It was a dozen years ago that Jean-Claude Biver, today president of LVMH's watch division, took control of the limping Hublot brand.
With its port-hole-inspired watches most popular in places such as Spain, Biver's task was to somehow revive the then niche brand, a challenge that led barely one year later to the introduction of something big: the Big Bang.
The launch of this chronograph in 2005 announced to the world the arrival of a fresh concept: the fusion of a variety of materials that appeared to be bolted together with screws passing right through the watch case.
The Big Bang, a large and layered metal watch with a rubber strap, was immediately recognisable and began to win awards, from Best Design of 2005 at the Geneva watchmaking Grand Prix to Watch of the Year in Japan, and to set sales records.
Not that Biver and his freshly energised team were content to rest on their laurels. The following year it was decided to launch an edition of 250 Big Bang models cast completely in black, a dramatic showcase for their "art of fusion" philosophy.
What metamorphosed from the drawing board was a metallurgist's dream, a 44.5mm model accommodating ceramics for the case, titanium for the case-back, nickel for the numbers and indices, black composite resin for the case sides, rubber for the strap and PVD-treated tungsten carbide for the oscillating weight. A further 25 examples were offered with a garnishing of 48 baguette-cut black diamonds on the bezel.
And so the Big Bang All Black was born, a press release dated Spring 2006 declaring it "the height of luxury … in which the visible time becomes invisible". So too began a story that continues very much in the same vein.
Down the decade the models have reflected a similar approach. They generally span about 45mm, with ceramic cases, titanium parts and rubber bracelets, and mostly feature a chronograph mechanism. Sometimes – but not always – they've been all black all over.
Scroll through the gallery above to see 10 years of the Big Bang All Black.
This article first appeared in the Australian Financial Review Magazine's Watch special.
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