What Is A Hublot Watch (The Controversy, Glamor & Story)

an illustration of a blue wrist watch representing the hublot brand

Hublot is a watch brand pronounced o͞o blo. The name Hublot is derived from a French word meaning “porthole”, which is the inspiration for the look and design of the watch. This watch became popular in the early 2000s when the oversized watch style hit its peak, shooting Hublot into the notoriety status of the widely recognized leading brands of mechanical watches such as Audemars Piguet, Rolex, and Patek Philippe.

The “Big Bang” and the “Classic Fusion” are two of the most popular Hublot models.

Classic Fusion

  • Case: Titanium
  • 42mm wide
  • 8.5mm thick
  • Lacquered white dial
  • 164 feet of water resistance
  • Movement:
  • In-house Cal. HUB1301
  • Manual wind
  • Boasts an impressive 90 hours of power reserve
  • 21,600 beats per hour

The “Big Bang” is known to be the flagship of Hublot watches. This watch is what Hublot is known for.

Big Bang

  • Case: Steel and ceramic
  • 41mm wide
  • 51mm lug to lug
  • 13mm thick
  • Carbon fiber dial
  • 328 feet of water resistance
  • Movement:
  • HUB4300
  • Automatic
  • 37 Jewels
  • 42 hours of power reserve
  • 28,800 beats per hour

When was Hublot founded?

Hublot is a Swiss watch brand that was founded in 1980 as a watch line under the company MDM Geneve. MDM was established by Italian watchmaker Carlo Crocco shortly after his break from the Italian Binda Group dynasty, which specialized in crafting Breil watches. Over time the Hublot line of watches morphed into “thee” watch brand, as opposed to just a line.

The Hublot’s distinctive modern, luxury-sport design debuted around the same time that Patek’s “Nautilus”, and AP’s “Royal Oak” were becoming fashionable. The market was primed and ready for elegant sports watches.

In 2004 Jean-Claude Biver took over Hublot and worked marketing miracles for the luxury watch brand. Four years later the company would switch hands yet again.

This comparatively recent founding of the company (1980) is part of what drives the disdain towards the brand Hublot. 40 years of being in business might seem like a long time, but when you compare that to the heritage and history of other major watch brands like Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe you quickly realize the contrast. AP and Patek are a solid century older than Hublot.

Ap and Patek trace their beginnings clear back into the 1800s, and in doing so they bring to the table something Hublot never can – heritage. AP and PP have overcome some major obstacles over the course of history including “The Quartz Crisis”, a period of time that saw the near complete decimation of the mechanical watch industry. AP, Rolex, and PP nearly went out of business during this upheaval but managed to survive and keep the entire industry alive by marketing their watches as luxurious status symbols rather than simple time-telling tools. Some may say that Hublot piggy-backed on this dramatic achievement, as they conveniently launched their line about 10 years after the conclusion of the quartz crisis.

Who owns Hublot?

A French multinational corporation called LVMH acquired Hublot in 2008 and currently holds the ownership. This conglomerate, headquartered in Paris, was founded in 1987 and is a world leader in all things luxury. In 2020, Stéphane Bianchi was appointed CEO of the watches and jewelry division of LVMH, (Hublot included).

Where are Hublot watches made?

Hublots are manufactured and assembled in Switzerland. In 2015 they opened “Hublot  2” in Nyon, Switzerland. Hublot 2 was born out of a 20 million Swiss franc investment and is now operating as the brand’s second and largest manufacturing building. The space operates on 8,600 square feet of surface and houses 100 new workstations. The manufacturing team now consists of over 400 workers.

Who wears Hublot watches?

Hublots are luxury sports watches. As such, this time-telling, status-symbol has been worn by the likes of Jay-Z, the Chelsea Football Club, Premier Leauge, Beyonce, the Dallas Cowboys, Ferrari, Kylian Mbappe, Chiara Ferragni, and many other famous rappers and athletes.

In addition to the many celebrities who adorn their wrists with the Hublot brand, Hublot has also been named the Official Watch of FIFA, Official Timekeeper of several World Cups, and the Official Watchmaker of Formula 1.

As a watchmaking partner of Ferrari, Hublot releases a special Ferrari series each year and is ever present at Ferrari events around the globe.

What about depreciation? How much does a Hublot brand watch really depreciate over time? Check out that article.

How much is Hublot watch?

The Hublot watch costs around 10,000 US dollars. Models range from $5,000 on the less expensive end, to $20,000 for higher-end options. The Big Bang and Classic Fusion are the hallmark models in the Hublot lineup. The Big Bang is the most popular flagship model and costs around $12,000. The Classic Fusion is a more elegantly styled model and is priced at $7,600.

There are, however, some special editions and limited releases that tout precious metal casings, or celebrity endorsements rocketing the price point upwards of $50,000.

So why exactly are Hublot watches expensive?

Supply and demand play a major factor in the pricing of luxury mechanical watches like Hublot. You might ask yourself why some mechanical watch brands, such as Seiko, can sell their watches for a fraction of the price of a Hublot. They are both mechanical watches, so why does one only cost a couple of hundred dollars, while the other costs thousands?

The question is best answered by taking a closer look at the manufacturing process, and the supply and demand of the market for both brands. Seiko is a Japanese watchmaking company with nearly 2 billion dollars in annual revenue and over 10,000 employees. This company, however, not only produces watches; it also makes clocks, electronics, semiconductors, and lenses. Seiko possesses the technological capabilities needed to manufacture billions of mechanical parts, including the intricate parts needed to produce mechanical watches.

