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NEWS

Hublot slims down the Big Bang

and expands its Nyon premises

When Riccardo Guadalupe took the helm at Hublot in 2012, after being Managing Director with Jean-Claude Biver as the boss-man, he was no stranger to the fusion-friendly watch brand. Already a young veteran and by then a colleague and a close friend to Jean-Claude River for more than 20 years, Guadalupe knew the watch industry rather intimately.

Hence he was well prepared for what to come after taking over from passionate and always entertaining Biver, who CEO'd Hublot since 2004 and shortly after took over the company from the visionary founder Carlo Crocco. Biver did not introduce the art of fusion when he took the helm in 2004, but he communicated what Carlo Crocco shocked the watch industry when in 1980 when Crocco combined precious metal watches with rubber straps.

It was an unheard mix, and nobody foresaw the global success Hublot experienced the following years after the initial launch during the annual Basel watch show. Today, Hublot is still about The Art of Fusion, even with its third CEO onboard. When I interviewed Mr. Guadalupe during the LVMH Watch Week I asked if Hublot was now in its third generation of the art of fusion; the Carlo Crocco, the Jean-Claude Biver and the Riccardo Guadalupe art of fusion. "We stay true to the original thinking of Mr. Crocco. We are still all about fusion of materials, and I don't think that anything much has changed since 1980 in terms of the fusion of materials", Mr. Guadalupe says. "We are not breaking with the past; we are in fact, paying tribute to it by combining the past with the future."

The strength of Hublot lies in its ability to innovate. Yet Hublot follows the trend of smaller watches with a don't-call-me-oversized diameter, which has otherwise been in the name of the Hublot Big Bang collection introduced by Biver when he took over the brand in 2005.

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The new 40 millimetre Hublot Big Bang Integral with a slim profile of a little shy of 10 millimetres is not a surprise release of the Swiss watch brand. In 2020 Hublot already introduced the 42 millimetres Big Bang Chronograph Integral. This model offered an integrated bracelet that has an individually polished and satin-finished, chamfered and bevelled finish. Now fitted onto a Big Bang with a more modest diameter, it makes the Big Bang a very attractive watch. "The Big Bang Integral that is more compact, vibrant and powerful than ever, at the same time as being more refined than any of its other timepieces.

It has been a true exercise in watch design, retaining our aesthetic and technical grammar but in a new format for us. We pulled off the challenge by creating a Big Bang Integral, which once again proves its versatility and modernity!" Undoubtedly the 40 millimetres diameter case and slim profile appeal to more wrists than the larger Big Bang size that made the brand in 2005 and the years onwards. "28 per cent of our production is women's watches. But we will increase that number, not accounting for the 40 mm Big Bang Integral models, which are unisex size." Mr. Guadalupe admits while showing how easily the watch slips under his crisp white shirt sleeve, emphasizing not only the great diameter but more so the slender profile of the new watch.

"Of course, this new launch will end up on the female wrist, which is expected. Many women wear watches of this size."

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Introduced in not only titanium, but the new 40 millimetres Big Bang Integral is also offered in yellow gold. A material that had not seen a lot of attention in the most recent years when rose gold was the plate du jour of the watch industry. "Yellow gold was the material that Hublot was all about in 1980. And it is the purest colour of gold," says Mr. Guadalupe, when I ask him why the new models are featured in this alloy in 2022.

A version in all black ceramic is also part of the new 40 millimetres Big Bang Integral launch; however, limited to only 250 pieces. In comparison, the titanium and yellow gold versions are not limited. The movement is an automatic calibre HUB1710, based on the group-manufactured Zenith Elite movement. "We did, however, Hublot'nize the movement in such a degree that I would call it a manufactured movement," Mr. Guadalupe says. "This movement is a far better movement compared to, for example, a Sellita movement," he says, explaining why Hublot opted for the Zenith-manufactured movement for this model.

"That is one of the privileges of belonging to the LVMH-group," he admits. "And by using the Zenith Elite movement, we also were able to ensure a slim profile of only 9.5 millimetres."

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Even if the 40 millimetres Hublot Big Bang Integral is all about a down-sized Big Bang with a slim profile, Hublot is still all about being big. During my conversation with Mr. Guadalupe, he says that a third building is being added to the Nyon premises. "Within a few years, we will be able to add a third building where we will do the assembly." Hublot may be downsizing in terms of watch diameter. Still, the popularity of the fusion happy watch brand means upsizing production facilities, and the third building in scenic Nyon emphasizes the success of Hublot. And The Art of Fusion.

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