There are many similarities between the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and the Hublot Big Bang watches. The history of these watches is also interweaved, as we shall observe shortly in this review. You’d be forgiven to think they come from the same company. Both Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and the Hublot Big Bang are classic watches.
The Royal Oak is the elder of the two, having debuted in 1970 and the Big Bang in 2005. Both watches are conversational starters among watch enthusiasts. It is easy to see why; they have a commanding outlook with a design that makes the watches feel indestructible and flawlessly elegant. They have almost similar technical capabilities and both command a healthy price in the market. The Royal Oak is the favored watch among collectors – probably because it is a vintage timepiece.
What the Big Bang lacks in austerity is compensated by a stylish design and advanced technological capabilities meant to appeal to the modern watch lover. It also has a modest price to match. This article places the watches side by side to compare their design, style, technological capabilities, and other features to understand what makes them popular and help you make an informed choice.
Two experienced watchmakers, Jules Louis Audemars and Edward Piguet founded the company 147 years ago (in 1875) and incorporated it as Audemars Piguet in 1881 in Switzerland. The first wristwatch from this company was manufactured in 1892, after years of R&D. It was a first-minute repeater wristwatch that was sold to Louis Brandt.
This vintage Edward Piguet watch featured a calendar, split-seconds hands, a minute repeater, and a chronograph. The next generation of Audemars and Piguet to run the company took it through a period of continuous improvement, and adoption of new technology, and prepared the company to become a legacy and respected brand as a luxury watchmaker.
The Royal Oak watch that debuted in 1972 at the Baselworld was the most prominent watch from the Audemars Piguet collection. It was a classic masterpiece, different from the ones already on sale, and made with precision.
Carlo Crocco founded the Hublot watchmaking company in 1980. He was an avid watch lover, watchmaker, and watch collector. He brought his wealth of watch-making experience and exposure to Hublot. This ingenuity, coupled with a quick adaptation to technology enabled Hublot to create great masterpieces and gain the respect of the industry within a short period.
The Hublot Big Bang Unico (2005) was a testament to Hublot’s commitment to making contemporary timepieces without deviating too much from the traditional watch-making processes. It can be tough for watch lovers to choose between the Hublot Big Bang Unico and the Royal Oak Offshore chronograph. Let’s dive deeper to compare these watches to see their similarities and differences and learn more about what makes them become so revered in the luxury watch industry.
Style & design
Hublot Big Bang Unico
The Big Bang Unico Titanium watch has a satin-finished and brush-polished grade 5 titanium case. The rounded bezel is held together by 6 H-shaped Titanium screws. Hublot uses grade 5 Titanium extensively when manufacturing its watches because it weighs less and is more resistant to corrosion than most metals. These qualities make it a popular choice in aeronautical and automotive industries to manufacture light aircraft and race cars.
The watch is designed to be fun to wear (with its sporty look) without compromising on the integrity of the parts constituting the piece. The usage of Titanium makes the Unico watch wear lighter irrespective of its large size. When the metal is polished, it retains a bluish metallic sheen. The sapphire crystal has an anti-reflective treatment. There are two chronograph sub-registers inside the watch – the date display at the 3 o’clock mark and the luminescent hour and hands markers.
The crown has a rubber mold with the company’s logo on the surface. The push buttons are rounded. Each button is held put by a push-button guard. These push buttons are polished to remove sharp edges (and other small details such as black grooves included) and resemble automotive piston rings. There are resin inserts on the flight and a resin gasket underneath the bezel. The remainder of the case (including the inner case that holds the movement system) is made of grade 5 Titanium.
Audemars Royal Oak Offshore
The Audemars Royal Oak Offshore watch has a ceramic case with a glare-proofed crystal, a titanium case back, and matching crown guards. These materials are lighter than steel and make the watch seem lighter despite its large size. All the ceramic parts are polished or satin to create nearly scratch-proof surfaces.
The AP Oak Offshore is a large watch with a diameter of 42mm, a case thickness of 14.21mm, and a lug-to-lug length of 54mm. The rubber-clad titanium crown is locked into the case with screws. The AP logo is inscribed prominently on the surface. The pushers on either side of the crown are made of highly-polished ceramic material.
The Audemars Royal OO watch has a black dial with the iconic Audemars Mega Tapisserie pattern splashed across the surface. The hour markers have a coating of white gold. The black minute’s hand has a luminescent coating.
This is a diving watch and the rotating inner bezel contains the diving scale. The bezel can either be black or silver. The black diving scale goes to 60 minutes. The outer bezel is octagonal and held in place by six hex screws. The date disc with a magnifying lens style lies below the dial, making it discreet but functional.
The Hublot Unico skeleton dial contains Arabic numerals and indexes that can be seen from every angle. The hands, numerals, and indexes are filled with super-luminova. The bezel frames a dial that includes two sapphires. The first sapphire sits over the dial. The silkscreen Hublot logo is located underneath the first sapphire. The second sapphire is where you find the indexes, Arabic numerals, and twin sub-registers.
There is a skeletonized date disc at the circumference of the dial. The Hublot Unico calibers are found on the base of the dial. You can see the chronograph with its column wheel, black-polished attenuate, and lateral clutch. The watch has a 60-minute chronograph register. The watch on its case back has the Big Bang inscriptions. It has a full balance bridge for shock resistance and a bi-directional winder with ceramic rotor bearings.
The strap and clasp
The Audemars Royal OO watch has a black natural rubber strap with a matte finish. There is a stainless steel buckle on the clasp. However, the 60mm span across the wrists makes comfort a bit difficult for larger wrists. The rubber option offers more room for the watch to wiggle.
