Hublot - Traditional at its Core but Modern in Spirit

About brand awareness, sponsorships and the latest technologies in the industry - an interview with Hublot's CMO, Philippe Tardivel.

Thanks to numerous partners in the fields of music, sports, art and fashion you reach a very diverse range of buyers and interested parties. Is this new for a manufacturer of modern luxury watches?

At Hublot, we do things differently. We have two main sponsorships, one of which is football. We were the first luxury watch brand to enter football in 2008 for the European Cup hosted in Switzerland. Why football? Well, because it was a blank canvas, an untouched platform. Tennis and golf had already been taken up by big brands. Football, being a very popular sport, speaks to a wide variety of people. Thanks to football, we have been able to accelerate raising brand awareness, especially since becoming a partner of FIFA and UEFA. The other big sponsorship we have is Ferrari, one of the most iconic luxury brands, pretty much known to everybody around the world. The partnership with Ferrari is more prestigious, as it helps to elevate the brand to another level. Besides these two, we are active in new areas, such as the arts, music and we also have our brand ambassadors. It is very important that the person likes the brand. We do not enter partnerships unless we are certain that the person really likes our products, and they are not just in it for the money. Every partner we have, such as Usain Bolt, Pelé, or Kylian Mbappé are personalities who like what we are doing and the philosophy that stands behind it.

You have created your own niche in the world of exclusive Swiss watch brands. How did the business model for the small series come about?

We created the limited-edition program because of the various personal partnerships we have. At Hublot, we needed to find a way to empathize the sport-related partnership - to have a special product dedicated to the identity of every partnership. So we began with an exclusive limited edition with Usain Bolt and Manchester United – From there, we moved on to art and design and began a partnership with Maxime Plescia-Buchi (Sangbleu) and today, we have a variety of partnerships that allow us to create these exclusive limited editions of a 100 or 200 pieces. The strategy here is to produce fewer numbers than the actual demand, to create a higher interest for the clients.

How will you be able to continue creating new models without making mistakes?

Our concept speaks to the usual watch clientele on the one hand, but also to the younger generation, as it connects them with the future rather than the past. We also make use of digital storytelling, allowing them to always be in contact with us. Moreover, Hublot focuses on several domains such as sports, music and art. Therefore, in addition to piquing their interests, we are perceived as a trendsetter brand. And importantly, we are extremely flexible, both creatively and industrially, so we can take risks, be more edgy and are always perceived as innovative.

Is the smartwatch a direct threat to high-quality mechanical watches?

The core business for Hublot will always remain to create, produce and develop mechanical watches. On the other hand, we believe that we need to be open and aware about what is happening in the world. The quartz watch is an electronic watch as well. Its movement, which was developed in the ‘70s by the watch industry, is an electronic movement which gives you the time and the date. An electronic module can add something incredible: access to basic applications, in addition to the time. We believe that a good module – in this case, we have worked with Google Wear – adds something professional. Once you pair this with a high-end finish on the outside, such as a ceramic case, sapphire glass and a rubber strap, we are convinced that there is a niche for this type of watch. But the connected watches will ultimately not be able to replace the mechanical watch. Never.

Does a watch wearer have different expectations and usage scenarios?

Thanks to the Big Bang e, we have an unlimited capacity to create and add new features as well as new dial designs. This enables us to constantly answer to the needs and requests of our clientele.

By buying one of your watches, one can benefit from the brand's image and the signals it transports regarding the environment - what are these signals at Hublot?

Hublot has been involved in different CSR projects. In 2018, Hublot joined the legendary music group Depeche Mode in the Charity Water project. Joining forces, Hublot and Depeche Mode raised a total of 1.7 million dollars for an organization, which brings drinking water to developing countries. These funds gave 50.000 people access to clean water. In 2019, Hublot committed to a partnership with Kevin Pietersen and SORAI – Save Our Rhino Africa India – to conserve rhinoceroses threatened with extinction. This commitment took the form of the Big Bang Unico SORAI. A large proportion of the funds raised through the sales have been paid directly to Care for Wild for the care and conservation of orphaned baby rhinoceroses, and to the South African National Parks agency to reinforce their nocturnal surveillance capabilities using airborne thermal intelligence tools.

Luxury fashion has long relied on e-commerce as a sales channel as well as operating flagship stores in selected locations. Will this trend also apply to watch brands and what is Hublot doing in this area?

Digital sales channels have become even more important, but only as long as it offers a real customer experience, with services worthy of the name. This is why we wanted to present our new smartwatch and why we decided to launch our online business platform the same day. It was in preparation before the start of the crisis, but then we were forced to speed up the work. Regarding the timing, we first opened the watch sales online to friends of the brand - the Hublotistas (those who already own Hublot watches), followed by anyone around the world, interested in the purchase of one of our watches.

The priority and variety of social media channels is constantly changing. CEO, Ricardo Guadalupe, is constantly stressing their importance. Which channels does Hublot focus on in particular?

We concentrate on Instagram. This is the platform that allows us to be in constant relationship with our customers.

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