2020 may have only just started but LVMH’s watch division has wasted no time to release its first wave of novelties at their LVMH Watch Week, in Dubai. The showcase is a clear response to the largest Switzerland based watch fairs, now being held much later in the year and, back to back.
The LVMH Watch Week in Dubai, also served as a bold experiment for LVMH’s watch brands to assess whether such formula would be effective for the group, if they were to exit Baselworld for its 2021 chapter. The LVMH group’s exit from Baselworld, is of course, still just speculation. Chances are we will have to wait to find out once Baselworld 2020 has concluded. But it has to be said, that the first edition of LVMH Watch Week was very successful, simply due to the fact that the group had a captive audience in their own space and time.
Among the novelties announced, Hublot’s Big Bang Integral is, no doubt, one that garnered a lot of attention. The Big Bang is not only one of the brand’s most well-known watches, it is also considered by many as an anchoring piece in the landscape of contemporary high-end sports watches.
The Big Bang has often been the pioneer when it comes to the brand’s use of advanced materials such as ceramics, carbon fibre, King Gold, and titanium. But this time, Hublot put material second, and instead focused is on the Big Bang’s overall image. Forgoing the rubber or leather strap attached to the iconic form of the Big Bang, Hublot has presented the watch for the first time on an integrated metal bracelet in three executions: titanium, black ceramic and King Gold. All of this to mark the Big Bang’s own 15th anniversary.
An integrated bracelet is one where the watch has its case, lugs and the first link of its bracelet formed in a seamless design. Basically, a design aesthetic dominated today by the Royal Oak and Nautilus. The design of the Big Bang Integral, though, is noticeably distinct. Its case, lugs and first link take on a look and feel that is very much true to Hublot.
Focusing on the bracelet design: whichever angle you view it from, it looks like it is simply an extension of the the case and lugs themselves. Not only does the outline of the case extend to the strap, the polish, chamfers and vertical satin finish all form a seamless visual connecting the case, lugs and bracelet.
The bracelet is composed of three links. The width of the central link is uniform from what it is between the lugs and between the two lateral links, throughout the entire bracelet. The link surfaces are satin-finished, the edges are bevelled and chamfered. Each link is carefully polished, even on the inner surfaces, and then assembled by hand.
Furthering the visual effect of the watch, the familiar Big Bang case had to take on certain adjustments. It still retains the “sandwich” construction of its case, but for the Integral the complete case is assembled from the same material. This, as opposed to the composite resin insert, which usually forms the Big Bang’s mid-case. The most obvious change, however, may be the the chamfers on the case edges, which are now widened to match with those on the bracelet’s edges.
The dial and bezel are identical to the Big Bang 42mm model, save for the indices, which are now all baton-style markers instead of the combination of Arabic numerals for the even numbers and batons for the for odd numbers.
Overall, you could say the Hublot Big Bang Integral further elevates the Big Bang collection in terms of aesthetics and ergonomics. The 42mm size, it feels like, is just the right size and thinner when compared to the classic 45mm Big Bang.
On the wrist, the watch is excellent, not only because it is comfortable to wear, but also because of its solid design and the detailing on the polished bracelet. There is a clear demand among collectors for the sports-chic watches on integrated bracelets. The challenge, however for everyone vying to enter the market is, that the design of what they present must remain true to the brand itself, and must be able to effortlessly transit from formal to casual situations without batting an eyelid. All that considered, it cannot be denied that the Big Bang Integral presents itself as a very worthy competitor.
Self-winding HUB1280 UNICO Manufacture movement; flyback chronograph with 60-minute totalizer; hours, minutes and small running seconds; 72-hour power reserve
42mm in titanium, King Gold and ceramic; titanium and King Gold versions also have diamond paved options (case and bracelet); water-resistant to 100m
Matching material (titanium, King Gold and ceramic); satin-finished and polished; titanium and King Gold versions also have diamond paved options (case and bracelet)