Hublot’s all-sapphire watch sheds new light on its intricate movement

The Hublot Big Bang Integral Tourbillon Full Sapphire is the brand’s most technically accomplished watch yet

A clear plastic watch focussing on the see-through face. Under the face are the watch mechanisms. Two arms in silver point to 10 and 2. Hublot logo in the top part inbetween the watch arms and a mechanical feature.
Big Bang Integral Tourbillon Full Sapphire, £349,000, with 43mm case, HUB6035 automatic tourbillon movement and sapphire crystal bracelet, by Hublot
(Image credit: Oskar Proctor)

‘Sapphire is a hard material, but at the same time it is also fragile,’ says Hublot CEO Ricardo Guadalupe, who has just unveiled the first Big Bang model that boasts both an integrated case and bracelet crafted from the unyielding material. The Big Bang Integral Tourbillon Full Sapphire watch builds on foundations laid with an earlier model, 2016’s Big Bang Unico Sapphire, which marked the brand’s first time industrialising sapphire with a vast, 500-piece collection.

Now, this new limited edition piece goes one step further than the first sapphire watch, integrating the case and the bracelet to create a streamlined silhouette, hitherto thought to be an impossible technical challenge.

Hublot and its full sapphire quest

The new watch is an elaborate puzzle of sapphire pieces – there are 37 in the case alone, five of which are made solely from sapphire – and with 165 parts to the bracelet, a third of these designed specifically to be flexible and hug the wrist in what is a comfortable and ergonomic design. Each sapphire component, requiring its own process and tools, was milled and polished; it is a risky process that only exposes imperfections upon its completion, making errors expensive.

The reworked geometry of the watch’s case subscribes to an essential philosophy, stripping back all visible screws so that the bridges and the main plates of the movement appear to hover in space, facilitating the flow of light.

‘The most complicated part was to work on a design that could get maximum transparency,’ Guadalupe tells us, reflecting on the complexity of producing the three sapphire bridges. ‘It is very difficult to precisely position the wheels in relation to each other. We had to add brass plugs (which contain the watchmaking rubies) glued to the sapphire bridges. This is a real challenge for production.’

Technical prowess and a remarkable raw material combine in a clear show of strength.

INFORMATION

This article appears in the September 2021 issue of Wallpaper* (W*269), now on newsstands and available for free download.

hublot.com

Hannah Silver joined Wallpaper* in 2019 to work on watches and jewellery. Now, as well as her role as watches and jewellery editor, she writes widely across all areas including on art, architecture, fashion and design. As well as offbeat design trends and in-depth profiles, Hannah is interested in the quirks of what makes for a digital success story.

With contributions from