Hublot CEO Ricardo Guadalupe discusses the brand’s longstanding relationship with the UAE and an exciting year ahead.
As Hublot’s CEO, Ricardo Guadalupe knows the importance of the UAE for the brand. With the Dubai Mall store being the watchmaker’s most profitable boutique in the world it’s clear to see why this country is of key importance to the future of the brand. This year at Dubai Watch Week Hublot showcased its latest watches including a special edition watch for the UAE. As a brand that continues to push the boundaries of innovation and design, Hublot continues to surprise its clients with new designs, materials and concepts that are different from anything else on the market. Here we find out more about the challenges and the successes of the brand over the past year and we look forward to more exciting developments in 2022.
Tell us about what Hublot is doing at Dubai Watch Week and what it means for the brand to be present at this event?
Dubai Watch Week is an important event particularly at this moment because of course after the pandemic many of us haven’t travelled for two years. Dubai is a very important city for us as our most profitable boutique in the world is in The Dubai Mall. So we need to be present at Watch Week together with our local partner Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons and highlight that this is a really strong market and that Hublot is a strong brand here in the region.
Why do you think Hublot is so successful here in the region?
I think that Dubai has become a hub for the world. Almost everyone going to Africa, Asia or Europe comes through Dubai so the diversity of the people here is so important and of course, the quantity of people is amazing. The more traffic you have, the more sales you will do! In one day we could have hundreds of people coming into the boutique so it goes without saying that we will have more sales compared with boutiques where only two or three people visit in a day.
Tell us about the Hublot clients and collectors here in the UAE and how do you connect with them?
After the tourists, we have the local consumers here in the UAE who are also very important and we have a great relationship with the people from this country. We are launching an exclusive watch commemorating the 50th anniversary at Dubai Watch Week so it’s really important for us to be able to talk to the country and the people. We have an incredible customer base of matured customers who not only buy Hublot but other brands as well, but they love Hublot and what we do.
What can you tell us about the UAE exclusive watch you are launching today?
Our partner Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons are very creative and innovative and they came to us and said we should do something for the 50th anniversary. We have done many special editions for Dubai in the past, but this watch is particularly important because of the 50th anniversary. So Seddiqi approached us with the idea of using materials from the UAE in the design of the watch. So we have used sand from the desert, camel leather fused on rubber and concrete for the case to represent the buildings of Dubai. This is not the first time we have used concrete, we used it in a watch we created for New York, but we took this idea to create a fusion between modernity and tradition. It will be limited to 100 pieces.
Hublot is constantly bringing new materials to the table, can you share with us anything that is being worked on at the moment?
The research and development department is extremely important to us because it’s key for us to present innovative materials and designs and it is an area we invest in. We are specialists in ceramics and we were able to create a vivid red ceramic and a vivid yellow ceramic and there are many other possibilities there. We are working on vivid colours in sapphire as well. This year we presented orange sapphire and next year we will come with a new colour. Concrete is of course another material that is very innovative. So we are working with many different types of materials, there is always something going on.
This is one of the first physical events in the watch industry since the beginning of the pandemic – what do you see as the future of events and shows within the industry moving forward?
I think digital has been something very important during this pandemic because through digital techniques we were able to keep in contact with our clients, with the press, with our suppliers and retailers. But I don’t think digital will completely replace physical, on the contrary, they are complementary of each other. Even for the customers, we see that we can keep in touch with them digitally and transform the sale physically, so you need to have both. They don’t compete with each other as they both bring something different and that was accelerated because of the pandemic.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced since joining the brand and how did you overcome it?
There are many challenges but one of the current challenges is the verticalization of our production. We want to increase the number of our own movements and materials and we are planning to open a third building in Switzerland. The challenge is also to find the right people because the watch industry is back to the numbers of 2019 and everyone needs talented people. I would say the quantity of people is not at the level of the need and that’s why we need to entice people to work for the brand and also offer good working conditions. So a big challenge is to find these people on the manufacturing side of the business.
As a brand you have aligned yourself with some very interesting ambassadors – what do you look for in a brand ambassador?
As you know we are very strong in sport and football in particular. We always look for an ambassador that can represent the values of our brand and have a story to tell around our brand to make people dream about us through his or her personality and words. So we look for people who first of all like our brand, often people who already own a Hublot watch. If someone is fantastic but he doesn’t like watches, we would not partner with him. I prefer to work with someone who may be less famous, but who likes our watches. Before signing contracts we always talk to the ambassador because we want to have the right alchemy otherwise it doesn’t work.
What is something you would still like to do at Hublot?
It’s difficult to say but there is a lot that I want to do related to sustainability and the protection of our planet. So something new that we are thinking about is going deeper into this with actions that can protect the planet, either the ocean, the earth or the sky and space. We are working on doing that in the Hublot way.
What is in the pipeline for Hublot in 2022?
Next year will be the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. I was just in Qatar for the one year to go event and it’s going to be a very important moment for us. We will invite more than 1,000 people to come and have an experience of football and watches. It’s something unique that we did previously in Brazil and Russia and it was a great success. We are planning to do something that is more Arabic style and reflects the heritage of the country so the consumer can experience the football but also the local culture.
Another big event for 2022 is Watches & Wonders which we will be part of next year. We had a revolution through the pandemic as Baselworld is no longer, so along with the other watch brands from LVMH Group, we are participating physically in Watches & Wonders at the end of March.
How do you expect it to be when you reunite with colleagues and competitors in these physical events after the global pandemic?
The watch industry is an industry where everyone knows everyone and while we are competitors we are also a family and we complement each other as well as being competitors. So I think it’s good for the industry to see what each other is doing.
What is a message you would send to your customers and fans in the region?
For the 50th anniversary, our motto is “Hublot loves UAE” and I’m sure UAE loves Hublot as well.