Hublot (French pronunciation: [yblo]) is a Swiss luxury watchmaker founded in 1980 by Italian Carlo Crocco. The company currently operates as a wholly owned subsidiary of France’s LVMH. In 1980, it also marked the birth of ‘Fusion’ concept after a few months from its inception date.
A scion of the Italian Binda Group dynasty, best known for making Breil watches, Carlo Crocco left the company in 1976 to strike out on his own and create a new watch company. Moving to Switzerland he formed MDM Geneve and set about designing a watch that he named the Hublot after the French word for “porthole”. The watch that he created featured the first natural rubber strap in the history of watchmaking. It took 3 years of research to create the strap. Despite failing to attract a single potential customer on the first day of its debut at the 1980 Basel Watch Fair, the watch quickly proved to be a commercial success with sales in excess of $2m in its first year.
The Jean-Claude Biver era
Carlo Crocco, preoccupied by his own design work and many activities for the Hand-in-Hand Foundation, a charity helping deprived children all around the world, set out to look for the man who could oversee his watchmaking business. In late 2003, Jean-Claude Biver, then president of Swatch Group’s Omega division, met Carlo Crocco, and in May 2004, Biver assumed duties as CEO, becoming a board member and minority shareholder in Hublot Watches.
Upon his arrival, Biver set about creating a new flagship collection that was unveiled in Basel in April 2005, with the Hublot “Big Bang” chronograph. It was an immediate success and orders increased threefold in one year. A few months later, in November 2005, the Big Bang chronograph was awarded internationally, receiving the “2005 Design Prize” in the “Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix”, the “Sports Watch Prize” at the “Watch of the Year” ceremony in Japan, and the Middle Eastern Prize for the “Best Oversized Watch” at the Editor’s Choice “Watch of the Year” in Bahrain. Following the arrival of Biver in 2004, the brand’s sales hit 24 million Swiss francs and by the end of 2006, sales were bordering on the 100 million Swiss franc mark.
At the opening ceremony for its first flagship store in Beijing, Biver introduced Jet Li as Hublot’s next brand ambassador. Li is the brand’s first Asian ambassador as well as the first film star to work as a Hublot ambassador. Other brand ambassadors include former footballer Diego Maradona; deceased Formula 1 driver Ayrton Senna’s family and Institute; world’s fastest man Usain Bolt and formerly, the Manchester United football team. Formula One Management President and CEO, Bernie Ecclestone, was attacked by four men and had his Hublot watch stolen. He later worked with Hublot to use his bruised face in an ad campaign with the tag line, “See what people will do for a Hublot.”