Watch Stories

BASELWORLD

Santiago Watch Stories May 5, 2015

If you attend Baselworld you are signalling your position in the ever moving constellation of  haute jewellery. Around the excitement of seeing brilliant design, it’s the place to expand your social network and to form new business relationships.   

One of the venues that everybody agrees is a good place to be seen and heard is the elegant Hotel Les Trois Rois. Its two star Michelin restaurant is almost impossible to book during the fair, but if you can’t get in, try the cocktail bar.

At Basel this year, Hublot splashed out on its Big Bang collection: a move timed to coincide with the iconic watch’s 10th anniversary.

It was, of course, Jean-Claude Biver who presided over the launch of the first Big Bang. He loved to talk up the associations that were embedded within the name – pointing up the excitement of creating a watch whose existence was forged from many different metals and materials including: gold, ceramics, carbon, rubber, steel, titanium, tantalum and magnesium. Since then, the Big Bang has lived up to its promise of explosive impact, pushing frontiers in all sorts of extraordinary ways.

One milestone many recall, for instance, is the remarkable Big Bang Ferrari made out of what the company refers to as Magic Gold. The magical element being the fact that 25% of the material changes the composition of the gold to an astonishing hardness – up to 1000 Vickers from the normal 400.

The other consistent element is the long-standing association with the sports world in its infinite variety and glory. So far, for example, there have been over 10 Big Bangs dedicated to the Ferrari car and its drivers. And, as it happens, it is the electrifying associations of fast cars that the design team have decided to reference in their anniversary edition.

At the prestigious fair, Hublot unveiled two exclusive new models developed with Ferrari. The first, Big Bang Ferrari Black Ceramic, plays on Ferrari’s legendary red colour, while the second, the Big Bang Ferrari Grey Ceramic, pays tribute to the historic NART (North America Racing Team) livery.

The details, however, go a great deal deeper than this. First, the sporty design of the new Big Bang Ferrari models has a profiled aerodynamic dial. The movement, for its part, is fronted by a miniature replication of Ferrari’s distinctive grille: a blackened criss-cross mesh.

Other flourishes are in the tiny details. Ferrari’s prancing horse is found at 9’o clock; while opposite, at three ‘o’clock, the minute counter and date window display the colours of its shield. Meanwhile, the oscillating weight of both watches ape the racing car’s five-spoke wheels.

Last but not least there is a rush of strap and colour detail. Wearers, for example,  can opt for a leather strap that features a red or grey livery with the stripes seen on racing cars. In fact, in the end, they can have both. For it is equipped with the innovative “One click” attachment system inspired by car seat belts, making it easily interchangeable.

The new Big Bang Ferrari is available in two versions – black or grey ceramic – each numbering 250 pieces. They both have a 72-hour power reserve.

WOMEN

For a long time women were seen as second-class citizens in the watch world.

However, more and more companies have worked hard to dispel this perception in the past decade. In Hublot’s case, the true moment of enlightenment probably occurred with the release back in 2007 of Tutti Frutti. Clearly the idea was to put colour centre stage, enabling women to team their watches with their wardrobes.

Today, the perception of what women look for has changed, possibly matching the strides that women are making the world over. Certainly it seems that way.  Hublot’s new brand ambassador for women is Israeli born Bar Rafaeli.  In her first appearance on behalf of the brand, she wore the whimisical, all new black and silver Big Bang Broderie. Unveiled at SIHH in January, it was on of the star draws at Baselworld.

Ricardo Guadalupe A MAN OF OUR TIME

Santiago Watch Stories April 28, 2015
 Destiny

My fate was possibly sealed by the fact that I was born in one of the birthplaces of luxury watch making, Neuchâtel!

In all seriousness, it’s a universe that has fascinated me since I was a boy. Watches were part of my childhood as my father was head of manufacturing for automatic watches. My childhood dreams and ambitions became reality after Bulgari – which was a small enterprise at the time – took me on as their product manager.

Looking to the future

There are some values that I think bind one generation to another. In work terms, you have to be willing to test frontiers and boundaries. Be as creative, innovative and knowledgeable as you dare. Hublot attributes a great deal of its success to the use and combination of innovative materials. If something isn’t possible, yet, then my ambition is that we make it so.

Iconoclastic

Every brand and company has to stay alert to what is happening.

I’m lucky in this respect. I travel constantly and attend events around the world – which, in turn, keeps me up to date with the zeitgeist. Pretty well, wherever I go, I encounter people of all ages and cultural backgrounds who are steeped in the world of arts, fashion and sports

These encounters often lead to new relationships. A good example of this is the work we’ve done with Romero Britto, the neo-pop Brazilian artist. It was obvious that his experimental ideas fitted in with Hublot’s philosophy. We first asked him to design our packaging for our World Cup Brazil watches. Later, we suggested he paint a picture on the face of a limited series for this year’s Baselworld.

