Just How Does Hublot Make Watches From Red Ceramic?

Murray Clark
Photo credit: Hublot

From Esquire

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 a high quality, since it's 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.

Photo credit: Hublot

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 coloured 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 colour: black, grey 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.

Photo credit: Hublot

"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 realised that the benefits weren't just aesthetic. "Ceramic is light, hypoallergenic, and scratch resistant," says the spokesperson. "And now, we can have it vibrantly coloured, 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.

Now available at hublot.com, priced £71,000

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