This technology allows them to produce mass quantities in a short time frame; some 60,000 watches in a 5-month period. Robotic mass production means there is no exclusivity with Seiko mechanical watches. They are available to the masses for a mere $380. Contrast this model of watch production with Hublot.

Hublot watches are handcrafted in Nyon, Switzerland by highly skilled and knowledgeable watchmakers. The headquarters consists of two 8,600 square meter buildings operated by a staff of only 400 people. A vastly different setup than their Seiko counterparts, Hublot produces watches on a much smaller scale because actual human beings are at the helm of the manufacturing process.

Take for example just one model of Hublot, the “Big Bang Ferrari”. This watch is made with scratch-proof Magi Gold, a proprietary precious metal that was invented in the Hublot Manufacture. This metal is so hard that it requires the use of a special diamond milling machine and the process of making the model is so slow that only one case is produced per day. This is where supply and demand shoot Hublot into a far higher tier of pricing. Far fewer Hublots are being produced than Seikos, and demand for these handcrafted luxury watches far exceeds the supply.

The Hublot brand catches a lot of flack in the watch enthusiast community, but a closer look at the Hublot headquarters, their manufacturing process, and the team behind the brand will quickly dispel much of the hyped-up criticism towards the brand.

“From the first use of rubber in watchmaking to creating new precious alloys, such as scratch-proof Magic Gold, and producing revolutionary composites like ceramic and sapphire with unique colors, materials are always at the heart of the Hublot universe. To achieve its “Art of Fusion,” the Manufacture has its own Metallurgy and Materials laboratory, working in close collaboration with the Research and Development department, as well as its own foundry. These innovative materials are created and manufactured using the latest technologies, unique in watchmaking and developed by Hublot.”

Hublot has opened the doors of its manufacturing facilities many times to give people an up-close look at their watchmaking process. You can view videos of these tours online and get a fascinating glimpse into the world of Hublot. Check out the many different workspaces, cutting-edge technologies, and machines used in the Hublot Manufacture to get a better understanding of the reason behind the sticker shock.

Why do people hate Hublot (or do they?)

So what do the detractors have to say about Hublot? There are a lot of people in the watch community that believe the Hublot brand charges unjustifiably high prices for their watches. These commentators hate Hublot because they believe that the watch itself is overpriced. The old adage “you get what you pay for” doesn’t exactly ring true for Hublot, that is of course unless you are actively seeking to pay an exorbitant amount of money for branding. The stigma associated with the Hublot watch is that it serves two purposes – telling the time, and prominently displaying one’s affluence, at least that’s what the critics have to say about it.

Many luxury watch enthusiasts have noted the multitude of alternative luxury sporting watches which offer comparable features. Look at the Grand Seiko for a prime example of a watch that truly offers you more “bang” for your buck. Very similar features are offered by the Grand Seiko which cost $7,000 less than the Hublot “Big Bang”. The Seiko delivers comparable specs, titanium casing, 30 more hours of power reserve, and arguably better design. It’s no wonder many people are left scratching their heads at the dizzying price point of the Hublot.

There are many other finer details about some Hublot models that detract from the brand’s popularity, and which dance on the sore spots of watch enthusiasts across the globe. Take the “Big Bang” for example. The watch is powered by an ETA 2892-A2 movement, and while there is nothing inherently wrong with ETA-powered watches, and while ETA is a good, reliable choice for movements, it simply is not in line with the rest of the Big Bang package. A luxury watch that costs 10,000 dollars should not be powered by ETA.

Movement alone, however, is not the only source of controversy for Hublot’s Big Bang. The finish, look, and feel of a watch that costs $10,000 dollars better be impeccably sleek and refined. Unfortunately, on these points, the Big Bang winds up into more of a fizzling flop. The bolts on the face of the watch are not in-line. Such small details might seem of little consequence to the average person, but watch fanatics (especially those dropping 10k on their timepiece), will no doubt take notice of any inadequacy, and rightly so. At Hublot’s steep price point, buyers expect a highly finished, and perfectly executed design.

Why do people hate Hublot? The short answer is; the price. Cost really is the bone of contention with Hublot. If the price were more in-line with the watch’s overall package, finish, and movement, it would only set you back around $4,000 dollars. In the end, it comes down to a matter of personal preference. Those who prefer the brand Hublot are more than willing to pay double the cost of a comparable watch if it means sporting the name Hublot and garnering attention.

In addition to the belief that Hublot sells overpriced products, another source of hatred toward the brand is the branding itself. Watch enthusiasts love watches. They don’t care so much about the price of a watch, but the craftsmanship of it, and the features of the watch are what matter to them. The Hublot brand has been seen by some in the watch community as pushing a branding message of prestigiousness based upon wealth and materialistic possessions; i.e $10,000 dollar watches that are at the same level of quality as $4,000 watches. The higher price itself is being sold as a feature of the Hublot watch and this is what drives the enmity toward the brand.

2) Consider Buying A Hublot Watch?

Some points to note when considering purchasing a Hublot watch

  • Hublots are handcrafted luxury watches produced on a small scale by highly-skilled human beings, this drives the cost up significantly
  • Hublots are much more exclusive than many cheaper mechanical watches
  • The accusation that Hublot brand sells overpriced watches is likely an accusation that would ring true for all luxury watch brands, as you can purchase a solid mechanical watch for as little as $200 dollars.
  • An entry-level Hublot like the Classic Fusion will cost you around $6,000
  • Hublot ranks #12 on Morgan Stanley’s Top 20 Swiss Watch Company Rankings for 2022, so clearly Hublot is not hated by all; in fact, they are a highly popular luxury watch brand.

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