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UNICO: A 100% Hublot mechanical revolution

Hublot®’s Unico, is the flagship in-house movement redefining automatic chronographs

Launched in 2010 as the first movement designed by the Manufacture, and a technical and aesthetic pioneer, the Unico calibre only served to strengthen the reputation of Hublot, already renowned for the cutting-edge design of its watches. It boasts a unique look, thanks to its column wheel which is perfectly visible on the dial side, its chronograph with flyback function, its stylish anthracite grey lines and its unrivalled performance. Eight years later, the Manufacture launched a new generation of automatic chronographs with flyback function, with an updated, simplified design and formidable accuracy.

Constantly pushing one’s own limits, steering away from the familiar and comfort zones, incessantly creating and innovating. This is the driving force that has been behind Hublot’s strength since its inception. It is with this same deliberate fervour that in 2010, a year after unveiling its Manufacture that regroups the indispensable trades necessary for technical development and material research, that the watchmaker unveiled its very first 100% Hublot calibre.

“Our aim is to reinvent watchmaking complications. On the Unico, having the chronograph mechanism on the dial side is a specific design feature enabling the column wheel to be visible. The movement – the soul of the watch – is an integral part of the design and the perceived value of high quality. It is unique.”

Key points:

  • second-generation Unico Manufacture calibre
  • chronograph with new automatic winding mechanism
  • date indication at 3 o’clock at 60 minute counter
  • silicon escapement
  • column wheel visible on the dial side
  • 72-hour power reserve (3 days)
  • 5 patents: facilitated assembly, modernised architecture and increased accuracy
  • 5 new watches for Watches and Wonders 2024

Unico (calibre 1280):

Stimulated by its own energy and the glowing reactions to this first opus, Hublot re-harnessed the drive that had led it to create this flyback automatic chronograph movement and, as the measurement of time is a living and evolving science, wrote the next part of its story. In 2018, less than a decade later, the calibre 1280 replaced the calibre 1242, and five patents underscored the fertile ingenuity of the Manufacture’s teams.

This second opus readopts a large part of the codes that assured the reputation of its predecessor: the coveted combination of robustness, reliability and accuracy, the same power reserve of approximately 72 hours, and its dark grey finish, all still accompanied by a three-year warranty.

However, as befits a new generation, the Unico reinterprets the current needs and desires both of its customers and of the watchmakers working in its Manufacture, thereby demonstrating the fluidity of communication between the various departments. Its watchword is simplification, but without impacting its renowned performance. Quite the opposite: it boasts facilitated assembly, modernised architecture and increased accuracy.

Its main objective? To incorporate a 42-mm case, a dimension which suits the majority of wrists. The engineers in Nyon worked hard to make the calibre 1280 slim enough, reducing its thickness from 8.05 mm to 6.75 mm.

Next, a series of technical developments were made, giving rise to five patents:

1. Gentler winding

Winding a watch consists of re-tensioning the barrel via the spring housed inside it. Turning the winding stem rotates the barrel around itself to re-establish the tension. To prevent the mainspring unwinding once the operation is completed, a component called a ratchet wheel click prevents the wheel from being released as it turns in the opposite direction. This ratchet wheel click, which meshes into the winding system tooth by tooth, provides the clicking sound that we hear when winding a watch. It is fun, with its slightly retro sound, but in technical terms, there is room for improvement. The operation consumes torque (the energy that circulates in the movement), causes wear, and makes noise.

The solution? Remove it. Hublot has invented a pair of wheels with a tooth profile that allows them to turn in one direction only. In the one, they engage in one another. In the other, they abut one another. These two wheels with a unidirectional toothing profile are mounted on a yoke to enable the barrel to be released by the watchmaker during a service. It is this configuration which is patented. The solution is also quieter, gentler, more reliable, and more robust. It removes a component: this means less maintenance and more operational efficiency during servicing, all of which benefits the end customer.

2. A faultless chronograph display

A chronograph is a complication that is coupled to the watch movement, the energy of which it then uses to count down the minutes and seconds. The principle is the same as in a car clutch: once two elements are in contact with one another, it’s time to switch gear. The vertical clutch is the watchmaking equivalent, but it has the drawback of completely masking its operation. In this respect, the classic horizontal clutch is unbeatable, but has in turn two defects well known to watch connoisseurs: the jump as it starts, and then the quivering of the chronograph hand.

The Unico is equipped with an exceedingly simple clutch mechanism which has overcome these two defects. It is instantly recognisable thanks to the utterly unique profile of its wheels, so special that the Manufacture has taken care to leave them visible, in line with the expectations of its collectors.

3. A chronograph with enhanced performance

Just like its predecessor, the Unico is equipped with two clutches. The first drives the chronograph hand. The second, the minute counter. Like any chronograph, Unico utilises friction. It is necessary: it locks the hands when the chronograph is stopped, or holds them in place while clutching when it is started.

The architecture enables friction that is more stable and better controlled, thanks to a ceramic ball bearing which pushes the chronograph wheel against a jewel opposite. Using these extremely hard materials results in a friction torque which is constant and accurate to an unrivalled degree. What is more, the Hublot watchmakers can now adjust this friction torque without disassembling the Unico 2 calibre, since this can now be done with an adjustment screw located in the centre of the oscillating weight.

