Discussing How Hublot is Shaping Contemporary Watchmaking with CEO Ricardo Guadalupe
Once again, Hublot has taken the watch world by storm: From stunning designs to innovative features, Hublot’s new collection is sure to impress even the most discerning watch aficionado.
Right before the recent Watches & Wonders 2023 conference in Geneva, Watchonista sat down with Ricardo Guadalupe, the legendary CEO of Hublot, to discuss how the brand is shaping contemporary watchmaking and what to expect next.
Interview with Ricardo Guadalupe, CEO of Hublot
Ash Longet: Every year, on the eve of Watches & Wonders, we make predictions about some of the participating brands. And whenever we think about Hublot, we unconsciously forecast bold moves, edgy novelties, new materials, and shapes. What does 2023 bring to Hublot?
Ricardo Guadalupe: Hublot represents the “Art of Fusion” in watchmaking; it makes us a different sort of brand from any traditional Swiss watch brand. And being a young brand, it’s really important for us to be able to come out with unique and different products. So, you see, this fusion is our DNA; we connect innovation and tradition.
Let’s take, for example, the new 43mm Big Bang Integrated Full Carbon Tourbillon Automatic. A tourbillon is a classical complication, I would say, but with this watch, we have tried to innovate by creating an automatic version with a micro-rotor at 12 o’clock and a movement design that stands out for its use of sapphire bridges.
On the materials side, we use carbon fiber in layers covered with Texalium (an alloy made from aluminum and carbon). We believe that lightness is also a keyword because we think luxury is no longer about heavy watches.
So that’s pretty much the quintessence of what Hublot stands for, and to achieve this, we invest a lot into our R&D (for instance, working to make advancements in materials like ceramic, sapphire, and carbon fiber; new calibers like the Full Texalium’s tourbillon; and masterpieces like the Unico automatic chronograph).
Marco Gabella: In your opinion, was the Unico a major turning point in Hublot’s history?
RG: Absolutely! It is very difficult to create a chronograph from scratch (more difficult, even, than a tourbillon, for instance). So, we utilized a different component configuration and positioned the chronograph mechanism on the dial side, thus placing the column wheel on the dial side. Our idea is that the movement is part of the aesthetic design of the watch.
MG: We all know that some independent brands make their own highly technical movements in-house; however, those brands can make only a relatively small number of watches per year on their own (usually fewer than 100 pieces).
So, my question is: Are potential production limits for highly complicated movements a factor for a major brand like Hublot when it considers investing in their in-house development and production?
RG: The idea [behind creating those kinds of movements] is to demonstrate that Hublot has the know-how to develop and innovate in the arena of high-end mechanical movements.
Certainly, when we talk about production quantities of those, we’re only talking about making only a few hundred watches per year. However, limited production runs generate talk about the brand and create aspiration goals for the consumer as well.
But in the end, our everyday business is to sell the non-limited Classic Fusion 3-Hands.
So, when speaking about masterpieces, we place no restrictions on the development team. Take, for example, the new MP-13. It is the thirteenth edition in the Masterpiece collection and features a bi-axis tourbillon at 6 o’clock.
With this piece, we really tried to work on an acceptable size for wearing it on the wrist. Also, the case is made of titanium because we wanted the focus to be on the movement, not the weight.
MG: Another word I associate with Hublot is “partnership.” I consider your partnership with Sang Bleu to be one of the most important in the industry. Moreover, it is one of the real ones. And Sang Bleu once said, “A partnership is where everyone contributes 50%.”
MG: How do you determine where your partner’s contribution begins and ends?
RG: We must definitely find our way to a fifty-fifty fusion with an artist for a successful collaboration. So, when we are considering a partnership with an artist, we need to be able to envision precisely how their kind of art can translate to a watch in a sophisticated way.
For instance, with Richard Orlinski, I saw how his style of sculpture could bring something different to a watch’s design. The same is true with Takashi Murakami.
So, we go with our instincts.
AL: What are your expectations on the consumer side following your 2023 launches?
RG: I am looking for recognition as a true manufacture: we have our own movements, material developments, etc. Yes, I definitely want to win over the collectors who are maybe still figuring out what Hublot is.
For information about Hublot, visit the brand’s website.
(Photography by Liam O'Donnell & Pierre Vogel)