Hublot. A Titanium and Tantalum Automatic Chronograph Wristwatch with Date
Model: Big Bang Tantalum
Case No: 64xxxx, No. xx
Automatic jeweled movement, dark gray dial, applied black baton and Arabic numeralas, three subsidiary dials for 12 hour and 30 minute registers and constant seconds, date window between 4 and 5 o’clock, tonneau-shaped titanium and tantalum case, circular bezel set with six screws, screw down crown, two rectangular chronograph buttons in the band, sapphire crystal display back secured by six screws, rubber strap with titanium deployant buckle, case, dial, and movement signed
In January of 1980, Carlo Crocco launched the watch brand Hublot. Immediately the brand created a buzz by producing watches that combined a precious metal case with a rubber strap, with a minimalist porthole-inspired design, a concept that became known as the “Art of Fusion”. The use of rubber straps was hardly a new idea, but had always been used on sport and dive watches and never paired with a case in precious metal or used on “fine” timepieces. However, the rubber strap provided a clean and restrained line that fit with the case and dial design, and first appealed to several members of royal families because it was luxurious yet comfortable.
Being the early 1980’s and in the midst of what is now known as the “quartz crisis”, the Hublot watches were equipped with quartz movements. Nevertheless, by the end of the 1980’s the brand began using mechanical movements. By the 1990’s and early 2000’s, the brand had lost a bit of direction and while continuing to develop new models, needed someone to take the next step.
In 2004, Jean-Claude Biver became the CEO of the then 24-year old company, with the intention of creating a new signature watch for the original concept of fusion. In 2005 at Baselword, the Big Bang line of watches was presented, winning the Design Prize in the Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix. Continuing with the combination of a precious metal and rubber strap, the watch was also available with a variety of accents including ceramic and titanium bezels, and adding rubber accents to the crown and chronograph buttons. The addition of metal inserts between the lugs allowed the rubber strap to present the illusion of a straight line running right through the case when viewed from the side.
Over the next decade, the Big Bang model would continue to incorporate the concept of fusion. In its movements, for example, Hublot has added rotors treated with PVD. And to the cases, experimenting with different case materials and colors, for example developing a new alloy of 24k gold and ceramic. While other metals such as carbon and ceramic were used more prevalently on watch cases, exotic metals such as tantalum took longer to gain a foothold. The present watch is cased in an alloy of tantalum and titanium. On its own, tantalum is a dark gray, heavy, and very hard. It combines the heft that a platinum watch provides on the wrist with the corrosion resistance and dark color that comes with alternative materials like carbon or ceramic, thus finding its appeal. Combined as usual with a rubber strap, the Big Bang Tantalum is attractive to collectors who look forward to innovation in design and materials that revolutionize modern watch production.