By Nancy Olson
Hublot is no stranger to ceramic. The material has shown up in a variety of ways and in a variety of Hublot watches over the years, highly regarded for its light weight and sturdy demeanor. Ceramic is two-to-three times harder than steel, yet 30% lighter, impervious to most affronts, yet difficult to machine. For a company that’s all about the art of fusion—and one that loves a good challenge—it fills the bill.
Now, Hublot is taking ceramic one step further in the 43mm Big Bang Integral Tourbillon Cathedral Minute Repeater—a first of its kind—and it managed to overcome a few inherent issues in the process. The result is a complicated timepiece in an emblematic case material that adds some novel complexity to the Big Bang Integral Ceramic collection.
The limited edition of 36 pieces represents 18 watches in black ceramic and 18 watches in white ceramic. The Big Bang Integral Ceramic, with its ceramic case, bracelet, bezel and caseback, was introduced in 2020, but this is the first time an all-black version has been in the fold. It is also the first time Hublot has included a tourbillon minute repeater in the series.
So just what were those inherent issues I referred to earlier? High on the list for a minute repeater, of course, is the quality of the sound, which typically relies heavily upon the case material—often gold—for resonance and projection. This ceramic-cased watch was a technical departure, and the use of a cathedral-style mechanism was a good choice, and the sound is impressive. (Full transparency: I have not yet experienced the watch first-hand.) Also, water resistance is not simple when it comes to minute repeater watches due in part to the trigger on the case for actuating the chimes, but here Hublot claims 30 meters.
The timpiece, priced at $295,000, is powered by Hublot’s MHUB8001.RH. This manually wound 319-piece, 30-jewel movement offers a long weekend’s worth (80 hours) of power reserve, which is admirable for a tourbillon watch. The dial side shows off bridges, plates, and wheels with a range of finishes, and the namesake tourbillon is nestled at 6 o’clock. The see-through caseback offers a great view of the two brushed and polished minute repeater hammers, along with other key elements.
The Big Bang case showcases both polished and satin finishes—no small achievement given ceramic’s reputation as a knotty consort. Even the integrated ceramic bracelets feature dual finishing. Both have titanium folding clasps, one with black PVD.
Dual-finished ceramic bezels frame the matte dials, which differ slightly depending upon the variation. The black-cased model has a black dial with rhodium-plated satin-finished appliques accented with black SuperLuminova. The white model has a gray dial whose rhodium-plated markers are accented with white SuperLuminova. Both are traversed by simple skeletonized hands.