“If you stop creating, somehow you become someone that copy others”—An Exclusive Interview with Hublot’s General Manager for Greater China

January 11,2022

Among many LVMH-owned century-old brands, HUBLOT, a Swiss luxury watchmaker born in 1980, is quite short in the tooth. Over the past four decades, its secret to being a dark horse is hidden in the three-word brand motto: First, Unique, Different.

To uphold the motto and attitude of the brand is extremely challenging in the fiercely competitive luxury watchmaking industry. Loic Biver, Hublot’s General Manager for Greater China, revealed to LuxeCO that: “Being creative is the hardest thing. It's always much easier to repeat what you’ve done or to copy others. However, there is no other way around, because if you stop creating; somehow you become someone that copy others.

Then, what did HUBLOT do?

 “Limited-Edition” Strategy Empowered by Digitalization

As digitalization is speeding up the revolution of the post-pandemic hard luxury industry, limited-edition items start to emerge online. Ever since 2021, HUBLOT rolled out its official boutique store mini program on WeChat, several limited-edition watches were sold out in just a few minutes.

In the past month, HUBLOT has launched a couple of limited-edition watches in a row. The latest model BIG BANG Unico Green Camo was sold as a limited-edition with only 88 pieces exclusively online in China at 222,000 yuan, which again proved the viability of digital marketing for hard luxury goods.

It also reflected that Chinese consumers have gradually formed a more sophisticated view on and have been more receptive towards hard luxury goods sold on e-commerce platforms.

HUBLOT entered China in 2009. Its CEO, Ricardo Guadalupe, stated in January 2021 that the mainland Chinese market had become a major driver of growth for the brand and HUBLOT was poised to grow by 30% to 50%. Omni-channel strategy was under the way. By the end of 2021, HUBLOT unveiled its WF CENTRAL boutique. Loic said to LuxeCO that HUBLOT would set up new stores in Shanghai, Suzhou, Xiamen and Tianjin. “These are already big cities. And for smaller cities like Ji Nan, Zhengzhou, Fuzhou, we are planning to establish stores in one, two or three years.”

“For HUBLOT, the goal is to be a leader in the digital world and many of the developments will be launched step by step. We want to make sure that more consumers can benefit from the online store and become loyal customers consequently. As a result, we want to make sure that we have the best after-sales services,” said Loic, “We are just starting out in the digital world and there is so much that needs to be done.

He also excitedly shared cutting-edge concepts such as the metaverse and blockchain with us. All in all, everything is possible. For instance, when UEFA EURO was held in 2021, HUBLOT launched its first cryptocurrency NFT for HUBLOT smart watch BIG BANG e UEFA EURO 2020TM.

 “1+1>2” Cross-brand Collaborations

In the beginning of 2021, HUBLOT paired with Japanese artist, Takashi Murakami to present the limited-edition Classic Fusion Takashi Murakami All Black with only 200 pieces, sold at 200,000 yuan each.

By the end of 2021, the two collaborated again on Classic Fusion Takashi Murakami Sapphire Rainbow watch, with only 100 pieces, sold at 106,000 USD each. The price tag turned 10 times, reaching 2 million yuan at the secondary market with half of the issued quantity of the All Black model.

In 2021, HUBLOT partnered with Cuban cigar brand Arturo Fuente for the fourth time.

Created in 2015, HUBLOT’s slogan “The Art of Fusion” reflected exactly how modern luxury brands draw inspiration from diverse cross-brand fusion to convey ever-enriching brand values to customers.

HUBLOT also aligned with Chinese artist, Minjun Yue to create a classic fusion watch for the Year of the Monkey, with the latter using his iconic smiley face for the piece. Loic said: “Each year, new Chinese artists and new designers emerge. Partnering with local artists is definitely something that we have done and will keep doing.”

Material Innovation Out of the “Comfort Zone”

According to Loic, HUBLOT’s youngest consumers are 16 years old, and its key ones are aged between 30 to 35.

As the ratio of young consumer gradually grows in the watch industry, to meet their needs for diverse products, a few brands have realized the necessity of getting out of their comfort zone. As a result, they invested a great deal in the R&D of innovative materials:

In 2011, HUBLOT offered scratch resistant 18K alloy Magic Gold (a special 18k gold and ceramic alloy) globally. This first-of-its-kind model furthered HUBLOT’s exploration of underscoring innovation of materials, which is the DNA of “the art of fusion,”.

HUBLOT is a pioneer in the hype of ceramic watch. It has developed colorful ceramic models in red, blue and green, cementing its reputation as “the watch brand with the most colorful ceramic models.” Meanwhile, by adding rubber to the crown and pusher, watches have become more comfortable to wear.

Sapphire is the third iconic innovative material of the brand. HUBLOT is known as “the first brand to industrialize the Sapphire watch.” As Loic said: “We are not just a manufacturer of sapphire watches, but we are also the one with the knowledge to produce the material.

Sapphire was utilized for the case and the back for the two collaborated models by Takashi Murakami. In April 2021, HUBLOT also rolled out the almost completely transparent Big Bang Integral Tourbillon Full Sapphire, its first integrated design.

This time, another disruptive innovative material was adopted for HUBLOT’s new BIG BANG timepiece—carbon fiber with glass fiber.

| Photo Credit: HUBLOT

| Writer: Jun Liu


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