Hublot (French pronunciation: [yblo]) is a Swiss luxury watchmaker founded in 1980 by Italian Carlo Crocco. The company currently operates as a wholly owned subsidiary of France's LVMH. In 1980, it also marked the birth of the 'Fusion' concept a few months after being founded.
A scion of the Italian Binda Group dynasty, best known for making Breil watches, Carlo Crocco left the company in 1976 to strike out on his own and create a new watch company. Moving to Switzerland he formed MDM Geneve and set about designing a watch that he named the Hublot after the French word for "porthole". The watch that he created featured the first natural rubber strap in the history of watchmaking. It took 3 years of research to create the strap. Despite failing to attract a single potential customer on the first day of its debut at the 1980 Basel Watch Fair, the watch quickly proved to be a commercial success with sales in excess of $2m in its first year.
The Jean-Claude Biver era
Carlo Crocco, preoccupied by his own design work and many activities for the Hand-in-Hand Foundation, a charity helping deprived children all around the world, set out to look for the man who could oversee his watchmaking business. In late 2003, Jean-Claude Biver, then president of Swatch Group's Omega division, met Carlo Crocco, and in May 2004, Biver assumed duties as CEO, becoming a board member and minority shareholder in Hublot Watches.
Upon his arrival, Biver set about creating a new flagship collection that was unveiled in Basel in April 2005, with the Hublot "Big Bang" chronograph. It was an immediate success and orders increased threefold in one year. A few months later, in November 2005, the Big Bang chronograph was awarded internationally, receiving the "2005 Design Prize" in the "Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix", the "Sports Watch Prize" at the "Watch of the Year" ceremony in Japan, and the Middle Eastern Prize for the "Best Oversized Watch" at the Editor’s Choice "Watch of the Year" in Bahrain. Following the arrival of Biver in 2004, the brand's sales hit 24 million Swiss francs and by the end of 2006, sales were bordering on the 100 million Swiss franc mark.
To date, Hublot has 50 Boutiques all over the world. In February 2007, Hublot opened its first mono-brand store in Paris, in the Rue Saint-Honoré. The second was opened in the summer of that year, in the Hôtel Byblos, Saint-Tropez. Today, Hublot has a flagship store on Bond Street, London. Stores in the United States are currently located in Atlanta, Bal Harbour, Beverly Hills, Boca Raton, Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas, New York City, and Palm Beach.
In October 2012 they opened their newest store in Las Vegas and before that a store in Ulan Bataar, Mongolia.
Acquisition by LVMH
In April 2008 it was announced that luxury goods group LVMH had acquired Hublot from founder Carlo Crocco for an undisclosed fee, adding to its existing portfolio of watch brands including TAG Heuer.
At BaselWorld 2009, Hublot unveiled a new method of detecting counterfeit watches. Using a WISeKey smart card, the system authenticates watches on Hublot's servers. The system went live in August 2009.
To increase the public profile of their brand Hublot have engaged in a number of sponsorship deals. In 2008, they agreed a sponsorship deal with the football club Manchester United, worth £ 4 million a year. Later, Hublot started endorsing some top football clubs like FC Bayern Munich, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, Ajax Amsterdam.
In 2015 the company signed an agreement with San Lorenzo de Almagro of Argentina.
They provided special versions of their B!ig Bang watches to referees officiating at UEFA Euro 2008. In March 2010, Hublot was appointed the Official Watchmaker of Formula 1. Hublot have released a number of Formula One themed watches as a committed partner to Formula One, including celebrating the return of the US Grand Prix to Austin, Texas in November 2012 with the .
In April 2010 Hublot became the official time keeper of the 2010 FIFA World Cup and the 2014 FIFA World Cup. They have also been involved in a tie-up with the Financial Times, sponsoring the newspaper's iPad app.
Hublot and Ferrari announced during the 2011 Ferrari World Finals at Mugello a long-term strategic partnership which will officially start on 1 January 2012, making Hublot Ferrari's "Official Watch" and "Official Timekeeper". The partnership has so far been slowly built on two timepieces, the Hublot Big Bang Ferrari Magic Gold and Big Bang Ferrari Titanium, that Hublot have consistently toured at world locations throughout 2012.
They were also the sponsors of the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships 2011 in Oslo.
Hublot continued their strong sponsorship and partnership activities in 2012 with becoming the Official Watch of the UEFA EURO 2012 tournament and Official Timekeeper of the tournament.
In April 2012 Hublot Partnered the Swiss Confederation at the World Expo 2012 in South Korea, a 3 month world event, where countries have the opportunity to promote themselves to the world. and will be displaying their new technically brilliant Divers Watch the , which has been tested to a water resistance of 5000m and is certified water resistant to 4000m.
Hublot also partnered with the Archaeological Museum of Athens in presenting Hublot's "Tribute to the Antikythera Mechanism" movement. The Hublot movement officially joined the National Museum’s collection on 5 April 2012 and will now be on display alongside the remains of the original mechanism.
In January 2013, Scuderia Ferrari had Hublot as its official sponsor for 2013, 2014 and 2015 F1 Season.
In November 2015, Hublot was the official timekeeper and a major sponsor of the inaugural WBSC Premier12 international baseball tournament held in Taiwan and Japan, promoting their partnership with the motto, "Hublot Loves Baseball."
At the opening ceremony for its first flagship store in Beijing, Biver introduced Jet Li as Hublot's next brand ambassador. Li is the brand’s first Asian ambassador as well as the first film star to work as a Hublot ambassador. Other brand ambassadors include former footballer Diego Maradona; deceased Formula 1 driver Ayrton Senna’s family and Institute; world's fastest man Usain Bolt; Indian cricketer Rohit Sharma and formerly, the Manchester United football team. Formula One Management President and CEO, Bernie Ecclestone, was attacked by four men and had his Hublot watch stolen. He later worked with Hublot to use his bruised face in an ad campaign with the tag line, "See what people will do for a Hublot."