Hublot was founded in 1980, which makes it, at the age of 40, approximately 100 years younger than its long-established counterparts. Its newbie status, far from being a drawback, has advantages. Hublot stands ripe for adventure, uniquely unbound by traditions that might constrain it to an identity forged in a bygone era. It is free to explore new ideas, designs, materials and associations. One month it’s sponsoring a polo match in aristocratic, old-money Gstaad, and the next, it’s joining the crush in the stands at the FIFA World Cup. The latter is coming up next month in Qatar and Hublot isn’t missing out on the moment. As a sponsor of the event, the company is introducing the Big Bang e FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 smartwatch.
“Being a young brand allows us to be more diverse and maybe not as focused on one specific partnership,” Hublot CEO Ricardo Guadalupe tells Robb Report. “The idea is to create a world of Hublot, in which we meet with different customers, some of whom are interested in soccer, some in other sports, or who like tattoos.” (Hublot has worked on watch collaborations with tattoo artist Maxime Büchi). “When it comes to watches, we have the liberty to create incredible designs that maybe a traditional brand would not do it because it’s too particular,” he adds. “If you look at the tattoo watch, Sang Bleu, it’s incredible. Nobody would make a watch like this, but Hublot we can do it because our concept of mastering the art of fusion allows us to be disruptive.”
Hublot’s untraditional approach to watchmaking has seen it trailblaze certain trends in the industry. It was one of the first brands to popularise rubber straps in the 1990s. And few other brands use colour to the same extent as Hublot, which has developed its own proprietary selection of coloured ceramics and sapphires as case materials. It is also one of the early adopters of fully sapphire crystal cases.
Design-wise, it has collaborated with artists, architects and athletes to push the boundaries, making its aesthetic identity difficult to define in any way other than to describe it as unconventional. At the same time, its engineering and finishing techniques adhere to the principles of traditional high watchmaking.
But the brand’s attention to detail combined with its often loud and forward-thinking approach is an ethos that extends to its smartwatches. The Big Bang e FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 is a Gen 3 connected watch with a new timeline function dedicated to soccer. Before the tournament starts, the Big Bang e FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 will be in countdown mode, keeping track of the days until the opening match on November 20 between Qatar and Ecuador. Then, with 15 minutes to go before each match, the watch will deliver team line-ups and player profiles. As each game kicks off, the watch will automatically enter “match mode” and activate a “timeline” feature created exclusively for this watch to track the game highlights.
A scale on the outer edge of the dial is split into five sections, indicating the first and second halves, the additional time allowed in each half and half-time. If a goal is scored, the watch shows a match event animation mentioning the player’s name, and a soccer symbol will appear at the appropriate minute mark on the scale. The same thing happens if there is a yellow card, a red card or a penalty. If a match goes beyond normal time, the watch display will automatically switch into extra time mode, and then into shootout mode in the event a match goes to penalties. Each penalty is recorded to indicate whether or not the attempt was successful. A final “match period animation” shows when the game is over, and the final score. The wearer can replay these events at any point during a game by scrolling around the dial using the watch’s crown.
But what about after the World Cup is over? It comes with all of the standard functions of a smartwatch including GPS and a heart-rate monitor, and it comes with a suite of preloaded apps to stay connected to track activities, health and more. And unlike smaller alternatives, the Big Bang e FIFA is oversized at 44 mm, so you can better see the screen, which may be a welcome design feature for some.
The case is made of micro-blasted and polished black ceramic and black titanium. The rubber strap comes in burgundy highlighted back black underneath—a colour inspired by the flag colours of the State of Qatar. But fans can also choose dial and strap designs in the colors of each of the 32 participating countries.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup will be held from late November to mid-December, making it the first tournament not to be held in May, June or July and to take place in the northern autumn; it will be played in a reduced timeframe of around 29 days. Hublot has been a sponsor since 2010 and will time all 64 games in this year’s FIFA World Cup, including the final in the Lusail Stadium in Doha on 18 December. The Big Bang e FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 is limited to 1,000 pieces and priced at US$6,000 (just over RM28,000). Considering the cost of traveling to Qatar for the World Cup, if you’re already going you might as well invest a little further and come equipped with this game-day accessory.
Previously published on Robb Report.