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WATCH EXPERT Ricardo Guadalupe

Ricardo Guadalupe

- What was the most challenging when you started working with Hublot?

- The most challenging was to relaunch a small brand and bring back the success that it used to have in the 80's and 90's. We had to relaunch the brand with a new repositioning, new message, new product.

- Hublot Motto is to be the first, unique and different! What exactly helps you keep this high bar and fully comply with your motto?

- We invest a lot in innovations, research and development of new materials. We created Magic Gold, the unique scratch-resistant gold and vivid red ceramic. Now, we are the only brand to industrialize Sapphire. In 2006 and 2008 Hublot has also become the first luxury watches brand to come into football. While we are not always first, we aim to preserve the unique nature of the brand. For instance, we have not been the first to enter the art industry, however, we have definitely been the first brand to bring art into the watch-piece itself with a three-dimensional effect, just like we have done with artists Richard Orlinski, Takasi Murakami and tattoo artist Maxime Plescia-Buchi. Our motto of being unique and different remains in every branch and Department of the brand. Of course, this depends on whether or not it is difficult to apply but product in marketing is really key.

- You invest a lot in research and your results are just incredible. The first ever scratch-resistant gold - Magic Gold, bright colored ceramics, full sapphire cases and as we just saw even with integrated full sapphire bracelets. What in your opinion is driving the industry forward? Expect for passion, of course, which is in the heart of Hublot?

- The Swiss Watch industry is an industry that produces, creates mechanical watches. The production of these watches is considered more of an art, because today we can watch time anywhere and even have it on our phones. This is why Hublot invests a lot in research, materials development and, as you said, also in movements. Some of the mechanics of the movement within a watch have been invented 100-200 years ago, which is why we try to reinvent the history of the mechanics and the complication in the movement. Then we go through the design to really create watches that have a strong identity. I think that the trend is really for the Swiss Watch industry to try to bring out the value of the piece through all that we add to it - through the movement, through the mechanics, through the materials and through the design. We must really produce what we can call objects of art. Hublot is not only about the art of watchmaking but also about the art itself. When we bring tattoo art, we get an incredible watch with incredible design inspired by the graphics of tattoos. I believe that it's really important to always pay attention to creativity and innovation and try to produce a real piece of art.

- One of your latest novelties, a sapphire crystal watch BIG BANG INTEGRAL TOURBILLON HIGH JEWELLERY is absolutely exceptional. How did you get the idea to create this masterpiece? What was behind this decision?

- We began to think about working with sapphire a long time ago. It is something that we always wanted to possess in order to stand out, because a crystal transparent sapphire watch is quite impressive. This couldn’t have been done before 2016. But through the years we've gradually learnt the technology of ultrasonic laser polishing, which is needed for sapphires that are very hard but at the same time fragile and can be broken under big pressure. We've been able to industrialize sapphire in 2016 with the Big Bang Unico Sapphire but it has only five components made of sapphire. So, we said to ourselves “let's record sapphire” and decided to produce pieces in blue, yellow and more recently orange. After that we finally created our Big Bang watch fully out of sapphire - 5 main components and 22 bracelet ones. Each component has been made in a particular way, specifically for the detail, which was a big challenge for us.

That's why the technique is still complicated, and we cannot produce hundreds of watches fully made out of sapphire. So, we decided to come at first with 30 pieces where bridges were put for the sapphire movement. The whole process is an incredible сhallenge and I would say that Hublot is one of the few brands that can do this work performance.


- What models the new generation clients want to see?

- They want to see something special which gives emotion, which is different from what the market provided. The young Generation Z look for watches that are more fun but at the same time to really have a perceived value. However, they do not want this value to be shown through a golden watch with diamonds on the wires, but rather through its technology like sapphire. It's more expensive than gold, but it's a lot of technology like ceramic. I think Generation Z wants something with such perceived value, not just a watch to show off.

- In 2018, you released the Hublot Big Bang Referee 2018 World Cup Russia smart watch. Now you are actively developing in this direction. How did the brand’s customers react to the appearance of the BIG BANG E series?

- I think this is something additional. Our know - how is mechanical watches, but Hublot open to technology to what's going on in the world. The smartwatch is a new electronic watch. We have quartz movement in our industry, which is an electronic movement that was invented in the 70s. We can create a niche but at the same time a luxury smartwatch. I think there are some consumers that are keen to wear a smartwatch, and we all know the leader in this field. We believe that there are a bunch of customers that want something different and I think we're offering something special with very good technology. We're working with the Google Wear OS. The watch has a great design of the Big Bang, the rubber strap etc. The process reveals to us the heights that are achieved with this particular technology that does not exist in Switzerland but rather in Silicon Valley, and that's why we work with Google in this case. I think it's interesting, but of course it will always remain a niche business for us. It will always represent only a few percent of our business, never the majority. Although I think for brand like Hublot, we are always different and unique, so I think we should go in exploring these particular products.

- Let's talk about the HUBLOT LOVES ART project. You recently presented your second collaboration with Shepard Fairey inspired by the mandala. It is a fantastic watch and an unusual idea! But now it’s a Classic Fusion not a brutal Big Bang like it was in your first collaboration with Shepard.

- It depends. We work closely with artists. Shepard wanted something a bit sportier and more sophisticated, and the customer wants something that we could engrave on. We thought that Classic Fusion is more adapted because it has a side which is a bit different to the rest of the model, so there was room for creativity and work on a better expression of what it is they want to engrave on the case. That's why we decided to go on Classic Fusion. We thought that it was more adapted to this new inspiration.


- Do you have your favorite Hublot piece? Or a piece that is most precious for you?

- I have one special watch - Big Bang Unico Magic Gold. I would say it is the expression of what Hublot is today - a manufacturer with our own patented chronograph movement - Unico. A big challenge was also to come up with a new movement chronograph and our own material – 18 K scratch-resistant gold - Magic Gold, which is simultaneously the art of fusion of the material and the movement.

- What is more important to you, creativity or innovation?

- I would say both, without creativity there can’t be innovation. I think that they’re mixed and linked together.

- Russian women are very fond of HUBLOT. I heard that in Russia, HUBLOT sales in the female segment are even higher than in the male one. What do you think is the reason?

- I'm not sure about that figure but I would say that it's really important. It is indeed close to 50%. While normally 25% of our worldwide customers are women, in Russia it is about 50/50. I would say that the Russian market is interested in something different, something particular and I think the women want a brand, that is not just a watch brand for ladies. I think that the Russian woman is more high-profile, she wants something different and maybe even goes for a brand that we could say is more of a man's brand, because of its dynamic, concept or really particular materials. But I think we understood very well what the Russian woman wants, and I am very happy about that. Right now, I'm trying to take this experience with Russia and to employ it in America, Asia and Europe, to be able to increase the female share of Hublot customers there.

- How has social media and “15 minutes of fame available for everyone” affected your work? Who is a true celebrity for you now?

- Social media is very important for us and we make great efforts to develop it. Of course, we try to be innovative, creative and to be leaders in social media. We have over 5 million followers on Instagram, which makes us the number two brand in the watch industry. We try to engage with our audience through content, which I think is key to the social meetings. We have incredible movies, videos, photos as well and we are proud to be able to have this reach through our ambassadors, influencers, like, for example, Kylian Mbappe, the footballer from France, DJ Snake, Takashi Murakami or Shepard Fairey. So, I believe progress is in constant work but, I would say that the key element is content.