Art of fusion: Hublot Big Bang Unico Berluti Cold Brown
Swiss watch brand teams up with legendary Parisian shoemaker
Hublot is a newcomer to watchmaking when compared to a number of other Swiss luxury brands. While many of Hublot’s peers celebrate at least one century of manufacture, 2020 marks just four decades of production for the young brand. Alas, at Hublot’s nerve centre, its manufacture in Nyon, a short drive from the heart of Geneva, 40 years of creation have sufficed to master revolutionary solutions to a centuries-old craft. Carlo Crocco established Hublot in 1980. A maverick watch entrepreneur, Crocco based his wristwatch’s simple outline on the shape of a ship’s “hublot”, the French term for “porthole”.
Crocco also pioneered what would be become known as the “Art of Fusion”, an innovative approach to materials and their combinations. Crocco, for instance, was the first to combine Malaysian rubber with precious gold sourced in South Africa. It was when Luxembourgish watchmaker Jean-Claude Biver joined Hublot in 2004 that the brand’s sales started to skyrocket.
In the world of watches, Biver is yet to be surpassed as a brand-builder; when taking on Hublot, he spotted a gap in the market for a supersized luxury sports watch, and so he tasked the company’s designers to create one. This new watch, confidently christened Big Bang, celebrated the make’s modern ethos. There’s its design – at Hublot, sporty, forward- thinking and iconic are keywords – and the brand’s Art of Fusion, which makes for some surprising combinations. It proved a winning recipe and gave Hublot a competitive edge against the most successful brands in the space. In little over ten years, sales figures soared, quadrupling during the period that Biver ran the company.
Biver himself describes the brand’s ethos – modern design, material ingenuity – as being what makes Hublot so special. “It’s the fact that connects yesterday with tomorrow, tradition and innovation.” The Art of Fusion has been realised in many of the unique case materials that Hublot has showcased over the last 40 years, such as its Magic Gold, a unique combination of gold and ceramic; King Gold, another gold and platinum composite; and Red Ceramic, a red alloy unique to Hublot’s manufacture. Hublot also raised its presence in the market by launching partnerships that proved both daring and unique.
Moving the brand away from the sports that watchmakers are traditionally attracted to – sailing, show jumping, golf – Biver instead decided to take a risk. Noting that no other luxury watchmaker was in the space, he decided to embrace the world of football. Hublot was the first Swiss luxury watch brand to do so. A stream of current and former players were adopted by Hublot as ambassadors and the Big Bang has adorned the wrists of soccer superstars including Pele, Diego Maradona and Kylian Mbappe. Hublot also partners Chelsea and Bayern Munich, all the while sponsoring the timekeeping of England’s Premier League.
Biver’s strategy was so successful that other high-risk sports have been embraced by Hublot, including boxing. Elsewhere, Hublot has enjoyed a nine-year relationship with Ferrari and while it is not the first watch manufacturer to associate with the motoring brand, it has extended the relationship beyond the Formula 1 team to all areas of motor sport.
To commemorate four decades of manufacture, Hublot has teamed up once again with Parisian luxury brand Berluti, working with its creative director Kris Van Assche.
The Big Bang Unico chronograph is issued as a limited edition, with just 100 models. The timepiece celebrates the two brands’ legacy of craft and innovation, incorporating Berluti’s famous Venezia leather and polished patina alongside Hublot’s Art of Fusion materials. Each Hublot Big Bang Unico Berluti Cold Brown comes in its own custom-designed chest (pictured) and with a Berluti shoehorn, keyring and travel case.
To Riccardo Guadalupe, CEO of Hublot, the extraordinary partnership with Berluti marks a milestone in watchmaking. He says: “For the first time, we have chosen the Big Bang Unico model as the basis of our collaboration. The final result combines an exercise in style, due to Kris Van Assche’s flair for fashion, with an amazing technical feat made possible by the expertise of our watchmakers, designers and engineers, all of whose know-how was required to master the conception of this new bezel.”