Watches: Hublot Big Bang Unico Bi-Retrograde Chrono

By Thierry Ané on March 17, 2014

It was in 2008 that Hublot associated its watches with football for the first time. The brand’s move was also a first in the muted world of fine watchmaking: at the time most Swiss luxury brands rather aligned themselves with sports that reflect the same values of elitism and exclusivity as their beautiful timepieces. Every high-end manufacture with sports watches in its collections was competing to sign Polo, Cricket, Golf or F1 Racing ambassadors but no one wanted to be associated with such a working-class sport as football. Only Jean-Claude Biver was visionary enough to understand the potential economic fallout of such a universal game.

Six years later, Hublot’s involvement with the world of football is thriving. The brand has become the official timekeeper of some of the most prestigious clubs on the planet: Manchester United, the FC Bayern Munich, the Clube de Regatas do Flamengo, the Juventus FC and recently the Paris Saint-GermainWatches: Hublot King Power Paris Saint-Germain. Hublot has also signed legendary football players like Diego Maradona, Radamel Falcao, PeléWatches: Hublot Classic Fusion Chronograph Aero Pelé and now even football managers with José Mourinho.

One additional claim to fame for Hublot is the title of “Official Timekeeper for the FIFA World Cup” they obtained in 2010. The 2014 World Cup that will begin in less than three months in Brazil will undoubtedly be one of the biggest sporting events of the year. It will bring additional worldwide visibility and prestige to a brand that decidedly does not need it to shine! On this occasion the Nyon-based manufacture unveils the Official Watch for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the splendid Big Bang Unico Bi-Retrograde Chrono.

As always, the brand did not do things by half: 18 months of research and development were necessary to create Hublot’s very first central chronograph with bi-retrograde function. Based on the Unico Manufacture calibre, the new HUB 1260 Unico movement has been really developed with football in mind. The chronograph functions occupy the top half of the dial with retrograde seconds (green) and minutes (yellow) hands sweeping across a circular arc graduated also with colours of the Brazilian flag. The seconds hand moves from “0” to “60” before flying back to its initial position and resuming its course. The minutes hand, however, normally stops at the red “45” mark as this is the length of football half-period, but, since the referee can decide to add up to 15 minutes of game to compensate for stoppage of gameplay during the official 45-minute halves, the chronograph minutes hand can indicate this extra-time.

In order to know which period is currently timed, the chronograph pusher at 2 o’clock is also used to select the period of the game: “1st Half”, “Half Time”, “2nd Half” or “End of Match”. It is indicated in a window at 12 o’clock while the time of the day is displayed in an off-centred sub-dial at 6 o’clock for the hours and minutes and through stylised sweeping seconds at 9 o’clock.

Hublot presented two versions of the Big Bang Unico Bi-Retrograde Chrono: a Carbon Black Ceramic model limited to 200 pieces ($26,200) and a Carbon King Gold version limited to 100 pieces ($42,200). They both share the same 45.5 mm case as the other models of the Big Bang Unico collection. It is here crafted in black ceramic or king gold and complemented with a carbon fibre bezel featuring the iconic six H-shaped titanium screws. Mounted on structured and ribbed black natural rubber straps, these watches use the ingenious “One Click” system that allows the wearer to change the strap easily. The deployant buckle, in black PVD titanium or King Gold features a nice carbon fibre insert bearing the brand’s name. The back of the watch is equipped with a see-through sapphire to let you admire the intricate moment. It is adorned with the official logo transfer of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil.

I really think that the watch is crazy beautiful whatever the version. If you are a regular Watch Agora reader, you know how enthusiastic I am about Hublot in general and the King power models in particular. The Unico movement is absolutely great: it is beautiful to look at and works flawlessly. I know it for a fact since I own the very first model housing this movement, the King Power Unico All Black. I love the fact that when another well-known brand mainly sticks to chronographs for its iconic sports watch, Hublot is trying new things. I am a big fan of the original King Power Unico GMT that I also own.

I can tell you that if the “Unico Bi-Retrograde Chrono” had been a King Power, I would be jumping off my seat with excitement waiting for the watch to hit the stores so that I can buy it. But, the Big Bang Unico Bi-Retrograde Chrono is so great, both technically and aesthetically, that I think it will be able to cure my compulsive obsession with “King Power” models: I will surely give in to its beauty and add it to my Hublot collection…