Watches

Just How Does Hublot Make Watches From Red Ceramic?

The Big Bang MP-11 Red Magic is the brand's second piece made in a shock of red ceramic, and we spoke to the well-guarded R&D department to find out just how it's done.
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In 2018, Hublot made history. It likes doing that. So, when the marque released its first ever high-tech piece in a flaming red ceramic, watch-y circles weren't at all surprised by the surprise. Under the steer of CEO Jean-Claude Biver—a man often credited for the revival of both Omega and Blancpain—Hublot has become something of a subverter in (relatively) conservative horological circles. And the opening of 2020 was no different, with Hublot doubling down on red ceramic in the form of the Big Bang MP-11 Red Magic.

With a design and movement entirely developed by Hublot's in-house time (a general marker of a watch is of high quality, since its engine hasn't been outsourced), the limited edition was unveiled at LVMH Watch Week in Dubai to plenty calling it one of the best watches of 2020. Now, you can get it.

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What makes the Red Magic so covetable isn't just its production run of 100 pieces. Like its predecessor, the vibrant ceramic material is what adds collectibility here—a painstaking process achieved only by precise temperature control.

"Ceramic is traditionally sintered at a very high temperature, almost 2000°C. That means colored pigments added to the ceramic powder burn at this point," a spokesperson from Hublot's research and development department tells Esquire (they'd give you their name, but that'd be telling wouldn't it). "This is why ceramics are always the same color: black, gray brown, dark blue, dark green and so on. For the red, we needed to find a solution to decrease the sintering temperature to keep the pigment safe.

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"So we decided to change the pressure of a small quantity of heat during the sintering process by pressing the ceramic powder. This allowed us to lower the temperature, and the pigment wasn't burnt."

Sounds simplistic enough. Though this method was only achieved after a long four years of trial and error—a timespan after which most manufactures would've thrown in the towel. But Hublot quickly realized that the benefits weren't just aesthetic. "Ceramic is light, hypoallergenic, and scratch-resistant," says the spokesperson. "And now, we can have it vibrantly colored, which allows us to be really creative in the designs."

Impactful, too. Weighing in at a robust 45mm diameter, the Big Bang MP-11 Red Magic will make for quite the surprise at the next social outing. Which comes as little surprise for Hublot— and that's precisely the point.

This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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Murray Clark
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