Racing into the future

Collaborations between watch brands and car racing are nothing new, but the partnership between Hublot and Ferrari gives new insights into how it can be done.

Since linking up last year, Hublot has launched two timepieces with Ferrari, the Big Bang Ferrari Magic Gold and Big Bang Ferrari Titanium. This year, the MP-05 LaFerrari will join their Masterpiece line, boasting a record-breaking 50-day power reserve.

Equipped with 11 interconnected barrels arranged in a line, the tourbillon wristwatch is designed in parallel with the LaFerrari car. Featuring a complex-shaped sapphire crystal that resembles the car's outline and an open caseback, the entire piece is made of black PVD titanium. It is topped by a titanium and carbon insert in the centre, revealing the winding crown.

The movement comprises more than 637 pieces, the most components for a single watch made by Hublot, and a new way to read time: the front vertical face ticks off the seconds, indicated by an aluminium cylinder fastened to the suspended tourbillon cage. The hours and minutes are displayed to the right of the barrels, also indicated by aluminium cylinders. A power reserve cylinder in red is visible to the left of the case, bringing to mind Ferrari's signature red colour.

Hublot's CEO Ricardo Guadalupe says: "For Hublot to be associated with Ferrari is unbelievable. [Ferrari] is supericonic, and it gives a transfer of prestige. We can also add to Ferrari because we do a lot of marketing, so we make Ferrari even better known."

Apart from co-operation with Ferrari, Hublot has also been actively seeking a "verticalisation" of the brand. It started to produce its own movements when its first manufacturer opened in Nyon, Switzerland, three years ago.

"When you want to be a brand of the top, high-end segment, you must be able to produce your own engine," Guadalupe says. "It is really important to be able to verticalise all the manufacturing of the watch. We are a young brand in a way, so first we had success in marketing, and now we go on to have an industrialisation of the brand, to make it a manufacture."

With that came the UNICO, a column-wheel flyback chronograph movement with a dual horizontal coupling, entirely manufactured by Hublot. "It's quite challenging," Guadalupe says. "When you create a new movement, you have a risk of quality and reliability."

But they overcame that risk and are incorporating UNICO onto four of Hublot's lines: the Big Bang, Classic Fusion, King Power and Masterpieces.

The Big Bang UNICO, the first in the Big Bang series to house the movement, features a 45.5mm case with a new crown, which is screw-down with overmoulded rubber and decorated on the end with the initial "H". It is also the first in the Big Bang collection to feature rounded push buttons. To optimise the piece, a "one-click" system is installed, allowing wearers to switch between straps easily.

When it comes to the brand's development, Guadalupe is ambitious. "We are building our second manufacturer to increase our own capacity of production," he says. "We also aim to increase our boutique network in the world."

Guadalupe concedes that Hublot has ground to make up in China, saying: "China is our weakness, because our concept is very innovative and different. The China market still needs to be educated about that.

"Chinese like to buy gold watches from the more established brands, so we have to keep investing a lot in China to make Hublot known."

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