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.
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.
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.