Outsized ambitions
Gulf Business|April 2021
Ricardo Guadalupe, CEO of Hublot, took a Swiss watchmaker that was only known among a select few and transformed it into a larger-than-life phenomenon. Here’s how he did it
VARUN GODINHO

Any conversations around Swiss luxury watchmaker Hublot must begin with its former CEO, watch industry stalwart Jean-Claude Biver. Biver was handed the keys to the company in 2004 from its founder, Carlo Crocco. At the time, it was a little-known watchmaker, but Biver was brought in specifically to change that. He quickly hired Ricardo Guadalupe, who he knew from a decade before that as the international head of sales and marketing at Blancpain, to turn tables at Hublot.

“In 2004, he asked me to join Hublot. He would always tell me that when you are the first to have a unique idea, you will normally have success with it,” Hublot CEO Guadalupe tells Gulf Business.

Those ideas included the introduction of the now iconic Big Bang collection in 2005 and a doubling down on the Art of Fusion concept whereby the brand became a reference point in mixing seemingly incongruent materials in a timepiece – this was a brand that, after all, began life in 1980 by pairing a gold case with a rubber strap.

By the time Biver passed on the mantle to Guadalupe in 2012, Hublot had already been sold to luxury conglomerate LVMH, and had built a reputation for shocking marketing tactics.

For example, in 2010 former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone was savagely attacked by robbers who entered his home and stole, among other things, a Hublot F1 King Power. Ecclestone took an image of his badly bruised face and sent it to his friend Biver who quickly created an advertisement with it captioned “See what people will do for a Hublot” – suggesting that the then 81-year-old fought valiantly to protect his Hublot.

Then there was that time from a few years ago when Hublot managed to secure its logo branding on boxer Floyd Mayweather’s “The Money Fight” against Conor McGregor, the returns on investment which Guadalupe says amounted to hundreds of millions when considering the visibility the fight had around the world.

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