Hublot Big Bang Integrated Blue Indigo Ceramic Hands-On Review

by Chamath Gamage

What We Love:

  • Indigo blue is stunning to look at
  • The ceramic Bracelet is well-executed
  • Feels like a toy on the wrist but in a great way

What We Don’t:

  • Ceramic is resistant to scratches but has the potential to chip
  • The date wheel can blend into the movement at times
  • Taking links on/off to adjust the watch will be challenging

Overall Rating: 8.75/10

  • Value for Money: 9/10
  • Wearability: 8.5/10
  • Design: 9/10
  • Build Quality: 8.5/10

When I think of Hublot, one of the first things that comes to my mind is the Big Bang, followed by the Hybrid rubber strap they pioneered back in 1980, which the brand is famous for. So, when I got the chance to test out the Big Bang in Blue Indigo Ceramic, I was excited because I got to try out a watch that doesn’t look like a Hublot but is still very much a Hublot.

Big Bang was first released in 2005, which paved the way for the brand and its collections, such as Classic Fusion and Spirit of Big Bang, and has now evolved into highly complicated timepieces and material experimentation. Fifteen years later, in 2020, Hublot introduced its first-ever integrated Big Bang, and in 2022, released during watches and wonders, the world saw four unique Big Bang Ceramic monochrome colourways. 

Blue Indigo, Sky-blue, Sand Beige and Jungle green represent the elements of water, earth and wood. An indigo blue from the Majorelle Garden, the streets of Chefchaouen in Morocco, and the Blue City of Jodhpur in Rajasthan. A sky blue from the South Seas. A sand beige from the deserts, and the beaches of the Caribbean. And a jungle green from the tropical forests. 

Initial Thoughts:

Anyone who knows me or follows me on Instagram knows I love my blue dials. So when I first saw this in Watches and Wonders, it was one of my favourite shades of blue that I had noticed during the fair. Now, I only got to see this watch inside the fair and have yet to have a chance to see it under natural light. Upon seeing it under sunlight, I was taken away by how bright this shade of blue is! It’s like the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Blue dial, which is a polarising bright blue colour, but it’s got a steel case and bracelet to break up the colour. That’s not the case here; everything is bright and polarising, and it’s very much a Hublot. This watch may not be for everyone, but after wearing this watch for two weeks straight, which is a big deal for me given the access we have for watches at WatchAdvice, I began to really appreciate what Hublot has done here with the integrated big bang.

Here is another thing that got me by suprise, how photogenic this watch is, the blue-indigo photographs so well that I had a hard time taking a bad picture, its one of those watches that I had fun photographing and I’ll let you decide from these pics in review. 

Before I go any further, I want to get a couple of things I don’t like about this watch out of the way. The first is the date wheel. The numerals are light, and I have to really look hard at the dial to notice the date; it gets harder to read under direct sunlight. The second might be fine for some, but if you are the type of collector who loves to tinker with the bracelet adjusting links, you should be careful as ceramic has the potential to chip, especially the sharp corners of the links. And if you do that, the link will have to be replaced, which might be a costly exercise. Now, this shouldn’t deter you from buying, but this will be the case for all ceramic watches in the Market.

Understanding Ceramic:

There are many advantages to using Ceramic in a watch. It’s lightweight, which means it’s comfortable for longer periods of wear. Ceramic is hypoallergenic, as there are no coatings, it is great for sensitive skin. The best reason for ceramic is the wear and tear compared to steel or precious metals. Ceramic is scratch-proof and may not show any signs of wear after years of use. Also added benefits such as corrosion-free, colour won’t change from ultraviolet rays, and anti-magnetic properties. 

Enter Hublot. When it comes to material experimentation in watchmaking, Hublot’s experience is unmatched by any Brand, especially in Ceramics and Sapphires. They are the world’s first to create scratch-proof gold, created with minuscule pores of ceramic poured with 24k molten gold under high pressure to fill the cavities. Named “Magic Gold” by Hublot, it is 75% pure gold, thus making it 18k gold material. 

Now, coming back to ceramic, many brands produce ceramic cases, but only a few venture into making bracelets. Due to the very nature of how bracelets are constructed and worn, ceramic is not an optimal choice. Yes, it’s scratch-resistant, but as mentioned earlier, it’s also prone to chipping if mishandled.

Big Bang Integrated Design:

At 42mm, at first glance, it has all the design cues from Big Bang Unico. Hublot has been listening to its customers and has started to manufacture smaller case sizes. Now, 42mm may not look like a smaller size to some, but given how the Big Bang cases used to be when they started off with 44mm and 45mm sizing, this is a step in the right direction. 

The case and strap are both made from blue ceramic, which has been satin-finished and polished. Hublot has chosen to use this high-tech ceramic as the chosen material because it is an ultra-tough material, and almost entirely scratch-proof. The mixture of the two different finish types gives the watch added character and depth. Ceramic is a tried and tested material for the brand, especially when it comes to the Big Bang Intergrated collection. On previous editions, Hublot has presented the Big Bang Intergrated in navy blue, black, white and grey ceramic colours.

