In a recent interview with Hublot's CEO Jean Claude Biver he mentioned to me how Hubot will put a lot of focus into Asia (namely China) in 2012. Boy, he wasn't kidding - and I expect a full of series of spectacle style events to ensue in the next few years that only Hublot knows how to put on. Hublot hasn't ignored China up to know. Starting in 2010 they chose martial arts actor Jet Li as a brand ambassador, and have had other events in the region.
When Hublot puts their sights on something they do aim and fire with the biggest bullet they have. While I doubt they will reach the popularity of Omega in China (which is a totally different kind of brand), Hublot will likely be able to replicate the modern style and fun wearing experience that Hublot has a reputation for in Europe and the United States (among other places as well). From all that I hear China is a very tough market to crack. Many Chinese consumers are interested in fashion and status symbols, as well as wearing and owning "the best." With superlative items being those that speak the loudest to them in terms of wealth and success.
As they have done in other countries, Hublot will connect with popular people and events in the Chinese market to attract media attention and give watch buyers things to talk about aside from mere product. The Jet Li connection as well as the limited edition watch for him is a good example.
I recall as a kid watching Lethal Weapon 4. It was probably the first time that I saw Jet Li in a movie. There was a fight season between him and Mel Gibson - and he was kicking Mel's ass. That was one of the best fight scenes of its era and Jet Li was burned in my mind as a much more bad-ass fighter than Jackie Chan. Chan (who works with some other brands such as IWC and Richard Mille) was more the sweet-faced good guy, when Li could be as mean and foreboding looking as he liked. Though in real life I understand he is a pretty nice guy and does some serious philanthropy work.
One of the first indicators of how Hublot approaches the Chinese market is with their logo. See how they added Chinese characters to it? I've not yet seen another brand do that, and I think it makes the brand more personable in the market. Is this the right approach for all brands? No. Other brands benefit from being distinctly European and exclusive. Chinese buyers pride themselves on actually going to Switzerland to buy watches and then bringing them home. Anything Chinese about those products would ruin the experience. So it really depends on how a brand wants to be perceived in a market.
The Hublot Big Bang Jet Li watch will be 44mm wide in black ceramic and limited to 200 pieces. The dial has the motif of traditional Chinese screen work - which I think is a clever touch. It is actually a variation on the Aero Bang skeletonized watch dial look. The black and red tones makes for a nice look that while not unique, are pleasant and fitting to be worn. It also has the appearance of a cool looking villain watch! Inside the watch is an HUB4214 automatic chronograph movement.
Hublot likely opted fro a Big Bang cases because many Asian consumer's don't yet prefer larger sized watches. The King Power case is usually 48mm wide and can appear beastly on small wrists. Even at 44m wide the Big Bang case style looks good on most wrists. On the back of the watch is said to be a nice looking Yin-Yang motif applied to the sapphire crystal and Jet Li's signature.
To launch the watch Hublot threw some crazy Tai Chi related event. Even the performers had Hublot logos on them. Hublot martial art warriors are coming to invade. What a message! Hublot got a huge space and put down a super-sized Yin-Yang on the floor. Jet Li was there and it must have been a blast. I can imagine onlookers walking buy eagerly interested in what was going on. Even if they didn't know what Hublot was, there were probably inclined to find out.
TECHNICAL DETAILS: BIG BANG 44 MM "JET LI"
Series: Limited to 200 pieces numbered from 01/200 to 200/200
Case: 44.5 mm Big Bang in micro-blasted black ceramic
Bezel: Micro-blasted black ceramic 6 H-shaped black PVD titanium screws, countersunk, polished & locked
Crystal: Sapphire with interior/exterior anti-reflective coating
Bezel Lugs: Black composite
Lateral inserts: Black composite
Crown: Black PVD steel, with black rubber insert
Push-pieces: Black PVD steel, rectangular, with black rubber inserts
Case-back: Open, in micro-blasted black ceramic with Yin-Yang crystal and the signature of Mr. Jet Li
Water resistance: 10 Atm, i.e. approx. 100 metres
Dial: Matt black openworked skeleton, with Chinese screen decoration
Satin-finished indexes with black SuperLuminova™ ruthenium coating Red minute track transfer
Hands: Faceted and polished with black nickel coating, plus black and red SuperLuminova™
Red chronograph hand with H counterpoise
Movement HUB4214 - Aerobang Mechanical Self-Winding Chronograph
Date: Sapphire disc with display at 4.30
Oscillating weight: Openworked and black PVD coated, tungsten segment
Power reserve: Approximately 42 hours
Wristlet: Adjustable black rubber and black gummy alligator strap with red stitching.
Clasp: Micro-blasted black PVD steel Big Bang deployant buckle, micro-blasted black PVD titanium screws and plate