Hublot’s CEO champions creativity and constant evolution in a changing industry.
The Big Bang Tourbillon Power Reserve Five Days Ceramic
In recent years Hublot has continued to evolve from a classic watch company into one with groundbreaking designs that specializes in the use of unique materials. As a testament to its health, last year during a time of industrywide retrenchment the company expanded its facilities, adding a new factory. It’s forged partnerships with top names in the sports world like Usain Bolt, Kobe Bryant, Pelé, the Dallas Cowboys and the Bruce Lee Foundation—not to mention supermodels like Bar Refaeli.
A main force behind the Hublot’s recent growth is CEO Ricardo Guadalupe. Raised in a watchmaking family in Neuchatel, Switzerland, he says he felt that working in watches was almost preordained for him. “Beyond my dad, I always had a friend or a cousin who was working in the industry, so it was natural to get into it.”
He’s proud of the connection he’s created with customers in building the brand. “I love creating an object that you can have an intimate relationship with” and “seeing someone wearing one of our watches.”
Last fall Hublot debuted a limited-edition watch to honor the 75th anniversary of Bruce Lee’s birth. “I had been having talks with the Bruce Lee Foundation for several years,” Guadalupe says.
“We love to work with legends,” he continues. “Bruce Lee is transgenerational; even young people know about him. When I was young, Bruce Lee was [someone who] was really impressive,” he says, fondly recalling watching movies with the martial arts master.
Guadalupe especially relishes the creative aspect of his job. “For me, it’s not really work. Product development is really my passion and I love following all the different projects, design, technical details,” he says, noting that he tries to make this activity a daily practice.
His favorite watch is the Big Bang All Black, whose debut 10 years ago caused some commotion as it’s nearly impossible to read. “We don’t create watches to tell the time; a watch is more an object that shows people who you are,” he explains. “Now I am wearing the All Black Tourbillon. The complication of the tourbillon creates a spectacle on your wrist.”
Creativity cultivated with flexibility is the culture at Hublot that he cherishes. “For us, it’s about having a quick reaction to what is going on,” he says. “The Hublot brand can adapt very quickly.” The company tries to anticipate a trend and meet it with innovation and creativity, he adds.
Reflecting on the quartz revolution of the ’70s and ’80s and the current smart watch craze, Guadalupe says his company must continually evolve and respond to trends. “We must really remain innovative and creative. Things can change really fast, especially in the lower segment. At our level, a mechanical watch will remain as a piece of art, but we have to reinvent ourselves to be up-to-date.”—Keith W. Strandberg