As the official watch of World Cup 2014, Hublot's Big Bang is a nod to the soccer timers of the 1970s, which were special chronographs with markings to count the 45-minute halves of each match.
Back then, watch brands like Breitling and Omega designed timepieces specifically to be worn on soccer fields during game time. Relatively large, soccer-centric watches bore unique color schemes and, for comfort's sake, a smooth tapered case and bracelet that was both light and modest in width, and ample micro-adjustment holes in the clasp made it fit quickly and comfortably.
While not polished to a mirror finish, soccer timers were typically more reflective than traditional watches, with a concentric type grain to the stainless steel metal (in other words, it pops on the wrist). Because they were made for sportsmen, these timepieces came exclusively with a manual movement.
The 40mm Breitling Referee soccer timer, circa early 1970s, featured a large 45-minute timer for both halves of the game, with an aperture at 6 o'clock to show when the game was in progress or halted. Both the crown and buckle were signed "Breitling." The Omega Seamaster Soccer Timer, also at 40mm, was a bit more ostentatious with an off-white dial subset with red, gray, and black separations for soccer timing and orange hands.
It's difficult to assess the value of most soccer timers because so few are commercially available, but expect to pay between $2,000 and $2,500 for one in great condition.
In keeping with tradition of its predecessors, Hublot's World Cup edition (and first-ever bi-retrograde) is powered by a new caliber HUB1260 movement while two retrograde hands track the seconds and minutes. A center-set window on the dial displays which half of the game is being timed. Along with a self-winding 72-hour power reserve, the watch features a 45.5 mm Unico-style Big Bang case, available in ceramic or King Gold. Although it's undoubtedly modern, the Big Bang's retro edge is sure to be a conversation starter long after time runs out on this year's tournament. [Big Bang Bi-Retrograde Chrono, $26,300 to $42,400, hublot.com]