Among Hublot’s many debuts at the LVMH Watch Week in Dubai in mid-January, the new Hublot Big Bang Integral was the brand’s primary focus. As the first Big Bang with an integrated metal bracelet, the 42mm collection debuts with an impressive lineup on its very first showing. 

Not only has Hublot offered the new collection in three case metals (titanium, King Gold and a 500-piece black ceramic edition), but also each metal has already been decked in diamonds for three additional gem-set models that extend the debut Integral line.

The namesake integrated bracelet here is a solid three-link design that breaks Hublot’s long held focus on rubber, leather or fabric bracelets for its best-selling Big Bang Unico collections. The new Integral collection is also notable for utilizing the rectangular pushers originally found on the Big Bang in 2005, but replaced in recent years by round pushers.

“For the new Integral, we’ve kept the screws, the bezel and the lugs, but we have changed the pushers to look like those used in the original,” explains Raphael Nussbaumer, Hublot product and purchasing director. 

“The new bracelet has three links, and we play with satin brushed and polished finishes and beveling and chamfering to create reflections. The bracelet seems simple, but to have a perfect balance between the case and the bracelet is truly challenging.”

Hublot was up to that challenge. I placed the new watch on my wrist last week, and discovered a solid construction that easily conforms to the wrist. The titanium model is a particular delight, with a lightness that was surprising, especially given the Big Bang’s full-sized 42mm by 13.5mm chronograph case. The King Gold model is as luxurious as you’d expect, with its heavier alloy of gold, copper and platinum presenting a stark contrast to either the titanium or black ceramic models.   

In addition to the new collection’s retro pushers you’ll also find a new case construction here that retains the well-known Big Bang sandwich construction but does away with composite resin insert. Instead, Hublot creates the new cases entirely from one material (titanium, King Gold or ceramic). Only on the ceramic model has Hublot utilized black composite resin lugs on the bezel. 

Inside each watch Hublot fixes its own Unico 1280 automatic flyback chronograph movement with column wheel and an impressive 72-hour power reserve. The handsome caliber is skeletonized for optimal viewing from front or back. The wearer can eye the column wheel from the front of the watch. All arrive with deployant buckle clasp. 

Prices for the new Hublot Big Bang Integral: $20,900 (titanium), $23,100 (black ceramic-500 pieces) and $52,500 (King Gold). Diamond models: $68,400 (titanium) and $100,000 (King Gold).   

Hublot also debuted many other new watches during LVMH Watch Week, including a handsome new Spirit of Big Bang Meca-10, a very hot Big Bang MP-11 Red Magic and a colorful set of gem-encrusted Spirit of Big Bang Rainbows. 

A handmade watch is a ‘piece of eternity’ Biver tells iW, and as such it will never die. 
CEO Hublot, Jean-Claude Biver 

Last November, Jean-Claude Biver received the 2018 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève Special Prize of the Jury for his more than four decades as a leader in the watch industry. While he stepped down from an operational role within LVMH late last year, Biver does still advise the luxury group’s watch brands. He remains President non-executive of the LVMH Group Watch division, and the Chairman of Hublot, TAG Heuer & Zenith.

Biver’s influence on the watch industry is immense. Starting with Audemars Piguet in 1975, Biver then re-founded Blancpain (in 1983) and went on to work at Blancpain, Omega, Hublot and most recently the entire LVMH Group (including Zenith and TAG Heuer). Every brand he has worked with has enjoyed a higher industry standing, greater consumer awareness and stronger sales as a result of his leadership. His well-known love of the industry and of watchmaking has over the years been recognized as instrumental in the growth of fine watch demand across the globe.

International Watch sat down with Biver earlier this year to speak with him about the state of today’s watch industry, about his passion for watchmaking and about his plans at LVMH and beyond.     


 The Hublot Manufacture in Nyon.


What is next for Jean-Claude Biver?
I have a contract with LVMH and I’m staying here. I’m chairman of Hublot, TAG Heuer and Zenith. I don’t know when, or if,  something will change. For the time being until my contract ends nothing will change. 

Making a Unico movement at the Hublot manufacture


Do you have any plans to start your own watch brand?
There are rumors that I will start the watch brand, but these rumors have been around for forty years, ever since I sold Blancpain. People might not know that in nine years I will be eighty years old. Is it reasonable to start a new brand when in nine years you will be eighty? When you are twenty-five years old, you have fifty more years to succeed.  If you are seventy-one, how many years do you have?

So I don’t think I will start a brand because it would not be reasonable. Once you have succeeded with five brands, and have been in the business for 45 years, you can leave with success. I don’t need it for me. If LVMH wants to start a brand, it’s different. 

New in 2019, the Hublot Big Bang Unico Paraíba White Gold


Your passion for watchmaking is clear. How has it served you?
It’s a big asset. It is a privilege. I wish everybody would have the same passion. 

The Swiss watch industry is my home.  It is where I have succeeded and failed, where I have friends and enemies.  


Are you at all worried about the Swiss watch industry?
Not at all. The industry has never been so successful financially. We have seen a lot of restructuring. All the major brands are extremely healthy. I see a lot of great plans and great shops, wonderful distribution networks, and many young people involved. I don’t think I have seen the industry as strong as it is today. 

The watch industry has an enormous advantage over others because everybody else today is surrounded by products that will become obsolete – your car, your washing machine – everything will become obsolete. Everything you have will have to be thrown away. But at the watch is eternal.  It will work for hundreds of years. 

The watch is a piece of eternity.  And it is also a piece of art.  And art is eternal, by definition.  We all want to be linked to eternity, and the watch is an extraordinary product because it will never die. There are not many such products, but a watch is one. This is why we call watchmaking an art. An Apple watch, a Samsung TV, these will die.

The new Zenith Defy Classic Blue Ceramic


Does the grey market concern you?
There have always been people who want to sell things cheaply.  There is nothing new about this. But who is responsible for the gray market? Look to the consumers, like with the drug market. Look to those who delivered too many watches to the consumers in order to get a bonus, to show they can sell more watches. It’s done by the brands themselves. If you sell to somebody more pieces then they can absorb, you don’t respect your brand. 


Will you begin a foundation or charity or a school?
Not the watchmaking school, because I am not a watchmaker. I would prefer a marketing or a commercial school. Or a charity. 


The new TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre Heuer 02T Tourbillon Nanograph


How do see the watch industry in five years?
It will fly. The art of watchmaking is eternal. That is why in a watch there is something mystical.  It has a soul because it is made by hand. It is made hands and fingers backed by 300 years of tradition,

Our challenges are the need to teach the young people to wear a watch. But if they have never worn a watch, or don’t you know anything about watches, have never dreamt about a watch, and they don’t know one brand that makes watches, how can you sell them a watch when they are thirty-five years old? So it is important to educate them when they are young. Maybe we’ll do the Biver education center for Millennials…we teach them to wear watches, and then one day teach them to wear two. 

Hublot’s new Classic Fusion Tourbillon Orlinski, made with a clear sapphire, King Gold or ceramic case

Vasken Chokarian is director of iW Middle East