As far as its Big Bangness, those have been around since 2005. They are a honking chunk of a watch that manage to be both flashy and sporty, but maybe so flashy you just forget the sporty part. Sometimes they are fairly straightforward things made of ceramic or steel and cost a normal amount of money, and sometimes they are made of gold and cost a bit more, and sometimes, like now, they are SAXEM and the brand won’t tell you how much they cost unless you ask.
SAXEM stands for Sapphire Aluminium Oxide and Rare Earth Mineral. (Yes, you are right, that spells SAOAREM. If you have always dreamed of being Hublot’s Chief of Anagram Manipulation, I regret to tell you the position has been taken.) Basically, SAXEM is sapphire given a colorizing glow-up. In this case, a very yellow one. SAXEM is tough and shiny but also somewhat transparent. It looks like if you popped it in your mouth, it could cure your sore throat.
SAXEM can also be shaped. In this case, it was shaped into a 44mm watch, with a skeletonized caliber, a tourbillon that appears to float in mid-air, and a 72-hour power reserve. The other parts are titanium and, excitingly, many components which would usually be made of titanium or metal on a less horologically ambitious watch are made out of sapphire (the plain old non-SAXON-fied clear stuff) which allows the movement to be exceptionally visible. This exact watch, more or less, with a sapphire case made purple by the magic of chemistry was released at Watches & Wonders 2022, though without the proverbial knighting by the SAXEM sword along its 22mm lugs.
This yellow wonder does not represent Hublot’s first SAXEM rodeo, but so far all of the watches officially made of SAXEM have been green: The tonneau-shaped Hublot Big Bang Tourbillon Saxem Yellow Neon (dressed up as a green Richard Mille for Halloween?) appeared in 2020, and the Big Bang MP-11 came out 2019. It took them three long years to learn how to coax the material into being yellow, a process involving the correct mix of elements and so forth. Behind its lemon candy exterior is a HUB6035 Self-Winding Micro-Rotor Skeleton Tourbillion, which Hublot has been using since 2021. This yellow strap is rubber, like a very fancy rubber ducky.
Speaking of fancy rubber duckies, one of my favorite moments in Hodinkee History was when Ben Clymer, interviewing former Hublot CEO Jean-Claude Biver while wearing a sweater almost as yellow as this watch, commented, “Many people say that the Big Bang looks just like a Royal Oak Offshore.” To which Biver replied “100 percent! So what? It’s not my fault.”
Naturally, Clymer wanted to know whose fault it was. And Biver went on to explain that Hublot did the rubber strap first, back when they launched in 1980. In 2000, AP put a rubber strap on the octagonal Royal Oak Offshore. So that somehow when the circular Big Bang launched in 2005 it was said to look like an Offshore. But who did the rubber strap first? Hublot did.
What I’m trying to say is that I love Hublot Big Bang Tourbillon Saxem Yellow Neon, and I love this watch. And even though it’s fifty shades brighter and 4mm bigger than a strict limit I set for myself on watch size, I would wear it proudly.
Not everyone wants to walk around with a yellow-themed nightclub on their wrist where you can see the watches’ expensive sapphire guts churning and shifting and beating. I do.
Hublot is a company that uses color and size as a weapon. Some people don’t like how loud Hublot is, or they think color and size are cheap weapons, as opposed to diamonds or gold or companies scrawling their initials at exact angles all over bridges aligned the exact same way they have been aligned since the dawn of time. In my book, though, color and size are just as legitimate as anything else a watch does to set itself apart.
Look, I was the classic Hublot naysayer until I put one on and it just made my whole life feel brighter, more open-wide, and more sparkling. And that was only a used $9,000 Tutti Frutti — imagine what this watch could do for my life. The moment I strapped it on, I might be transformed into pure light.
Eye-popping color has been a Big Idea in watches in the last several years, but mostly on the dials. As for the entire watch case in an improbable hue, well, there’s the AP Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar in Blue Ceramic, the Gucci Grip Sapphire, some blue and white ceramic Zeniths, and then, there’s really not much else at the medium to high end. G-Shock and Swatch embrace color too, of course, but while those are great watches they’re not in the same universe as Hublot.