The case back has a see-through sapphire crystal, where you can see Hublot’s in-house 1280 Unico movement. Around the sapphire crystal, is the inscription “LIMITED HUBLOT BIG BANG EDITION”, which is done in white to contrast against the blue ceramic case back. Through the sapphire crystal, you can see the 1280 Unico movement decorated nicely, along with the hollowed-out winding rotor.

In-house calibre 1280 Unico Movement:

The HUB1280 Unico automatic movement is one of Hublot’s workhorses, having been placed in over 19 references. It consists of over 354 parts and 43 jewels, beats at a frequency of 28,800Hz, and produces a power reserve of 72 hours. This movement’s functions include Hours, minutes, seconds (9 o’clock), date and chronograph. The chronograph seconds are placed in the centre of the dial, and the minute counter is placed at the 3 o’clock position. The date is displayed within the chronograph minute counter. 

As this is not just any chronograph, but a flyback chronograph, the in-house-made calibre HUB1280 unico movement is a modular movement with a column wheel chronograph module. The column wheel is usually displayed on the caseback side of the watch on most watches (from different brands); however, in the case of the Hublot, the double clutch mechanism and the column wheel are displayed on the dial side, and the column wheel is visible between the five and six-hour markers. You can see this in operation as you start, stop and restart the chronograph. 

Another bit of information that some may overlook is the information placed on the movement side of the HUB1280 in the caseback, “Full Adjusted”. It is nice to see this type of detail on the in-house movements. 

How does it wear?

At first instant, when you try the watch on, it feels like a toy. This is due to a couple of things; first, the lightness of the ceramic: unlike stainless steel and precious metals, Ceramic and Titanium are lightweight in nature, and if you are like me, who owns stainless steel watches and is used to weight, you will find this to be weird in a good way. The second thing is the colour; blue indigo is such a beautiful shade of blue that it oozes with a wrist’s presence and comes alive outdoors. 

Now, while wearing this, most of the time, it felt like a toy on the wrist; I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what it was making me feel that way. Ask anyone who owns a ceramic watch, and one of the things they will say is that it feels like a toy on the wrist. Perhaps the lightness of the ceramic, the bright, indigo blue or a combination of both. I don’t say this in a bad way. I actually really like this watch on the wrist.

One of the drawbacks of this watch is its legibility. While the skeletonised dial is pleasing to the eyes, the placement of the date wheel makes the dial somewhat cluttered. The time and the chronograph can be easily read. However, depending on the lighting, reading the date can be challenging.

Can this watch be a daily watch? The short answer is yes.

I have had this watch for just over two weeks, during which time I almost wore it daily. The lightness of the ceramic and its scratch-resistant properties make it a great daily watch. The bracelet is comfortable on the wrist, and the way it plays with light surprised me. AP bracelets are famous for the way they shine, and I can say this bracelet is on par with that. Operating the Chronograph is easy with the 1280 calibre. The pushers are smooth, and the flyback function is satisfying to operate. I enjoyed seeing the column wheel in action on the dial side of the watch.

Given how bright this blue is, I found myself looking at this watch more than any other watch I own. Now, this watch won’t go with many outfits, and if you are into matching watches to your outfits, you will find a hard time matching this to your outfits. Then again, this wasn’t made to blend in, not with this particular colour anyway. However, if this isn’t the colour for you, I have got some good news: The Big Bang Integral ceramic comes in many colours, including white and black ceramic, so there is a colour for every collector…

Final Thoughts:

Limited to just 250 pieces worldwide and with a colour like Blue Indigo, this is not a watch that you won’t see around. Hublot offers 5 years of warranty on all of their watches, and this particular watch is a boutique and online exclusive. Once you have purchased this watch, you will be eligible for a complimentary complete service from Hublot.

Hublot deserves credit for Its Build Quality. I have been fortunate enough to test the Audemars Piguet full ceramic watches, and the build quality on this Hublot is on par with the AP ceramic for a fraction of the price. This is priced at 37,600 AUD, and for this price point, you are getting a full ceramic watch with a finishing that is very close to Audemars Piguet Ceramic and a flyback chronograph. Now, the closest comparison for this watch is the Audemars Piguet with the full black ceramic flyback chronograph on production (reference 26240CE.OO.1225CE.02) and has an RRP of 111,700 Singapore dollars, which is roughly 127,000 AUD converted. Now, that’s roughly 3.3 times the price of this Hublot. Does the AP command three times the price tag of Hublot? I’ll let you be the judge of that. 

Reference: 451.EX.5129.EX

Specification:

  • Size: 42mm
  • Case: Blue Indigo Ceramic
  • Dial: Matt Blue Skeleton Dial
  • Movement: HUB1280 UNICO Manufacture Self-winding Chronograph Flyback Movement with Column Wheel
  • Power reserve: 72 hrs
  • Water resistance: 10 bar (100 meters)
  • Crystal: Sapphire with Anti-reflective coating with faceted edges
  • Case back: Sapphire with Anti-reflective Treatment
  • Strap: Satin-finished and Polished Blue Ceramic Bracelet, Titanium Deployant Buckle Clasp

Australian Recommended Retail Pricing: A$37,600

Availability: Limited to 250 pieces. Available now from Hublot Boutiques or online from Hublot.com

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