Recently, Hublot started to slowly reopen its production capacity—just to 20 percent—after temporarily closing back in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Based in Switzerland, the watchmaker is taking it slow, focused on putting the health of its employees first.
Whitewall checked in with Hublot CEO Ricardo Guadalupe, to see how he’s doing personally, what this time has meant for the watch brand, and about some of its newest releases and collaborations with the likes of Yohji Yamamoto and Marc Ferrero.
WHITEWALL: Firstly, we’d like to ask you how you are doing at this time – we hope you are safe and healthy!
RICARDO GUADALUPE: I am doing fine, thank you. But the confinement has definitively changed “timing” in everybody’s life. For two months now, I take time to read, time to walk in the forest, time to think, time to cook, etc… as well as time to reinvent myself!
WW: We saw that Hublot has started to slowly reopen its manufacture. Can you tell us about how the pandemic has affected the brand, and the process going forward?
RG: By way of precaution, and to protect our personnel, on March 17, we have decided to go beyond our Swiss government’s current recommendations and close our manufacture’s production site for the time being. This is a temporary measure that will be applied until further notice. The goal of this decision was to slow the spread of the coronavirus and protect our employees as well as all of our citizens.
Today, we are slowly reopening the production capacity, but only 20% of it in the manufacture. We will see if in June we can extend to 50%. We won’t go too fast, as the health of our employees is the key factor.
WW: This month, Hublot opened a new boutique in Tokyo with a collaboration—the limited edition Big Bang GMT All Black Yohji Yamamoto. Can you tell us about this boutique and this collaboration?
RG: Japan is our biggest market as a country, so it is really important for Hublot. We are opening our biggest flagship boutique in the world in Ginza. It is a Hublot Tower, as well.
Regarding the Big Bang GMT All Black Yohji Yamamoto, Yohji is an iconic legend and very influential. I trust this is the beginning of a great relationship with him.
WW: Hublot also recently debuted the Big Bang One Click 39mm with Marc Ferrero. This is your second time collaborating with the artist. Can you tell us about that dialogue and the role of artistic collaborations overall at Hublot?
RG: With art, we decided to be a bit disruptive because, of course, we don’t want to just go with classic art. So, we worked with tattoo artist Maxime Plescia-Büchi or with contemporary artist Richard Orlinski. Shortly after, we partnered with the most influential street artist, Shepard Fairey. With Marc Ferrero, it was clear that we would collaborate for creating a woman’s timepiece, thanks to his iconic artwork “lipstick,” that reminds me of Pop art. The choice of an artist isn’t always rational, you have to go by instinct. You have to have a good feeling with the artist. And this person should like the brand, of course, because if they don’t it’s never going to work.
WW: How do you see the current climate impacting Hublot’s future mission—whether creatively, in engagement with clients, or in production?
RG: We are living an unprecedented time in our history that will impact our civilization of consumers. Hublot will remain first, unique, and different and will reinvent new products and new ways of connecting with the customers. For this, digital will be key!