Hublot’s Latest Watch Uses Lab-Grown Gold Crystals

The watchmaker’s metallurgy department managed to re-create the rarest form of gold known to man.

By Demetrius Simms 16/09/2021

Hublot just solidified itself as a metal alchemist.

On Wednesday, the Swiss watchmaker unveiled its new Spirit of Big Bang Gold Crystal watch. The tonneau-shaped timepiece boasts a striking dial display with 24-carat gold crystals that were reproduced in the watchmaker’s lab. To set the rare crystals in place, 20 layers of transparent lacquer were applied by the hand of a master dial-maker. And while the watch’s dial shakes things up, it also adopts the traditional design codes of the Big Bang series from the H-shaped screws on the bezel to the lugs on either side of the case. Available in 39 and 42mm sizes, the watch runs on Hublot’s HUB1710 movement, which achieves a 50-hour power reserve.

To achieve the natural state of gold for the watch’s dial, Hublot developed a unique technique for reproduction. First, the watchmaker heats the purest 24-carat gold to its melting point of 1064.18 degrees Celsius. This vaporizes the atoms of its metal form into a gaseous mixture before interlocking as the temperature is lowered, which then forms an open angular structure. From there, thousands of small crystals join together to create structures that are one-of-a-kind. At the end of the process, the manufacturer carefully selects the best crystals to add to each dial. No more than 20 per cent of the crystals produced make the final cut.

Hublot claims the manufacturing process to keep the crystals in place on the watch took its master-dial maker a year to research and develop. The expert found that the application of the lacquer to the crystals needed to be completed in a controlled atmosphere—to ensure no air bubbles would form on the surface of the layers. After the crystallized gold is encapsulated, each dial is then polished to a smooth finish. And to create a distinct contrast with the gold placements, the case and bezel are made from a satin-finished black ceramic. The Spirit of Big Bang Gold Crystal watch also features a strap made from black alligator skin stitched onto rubber.

Hublot Spirit of Big Bang Gold Crystal

A close up look at the watch’s dial with gold crystal detailing and its black ceramic bezel. Hublot

“Fusing and creating new materials is nothing new for Hublot: it is part of the brand’s very essence,” said Hublot CEO Ricardo Guadalupe in a statement. “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.” Guadalupe goes on to say, “Hublot is not only transmuting gold, it is also transforming the DNA of its watchmaking signature…”

Collectors can buy Hublot’s Spirit of Big Bang Gold Crystal watch now in 39mm for $39,600 and 42mm for $41,100.

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