In the very early years of our horological curiosity, we used to put our finest blazers over our Polo shirts and bluff our way into luxury watch stores. It was most impressive at the time: the hushed quiet of the vault-like showrooms; the attention of the staff; the fondling of pieces it would have taken us 23.5 years of pocket money to acquire. But most of all, we got to touch watches, put them on, talk about them and pretend we had the hot air to fill out our over-sized blazers.
One particular memory is of two brothers who had a store on Brussels’ high-flying Boulevard du Waterloo dedicated entirely to Hublot and its short-lived Thor brand offshoot (Note: we can’t find a mention of the latter anywhere online, so all links welcome!). Took balls – or colossal commercial stupidity – to sell just Hublot. But these were the 80s when the brand’s fusion of classic design, elegance and an ingenious vanilla-scented rubber strap that took years to fine-tune were enough to attract the attention of the world’s Royals, including King Juan Carlos of Spain.
A watch with a rubber strap had captured the bejeweled eyes of the aristocracy, and this was enough to create some serious spin before the brand climbed into a hole that almost swallowed them up completely. And then they let loose with the Big Bang, the noise and abominable stink of which we’re trying desperately to get rid off in order to remember just what it was that sold us on Hublot back in the 80s.
Let’s be clear about two things: we know Classic Hublots are not wise investments per se (and may never be!) and we are definitely not angling for a return to the pastel-coloured, big-shouldered 80s. But like many designs of today, the need to torture an essentially perfect watch design until it shits itself is wrong in our book. And mean, man. Just plain mean.
Don’t buy that? Then take a long, hard look at the photo on your right at the top compared to the ones that follow. You feeling us now? There is nothing wrong with progress and innovation when it takes you somewhere better, not just new. And while Hublot’s Big Bang does make ingenious use of exotic metals, ceramics and rubber (yes, we also think this sounds like a walk into a hi-tech sex dungeon…), its stupendous size and girth are compounded by an endless series of designs that are either overwrought or heavy-handed, or both.
We’ve read the remarks by Hublot’s CEO, Jean-Claude Biver, that the Big Bang is to Hublot what the 911 is to Porsche. We spit out our Irish coffee and pissed our pants at the same time. Nah. The Big Bang is milking every single marketing and design flight of fancy Hublot can think up and is fast running out of ideas. A little like Paris Hilton.
Evidence? The Ayrton Senna and Maradona (Maradona!) special editions; the Mexican Football Federation and , lest we forget, the discretely named Million Dollar Big Bang. Hublot is in the World Cup, inside TIME magazine and on wide boys’ wrists at the Ocean Club in Marbella.
So, while we can point to where Hublot has come from – and very much like it – we can’t see all this going anywhere good. It’s just too much, Mr. Biver. We implore you to go back to your archives and look long and hard at the roots of your brand and who it catered to. Then go and sit in the corner for a long time before coming back out and vomiting yet more Big Busts over us. Or if you have to, please make them real ones…?
The Big Bust: Why Hublot is everywhere and nowhere
In the very early years of our horological curiosity, we used to put our finest blazers over our Polo shirts and bluff our way into luxury watch stores. It was most impressive at the time: the hushed quiet of the vault-like showrooms; the attention of the staff; the fondling of pieces it would have taken [...]
Eric (AKA Straight-Six) had a proper job as a journalist for Dow Jones before lowering himself gently into the warm, forgiving waters of The Guide. He’s our resident fanatic: he relished detailing his BMW M3 for two full days at a time before crashing it at Eau Rouge in the wet; he spends insane amounts on his home-cinema system and has thrown tens of thousands of euros at vintage Rolex sports watches. The little fool simply does not understand the concept of restraint or the meaning of excess. He also – following a legendary "heavy" lunch – once nibbled (yes, like little dogs do) a dear lady friend of ours.
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