Similarly, it’s been extraordinary to collaborate with a personality like Lang Lang. You can’t but be amazed by his virtuosity. The way in which he used an ipad to play Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s ‘Flight of the Bumblebee’,  as an encore,  was inspirational.

Hublot and philanthropy

Watches are an amalgamation of many separate parts. When they come together they have a new and special force. It’s the same with the interaction of our brand ambassadors with our watches and with the charities that we become involved in.

I’ve always been keen to lend our support to the charity, Water. I see water scarcity as one of the gravest threats facing humanity. One out of every nine people lack access to safe drinking water. To create the right environment for this collaboration we have paired up with Depeche, creating special editions for them to auction at celebrity auctions.

Our collaboration with Diego Maradona and the Child Hematology and Transplantology Institute also show the way in which Hublot loves to inject a little bit of playfulness into our philanthrophy. Our marketing team and the charity worked together to create a fun event in Moscow where Maradona and myself took it in turns to kick a ball at 10 pictures of footballs. Behind each ball was a specified sum of money. The total prize fund made up 1 million dollars, and all proceeds were transferred to the Institute. Around this time, we also launched  a limited edition in polished pink gold of “Big Bang Maradona 2”, at the Hublot Boutique in Tsum.

A third and last example I’d give of the wider values Hublot embodies – is our championing of charities that support the empowerment of women. We’ve been involved since 2007 with the Womanity Foundation (formerly the Smiling Children Foundation). They work with young girls in Afghanistan, Brazil, India, Israel, Morocco and the Palestinian Territories.

Hublot and start ups

In an interview I recently did with Forbes, I drew an analogy with the championship league. We’ve moved from the fourth to the first league in a very short time. In 2004 when I first arrived, Hublot had an annual revenue of 26 million CHE. In 2014 we made over 490 million and in 2015 we expect to exceed the 500 million mark.

A company has the same dynamics as a team. Creativity only happens if people feel free to express their opinions. I may not agree with all the opinions expressed, but voicing them is of critical importance, otherwise new ideas get stifled. On the other hand, everyone has to have the capacity to pull together when required.

My proudest moment…

I am particularly proud of the workmanship behind the UNICO (our in-house chronograph movement) and  the development of Magic Gold, the only scratch-resistant 18K gold. I’d also single out the launch of the Big Bang in 2005 and the celebrations that Hublot organised in 2014 around the FIFA World Cup.

Dress sense

At the moment, in my daily business life, I wear The Big Bang Unico which is the perfect fusion of the company’s skill in design and innovation. The UNICO chrono is unique in the industry with its column wheel  & dual horizontal coupling visible on the dial side. It is a 45 mm, which is a good size for men, and made of titanium which is extremely light and resistant to the shocks. I also love to wear the Big Bang Ferrari in Titanium. It is the perfect symbol of our collaboration with Ferrari.

Art of  fusion and our brand ambassadors

Our brand ambassadors are almost always already clients and friends of Hublot.

After this, when deciding whom to select, we follow our Art of Fusion philosophy – looking for personalities who mix tradition with modernity.

We also realised there was a terrific opportunity to associate ourselves with popular sports such as football and cricket. The passion people show for these sports is truly exciting and matches the enthusiasm that I see at Hublot every day.

You see this philosophy at work when we created a football watch. It’s much more than a timepiece that is beautiful and tells you the time. It also does something that is central to the football experience. When you use it during a match there’s the possibility of being in sync with the proceedings of the match at the same time.

For cricket we have made a special edition of Classic Fusion with uniquely shaped hands. This has hands on both counters shaped like cricket bats and organised key events around the competition in Australia.

New  frontiers and markets

There is a young generation of open-minded, trendsetters who through their love of what is new and different are creating a fertile market for new brands. This is why I love opening boutiques in emerging markets.

At present, Mexico continues to grow in double digits. It is a very sophisticated market in terms of watch culture. Brazilians are also very fashion conscious and seem to love what we stand for.

Looking eastwards, India is a future market for us. Even though we already have a presence there, the potential for growth is high.

With us, you know that you have the genuine article. We do not worry too much about the grey market because only official points-of sale can activate a Hublot watch, and once you bring a watch to another dealer, the watch will be designated as used and pre-owned.

Our warranty period begins as soon as the watch is activated. That way, we at Hublot can also see what sells well or not, and that helps with logistics and planning – there’s still an 18-month lead-in period.

We also have worked hard to make people feel part of the Hublot community. Our Hublot owners club is known as Hublotista and it is a communication platform for our clients to share views, opinions on products and get advices from Hublot.

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