Hublot, the relatively young watch company that arrived on the timepiece scene less than 35 years ago, was founded on a willingness to dare and its innovative designs. And part in tribute and part as teacher, I take every opportunity to remind people that the widely accepted use of a natural rubber watch strap paired with a precious metal case is actually the brainchild of this Swiss brand dating to its earliest models.
In 2005, with the “Art of Fusion” as its mantra and rock-star CEO Jean-Claude Biver at its helm, Hublot really ramped things up with its award-winning Big Bang collection, which continues to evolve in a multitude of directions. New iterations are introduced each year, and the collection now comprises about 100 models, the most recent addition being the Hublot Big Bang Ferrari Texas, just unveiled.
The Big Bang chronograph first appeared at BaselWorld in 2005, and it immediately garnered a lot of interest among watch aficionados, retailers and journalists alike. This led to several industry awards and accolades—including the prize for Best Design at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève the very year it was introduced. It seems that its penchant for morphing didn’t hurt its popularity, since in fairly short order an all-black Big Bang was on the scene, followed by a diver and the Mag Bang, the first version made entirely in-house using an aluminum/magnesium alloy.
Versions using carbon fiber, Hublot’s proprietary King Gold and Magic Gold, titanium and steel, as well as ladies watches—often colorful and studded with diamonds and other gems—have made their debuts over the years, as have a range of limited editions like the Hublot Big Bang Ferrari Texas. Sizes have thus far ranged from 38 mm to 48 mm (for the Red Magic), and I appreciate that each is an immediately recognizable, sometimes gussied-up, cousin of the original. Why knock a good thing?
The just-released Hublot Big Bang Ferrari Texas coincided with the opening of the Hublot’s newest boutique, its tenth in the U.S., on November 13. The 550-square-foot store, in my adopted home city of Houston, resides on the first floor of the famed Galleria luxury shopping center. It’s in good company with a variety of other high-end mono-brand boutiques, including Montblanc, Omega and TAG Heuer, as neighbors. The space is the first featuring Hublot’s new design scheme, with silver brushed oak floors and fabric wall panels. A very effective lighting technique includes focused beams trained on the watches, movements and stones.
The Hublot Big Bang Ferrari Texas was reverently ensconced in a vitrine when I arrived at the store, and people were clamoring to get a glimpse. The watch is clearly a tribute to the Texas flag in its subtle red, white and blue colors, and Ferrari is well represented with its “prancing horse” motif. The titanium watch is 45.5 mm and has a polished black ceramic bezel and, in another nod to racing, carbon fiber accents. It is powered by Hublot’s UNICO HUB1241 and features an automatic flyback chronograph with a double clutch and a power reserve of about 72 hours. The strap is navy blue Schedoni leather, which hails from Modena, Italy, sewn on black rubber with blue stitching.
As for the Ferrari racing connection, Hublot is the Official Watch and Official Timekeeper of both Ferrari and Scuderia Ferrari as well as the Official Watch of the Ferrari Challenge. And it was a particular thrill to be in the company of Scuderia Ferrari driver Felipe Massa, who was on his way to the Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix. He helped cut the ribbon for the boutique opening before heading to Austin where he competed over the November 16-17 weekend.
Now under the direction of CEO Ricardo Guadalupe as of January 2012, Hublot will no doubt continue to serve more innovations and interesting affiliations. Witness the recent introduction of the Shawn Carter by Hublot timepieces, a cool addition to the Classic Fusion line produced in partnership with Jay Z. Carter debuted the 18-karat yellow gold timepiece at his performance in Zurich, which was part of his Magna Carta Holy Grail world tour that kicked off in the U.K. in early October.