Innovation is key, says Ricardo Guadalupe, president of Hublot
You opened a new factory last October, signaling increased production levels. Did you reach your sales targets for 2015? What are your objectives for this year, given the current situation in the market?
The year 2015 has been a historical record year for Hublot. We increased sales by 14 per cent, compared with 2014, so it was a great year. Of course, things are a little more difficult now because of the global situation, economically and politically.
We are aware that it is becoming more difficult even for us, because we are a successful brand. This year, if we have a small growth of approximately three or four percent, we will be happy. The new manufacturing unit was established in order to verticalize our production, as we are a young brand and we’ve been especially successful for the past ten to eleven years.
To be part of the top-end brands in the watch industry, we believe that we must also have a strong manufacture behind us to support the brand, but it takes time. You cannot invent a manufacture in a fortnight.
We had the first factory in 2009 and we opened the second one last year. The idea is not to double our production, but to allow us to use more of our own movements and materials.
Is your plan to make all of your products in-house this year still ongoing?
This will cover the majority of our products, approximately 75 to 80 percent. Producing all of the components for our entire production in-house is impossible. No brand can accomplish that, because, in watchmaking, a lot of know-how is required and you cannot really know everything. Sometimes, it is also good to work with people outside your brand as it opens up your eyes; it is good to
What is your strategy this year? What do you plan to bring to the table?
We have always had the same philosophy: being innovative, creative and active. This year, we come to Baselworld with a series of new products.
Without being arrogant, I think we are the only brand to have come up with so many novelties. We’re showing that we are still creative and innovative. This year is the tenth anniversary of the Hublot All Black, so we came up with the Big Bang Unico Sapphire All Black, comprising a new material, sapphire.
We have been able to industrialize sapphire; other brands have tried to make new pieces using materials like that, but we have a serious investment in this, as we believe this material is very interesting.
It is quite high-end and can be very innovative and creative. It already comes in transparent and black, and tomorrow, we can come up with
Can you talk about Hublot’s recent emphasis on sports and fashion?
Watches are inspired by sailing boats and, because of its use of rubber, Hublot is always sporty, whether for yachting or other activities.
As for football, the sport has been a key element of success for Hublot, because we were the first luxury
brand to enter football in 2008 – when the Euro Cup was held in Switzerland – and later in 2010. Football has been a brand-awareness accelerator for us. In Brazil, we had 21 minutes of visibility in one month, with two billion people around the world who have come to know the Hublot brand very well.
Your designs are becoming more and more creative and elaborate, especially with your exotic designs. Who are you targeting?
We don’t want to create just classic, old-fashioned watches. For example, this year, we brought out a collaboration watch with Berluti, called Classic Fusion, to the fair.
This piece is elegant, but it is still modern. We want to create classic designs, but with our own interpretation. For the Berluti watch, we used Berluti’s iconic leather; we also put it in the dial, so we innovated at the same time. This watch is for people who are subtler. The idea is to not only serve our consumer base, but to acquire new consumers as well.
What about ladies’ watches? In this year’s range, which models would speak most to a Middle Eastern woman?
The One Click Pop Art models. Of course, these would be bought by the woman who already has everything, so they are more of luxury accessories to match a dress, bag or shoes. Every watch in this range is a great addition to what you already have; it is a statement piece, but it isn’t the first watch you’d buy. You need to have some kind of maturity to choose it.