An Intimate Chat with Hublot CEO Ricardo Guadalupe

by Chamath Gamage

I recently had the chance to sit down for an intimate interview with Hublot CEO, Ricardo Guadalupe. Ricardo Guadalupe was in Australia, supporting the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 tournament held as a joint effort between Australia and New Zealand.  The last time Ricardo visited Australia was 11 years ago when he became the CEO of Hublot. So, this was a long overdue and memorable visit to Australia.

Hublot CEO: Ricardo Guadalupe

As Ricardo Guadalupe will tell you, Hublot loves football. Hublot was the first luxury watch brand to enter the footballing world 15 years ago at the 2008 UEFA European Football Championship in Switzerland. Since then, Hublot has been involved in many major footballing tournaments as the official timekeeper, including this year’s Women’s World Cup. 

This will be the third time Hublot has been the official timekeeper of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, having previously been a part of the 2015 tournament in Canada and the 2019 tournament in France. Hublot’s name is easily recognisable in Football through the brand’s partnership with FIFA. This is a genius move by CEO Ricardo Guadalupe as this undoubtedly raises brand awareness on a global scale, with football being the “world’s game”.  

On a personal level, Ricardo Guadalupe is a fan of football as well. As he is of Spanish origin, he has been watching the Spanish team throughout the years.

FIFA Women’s World Cup Semi-Final: Australia vs. England

I had the pleasure of watching the live semi-final game in Sydney against England as part of the Hublot hospitality. Even though Matildas lost the match, we walked away with our heads high due to the fantastic display of sportsmanship the whole team displayed. When Samantha Kerr scored the cracking goal in the 78th minute, the entire stadium roared. Thanks to all the cheering and screaming I did at the game, I had to interview Ricardo with a broken voice , the following day.

This interview was done before the commencement of the FIFA Women’s World Cup final.

WA: Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak with us, Ricardo! We just witnessed Australia losing the Semifinals to England; who do you see winning the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023?

RG: Being of Spanish origin, I would love to see Spain win at the final, especially since I get to see it live. The Australian supporters for this World Cup have been fantastic, with great turnouts throughout all the matches. It was sad to see Australia getting knocked out of the semifinals, but the Matildas made a tremendous effort to get here, and the country loves them. I am excited to see how the Final game will be; the last time Spain won the men’s World Cup was in 2010 against the Netherlands. I enjoyed watching it live, so let’s hope Spain can do it again! Regardless of the winner, football’s outlook in Australia will change forever.

WA: How important is Football for Hublot?

RG: Hublot was the first watch brand to be involved in football in 2008. We signed contracts with FIFA to be the primary timekeeper, and for the first time, we had the famous referee board exchanged from a rectangle to the shape of our watch, the Big Bang. The connection between the brand Hublot, the watch and football creates incredible brand awareness.

WA: 2023 has been an excellent year for Hublot so far, and looking back to Watches and Wonders in March, we had the opportunity to be at the Hublot booth to experience the newly released watches. Can you tell us the idea behind this year’s theme, “The Art of Fusion”?

RG: Yes, it has been quite a year for Hublot. This year has been about showing people what the Art of Fusion is and what it represents. It combines innovation and tradition to prove that Hublot is a genuine manufacturer. To prove this, we have created high-end products with high-end jewellery and watchmaking products with complications like Tourbillon mixed with unique materials. For example, our masterpiece for this year, the MP13 Bi-Axis Tourbillon with retrograde hour and minute hands, shows Hublot’s know-how in the watchmaking industry. Another example is our Big Bang Integrated Tourbillon Full Carbon, one of the industry’s first.

MP13 Bi-Axis Tourbillon with a retrograde hour and minute hands
Big Bang Integrated Tourbillon Full Carbon

WA: What message would you have for anyone new to watches and watch collecting regarding Hublot? 

RG: Hublot is about making watches different from other traditional Swiss watch brands; thanks to that DNA, we try to be different with materials, particularly back in 1980; we were the first brand to bring rubber with 18ct yellow gold to create the first fusion. The philosophy of Hublot is always to be unique and different in everything we do. We make bold and exciting watches for everyone to enjoy!

WA: Hublot is known for its big, bold watches. With a trend amongst collectors now going to smaller timepieces, how does a brand like Hublot combat or feed into this trend?

RG: We have Classic Fusion for the smaller-sized watches, and for us, the Big Bang has always been a bold watch, a statement piece. However, we are considering the options to make it smaller than the current offering of 42mm. We are also developing the Unico movement for the Classic Fusion Rage, which will bridge the gap for the smaller-sized watches. 

WA: How much of a part does R&D play today in developing Hublot timepieces? And does doing watches like the neon yellow Saxem help in material engineering for the more mass-produced watches or the core model line development? 

RG: We invest a lot in research and development and have a dedicated department for material research. As everyone knows, Sapphire is a complicated material to work with; however, with our expertise in the industry, we managed to master the material and bring in new colours. Red and orange colours are challenging to get the right shade from these colours, but with our extensive knowledge and research, we managed to get these colours right.

Big Bang Tourbillon Automatic Purple Sapphire

WA: Thinking forward to next year and the year after, what can we expect from the brand globally and in Australia? And speaking of Australia, what are your thoughts on how the brand is perceived and performing in this country? Can you tell us if you have any expansion plans?  

RG: Australia for us is doing really well, with customers enjoying our products, we see significant growth in the country. We have a great balance with multibrand retailers and stand-alone boutiques, so with this in mind, our strategy is to expand the presence of Hublot in Melbourne. We are considering Melbourne CBD or Chadstone Shopping Mall for a potential expansion. 

WA: And finally, what’s in the pipeline for Hublot for the next few years?

RG: We want to demonstrate that Hublot is a real manufacturer; we are verticalised and integrated. We have a project to build our third manufacturer, and this will be the biggest one for Hublot. This particular manufacturer will be dedicated to assembling all our movements in watches. We want to be part of the top brands in the industry, and for us to do that, we need to showcase our expertise in movement, design and materials. So exciting times ahead for Hublot.

Ricardo Guadalupe in front of the Sydney Hublot Boutique

After our chat, we looked at some of the newly released Hublot watches at the Sydney Boutique, and my pick was the Big Bang Unico Nespresso Origins in 42mm. The shade of Green colour, in my opinion, is the nicest that I have seen for a long time.

Wrist shot with Ricardo Guadalupe.

For a brand that started in 1980, Hublot is leading the way with innovating new materials and does not follow the traditional path of watchmaking. Hublot timepieces are bold and stand out from the crowd, and this can be seen from the watches they produce, especially the watches I saw during Watches and Wonders earlier in the year. After speaking to Ricardo, I gained a greater appreciation for the brand and its direction, and I am excited to see what the brand will release in the coming years!

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