The Hublot Unico has black-lined natural rubber and a deployable Titanium buckle clasp. The Hublot Unico watch has a smart, cleverly hidden, one-click seat-belt buckle system for quick release of the strap. You can easily swap straps without the need to use a tool or go to a watchmaker by pressing this button and sticking the new strap back in.
The center actuator is the only thing that would make one know about this unobstructive system. This makes it easier for the wearer to get after-market straps. Every watch comes with a tough natural rubber strap. The leather strap is sporty-looking, thick, and nicely matches the case swell from the side and the case taper from the top.
The buckle has a twin trigger system that prevents the watch from popping open accidentally. The excess strap is tucked underneath the titanium clasp. This mechanism also eliminates the need to place minder loops to handle the excess strap. The Omega company also uses this innovative design to give their watches a sophisticated, smooth feel and look.
Movements & quality
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore watch (caliber 3126/3840) has a self-winding movement. There are 365 parts and 59 jewels powering this device. It uses the Dubois-Depraz chronograph module outsourced to FHH (The same company that makes parts for Omega, Breitling, and Patek Philippe). The cam-actuated push mechanism on this watch implies that you have to add a little effort when setting or resetting the watch.
The Hublot Big Bang Unico Titanium watch uses the Unico 2 caliber movement. This is a column wheel movement technology that was developed and patented by the Hublot company. It also contains a dual horizontal coupling mechanism that can easily be seen on the dial.
This means that there is no jumper and the hour counter is controlled by the barrel, enhancing accuracy and reliability. The escapement wheel inside this watch is made from silicon. The silicon escapement is not visible on the watch. This escapement improves the efficiency of the watch and stalls service intervals.
The Hublot Big Bang Unico Titanium Chronograph watch was designed to push the limits of horology. It is a unique watch with unique technical capabilities. Although it has borrowed much of its outer design from previous releases, the technical properties of the Hublot Unico are more advanced.
For instance, the watch employs an oscillating double clutch system for movement. This double-clutch system allowed the watchmakers to create a chronograph system that was more reliable and consumed less energy. Unlike the single-clutch system, a double-clutch eliminated the risk of timing distortion by reducing the possibility of slipping.
The reduction of the possibility of slipping ensured there was no needle overlap, improved reliability, improved accuracy, and a better-attenuated start jump. They also added a column wheel and an escapement module that improved the watch’s efficiency. The components inside the escapement system (including the column wheel, balance wheel, and the assembly itself) can be removed from the watch as a single unit, making servicing the water faster and more accurate.
The tourbillon movement technology that powers the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph watch is also revolutionary. The self-winding AP calibre 3126/3840 is automatically powered by the movement of your wrist. The original Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph watch was designed by the legendary watchmaker Emmanuel Gueit.
The current (2021) Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph watch uses a self-winding fly-back calibre with inverted hour and small seconds counters. The hour counter is present at 12 o’clock while the seconds counter lies at the 6 o’clock mark. The 4404 calibre allows you to reset, start, or stop the chronograph with a single function.
Both Hublot Big Bang Unico Chronograph and Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph watches are designed for the high-end consumer.
The price of pre-owned pieces in the Hublot Big Bang series starts at $12,000. New pieces can demand up to 10 times more depending on the complexity and customization made. A pre-owned Hublot Big Bang Unico Chronograph watch costs northwards of $20,000.
A pre-owned Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph starts at approximately $16,000. Some timepieces command over $400,000 depending on the complexity and customization.
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph has 21,600 rotations per minute with a power reserve of 50 hours. The Hublot Unico has 72 hours of power reserve. The Hublot has 28 800 revolutions per minute.
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore watch has a water resistance capacity of up to 300m. The Hublot Big Bang Unico Titanium watch has a water resistance of 10 ATM/100m.
You can take either of these watches swimming or shallow diving without being concerned about damaging the piece. I would not advise bathing with the watches because the hot water may damage the watch’s integrity in the long run.
Hublot BB Unico chronograph is a bold watch. Some people love the underlying air of crassness the watch eludes and others prefer a more subdued version. Irrespective of the preference, there is no doubt that this is a beloved watch.
It is an icon in the Big Bang series. So much so that Hublot created other watches following the BB Unico inspiration (including the latest 2021 edition) and using the same self-winding calibre. It holds value well and remains a treasured luxury timepiece by avid collectors.
The AP Oak Offshore chronograph is pricier than the Unico. It is also highly respected by watch lovers and collectors across the globe. It has a bold yet classic design and the tourbillon technology endeared the watch to many people. Its ability to compete with other classic watches in functionality, price, accuracy, and innovation has made this a well-sought-out timepiece.
There are many similarities between the AP Oak Offshore chronograph watch and the Hublot BB Unico watch. Both watches are first among equals, meshing technology and creativity perfectly to make timepieces that are functional, reliable, and great conversation starters. And they do all this without being ghastly crass about it. There is a level of free-spiritedness these watches exude.
You can easily swap a leather strap on the BB or AP for a more sporty rubber version and enjoy the outdoors. Or you can swap the straps for a classic metal one and wear it with your favorite suit when doing official business. These are the kind of watches you will find on the wrists of your favorite celebrity or prominent business people. They are unassuming, yet they pack a ton of power and functionality.
Despite their large size, both watches can fit flush on smaller wrists and their creative clasp system ensures that they stay put, even under intense wrist movement. You do not need to worry about damaging the watch when swimming as they both have a minimum of 10T water resistance capacity. The prices may vary and the AP takes the mantle here but irrespective of the watch you decide to buy between the two, you will always step out in style.