Hublot Big Bang e, titanium and black ceramic.
Hublot Big Bang e, titanium and black ceramic.
Image: Supplied

All smartwatches are not created equal. While the new Big Bang e is the “cheapest” Hublot on the block, it is among the most expensive smartwatches on the market. At upwards of R70,000 I would, however, expect this digital wearable to at least read a heart murmur when it hits the wrist of a new owner. But what am I thinking, when this is likely to be one of many watches in a Hublot owner’s collection?

Just as the global movement to minimise our exposure to digital devices was gaining momentum, along came Covid-19 and now we are back to square one: staring at our screens, both large and small, all day in an effort to stay connected and keep the wheels of the economy turning. With the two major Swiss watch fairs postponed until next year, this also means that the first viewings of new novelties for 2020 have been presented online. So, no hands-on experience until pieces like this Big Bang reach our shores later in the year.

Until recently, I wasn’t really interested in wearables, but as my training gets more intense and my running distances longer, having a device that’s lighter and less distracting than a phone is far more practical. I also believe that, when it comes to the functionality of wearable technology, we should learn from Fitbit, the smart company that started it all. As wearables become more sophisticated, we need to show some restraint in the functionality and buy the one that best suits our lifestyle needs. I’m very happy to replace my phone with a wearable to track my daily workout and maybe keep me entertained while doing so, but have no desire to take my entire desktop along for a ride.

Apple has always been a leader in the design of desirable, functional objects and, while the Apple Watch may have initially looked like another quartz crisis to the Swiss, leading to a number of Swiss-made smartwatches, it was also inadvertently responsible for a renewed interest in mechanical watches among younger consumers. Customisation is also a growing trend, and not just on high-end watches. However, this might not always be a great idea. Apple’s recent announcement that it would let users design their experiences and dials on the next generation Watch raises concern that this could give rise to the smartwatch equivalent of those annoying personalised ringtones of late ’90s and early 2000s.

Without a heart rate sensor or GPS tracking, I may not be Hublot’s target audience, but I do appreciate the needs of their well-heeled, jet-setting customers who, while largely grounded for now, need to keep track as they traverse multiple timezones and monitor global markets 24/7. We’ll leave the activity tracking to the Tag Heuer Connected, the other brand within the LVMH Group and that I believe shares similar technology inside.

Established in 1980, Hublot stood out from the start as a unique and innovative high-end Swiss manufacture. It focused on expressing the fine art of watchmaking through bold, contemporary statements for the wrist, often executed in innovative new material combinations — the Fusion was the first luxury watch presented in gold on a rubber strap. The Big Bang was launched in 2005 and has become Hublot’s most iconic style. Its first connected version appeared in 2018 as the limited edition 48mm Big Bang Referee as part of the company’s association with the Fifa World Cup Russia to be worn by referees and football fans — something that would be rather handy today as matches are played in empty stadiums.

This year sees the evolution of the connected watch equipped with the latest technology powered with Wear OS by Google and presented in a more wearable 42mm case that, once again, adopts all the iconic codes of the Big Bang, and a bold new bezel featuring stencilled numerals. On the outside it is every bit Big Bang for your buck and, as is to be expected from Hublot, only the very best will do with case options in high-quality satin-finished and polished titanium or micro-blasted and polished black ceramic. The Big Bang e also features Hublot’s patented one-click system on the numerous colourful, interchangeable straps.

Obsolescence comes very fast in the digital, electronic segment and, while Hublot is sure to introduce new hardware to the collection in three years, it is committed to keeping the software updatable and easily downloadable for “older” models.

Art has always been a thread in the Big Bang design DNA and, apart from practical dial options, artist and longtime friend of the brand, Marc Ferrero has created eight colourful lifestyle art dials that are vividly displayed in a sequence over a 24-hour period on the new 390x390 pixel/327dpi-resolution touchscreen. Apart from the Time Only analogue function, the watch also features exclusive interpretations of traditional watch complications, such as a perpetual calendar with a precise moon phase, and a second GMT time zone with the Earth presented in a very realistic way.

The lithium-ion battery holds its charge for one day and is ready for action again after two-and-a-half hours of induction charging. The watch is compatible with Android 6.0+ and above, and connectivity is through Bluetooth 4.2. So, unless you have access to free Wi-Fi in a modern, connected city, you’ll still need to have your watch within Bluetooth range of your phone to use most of the apps.

The titanium model retails online for CHF4,900 (about R74,000) and the ceramic for CHF5,500 (about R82,500). For local enquiries contact World’s Finest Watches 011-669-5600 or Tanur Jewellers 021-418-2530.

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