Hublot has a secret weapon located in its manufacture. The weapon’s name is the Confrérie Horlogère Hublot, led by Mathias Buttet (founder of now defunct complex watch movement maker BNB Concept). Mathias started the Confrérie Horlogère at BNB Concept, an idea that Hublot has wisely chosen to continue. The Confrérie Horlogère is like a free think tank of incredible movement and watch ideas, giving talented watch makers the ability to execute wild concepts that would never make sense for mass production. Buttet’s workshop is separate from the main Hublot manufacture and feels more like a lab. Here his team experiments with ideas – and a select few make their way to eager collectors.
It is this skilled team that has created the manually wound movement (calibre HUB 8000) for the incredibly limited Hublot Big Bang Minute Repeater Tourbillon. It is a gorgeous skeletonized movement that features a flying tourbillion and a minute repeater mechanism (that when activated, plays out the time in a musical code). Unlike many modern minute repeater watches that have almost muted sounds, Hublot’s minute repeater enjoys deep, harmonious chimes. It does this and is able to retain a 30 meter level of water resistance. Hublot is understandably tight-lipped about the secret to the timepiece’s audio volume (while in a case), though part of the secret is that the movement and case were designed to work harmoniously together.
The reason for the impressive beauty and function of the watch movement isn’t a secret though. While most Hublot timepieces enjoy a sincerely modern interpretation to design, the HUB 8000 is an inherently classic movement. Designed and manufactured in the tradition of great Swiss minute repeaters, it simply is a high-quality execution of the traditional “best practices” when it comes to constructing this type of watch. Don’t be fooled though. While that is a simple formula for success, the actual practice of making one is very challenging. Only a few manufacturers are even able to construct in-house minute repeaters – and this is a first for Hublot. Minute repeater complications are often considered challenging, if not the most challenging complications for watch makers to master. As such, this Big Bang Minute Repeater Tourbillon will be limited to just 10 pieces. The HUB 8000 movement further features a long power reserve of 120 hours, and the flying tourbillon escapement sits in a ball bearing free cage.
Activating a minute repeater is always done by a slide lever. On the Big Bang Minute Repeater Tourbillon, the lever is cleverly integrated into the iconic Big Bang case design. The left “wing” of the case is actually the lever. The case itself is in 18k red gold and 44mm wide. The all gold case is unique for the brand. Hublot typically likes to mix materials in pursuit of their “fusion” philosophy, but forgoes such mixing for this special high-luxury timepiece. Screws on the case are however in titanium, and the case front and back are covered with AR coated sapphire crystals for an excellent view of the impressive movement.
Hublot collectors surely didn’t see this piece coming. The strong modern luxurious exterior is matched with a beautifully decorated and skeletonized in-house movement that is entirely classic in design. While the dial also skeletonized, legibility is mostly retained via the large gold hands, and partially applied hour marker indicators. The Hublot Big Bang Minute Repeater Tourbillon retails for 290,000 Swiss Francs, limited to just 10 pieces. www.hublot.com.
- 44mm wide 18-karat red gold case
- Lever to activate minute repeater complication
- Traditional looking skeletonized dial and movement
- Flying tourbillon escapement
- Solid gold hands and applied hour indicators
Ariel Adams is the Haute Living Watch Editor and also publishes the luxury watch review site aBlogtoRead.com