Hublot is a brand that I respect a great deal.
Every brand loves to state that they are forward-thinking and revolutionary and innovative and care about society and make the best watches...
But Hublot is a brand that is doing a tremendous job with all of the above. And it's this initiative that has set them apart from so many other brands.
In the clip above, Revolution Magazine and TheTimeTV.com have captured Jean-Claude Biver (the other JCB), discussing the brand and how its positioning itself. Which ultimately reflects on the entire watchmaking community. And in true Biver fashion, it is both honest and controversial.
I agree with Biver's assertion that people are not buying watches to tell the time. Or as he more eloquently states it: "The watch does not represent the indication of time anymore." That is how he starts the interview - the jump off point.
So what does this statement, among the rest within the interview, say for Hublot... That they are realistic? More in touch than others? Ready to take on the next wave of watch aficionados? Yes Yes and Yes.
It's a more realistic, in-touch assertion - and one that I'm sure was met with resistance from other old-school brands. But, it's this philosophy that will help Hublot pave it's way for the future.
Biver is perfectly correct in saying that our cars and mobiles tell us the time. And more accurately! for the most part. Anyone with a mechanical watch knows that you lose a minute or two a year, and that rate of loss only increases with time. The gears get loose and worn down, and the functionality begins to wear. Not for poor craftsmanship, but that is just a reality that you must accept.
And once you accept that - you should look beyond. Think of all the innovations and all the complications that have come out throughout the years. For a manufacture to look beyond simply Hours Minutes and Seconds, a whole new world of watchmaking pops up. Hence - Minute Repeaters - Gyroscopic Tourbillons - Moonphase Indicators - World Travelers... Think of what's still to come! These are all deep, significant relationships with time - but not exactly features that you need.
But they are features you want.
To further build upon that desire, Hublot uses innovative materials that enhance the features of the watch in addition to the aesthetic. And as Biver asserts again, every material used brings an advantage or benefit to the watch itself. Not just in time. But in color - and texture - and durability.
Although watchmaking is a traditional art form steeped in history and prestige, it cannot survive as just that. Especially with the economy shaking up - and life as we know it changing - it will take a more adaptive approach to survive.
So by stating that Hublot's watches are about the materials and colors as much as they are about the movements inside is brilliant. And true. It is not just how many vibrations per hour the movement can handle - it is how the watch looks - and really, how it makes the wearer feel.
Motivated by three elements - of Art - Color - Shape - Hublot is changing the way watches are designed. It's a piece of art on your wrist. Maybe the colors reflect your mood. Or maybe the color matches your Bugatti Veyron 16.4. Whatever makes you happy.
Hublot, and I should say Biver, makes no apologies for who they are and what they are about. To do that as a brand earns you more respect and loyalty. Because when you buy a watch - or a handbag - or a car - you are not just buying the item ... You are inviting the brand - and it's message - and its DNA - and with Hublot, the president's philosophies - into your life. And you will continue to represent the brand until you take the item off.
So, as critics spout off about watches and the next generations, I would advise other brands to look at what Biver and Hublot are doing. Don't copy - but see how you can incorporate this more modern approach into your designs - advertising - and brand message. Another great example is when Biver highlights the relationship with Manchester United, you honestly feel that he is talking about new friends - connecting with human beings. And by building upon those relationships and human emotions, Hublot becomes so much more than just a watch brand.
Now, I am not just a victim to great marketing here. Just check this image below... Hublot partnered with EURO 2008, the European Football Championship, and donated all of its billboard advertising space to the foundation Unite Against Racism. The boards, which obviously carry a high impact rate, are also quite costly. And yet Hublot did not brand the "No to Racism" billboards.
Which, to me, proved how worthwhile those contributions were. Yes, they got a lot of PR stories drummed up after this. And I'm obviously continuing it - But, if they had been in it strictly for publicity, they would have branded the signs - at least in some small way.
Let that be one last lesson - there's a big difference between charitable events with society photographers - and true dedication to change.
There will always be traditional watchmakers. Who recapture sleek classic designs that Sinatra and Kennedy would have worn. But, to transcend time and compete with the future, we need brands that shake things up and appeal to the new generation of watch aficionados.
Biver is right. Watches are not just for indicating time. They are a representation of who you are - and how you want to be seen.
So what does your watch say about you?