Free-spirited watchmaker Hublot continues to rip up the rule-book with the launch of the Big Bang Meca-10 P2P â€“ the only watch in the world to be sold by Bitcoin. CEO Ricardo Guadalupe tells Lyndsey Steven about the brandâ€™s continuous evolution
With a modus operandi to build the brand for the future, while shaping the consumers of tomorrow, Hublot CEO Ricardo Guadalupe tells me, â€œWe are not breaking with the past; on the contrary we are paying homage to it by connecting it to the future.”
If their latest launch is anything to go by, itâ€™s a very futuristic future, one that grabs e-commerce by the horns and shakes it up by delving headfirst into the daedal world of cryptocurrency. â€œWe want to be unique and the first in everything that we do. So, in this case we created a very specific watch sold by Bitocin, which ties in nicely with the 10 year-anniversary of Bitcoin cryptocurrency. This is the first time anyone has been able to buy a watch with a cryptocurrency â€“ thatâ€™s the big deal,â€ says Ricardo during our tÃªte-Ã -tÃªte at Hublotâ€™s flagship boutique in Hong Kongâ€™s upscale Ocean Terminal mall.
Only 210 timepieces were launched â€“ a nod to the fixed 21 million Bitcoins available in the world, although the wait list quickly extended to more than 600 people. Despite having committed the solecism of plopping my laptop on top of one of these very limited-edition timepieces (in my defence it was concealed by a velvet glove), Ricardo is gracious and accommodating (or, perhaps, long-suffering) as I attempt to spray him in wit and charm in order to overcome my shameful malfeasance, with none of the braggadocio one might expect from a hugely successful CEO and innovator.
Joining the then CEO Jean-Claude Biver (today the companyâ€™s chairman) at Hublot in 2004, when the pair came on board it was a small watch brand in Spain selling around 9,000 watches for an average price of around US$2,000 dollars. Today it is one of the biggest labels in the industry, with its revival a testament to this dynamic duo: the Jean-Claude Biver plus Ricardo Guadalupe partnership has proved to be a â€œone plus one equals fiveâ€ strategy.
â€œIt was like starting with a brand that was a sleeping princess that we managed to wake up. If I look back, Hublot has been one of the success stories of the beginning of the century,â€ says Ricardo with statesmanlike clarity.
Hublotâ€™s approach may be one that is so far out of the box that by the end of it they canâ€™t discern the original minaudiÃ¨re, but it is one that remains consistent in its line of thinking: to always be different. Recognising the need to move towards e-commerce, Ricardo knew that to â€œjust create an e-commerce site would not be enough, because we donâ€™t want to be just like everybody else.â€
Dedicated to the peer-to-peer payment system, also known as P2P, every new Big Bang Meca-10 P2P will be engraved with the transaction certificate, making every watch individual. Each cost 6,262.906652 USD/BTC, or around US$25,000.
For this model, the brandâ€™s â€˜Art of Fusionâ€™ concept has been re-interpreted. It may be a mechanical watch, but it nonetheless evokes elements of a digital age with a skeletonised manufacture movement, a 10-day power reserve â€“ another reference to Bitcoinâ€™s number of years on the market â€“ and a 45mm case in scratch-resistant microblasted high-tech black ceramic (zirconium dioxide).
â€œItâ€™s a fusion because it is really putting together blockchain technology with our watchmaking art. The fusion comes through the inspiration for the colours, through the details on the dial, and through the map at the back of it,â€ says Ricardo. The colour in question is a sultry, race-pulsing blue.
â€œI would say the mixture between the blue and the black is really something very trendy,â€ Ricardo says of the blue calfskin leather strap, lined with black rubber. â€œBlue,â€ he adds, â€œis the colour of our industry at the moment. Every brand has a blue watch out, but we have tried to go further by interpreting the blue in different ways.â€