Hublot is once again pushing the boundaries of watchmaking and design with its newest novelties, as revealed at LVMH Watch Week in Singapore this January.
Hublot CEO Ricardo Guadalupe
Headed up by CEO Ricardo Guadalupe Hublot has firmly defined itself as a brand that breaks tradition. Known for its disruptive, surprising approach to watchmaking, the brand is constantly on a quest to try new approaches, and fresh materials and present interesting partnerships, offering more than just a traditional watch, but a bold and audacious lifestyle, that is incredibly attractive to today’s consumer. After a hugely successful year in 2022, sponsoring the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, Hublot is set to start 2023 stronger than ever. We find out more about the latest reveal and what to expect over the next twelve months.
As we start a new year tell us about the vision and objectives for Hublot in 2023.
We recently returned from the 2022 World Cup in Qatar which was an incredible experience, so we ended 2022 in a strong, passionate and dynamic way. Now in 2023, we have to continue with this momentum. It is going to be a year without an event at the level of the world cup but we are doing something different this year. The idea is to talk about the essence of Hublot and what the brand is about and explain our Art of Fusion and how Hublot is a real Manufacture. When you visit our headquarters, you can see our research and development, the work we do on materials, how we produce our own ceramics, how we have teams constructing movements and complications, and we want to share all of this with the world this year. We want to reiterate how Hublot represents the Art of Fusion and how that makes us different from other watch brands. At Hublot we strive to create watches that are different, if our watches were the same as others, why would anyone buy a Hublot? So that’s the message that we want to get across this year.
We are also going to be coming back to some of our art partnerships, we will be presenting a new Sang Bleu, a new Orlinski, and much more under this theme of art. At Hublot art is important not only in our communication but also in the development of our watches. I think we’re the only brand to really take the art of the artist and put it into the watch, so the watch becomes a piece of art itself, building a fusion between the artist and the watch.
And our third focus for this year is sustainability and ecology and the protection of the planet. We begin the year with the Hublot Big Bang Unico SORAI that we are launching here in Singapore. This is related to the protection of the rhinos, and we will be giving back a substantial amount to help protect rhinos through the sales of this watch. We chose rhinos because we believe they are beautiful animals, and they are an endangered species. We will be doing a keynote project connected to this at Watches & Wonders later this year.
Do you still believe in disruption when it comes to your strategies and marketing projects?
Yes, I believe in disruption. For Hublot, it’s important to have this philosophy of being disruptive and I think that all our partnerships are disruptive in some way. Even if we talk about football, yes, it is a popular sport, but it’s disruptive because no other brand had the courage or the will to go into football before we did, and I think Hublot now owns this territory. I think brands are afraid of the negative impact of being involved in such things and that’s why they don’t want to take risks. When we went into boxing with Floyd Mayweather, for example, that was a hugely disruptive approach. So yes, I believe in disruption of course, but it must bring something to the brand.
What challenges do you think the watchmaking industry is navigating today?
In the past, when the Smart Watch first came out it had an impact on the entry price level watches, but I think the watchmaking industry of Switzerland has to offer an added value on its products. Of course, when you add value it’s more expensive, but we see that watches over three or thousand Euros are doing so well. This year is going to be a record year of exportation for the watchmaking industry. In my career of over thirty years, I’ve never seen such high demand for luxury mechanical watches. So, I think the future of the Swiss watch industry is quite good because I believe that the young generation is looking to luxury watches as a way to differentiate themselves from others. The main problem today is the supply, everyone is facing issues of being able to produce more watches to keep up with the demand. Of course, there are still some issues in some parts of the world, China is still under COVID restrictions for example, there is the war in Ukraine, which has stopped us from selling watches in Russia for almost a year, but despite this, I see a lot of positivity as we come into 2023. We never know what can happen, but I think it’s positive.
The Dubai Mall flagship is your best-performing boutique in the world – to what do you tribute the success of the brand in the Middle East?
