Watches: Hublot Big Bang Unico Black Ceramic and Magic Gold
By Thierry Ané on February 11, 2015
It was back in November 2011 that Hublot unveiled its “Magic Gold” concept to the world’s press. Developed in partnership with the EPFL (the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne), this noble material protected by many patents was presented as a revolution for gold alloys.
A boron carbide powder is hardened at a very high temperature in moulds to obtain extremely porous parts in which 24-karat gold is injected under extremely high pressure. The gold thus fills the ceramic pores, merging with it and only polishing is then required to reveal the unique colour of “Magic Gold”.
What makes this alloy different from all those previously used to create 18-karat gold is the ceramic component that makes it the only scratch-resistant gold in the world. It also guarantees that the colour won’t fade like it so often does with the usual pink, rose or red gold alloys.
Apart from these practical and very “marketing” advantages of this “Magic Gold”, there is also a highly significant commercial advantage that requires some explaining. The purity measure for gold, namely the "karat", is in fact a measurement of mass: 24-karat gold is the pure version of this metal, too soft to be of any direct use. The standard 18-karat gold is thus 18 parts gold and 6 parts another metal, forming an alloy with 75% gold in terms of mass.
Since the boron carbide powder (ceramic) has a very low density, it requires a larger quantity of it to reach the 25% mass. Say it differently, with the same amount of pure 24-karat gold one makes much more 18-karat “magic gold” that one would make any other kind of gold! To put it even more bluntly, every gram of gold transformed this way allows you to sell more 18-karat gold watches…
If you combine all the positive sides of this new generation of gold and factor in the exclusivity that Hublot owns, you would have expected to see an abundance of new creations showcasing this miraculous gold. As a matter of fact, apart from the Big Bang Magic Gold and the Big Bang Ferrari Magic Gold presented in 2012 and only released quite recently, the new Big Bang Unico Black Ceramic and Magic Gold on show in Geneva during the SIHH week is only the third model to incorporate parts in “magic gold”.
Moreover, quite interestingly and unlike the previous two timepieces, the “magic gold” has only been used for the bezel of the watch. If you add up all this information, you can safely infer that this holy grail of gold alloy must be more difficult to produce than expected and that even if the Nyon-based Manufacture equipped itself with the means to produce this material in-house from start to finish, the high-tech foundry still has some technical difficulties to solve before running at full capacity…
In any case, the limitations were a good thing for the new Big Bang Unico Black Ceramic and Magic Gold as there is just enough “magic gold” to make the model interesting without falling into the usual gold bling. The contrast between the 45.5 mm black ceramic case and this unusually coloured bezel is stunning. I also love that the same gold colour has been used with a lot of restraint on the sapphire dial of this Unico model to enhance its visibility.
The satin finished gilt plated Arabic numerals and hour markers beautifully complement the rings of the small seconds and chronograph counters. The semi-skeletonised hands plated in the same colour truly stand out on the black PVD-treated HUB 1240 Unico movement. Developed entirely in-house, this elegant self-winding chronograph calibre equipped with a flyback function presents a column-wheel and double clutch visible from the dial side.
Like all the models featuring the new “Big Bang Unico” case, the structured black rubber strap of this newcomer can easily be changed (patented system) and the black PVD titanium deployant buckle with black ceramic inserts is as comfortable on the wrist as always.
For more information please visit the Hublot web site.