (sapphire measures 9 on the Mohs scale of hardness; diamond is 10). As far as the case construction goes, only the screws, crown (which is overmolded with silicon) and the watch’s deployant buckle, are made from titanium. The openworked dial is made of transparent resin and shows off the watch’s movement, Hublot’s in-house Unico Caliber HUB1242.
The bezel has the well-known H-shaped screws holding it in place; the crystal covering the dial has a nonreflective coating on both sides and an etched Hublot logo. The hands and hour appliques are treated with white luminescent material. As fans of Hublot’s Unico watches know, the movement includes an integrated flyback chronograph function, with the column wheel and double clutch both visible on the dial side. (Click here for more on the Hublot Unico Caliber.) It has a black PVD treatment and a 72-hour power reserve; in addition to the hours, minutes, small seconds, and chronograph functions, it includes a date display in a window at 3 o’clock. The structured, lined rubber strap is as transparent as the case.
The Hublot Big Bang Unico Sapphire (Ref. 411.JX.4802.RT) will be priced at $57,900.