This year Hublot celebrates its 35th birthday - which makes it a positive babe in the tradition of haute horlogerie. But in that relatively short time the Swiss watchmaker has led a new wave of less conservative, more artful design - indeed, the company was the first to combine gold and natural rubber in a watch, provoking much tut-tutting among stalwarts who felt noble materials should stick together.
Then when the award-winning contemporary chronograph that is the Big Bang came along in 2005, Hublot found itself with the kind of icon most watch companies take many decades to attain. Three years later and Hublot was acquired by the LVMH luxury goods group - a statement of belief in its potential if ever there was one. That said, the almost ten-fold increase in turnover that Hublot had brought home over just four years probably spoke for itself.
Thankfully, Hublot’s upscale radicalism has not been dampened in more recent years either. There have been records - a 50 day power reserve, for example; referees - Hublot has come to be recognised as the first luxury brand to build close ties with the world of football; research - the company’s progressive use of exotic materials the likes of scratch-resistant gold, tantalum, cermet and, best of all, Hublonium (a blend of aluminium and magnesium); and even runners - its celebrated relationship with the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt.
But nor has such welcome into the Hublot fold ceased either. Now, after bringing a roster of heavyweight sportsmen into its family - the likes of Kobe Bryant, Dwyane and Pele - Hublot has signed its first woman as brand ambassador, and a supermodel at that. Bar Refaeli - who made her first splash in the 2007 ‘Sports Illustrated’ swimsuit issue, returning two years later to take the cover - has been the face of Escada, Chanel and Moet & Chandon, among other huge brands, and now becomes the first female face of Hublot, fronting a new campaign this year as the company pushes into the women’s watch market.
Naturally enough, as it does so, women might do well not to expect dainty, pretty, blandly ‘feminine’ pieces from Hublot. Certainly its latest collection, Big Bang Broderie, is a case in point. Hublot has teamed up not just with Bar, but with Bischoff, the esteemed Swiss lacemaker. Between them Hublot and Bischoff have created an exclusive lace pattern recreated in carbon fibre to grace the dials of the various Broderie automatic models. Of course, this is not the kind of lace you’d expect to see on table-top or in a wedding down - rather, it takes on a skull pattern, studded with 11 diamonds. At 35 years young, few would expect anything too predictable from Hublot by now.