Watches of the future – Exclusive interview with the CEO of Hublot, Ricardo Guadalupe
Hublot is on its way to the Manufacture side of watches. How is the brand evolving?
It is a continuing progress. Last year we launched, from the movement side, the Meca-10, so it’s a real own movement, 10 days power reserve, which has gone incredibly well commercially. And this year, from this side, of course we have also materials, so we have been able to industrialize the sapphire. Last year we did the transparent cases, this year we came with the blue and red sapphire. And from the watch mechanism side, we come with the Masterpiece 09, which is bi-axis tourbillon, blocked at 6 o’clock in a Big Bang. This year is also the year of Techframe, a watch designed by Ferrari for Hublot to commemorate the 70 years anniversary. This year is going to be a Ferrari year. Last year, it was Euro Cup, this year Ferrari and next year will be football again with the world cup taking place in Russia.
What keeps the partnership with Ferrari so intense and spectacular?
I think the brand, first. Because Hublot is matching quite well with Ferrari. With the same values as Innovation, Performance, Design. So, I think is quite matching well with Hublot. And then we have a strong product because we just didn’t put a logo on a watch. We designed a watch inspired by the Ferrari DNA. We did the Big Bang first, we did a second edition of Big Bang now and, in addition, with Techframe which is really inspired by the architectural frame, aerodynamics and I think the look of the watch is truly incredible. Besides the product, there is the activation. We activate Ferrari and Hublot and we do more than 200 events per year, every year, in different parts of the world. So, we have been really activating our partnership and we activate also in all the different worlds of Ferrari. We have been present in Scuderia F1 where we are on the car, with the GT cars and we are also present in all the dealerships around the world. We are in the Ferrari clubs, in the Ferrari vintage cars clubs. And these are the parameters that made our partnership successful.
How is Hublot evolving into lifestyle?
Today, we want to correspond to what the consumer wants to do in his life. So in his life, the consumer likes sports, he goes to watch a football game, he goes to a F1 Grand Prix and maybe he goes to buy a Ferrari. But also he can watch a music concert and he can be interested in lifestyle. We think that, in lifestyle, there are two aspects. Communicating in a different way and in the same time getting new ideas to create new watches. We needed new inspirations and Lapo Elkann is a guy with a lot of ideas. When you are a genius like him, you are also crazy. He has incredible ideas and what we did with Rubinacci, we would never have done it ourselves. We need this kind of inspiration. We did a first edition with Lapo, more technical, the Texalium, and after he said we should do something more stylish, more elegant. Why not put some fabric on the watch? And he said his tailor is called Rubinacci, his friend. And I said yes, let’s do it! The result is fantastic!
How do you characterize the market for high-end watches?
We need to give value for what we offer. You can sell a very expensive watch, but it has to be valuable. And I think the Techframe is a chronograph tourbillon, 130,000 CHF first price, but it has value in it. And I think this is the reason for which people will be interested to buy this watch. But even for a 20,000 watch, like Meca-10, we give a lot of value through the mechanics of the movement. I believe that by showing what is inside you show the value.
Where do you see Big Bang heading?
Big Bang is our iconic model. And everybody needs an iconic model. When you don’t have it, it is difficult. Every other brand here, big brands, have iconic models. Like Rolex with the Daytona, Patek Philippe with the Nautilus, so you need this. We have Big Bang which is very important, but at the same time, it is a very strong identity product and we need something, let’s say, a bit less aggressive, like Classic Fusion. So that’s why we created this collection, 8 years ago, and now there are two pillars that give us access to new consumers. The Classic Fusion arrives in places where we can’t go with the Big Bang.
Where do you take the brand now?
We want to push the brand to offer a product with true mechanical value. Not just a movement and a simple case. The three hands models are the watches of the past. I am looking to give the approach of tomorrow. And giving value to the product both as design and as technicality. Because if you consider sapphire, it is technology and design. Because when you have a watch in sapphire, it is an incredible watch. You have both a material and you get a new design. I personally believe that sapphire will last, it is not just a trend for two–three years. It will remain exclusive because it is luxury. We have the manufacture, so we have a lot of flexibility. We have a very strong research and development department, a strong technical department, we have the machines, our Manufacture is truly a manufacture looking towards the future.
Which things have kept the brand together and for which Hublot is still a cool brand?
We are a young brand and when you are a young brand, restarted in 2004, we don’t have history. So, we had a start-up spirit since the beginning. We ask people to always be creative and innovative. In the product, in the design, but also at every level of the company. I want to see this kind of spirit even in the guy who puts the watch in the box. The spirit of a start-up where everything is possible and we can always find solutions to improve. And all this together builds the good vibe, the good energy within, now, the 600 people at Hublot. But still with the same spirit.
How do you relate with the new generation of clients?
We talk to young people. Our customer is young. Our customer is between 25 and 45. And we have potential customers at 15 years old, 18, 20 that would like to aspire one day to Hublot. And I hope they will succeed in life, they will become entrepreneurs and they will buy Hublot.