In Dubai particularly we sell a lot of watches to tourists as well as to local customers. But in Saudi Arabia where we are now also doing great, we are selling purely to locals. I think the Middle Eastern consumer likes to have disruptive products. It is quite a mature consumer base who loves watches and loves luxury products and when you have had many experiences with traditional brands, sometimes you want something different, and I think Hublot is a good solution for this. We also create watches that allow people to differentiate themselves and make them stand out from others. We see that particular watches sell well – the coloured ceramic for example – and these are the watches that make the wearer stand out. We also have a very good split between men and women customers in the Middle East.
What is in the pipeline for Hublot in the Middle East and on a global level in terms of boutiques?
I think we are quite well implemented in the Middle East now, we are still opening one more boutique in Saudi Arabia, so we will have six in total, we just opened a boutique in Doha at Place Vendome which is an incredible flagship. We are adding a new location in Cairo in Egypt. And for the world, we are still expanding our standalone boutiques, we have 130 in the world currently. We are expanding in China and the United States.
You are going to be completing eleven years at the helm of the brand this year, what do you still aim to achieve that you haven’t done yet?
It’s a continuous process. I want this brand to become a very integrated Manufacture, where we have all the different know-how in-house and for that, we need to build a big new facility and that is what we have in the plans and is my new big project for the brand.
What is a message you would send to your fans and customers in the Middle East?
We love them and when you have a Hublot watch you are part of a family. We try to keep this spirit even as we grow, this spirit remains.
The Big Bang Tourbillion Automatic in Neon Yellow Saxem
Hublot continues its exploration of Saxem, a material often used in satellites and lasers, allowing the Manufacture to obtain translucent colours. The new Neon yellow tone is being used by the watchmaker for the first time and offers a bold, audacious appeal. “The Neon Yellow is the highlight of this watch week in Singapore.” Said Ricardo Guadalupe, Hublot CEO. “Hublot is known for its Art of Fusion and innovation is key for us, so to be disruptive in our products is also very important. We were the first brand to introduce sapphire in 2016 and we have been developing colours for the last six or seven years. We have been working on this luminescent yellow for over three years and we have been able to achieve the colour by adding certain minerals to the raw material to achieve this colour.” The result is a unique material called Saxem. “The result is amazing because it’s a very segmenting watch and that’s what Hublot is known for. Of course, it’s very difficult to produce and we use a tourbillon movement, which is our own movement with a micro-rotor at 12 o’clock, which makes the watch really interesting. It is going to be very limited to just 50 pieces. This is the highlight piece for me and of course, we will have some pieces coming to Dubai Mall.”
The Big Bang Integrated Time Only King Gold Rainbow
For this watch, the Manufacture has drawn inspiration from its 2022 best-seller, sprinkled with a touch of Haute Joaillerie to create two on-identical twin watches that invite us to play and revel in the art of bejewelled case setting. Featuring 174 rainbow gemstones with a fully-paved case, bezel and bracelet, these pieces are works of art.
Ricardo Guadalupe, Hublot CEO says; “we have been doing rainbow watches for a few years now, but this time we have a watch set with rainbow stones and the result is quite amazing. It comes in 40 and 42mm and it’s a unisex watch.” Both watches feature a black dial, and large skeleton hands and are less than 10mm thick combining the best of watchmaking and high jewellery know-how.
Hublot Big Bang Unico SORAI Time For Rhinos
This watch is the first of the year to highlight Hublot’s commitment to the planet and sustaining key elements within it. The Big Bang Unico SORAI Time For Rhinos is the continuation of Hublot’s partnership with SORAI (Save Our Rhinos Africa India), which began in 2019. The organisation was founded by international cricket star Kevin Pietersen whose work helps keep rhinos threatened with extinction safe from poachers. “The inspiration for this watch is the colours of the sunset as this is the worst time for poaching as it’s when most rhinos are killed. We wanted to highlight this.” Explains Ricardo Guadalupe. The watch will be limited to 100 pieces and part of the proceeds from the sale of each watch will be donated to the organisation.
Classic Fusion Original
This year Hublot is bringing back the original Classic Fusion watch of 1980. Both refined and sporty this precious gold case strapped on a simple rubber strap, unthinkable at the time, sent huge shock waves through the world of fine watchmaking. Echoing the original design the new Classic Fusion Original features a rubber strap, polished black lacquered dial and yellow gold signature hands. It is available in yellow gold, titanium and ceramic; the cases are available in 42, 38 and 33mm.