Hublot or the “Art of fusion”

Luxferity, 16.03.2018

HorlogerieRecommend

Hublot was founded in Switzerland in 1980. Since then, the original design of its watches (the first watch case was directly inspired by the porthole, or hublot, of a boat) and their comfort meant that they quickly became highly desirable timepieces. At the time, Hublot was the first luxury watch brand to combine gold and natural rubber. By pioneering the combination of natural materials which were never previously found together, Hublot became a modern day alchemist marrying the past and the future, tradition and innovation. This creative concept, known as the "Art of Fusion", sparked a genuine revolution in the watch industry. A distinctive symbol of its personality, the "Art of Fusion" now guides all of its actions, innovations, developments and partnerships. Embodying this subtle connection between a past ingrained with secular traditions, and a future nourished by visionary ideas, always avant-garde, always researching new resources, it blends styles and materials with ease.

In 2004, Jean-Claude Biver – one of leading figures to have positively disrupted the Swiss watchmaking industry – took over control of the brand and gave it tremendous momentum, leading to impressive growth. Less than a year later, in 2005, the brand successfully launched the Big Bang Gold Ceramic, the first model in the Big Bang collection. This stylish, contemporary chronograph received many awards around the world that saw Hublot set numerous records and secured its success. New to watchmaking, its instantly recognisable lines featuring sharp angles, six screws arranged around the case, and bezel lugs on each side, perfectly illustrate the concept of fusion. Ten years later, as Hublot celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Big Bang, it became the brand's signature timepiece and a veritable watchmaking icon.

Since then, Hublot has launched six collections – Big Bang, Classic Fusion, Spirit of Big Bang, Manufacture Piece, Techframe and King Power – housing movements ranging from the most pared-back to the most complicated (chronograph, tourbillon, cathedral minute repeater, GMT, etc.). These collections have enabled Hublot to continue writing the story of fusion by combining materials such as King Gold (an exclusive Hublot gold containing 5% platinum), Hublonium (a brand new alloy of aluminium and magnesium), sapphire, gold crystal, coloured ceramic, carbon fibre, tungsten, titanium, gold, platinum, rubber, precious stones, linen, embroidery, leather and texalium, among others.

With a constant desire to conduct cutting-edge research into the latest high-tech materials and safeguard its advanced expertise, in 2012 Hublot built its own foundry to exploit the full potential of its ongoing R&D operations. The foundry included a team dedicated to fusion – the Metallurgy and Materials Department. This enabled the brand to commence in-house production of Magic Gold, a scratch-resistant 18-carat gold developed in association with EPFL (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) at the end of 2011 – a Hublot world exclusive. That same year, the company also bought the Swiss firm Profusion, which specialises in the manufacture of carbon fibre components. In addition, an in-house electroplating department continually tests new metal treatments. Through its constant quest for innovation, Hublot is able to push back the limits of possibility. In 2016, paying tribute to its All Black concept, Hublot chose Baselworld to unveil a very special watch: the Big Bang Unico Sapphire All Black, with a case made entirely from smoked sapphire crystal. This marked a key step in the Story of Hublot, whose equipment now enabled it to machine sapphire crystal in-house.

Having seen an almost tenfold increase in its turnover in just four years, on the 24th April 2008, the brand was acquired by the LVMH Group, the world leader in luxury products, to complete its watchmaking centre. In 2009, Bernard Arnault and Jean-Claude Biver opened a new 6000 m2 high-tech manufacture on the shores of Lake Geneva. It marked an important step for the brand's autonomy, in terms of its creativity and research into innovation "to continue taking the watchmaking world by surprise". The site is dedicated to grand complications and the production of the UNICO movement, a chronograph with integrated column wheel on the dial side, which is entirely designed, developed and manufactured at Hublot. However, the brand's rapid growth meant that the manufacture was no longer big enough. In 2015, Hublot opened a second building in a ceremony attended by the brand's Ambassadors: Bar Refaeli, Lapo Elkann and Pelé. A walkway similar to those found on Formula 1TM Grand Prix circuits around the world provides direct access between the two buildings. The addition was highly symbolic for the brand, illustrating its expansion and success. The new buildings covered 8000 m2, bringing the total area to 14,000 m2, with over 100 new jobs created. The new unit, located right next to the original building, is largely dedicated to the production of components for Manufacture movements and the production of watch cases.

The manufacture strives daily to promote sustainable development in the interests of environmental protection – one of Hublot's fundamental values. It has two recharging stations for optimal charging of cars and scooters, and photovoltaic solar panels that produce renewable electric energy. The manufacture is also home to eleven beehives that help encourage regional pollination. The landscape, which is both agricultural and rural, provides the bees with numerous foraging sources. Each year, Hublot harvests the spring honey crop from late April to early May, and the summer crop at the end of July. The honey is then packaged in magnificent light wood boxes, along with a honey dipper, and presented to customers, friends of the brand and journalists as part of Hublot's end-of-year celebrations. Hublot also offers its employees and Hublotins (children who attend the crèche located within the manufacture) the chance to sign up for discovery workshops to learn more about the bees and visit the hives and honey harvesting. The aim is to teach staff and children about the major environmental issues facing us.