Against the Flow
The new Big Bang MP-11 demonstrates Hublot’s dedication to innovation and precision engineering, says Nicolette Wong
Swiss watchmaker hublot has never been shy about its thirst for boldness and innovation in the making of its products. The brand has continually created timepieces that break new ground in the horological world—its success with the Big Bang Referee 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia smartwatch, for instance, is a great exemplar of its appetite for novelty. Guided by its Art of Fusion philosophy, Hublot has also proven itself to be particularly innovative in the construction of both movements and materials—just think of the 50-day power reserve of the MP-05 Laferrari, or the exceptional hardness of its proprietary King Gold alloy. The Big Bang MP-11 3D Carbon, unveiled at Baselworld last year, is no exception to this rule. At its most basic level, the Big Bang MP-11 is an ultralight timepiece with a case crafted from three-dimensional woven carbon fibres, and houses a complex movement offering a whopping two weeks of power reserve. But in truth, neither of these innovations is basic. The HUB9011 manual-winding manufacture movement has seven series-coupled barrels that store the mechanical energy needed to power the Big Bang MP-11 3D Carbon for the entirety of the 14 days. These barrels are visible on the dial side, lined up horizontally across the bottom half of the watch face. The power reserve indicator at 8 o’clock reminds one of the number of days remaining before having to wind the watch again, which can be done via the fluted crown or with an electric Torx stylus, inspired by the world of motor sport. The HUB9011 is an indirect descendant of the calibre HUB9005 housed in the MP-05 Laferrari, which has 11 barrels and a much larger 50-day power reserve. However, the two movements are structured differently, with the architecture of the MP-05 calibre being completely redesigned to fit into the case of the Big Bang. For instance, the barrels on the HUB9011 movement are horizontal instead of vertical as in the HUB9005, and are connected to a vertical gear train that drives the time display. That is why it must employ a rarely-used 90-degree helical worm gear to convey the energy to the said gear train. In addition, the balance has been moved to the dial side of the movement for visual symmetry.
CUT FROM THE SAME CLOTH
The HUB9011 movement is housed within a unique Big Bang case constructed from carbon fibre. While the use of carbon fibre in watchmaking is nothing new, the particular type used in the Big Bang MP-11 3D Carbon is. Most commonly, carbon fibres are first woven two-dimensionally into flat strips of “fabric”, before being stacked into a mould and bound together in a polymerisation oven.
The cases will then be cut from this stack of material. The weaving of the carbon fibres is what gives these cases the characteristic square-checked pattern. In the case of the Big Bang MP-11 3D Carbon, the carbon fibres are woven three-dimensionally before being composited into a polymer matrix, which explains its name. This method not only gives the 3D carbon case a unique pattern, but makes it exceptionally tough—so sturdy that the material can actually be employed for military use. This is the first time that this particular carbon-fibre variant has made its debut in the watchmaking world. And as you can imagine, the toughness of this carbon fibre makes it extremely difficult to machine, which lends further credence to Hublot’s ability to work with different materials. Thanks to Hublot’s material innovations, the Big Bang MP-11 3D Carbon weighs only 90g, movement and rubber strap included. Should you prefer a greater heft to your watches, however, the watch is also available in transparent sapphire crystal. Hublot has been constructing watches from sapphire crystal for a while now, and its prowess with the material is well-established. Because of its exceptional hardness and scratch resistance, sapphire crystal is also challenging to machine, particularly when the case has three-dimensional contours as in the case of the Big Bang MP-11. The sapphire crystal is also shaped such that it creates a magnifying loupe effect over the power reserve indicator. The Big Bang MP-11 is an excellent demonstration of Hublot’s commitment to innovation—not just in using entirely new techniques and materials, but also building on the knowledge it has from previous generations of watches. Whether you prefer the darkness or light, you can be assured that you will be wearing a piece of precision engineering.
PASSING THE TORCH The calibre HUB9011 in the Big Bang MP-11 is a descendant of the HUB9005 found in the MP-05 Laferrari Aperta (pictured)