Combined with the oscillating clutch, this patented invention is used to minimise the energy consumption of the chronograph. Again, less disruption of the rate and fewer amplitude losses on the balance, resulting in a more accurate watch with improved performance.

4. Greater accuracy

All Hublot movements have their accuracy adjusted by an index-assembly system. This system adjusts the active length of the balance spring. In simple terms: the more this length is reduced, the more the watch gains, and vice versa. This tried and tested system tolerates no play, as it requires extremely precise adjustments.

The solution? A patented fine-tuning system which extends or reduces the active length of the balance-spring by means of a system of toothed screws, which in turn drive an index that has zero play, thanks to its elastic geometry that can only be deformed in the engagement axis. This means that this new calibre is easier to fine-tune. And, once more, to meet the expectations of collectors, this component is perfectly visible… and adorned with the Hublot “H” logo!

5. Exceptional shock resistance

The objective here was to prevent the time display from being disrupted following certain types of impact. Technically, the Unico is the first Manufacture movement ever to benefit from a patented innovation which can generate an exceptionally high friction torque on the cannon pinion gear which holds the hands in the correct place, in any situation. This means an exemplary ability to prevent changes to the time display in the event of very high impacts.

Enriched by the inventiveness that Hublot has been cultivating constantly for over forty years, the Unico will be the power behind five new products unveiled at the 2024 edition of Watches and Wonders in Geneva:

A ceramic duo – Big Bang Unico Orange Ceramic and Big Bang Unico Dark Green Ceramic

A pair of limited editions of the legendary Big Bang Unico, in its iconic diameter of 42 mm. Here, Hublot collectors who loved the first iteration will find everything that has assured the success of the piece for almost twenty years: an ultra-resilient material (ceramic bezel, case and back), a drastic limitation to conserve rarity and value (250 pieces of each model), a Manufacture movement (the Unico , with a three-day power reserve), the patented Hublot “One-Click” interchangeable bracelet and, as always, strong and disruptive aesthetics and technology. Their fusion represents the very essence of the Big Bang and, more generally, of Hublot itself.

The first piece is available in a vibrant, striking orange ceramic. This is a first for the Manufacture, and for any brand, as orange ceramic is actually an Hublot invention. This new colour harmonises perfectly with all the surfaces and finishes on the new Big Bang Unico: polished case and bezel, textured rubber strap, and indexes and hands with a skeleton finish, with its iconic column wheel visible at 6 o’clock and date window integrated into the heart of the 60-minute counter.

The second version adopts a more adventurous look, camo-style. As a counterpoint to its orange alter ego, this khaki version is stealthy and tactical. Green ceramic blends with the black of the push-pieces and the lugs protecting the 42 mm case to create a ruggedly functional look. Its three-day power reserve and water resistance certified to 100 m ensures its success on any endurance mission… or sporting weekends away with family or friends!

Big Bang Unico Pink Sapphire: Against the current

Coloured sapphire is one of the markers of Hublot’s illustrious history. The Big Bang Unico is its standard bearer.

Unveiled for the first time in a perfectly translucent light pink hue, this ultra-limited edition of just 100 pieces transcends the codes of watchmaking. True to the spirit of Hublot, disruptive and ambivalent, it is aimed at any watch lovers who stray from the beaten track, from men looking for a shade which is rarely offered to them, to women with a love of larger technical 42-mm pieces – and, of course, any fan of exclusive watches and visible mechanisms.

Bathed with light, the Unico calibre reveals its inner workings. Column wheel, flyback chronograph, tungsten oscillating weight, silicon escapement: in a pop of pink, this precise and precious version is everything the Big Bang has always been: Technical and robust, at the cutting edge of contemporary watchmaking.

A Square Bang duo: a bold square in Magic Gold

Two further new pieces complete the very latest collection made in Nyon, the headquarters of the Hublot Manufacture: the Square Bang. It has all the spirit of the Big Bang. It has the signature diameter of 42 mm which, in this version, is the length of its sides, along with the iconic bezel with six H-shaped screws, the two lugs protecting the case, the “One-Click” bracelet, the skeleton hands and indexes and, of course, the latest-generation Manufacture movement, the Unico calibre.

A creation full of character for collectors who have their own, the Square Bang Unico opened up new horizons for watchmaking, with its bold new aesthetic. Its design, which truly stands out in the conformist world of conservative watchmakers, has since established itself as one of the most daring of its generation. These two are twins in everything but colour. The only difference: their case is either made from microblasted black ceramic with a Magic Gold bezel, or from 18K Magic Gold, the scratch-resistant and inalterable gold patented by Hublot. Only the version with a case and bezel made from Magic Gold will be limited (200 pieces).


Sean Star is Chairman of the Board & Managing Director of Affluent Attorney. Passionate Venture Capitalist during the day, at night a discoverer and explorer of new adventures, new experiences, and new cultures. We are all imperfect humans, but everyone Sean meets is family for life. Faith, family, & love for all people. Forever.