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Riding high from a strong performance in 2015, Ricardo Guadalupe, CEO of Hublot, talks anniversaries and more.
What are the highlights for this year?
Firstly, there is the Big Bang. It’s a concept which is so innovative and different that we decided to commemorate it. It has been a great success over the last 10 years and played a big part in the success of the brand. We introduced the Big Bang 10 years ago, and this year, we present the Big Bang in sapphire—Big Bang Unico Sapphire All Black. Then there is the collaboration with Berluti. We will deploy these watches across different places, starting with Paris [in France], Japan, U.S., and so on. While there are other references in terms of design, these are some of the big highlights for this year.
How did Hublot perform in 2015? And which were your big markets?
It was a record year for us, with a plus 14 per cent on 2014. Of course, we feel that the situation is bad for everybody, so for 2016, we are being conservative. We believe that even three to four per cent of growth will be really fantastic. And if we replicate 2015, it will be a good year. Based on how we performed last year, our big markets are Japan, Middle East (Dubai in particular), Europe (tourism and the exchange rate are contributing factors here), Southeast Asia and so on.
Which is your favourite piece from the new collection?
For me, it’s the Big Bang Unico Sapphire All Black. The concept has been so innovative and different that I love the watch we created. Of course, sapphire is not a new material, but we said to ourselves: we want to industrialise sapphire. We want to produce a lot of watches, so we invested in machines, tools, moulds and people, and the result is great.
BIG BANG UNICO SAPPHIRE ALL BLACK
What are your views on the Indian market?
Our penetration is good in India. We have done a great job and are among the top brands there. Our association with cricket has helped a lot. And of course, Indians buy abroad as well and not only in India. What we’ve done with football round the world is what we’ve done with cricket in India and for all fans of the game around the world. In the U.S., we’ve associated with basketball and now, American football. Sports, for us, are one of the main pillars of sponsorships and partnerships.
In terms of innovation,what are the other plans in place?
We invest a lot in research and development, but R&D can be at various levels. We have so many projects going on, but sometimes, it can be like Berluti, which is about the leather. Hublot is the art of fusion and the art of fusion is also about tradition and modernity. In this case, it’s traditional of course, but we try to modernise it. It’s still a rubber strap but with leather—it’s a fusion [of materials]. And the dial is very technologically oriented because we had to encapsulate sapphire. So it’s a traditional watch, but with modernity. Through Berluti, we can acquire more customers—for the ones who might find the All Black watch a bit much. The idea, always, is to attract more consumers, and with Berluti, we could perhaps appeal to people with more classical tastes.
If someone was buying their first Hublot watch, what would you recommend to them?
I would say, Big Bang because it’s an iconic watch. The power of the product and the strong identity it has when worn on the wrist is great. But then there is the Classic Fusion for people, who want to access the brand through something that’s more discreet. However, it may not be the first watch because to buy the first watch requires a certain maturity as well. And for Hublot to sell as the first watch is a big challenge. Hublot can be an answer to somebody who is mature. For instance, we sell 30 per cent of our watches to women, and we are rarely their first watch.
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