After the success of last year’s inaugural LVMH Watch Week (it was the world’s only major physical watch fair), the luxury conglomerate kicked off 2021 trade show calendar with the all-digital format of LVMH Watch Week 2021. From the comfort of our homes, we were transported into the manufacturing facilities of Bvlgari, Hublot and Zenith as they presented to us their latest creations and marvels.
Opening the digital press conference socially distanced from one another were Stéphane Bianchi, Jean-Christophe Babin, Ricardo Guadalupe and Julien Tornare, CEOs of LVMH Watches and Jewellery Division, Bvlgari, Hublot and Zenith respectively. A notable absence was TAG Heuer CEO Frédéric Arnault, due to a major partnership announcement event with German automobile manufacturer Porsche held separately the following week. Of course, this was not mentioned at the time, lest TAG Heuer steal the thunder entirely from the watches on show
“2020 was a year of many changes,” said Bianchi in his opening address. “Among these changes was a big one, the LVMH Watch Week which we held in Dubai. The success of it was the main reason we decided to do it again this year, but digitally with the ongoing sanitary situation. Therefore we are bringing to you our fantastic novelties from every Maison.”
Babin, his usual charismatic self, did not reveal much about Bvlgari’s novelties but spoke of his confidence that the digital format will be successful. “We have seen from last year’s Geneva Watch Days that digital is extremely efficient so I’m very convinced that you will enjoy our novelties offered with technology which will glorify the craftsmanship and mechanical wonders that all four brands will present to you.”
(For the record, the editorial team here loves these digital formats, but nothing can take the place of touching and feeling the novelties. We live for the little details that are revealed when we have one-on-one time with the new watches. For this reason, we cannot report on either the user experience nor the weight of these new watches. That said, on with the show - Ed)
For Hublot, innovation remains at the core of its DNA as it will showcase a new colour for its sapphire cases as well as a new manufacture calibre. “Hublot wants to be unique, different and the first in everything we do and we have shown it last year as we celebrated Hublot’s 40th anniversary,” remarked Guadalupe. “This year Hublot will present a series of novelties that will be linked to our Art of Fusion DNA. 2021 will be a year of football for Hublot as well as we will be the official timekeeper of the Euro 2020 to be held this year.”
A year of difficulties in 2020 was seen as an opportunity for Zenith as the manufacture displayed agility and resilience. “2020 was a year of learning and new implementations, a year which we have been more active than ever,” shared Tornare. “We activated our Time to Reach Your Star philosophy in all major areas while Zenith’s new website and e-commerce platform was launched to great success.”
As much as we would love to cover every single novelty, we will be covering two key novelties from each brand. The remaining novelties will be covered in the Highlights section in future issues this year. It is too soon to say anything definitive about the new watches overall as there are only three brands involved here. It is still notable that the approaches diverged from each other significantly, although overall, the focus was on contemporary styling rather than self-referential nods to the past. After previous market shocks, watch brands tended to skew traditional, but not this time - so far.
From Hublot’s 2021 novelty lineup comes its pièce de résistance, the Big Bang Tourbillon Automatic Orange Sapphire. It is a mouthful as far as watch names are concerned yet it is succinct in its communication — a Big Bang with an automatic tourbillon calibre housed in an orange sapphire case. What it does not say however is it is the first watch ever produced in an orange through-tinted (a technical term that can be taken to confirm that the colour is not due to a surface treatment) sapphire case alongside Hublot’s new manufacture movement, calibre MHUB6035.
After proving its competency with the three primary colours (yellow, blue, red) as well as black and old-fashioned transparent for its previous sapphire case projects, it feels natural for Hublot to take on a secondary colour. Radiant orange cases are synthesised in Hublot’s own Metallurgy & Materials laboratory (you may recall that this same laboratory-produced King Gold) through the use of titanium and chromium in undisclosed processes. The result is as impressive as the pictures indicate, but we have not seen the actual piece so we must reserve final judgments. Of course, metal is not entirely absent here, but the only such elements are the crown, titanium H-shaped bezel screws and One-Click quick-release button on the lugs.
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