Here's something that’s more or less guaranteed to polarise opinion.
Hublot’s Big Bang is a household name, but now we also have the Big Bang e: a smartwatch equivalent, inspired by the Big Bang Referee, which was created by Hublot for the World Cup in Russia two years ago. For Hublot to put such an iconic name onto a connected watch underlines just how pivotal they think this model will be, and the fact that it’s going to be initially sold not only online but also via the WeChat network in China (the Chinese equivalent of WhatsApp) equally shows where they see an early target audience. This is actually the first time Hublot will be selling a watch online via their own website (although it will also subsequently be available from retailers too) so it’s a truly ground-breaking moment on many fronts.
The art of fusion
Hublot talks a lot about the “art of fusion”: integrating the technical capabilities of a smartwatch into the traditional design language of the Big Bang and the heritage of a renowned Swiss watchmaker. From the start, it’s clear that this is as premium a smartwatch as you would expect: the case is in black ceramic or titanium, using all the techniques that Hublot have pioneered in their other watches.
There’s a scratchproof sapphire crystal, which doubles as a touchscreen. In another mix of traditional and state-of-the-art, the rotary crown with integrated pusher activates the electronic controls, which can also of course replicate classical watch complications (such as a perpetual calendar with precise moon phase or GMT function that depicts the earth). There are real numerals underneath that touchscreen crystal too, which means that it can additionally double as…a normal watch.
Under the skin
But what buyers of this watch will obviously be most interested in is its connected functionality. Essentially, this is an Android smartwatch powered by Google, so it does absolutely everything you’d expect a cutting-edge smartwatch to do, from apps via Google Play to payments via Google Pay. There are the usual notifications as well as email and other digital functions, and of course it can be used as a fitness tracker too. That side of things holds no real surprises, so the scope and power of its functionality is likely to be impressive.
Taking it personally
What Hublot is trying to incorporate into their top-end smartwatch is a high degree of personalisation and individuality. As part of the Hublot Loves Art initiative, the dial changes colour every three hours, meaning that eight colour-themed artistic creations are seen over a 24-hour period. Every full hour is also marked with an animation that appears for five seconds. The watch comes with a rubber strap, but these are designed to be easily interchangeable. There are also going to be specific dials created by Hublot ambassadors and friends of the brand that will become available over time.
Case: 42mm, in titanium or ceramic
Strap: Rubber, with Hublot deployant buckle and one-click system for easy interchangeability
Price: $5200 USD (titanium), $5800 (black ceramic)
This is a watch that poses so many questions, most of which will be philosophical. The answer to them will depend on each individual’s viewpoint of what constitutes a watch. What everyone can probably agree on though is the significance of this launch, with ramifications for the entire industry and its future. Not just because of the watch itself but also because of the way it is being sold and marketed. We’ll be following developments with interest.