When we think of Hublot, we tend to picture ruggedly stylish chronographs, avant-garde materials in eye-catching color combos, and sporty design influences ranging from soccer to motor racing. Rarely do we think of classical dual-time functionality, and that’s a shame because Hublot’s Big Bang Unico GMT models — introduced in 2017 in titanium and carbon fiber-cased editions, and joined by King Gold and ceramic versions this year — represent a distinctly masculine, eminently legible, and user-friendly take on this classical “practical” complication. Here’s a hands-on look at the Big Bang Unico GMT Carbon model, on which I tracked my overflowing appointment calendar at Baselworld 2019 while keeping track of the time back home.
Even without the flagship chronograph model’s busy Replica Watches, tricompax face, the watch is immediately recognizable as a Big Bang, sporting an unapologetically large 45-mm case, constructed of carbon fiber, a material long associated with Hublot and its “art of fusion” design ethos. The material makes the thick case (15.85 mm) quite sturdy and yet pleasantly lightweight. The round, stationary carbon fiber bezel is anchored firmly to the octagonal case middle by the Nyon-based brand’s signature H-shaped screws — six of them, to be exact, representing the hour points at 12, 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 o’clock. The other hour markers on the bezel, on which a central arrow-tipped hand indicates a traveler’s home or reference time, are stencil-style Arabic numerals and half-hour indices filled with white lacquer for an excellent contrast with the dark checkerboard pattern of the carbon fiber base. The flange of the bezel, with a white printed minutes scale, is made of blue composite resin, another favorite material of Replica tag heuer watches and one that lends an attractive blue highlight to the ensemble, matching the thick rubber strap, the “Night” sector on the dial’s central day-night indicator, and the protruding, blue-resin lateral inserts, sandwiched between the bezel and case middle and held by titanium screws.
The chrono-type pushers control the hour hand, which moves forward or backward in one-hour increments.
The Arabic hour numerals missing on the bezel are used as the principal markers on the dial, which is openworked in the now-recognizable style of other Unico-equipped watches. Big, bold, eminently legible and filled with Super-LumiNova, these numerals alternate with thick bar indices for the main time display i.e., the current time in one’s location away from home, which is displayed by thick, partly skeletonized and luminous-filled pentagon-shaped hands. The running seconds tick away via a very thin, blue-lacquered central hand, whose counterweight is shaped like a Hublot “H” and whose tip elegantly glides past the indices on the blue inner scale.
Following the very intuitive design codes, the pusher at 2 o’clock moves the hand forward an hour, while the one at 4 o’clock moves it backward a hour. In a matter of moments, the triangle-tipped, luminous GMT hand will continue to point to the home time on the 12-hour bezel, while the main hour and minute hand will be set to the local time. If in a few days you are flying from, say, Basel to Tokyo, just click the pusher again until the hour hand moves to that city’s local time. Best of all for jetlagged wearers who may not want to do the math required of a more standard 24-hour GMT timekeeper, the dial’s day-night indicator allows one to see at a glance whether your home time is in AM or PM time. Divided into blue for night (matching the strap and the flange) and light gray for day (playing off the colors of the exposed Unico movement and the case’s carbon fiber pattern) — and, to make it even more idiot-proof, labeled as such also — this disk moves along with the hands, allowing a quick “day or night” reference for the home time.
Hublot Big Bang Unico GMT Carbon - Dial - Day-Night
The in-house-manufactured engine for all this ease of use is Hublot’s Caliber HUB1251 Unico, self-winding by means of a skeletonized rotor and amassing a power reserve of 72 hours. It is ensconced behind a carbon fiber caseback held fast by titanium screws and fitted with a sapphire window. The movement’s base, of course, is Hublot’s original Unico caliber, which has had its integrated chronograph components, including the column wheel, stripped out (as well as the typical skeletonized date disk, another addition by subtraction to keep the watch’s two time zone displays as simple as possible) and a patented, proprietary GMT module added. Perusing its micromechanical expanses with a loupe, one notes the matte finishing on the skeletonized, micro-blasted bridges, the balance oscillating at a speedy 28,800 vph, and the bidirectionally swinging, blade-edged rotor, running on ceramic ball bearings, which can be not only seen but heard while doing its work: hold the watch up to your ear, gently shake your wrist, and listen to the metallic rasps of the movement’s mechanical pulse.
Hublot Big Bang Unico GMT Carbon - Back