Behind the closed doors of Hublot, in its active research and development department in Geneva, experimentation and invention happens daily. Here, surrounded by high-tech sintering, pressurization, and vaporization machines, a small team of top-notch scientists and engineers collaborate on the development of new materials that set Hublot’s watches apart from its competitors. It’s in this laboratory that the brand creates its scratchproof (impossible to nick)—and not just scratch-resistant (minor damage may occur)—Magic Gold.
It took the watchmaker 2 years to develop the 18-karat-gold substance, according to Luca Bianco, Hublot’s materials science engineer. Then the company spent another year building its own laboratory to keep its special recipe in-house. Hublot unveiled its very first Magic Gold watch, the Big Bang Ferrari Magic Gold, in 2012. The production process has evolved to the point where it can produce about 300 to 350 Magic Gold watches per year. “The process is so time-consuming that this is all we can make,” says Bianco. “A Magic Gold watch is very rare.”
For any gold to be certified as 18 karat, its ingredients must be 75 percent gold in weight and 25 percent other alloys such as nickel, platinum, copper, etc. For Magic Gold, the 25 percent “other” alloy is boron carbide, which begins as ceramic powder. The ceramic powder melts at extremely high temperatures, which watch molds cannot sustain. So, Hublot changed the process of fabricating the material.
The research team discovered that if they took the powdered ceramic and compressed it in a pressure machine via a cold process, they could convert the powder to a solid material and then heat it to reinforce it. The end result is an extremely porous solid, into which liquid 24-karat gold is poured and then gas-pressured into the ceramic material. The substance has a final color that is almost bronze-like in hue. Each tube of Magic Gold is recertified by an outside agency, attesting to the fact that it meets the 18-karat-gold standards.
The brand offers seven models from its Big Bang collection in the material and continues to work on new iterations of its Magic Gold watches. The latest Big Bang Ferrari release features grooves for the screws on the Magic Gold bezel, a new positioning for the Ferrari horse symbol at 6 o’clock, and pushers that are fluid with the case. It retails for $36,700 and is limited to just 250 pieces.