October 14, 2014
by Ariel Adams
Ferrari North America recently celebrated 60 years of the iconic Italian car maker’s presence in the United States market. The main celebration was in Beverly Hills, California with a weekend of events including a tour of Ferrari cars on Rodeo Drive, a few parties, and a car auction. As the official watch making partner of Ferrari, Hublot was there attending the events and, of course, with a new limited edition watch, the Hublot Big Bang Ferrari USA 60th Anniversary reference 401.QX.0123.VR.FSX14 timepiece.
It has been a few years since Hublot first released the Hublot Big Bang Ferrari watch in 2012, and already there are more versions than I can count. Of course, if you want variety, Hublot is the right company to consider. Though, I’ve always wondered as a consumer if there is just too much choice from Hublot. On one hand, it can be difficult to wait for the perfect version if you are interested in a specific model. On the other hand, Hublot likely feels that they can entice customers to buy multiple watches of the same ilk if they offer enough interesting versions. In support of this theory, I personally observed one watch lover buying two Big Bang Ferraris at a time – each with vastly different finishes (and one of them was the Big Bang Ferrari 60th Anniversary in the USA model).
Former Hublot CEO, and still “godfather” of the brand Jean-Claude Biver made an appearance here in LA and we once again sat together to speak about Hublot, Ferrari, and the watch business. In the link to the 2012 article, you’ll see a video interview with Mr. Biver that discusses the Ferrari & Hublot watches and relationship. Jean-Claude Biver is the person responsible for the Ferrari partnership and has confirmed, once again, that Ferrari is extremely happy with the ongoing relationship, and that the two companies have signed for another five years of working together. Allow me to clarify that Hublot is the official watchmaking partner of Ferrari for all of their events and for the brand. That means Hublot has the opportunity to participate with Ferrari whether it has a new car launch, race, collector event, or anything else. Hence, Hublot’s production of a limited edition watch for the Italian car maker’s 60th anniversary of being present in the American market since 1954.
Mr. Biver is also proud of just how important the Ferrari relationship is for Hublot watch sales. I’ve mentioned on a few occasions that I think the Big Bang Ferrari watches are the best Big Bang watches Hublot has ever produced. They also represent 10-20% of the brand’s overall sales profits – a huge number considering Hublot’s vast collection of models and styles. Even the futuristic looking Hublot MP-05 La Ferrari watch (now in four versions and priced over $300,000) is selling well. Further, it is reported that Ferrari owners are apparently gobbling up the limited edition Big Bang Ferrari models with gusto. Something that was not as true with Ferrari’s former relationships with Girard-Perregaux and Panerai. Whatever you feel about Hublot, you have to give them credit for making a historically unsound car+watch relationship finally work for both parties involved.
From a design standpoint, the Hublot Big Bang Ferrari USA 60th Anniversary limited edition watch takes the collection in a blue and carbon fiber direction. It is actually a bit similar (because of the blue) to the Hublot Big Bang Ferrari Beverly Hills Boutique limited edition that aBlogtoWatch recently reviewed here. For more specific technical specs on the watch I recommend that you visit that or other Hublot Big Bang Ferrari watch articles we’ve published.
The 45.5mm wide case is in black carbon fiber, with what I believe is a black titanium caseback. The bezel is also in carbon fiber around the skeletonized dial and blue-filled hands and hour markers. The caseback of this Hublot Big Bang Ferrari USA 60th Anniversary is a bit distinct, with red-color text around the display caseback, while the Ferrari USA 60th Anniversary logo is printed on the sapphire crystal caseback over the movement.
Inside the Hublot Big Bang Ferrari USA 60th Anniversary watch is the Hublot in-house produced UNICO caliber 1241 automatic chronograph movement, a movement I personally like a lot from an aesthetic standpoint. It really nicely mixes the look of a traditional mechanical movement with a modern touch that includes the design of the bridges, the openwork, and the finishing. Even as a modern design, the finishing does not appear to be too industrial or spartan. Of course, the Ferrari prancing horse logo is on the dial of the watch. The “Ferrari” name is only printed on the side of the watch (chronograph pusher) and the caseback.
Functionally, the watch offers the time, 60 minute chronograph, and the date (at 3 o’clock). There is no running seconds counter or extended chronograph functions, but that is OK, as Hublot wanted to give the Big Bang Ferrari dial a distinctive look. Note, of course, the great looking chronograph pushers and the locking-style (versus normal screw-down crown). If you are a fan of the brand, the Hublot Big Bang Ferrari is a very difficult watch to dislike.
One design touch that I like is the carbon fiber construction of the strap deployant. This isn’t the first time Hublot has done this, but I really like that the carbon fiber case material is matched in the deployant. It is a little touch, but it helps complete the carbon fiber theme. A lot of brands skimp on strap design, and in my opinion, that is a terrible shame. Hublot gets its right, not only with the quick release straps (there are small release buttons on each of the lug structures), but also in the overall look and feel of the straps.
Watch straps are important more than just because they are an essential element of the overall style and aesthetic of a watch, but mostly because they are the principle part of a watch that the wearer interacts with. Most people don’t set the time each day or touch the case. However, wearers not only have to feel the strap on their wrist, but they interact with the strap when they are putting it on and taking the watch off. A watch company can really make or break a relationship with a potential customer by having a positive or negative strap/bracelet experience.
Above, you’ll see a picture of the Beverly Hills municipal building in red lighting with the Ferrari logo projected on the side of it. That is sort of the power Ferrari as a brand has – at least in Beverly Hills. It simply helps frame part of what this Hublot Big Bang Ferrari USA 60th Anniversary watch is all about. From an automobile perspective, the 60th Anniversary in the USA event had Ferrari and Gooding & Co auction off the first model in the Ferrari 458 Speciale A limited edition series. Intended to benefit a charity known as “Daybreak,” the auction resulted in a price of $900,000 for the car – almost double the retail price.
Whenever I find myself wondering “who buys this stuff?” I need only think of events such as this. The excitement around high-performance or classic cars, world-class entertainment, popular sporting events, or important cultural events is the type of feeling that works for luxury watches really well. Not only are the men and women who wear high-end watches frequent guests, but timepieces often make for a thrilling souvenir or dedication that allows fans to commemorate their participation. Expensive for sure, but the definition of expensive really depends on the customer. Also, I should note that this is a sales formula that does not work for all brands. Jean-Claude Biver built the Hublot brand to live in these worlds, but it certainly doesn’t work for all the other brands that follow-suit. Limited to 60 pieces, the Hublot Big Bang Ferrari USA 60th Anniversary ref. 401.QX.0123.VR.FSX14 watch is priced at $33,200. hublot.com