Hublot has set another benchmark in its mastery of rare and challenging materials with the Spirit Of Big Bang Cristal d’Or or Gold Crystal. Set within the contrasting black tonneau case, the crystals dazzle in a play of light.
This is how Ricardo Guadalupe, Hublot CEO, explained it: “Fusing and creating new materials is nothing new for Hublot: it is part of the brand’s very essence. But now, the Manufacture has entered a new universe – the transmutation of metals – with its metallurgy laboratory and R&D department reproducing the rarest form of gold on earth: the crystallized native gold known as gold crystal.”
With the Spirit of Big Bang Cristal d’Or – available in 39 and 42 mm limited editions – Hublot is not only transmuting gold, it is also transforming the DNA of its watchmaking signature – the Big Bang – into the tonneau shape of Spirit of Big Bang.
The natural crystallization of gold occurs in the crevices of mountain ranges as they are formed. Sometime later, jets of pressurized heated water enter these crevices, often transforming the crystals into metallic gold and dislodging them. The metallic gold eventually ends up as nuggets in riverbeds. On rare occasions, the right natural conditions allow the gold to remain in its natural crystalline state: the rarest form of gold on earth.
Hublot has innovated a new technique that produces gold crystals in their laboratory. It begins with heating the purest 24-carat gold to its melting point of 1064.18 degrees Celsius. At this temperature, some of the gold atoms are vaporized into a gaseous mixture before interlocking as the temperature is lowered, forming an open angular structure. Thousands of small crystals then join together to create an architecture that is random, unique, and impossible to reproduce.
The most perfect of these crystals are then carefully selected, with no more than 20% of the crystals produced making the grade. The expert hands of the master dial-maker apply the highly delicate gold crystals to a black dial covered with a fine layer of transparent lacquer. The application must be undertaken in a controlled atmosphere to ensure no air bubbles can form on the surface.
It takes around twenty layers of lacquer to encapsulate the gold crystals, and the dial is then polished to render the lacquer invisible, perfectly smooth and uniform. We are informed that this manufacturing process took a year to research and master.
To provide the perfect contrast to the gold of the crystals, the Cristal d’Or’s case is covered in black ceramic and paired with a black alligator strap stitched onto rubber.
The Spirit of Big Bang, Hublot’s tonneau-shaped watch, adopts all of the design codes of the iconic Big Bang – the six H-shaped screws on the bezel, the lugs on either side of the case, the over moulded rubber screw-down crown decorated with the iconic H, and the sandwich-type construction.
Available in 39 and 42 mm case sizes, Big Bang Cristal d’Or will display the time for 50 hours without any winding of its Caliber HUB1710 automatic mechanical movement.