Engineering and design with respects to materials is a fascinating part of watchmaking. It’s not just the internal workings of a mechanical watch which makes it so special. It is also the materials that have been used to create the mechanisms and the models that we grow to love.
The big watch manufacturers have large R+D labs, as well as connections to university labs specializing in material science. Today we are going to discuss Hublots’ quest to make a new type of gold.
Hublot is known for innovating with their materials. They were the first luxury wristwatch to add a natural rubber strap which quickly caught on with the other big names.
Release of Magic Gold
In 2012, Hublot released a new type of gold dubbed; Magic Gold. It is a type of gold that is completely scratch-resistant, it is so hard that only diamonds can scratch it.
This is what we are going to focus on today. The process of how magic gold was designed & what makes it unique. As well as the developments in the last 7 years since Magic Gold was released.
There is something very ground-breaking about designing another material, especially when it answers a problem that has been around for centuries. Gold, whilst very beautiful and also very valuable is also very soft.
This makes it an easy material to work with in terms of manufacturing because you can shape it fairly easily, however, when it comes to durability over time, it is not the best material. Gold can easily scratch.
Hublot saw this as an opportunity. What if they could create a type of gold that is scratch resistant, the strongest gold to exist today.
After 3 years of research and development in a Switzerland lab, the gold was produced, it has a hardness of 1,000 on the Vickers scale which is 4 times harder than 18ct gold and almost twice as hard as steel which is 600 Vickers.
The Big Bang Was Released in Magic Gold
A new version of the Big Bang was released which was made from Magic Gold & it quickly became a best-seller. Hublot has owned the market with respects to its hardened gold up until this point. But now other brands are realizing they might need to catch up. IWC is one of those and has just announced that they are working on a “Hard Gold” with similar properties.
Whilst other brands play catch up Hublot is already on the next thing. They have been designing Sapphire crystal, a material that is completely see-through but much stronger and more resistant than glass.
Hublot start innovating with Sapphire Crystal
Hublot wanted to use Sapphire Crystal not just to protect the dial but make an entire case from Sapphire Crystal. This would create a very hard but entirely see-through wristwatch. The wearer would be able to see the tiny detail contained in their wristwatch + watch the movements turning real-time.
In 2016 Hublot released an entirely see-through watch, the Big Bang Unico Sapphire. The material is incredibly difficult to work with however so it was limited to a run of 500 pieces.
Big Bang Unico Sapphire, a see-through version of its in-house chronograph, stating that it would be produced in a limited run of 500 pieces.
So, Hublot has anchored itself as a brand which, innovates with the materials they use. For a time they were the only brand that had a watch made from the hardest gold on the planet.
They were also the first to market with a natural rubber bracelet & now they have designed a case made from Sapphire Crystal. For a relatively young brand, they are positioning themselves well and taking a stand in the market as true innovators.