Move over Germany… As official timekeeper of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Hublot scored a hat-trick in Brazil this July. We speak to the brand's CEO, Ricardo Guadalupe, about the key factors that have kept it firmly at the top of the league.

If you watched the World Cup last month, you may have noticed Hublot popping up on your television screen every few minutes as its brand imagery was plastered across the scoreboards. Being appointed Official Timekeeper of the 2014 FIFA World Cup made one thing clear: Hublot has made it to the big league and become a household name, thanks to its privileged spot over the course of the most avidly followed sporting event in the world. Marketing genius, that. And one that can be attributed to the two brilliant sparks behind the brand, CEO Ricardo Guadalupe and his predecessor, Jean-Claude Biver.

Hublot’s dalliance with sport, especially football, is not new: the Swiss watch brand has, over the years, created a number of special timepieces in tandem with football clubs Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Manchester United, as well as legends of the beautiful game including Chelsea manager José Mourinho (Hublot King Power "Special One") and most recently, Brazilian superstar Pélé (Hublot Classic Fusion Aero Chrono Pelé).

Brazilian football legend Pélé and Hublot CEO Ricardo Guadalupe

Outside of football, Hublot was appointed Official Watchmaker for Formula 1 in 2010, a partnership that has resulted in a number of racing-inspired timepieces. This September, Hublot will be showcasing an Art of Fusion exhibition at Paragon Main Atrium in conjunction with the 2014 Formula 1 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix.

With a production output of 40,000 pieces a year, demand highly exceeds supply for Hublot, and the world has been clamouring to get their hands on the brand's audaciously obnoxious timepieces, what with their large dimensions, bold designs, and inventive materials. After all, this is the brand that came up with the Art of Fusion philosophy, and pioneered the use of innovative materials and patented alloys on its cases.

Guadalupe gives Singapore Tatler a glimpse into what makes Hublot tick, with five bite-sized pieces of trivia on the brand.

 

1. On Breaking New Ground…

We sometimes get ideas for our new materials from the crazy guys at the University of Engineers in Lausanne, where we finance a share in the research of metallurgy. For us, I think ceramic is a good material; it is hard, and we can work on it like what we did with Magic Gold (a patented combination of ceramic and pure gold).

 

2. On Being Pioneers…

For 100 years or so, the watchmaking industry has been making the watch in the same way, with gold or steel more recently. Now, black has become a reference, it is a standard, and we have contributed to that. Yes, Rado did use ceramic before, but we brought it to another level, a luxury level.

Left: Big Bang Unico Bi-Retrograde Chrono: Official Watch of the 2014 FIFA World Cup

Right: Hublot King Power "Special One"

 

3. On Its Key Drivers…

We don’t do market studies. We design watches by inspiration, by instinct, by emotion. When we make watches, we make watches that we love and believe that there are many people like us in the world that can share our love for this certain kind of inspiration.

 

4. On The Art of Balance…

The Art of Fusion is an innovation, because that’s the first time watches were created and were linked to the future. It’s about respecting tradition, watchmaking art, and fusing it with materials of today and the technologies available today. The past is nice, but if you can use the laser machine instead of doing it by hand, you can then have rubber (which was made 50 years ago) or ceramic. All these new technologies can be implemented in the watch, to improve quality, the aesthetics—this has been our sole message since 2004. And this will remain for years. We have been followed by other brands, which is good. Today it’s always about innovation.

 

5. On The Industry’s New Direction…

The main trend that we see today is showing the value of the watch that you have on your wrist. For instance, we have no more dials that cover the movement. We can see the skeleton, the mechanism.

The Hublot Classic Fusion Aero Chrono Pelé

 

6. On Made In Hublot… 

When we started in 2004, we were a small company. A beautiful brand, but a small brand. We had to make choices, and developing a movement takes five to seven years minimum, so we couldn’t do that immediately. First, we had to position the brand and create product collections like the Big Bang etc, so we used existing movements by other brands. But, as we became a successful brand, we asked ourselves, what will happen in 10, 20 years?

If we wanted this brand to remain one of the best in the watch industry, we needed to create our own movement: Unico was truly our first engine, and in the future, Hublot will integrate more and more in-house movements each year. That’s why we’re building our second manufacture to verticalise our processes. It takes time, but it would be a mistake to integrate everything a 100 per cent. In the end, there are good suppliers outside, but integration will allow us to keep our confidentiality, expertise and exclusivity.

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