David Tedeschi, Hublot Regional Director, Latin America and Caribbean, Middle East and Africa discusses the new novelties and the plan for Hublot in the region
This January, Hublot presented its latest novelties as part of LVMH Watch Week. While the watches were presented digitally this year, boutiques in the region are welcoming clients to discover the latest designs and innovation stories at the brand. While this past year has been a difficult one, in the region things are looking positive with many targets being met in terms of watch sales. While tourism to the region continues to be lower than usual, on the flip side residents are turning to local boutiques to make purchases, as well as the new Hublot e-commerce platform. The impressive new watch models come at a time when the brand is focused on sharing the story and the capabilities of its Manufacture with the world. Inviting clients and prospective clients to discover more of what is behind the brand and its fascination with innovation. As the latest watches begin to arrive in the Middle East we talk to David Tedeschi, Regional Director, Latin America and Caribbean, Middle East and Africa.
Tell us about the new Big Bang Integral timepieces.
This year we are launching four different models in this category. There are three particular models that we are highlighting because they feature a new ceramic and the fourth model is the Black Magic, which is the continuation of the old black version that we launched in Dubai last year. We have three new models; white ceramic, blue ceramic and of course the new grey ceramic that we have never used before in the collection. Throughout the year and in the future we will be using this colour of ceramic more and more. When we launched the first collection last year in Dubai we wanted to see how it would work in the market and how it would perform and we were quite surprised by the results. It was the first time that we were doing a full-integrated bracelet on the Big Bang collection, which took us a lot of time to develop, and since last year the reaction has been crazy – we aren’t producing enough watches that meet the demand!
Is there anything that will change post-COVID in your strategy at Hublot or will you continue with your DNA of being inclusive as you have in the past?
Our main focus in the strategy now is to communicate better on our manufacture because we believe that this is the most important thing for us. Digitalisation is also key at the moment. It’s important for us to have an online selling platform, but also to share new content through digital channels. Each major watch we launch now comes with full video content and we believe this is important. In terms of our partnerships, we are almost everywhere, but we have decided to do things a little differently. For example, we chose not to renew our partnership with Ferrari. It was an amazing partnership that has been ongoing for nine years. It was a great 360 collaboration and we have some amazing watches that will remain in the Hublot DNA forever. But our philosophy has changed to develop and concentrate on our manufacture and that is the focus moving forward. Our other main pillar is football, which currently is very challenging as we still don’t know if events will happen this year, so it’s quite difficult, but still, football continues to be part of our DNA moving forward and we will be the official timekeeper of the 2022 World Cup. But we are also starting to be involved in other sports that are new for us. We have partnerships with top golfers for example and we are also breaking into the tennis segment with a few new ambassadors. There is no limit to what we can do and in my opinion, we need to touch people and bring them into our world through these partnerships in various segments.
What’s happening on a regional level in the Middle East?
In December 2020 we opened our fifth boutique in Saudi Arabia and this is a huge and important market for us that we have been developing over the last five years. Five years ago we didn’t have any presence there, so five boutiques in five years is quite an achievement. We have four other boutiques due to open in the region this year, including in Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Bahrain. We have hugely developed our Qatari market as previously people would come and shop in Dubai so that did offer up an opportunity for us, but It’s good for Qatar to be reintegrated into the GCC countries and it’s good for local tourism in the region. We are focused on teaching our clients to buy locally. In Dubai around 75 per cent of our business comes from tourists – so having no tourists this year and not knowing when they will come back to the country means we are expecting a big drop in our turnover in the UAE. However, thanks to our approach of developing the sales by going to the customer instead of the customer coming to the point of sale, we were able to develop a new sales strategy and teach local clients to purchase in their own country and it makes a huge difference. In Q4 starting from October last year, we had a better sell-out compared to what we had in 2019 and up until today that continues. January 2021 was a record month for Hublot in the UAE and particularly at our Dubai Mall boutique. We sold 166 watches and the previous record was December 2019 with 156 watches. So it’s quite encouraging!
What is a lesson that you’ve learnt from 2020?
The ability to change our way of thinking and putting this into practice. We had to completely change ourselves and Hublot not only innovates in terms of watches but also in the day-to-day business because we had to completely adapt everything. Launching the Big Bang ER – the smartwatch in our collection, by bringing this new e-commerce platform on our website was a must I believe. It’s not that these were things that we weren’t expecting but now they are really picking up. I’m not part of the generation that buys luxury products online, but the young generation are purchasing much more online, so of course, we are targeting the younger generation with this method of sale. For me though retail will never disappear.
Tell us a little about the Big Bang Tourbillon Automatic Orange Sapphire.
The orange sapphire is a world first and it’s a brand new material. It’s a limited edition of fifty watches and has a complete new manufacture movement and marks the first time we have an automatic tourbillon movement in our collection. It’s very fresh and new and the idea behind a product such as this is to keep it exclusive and that’s why we have only 50 pieces. We have internalised the fabrication of our ceramics in house, but also the sapphire production, which is a huge, plus that allows us to innovate in this segment and play with different materials and colours.
What can you tell us about the new partnership with Japanese artist Takashi Murakami?
This is the first time we have partnered with this particular artist. The construction of the case is new; there is a rotor inside the case that is permanently moving whenever you’re moving your wrist. It’s a limited edition of only two hundred watches and it is the watch everyone is fighting to get at the moment!
What is a message you would like to send to your clients and friends in the Middle East?
It’s good to be back. Of course, stay tuned because there are a lot of new special edition things happening for the market this year.