Leather and Complexity: Replica Hublot Big Bang Unico Berluti Cold Brown

Among Hublot’s many partnerships, the one that has probably been most under the radar of collectors and connoisseurs is the Swiss watchmaker’s collaboration with French men’s fashion house Berluti, maker of high-end footwear and other leather goods since 1895. Nevertheless, the watches that have emerged from this four-year partnership have been uniformly gorgeous, as well as elegant departures from the brand’s mostly high-tech, sporty aesthetic. Up until now, the Hublot Berluti editions have sprung from the understated Classic Fusion collection; the latest, launched toward the end of last year and now available at retail, is the first in the series to use a more complicated piece, Hublot’s Big Bang Unico Chronograph, as its base. It’s also this week’s Watch to Watch.

Hublot Big Bang Berluti Cold Brown

To create the Swiss fake Big Bang Unico Berluti Cold Brown, a limited edition of 100 pieces, Hublot’s horological “masters of materials” worked closely with Berluti creative director Kris Van Assche to apply Berluti’s famous Venezia leather to the complicated timepiece in ways that had never been explored before. The dial uses a construction that encases the Ice Brown patina leather between two pieces of sapphire glass, which have also been carefully cut out to reveal the gears of the movement in the center. The natural hide of the leather has been treated to keep its surface unchanging, and “frozen in time.” As on previous Hublot Berluti models, the hour numerals have been embossed into the leather.

The watch uses Berluti leather on the dial, strap, and bezel.

New on this Big Bang Unico model is the use of this same leather not only on the dial and strap — fused with black rubber on the latter — but on the bezel, which on this model features an entirely new construction in addition to the hallmark six H-shaped screws. Using an adhesive, rigidfying resin, the top part of the bezel, made of leather and about 1 mm thick, is inserted into a lower base in black ceramic and screwed onto the main case, which is made of the same material. Unlike the sapphire-shielded perfect replica Hublot dial, the bezel, like strap, will acquire a patina over the years that will be distinctive to the wearer. Van Assche created the Ice Brown patina by updating a past example from Berluti’s archives and adding a glacé finish to emphasize the subtle brown shades. Even the luminous coating on the hour and minute hands is brown-shaded in daylight.

The hour numerals are embossed into the leather dial.

Beyond the watch’s outstanding aesthetics, it offers from a functional standpoint all the attributes familiar to fans of the core Big Bang Unico model. Inside is Hublot’s manufacture Caliber MHUB1242, equipped with an integrated, column-wheel-controlled flyback chronograph function with a double clutch, and a date display at 3 o’clock on the openworked dial. The movement features automatic winding, a frequency of 28,800 vph, and a power reserve of 72 hours. It’s encased inside a 45-mm case made of microblasted and polished black ceramic and visible behind a sapphire window in the caseback, which is also engraved with a limited edition number. The patinated Venezia leather-and-black-rubber strap fastens to the wrist with a deployant buckle made of black ceramic and black-plated titanium.

Manufacturer:Hublot, Chemin de la Vuarpillière 33, 1260 Nyon, Switzerland
Reference number:411.CI.0500.VR.BER20
Functions:Hours, minutes, small seconds, date, chronograph
Movement:Hublot Caliber MHUB1242, automatic, column-wheel chronograph with flyback, 38 jewels, frequency = 28,800 vph, power reserve = 72 hours
Case:Microblasted and polished black ceramic case, polished black ceramic bezel with genuine Berluti patinated leather insert, water resistant to 100 meters
Bracelet and cla­­sp:Black rubber and genuine Berluti patinated Venezia leather strap, black ceramic and black-plated titanium deployant clasp
Dimensions:Diameter = 45 mm, height = 16.4 mm

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