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Hublot - The first watch with a World Cup tie-in

Hublot The first watch with a World Cup tie-in

As official timekeeper of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Hublot presents its first smartwatch with a special version for referees.

It’s Hublot’s first smartwatch. And perhaps its last... With Hublot, you never know what to expect. The only thing we know for sure is that this Big Bang Referee 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia represents something of a detour in the brand’s commitment to football, the famous “Hublot Loves Football” campaign, which has played out in countless stadium appearances all over the world, most conspicuously on the famous official timekeeper and referee boards.

The first watch with a World Cup tie-in

Pelé and Ricardo Guadalupe, CEO of Hublot © Hublot

Trial run?

Hublot is judiciously keeping production of this special football-themed smartwatch to just 2,018 watches, for the whole world, in what we suspect is something of a test run. The next step will probably depend on FIFA – it was football’s governing body that commissioned Hublot to produce the watch, which will be worn by the official referees.

The first watch with a World Cup tie-in

© Hublot

The watch takes the features of the Big Bang, and adjusts them to the requirements of a smartwatch (connection to an iPhone or an Android smartphone). So we find the familiar titanium case, the bezel with its six H-shaped screws, also in titanium, the kevlar inserts and interchangeable strap (here in rubber). It also comes with a second strap in a special World Cup design. But the diameter has inflated to 49 mm and, obviously, the mechanical movement from Nyon has been excised in favour of an Android chipset. To summarise: where Hublot’s cousin TAG Heuer insisted on Swiss Made design, craftsmanship and upgradeability, Hublot is staking everything on the watch’s functionality. And it has plenty of that, including, critically for football fans, a panoply of match alerts and statistics available in real time throughout the competition.

The first watch with a World Cup tie-in

« Hublot Loves Football » with Usain Bolt, Brand Ambassador © Hublot

Every goal, straight to your wrist

The Big Bang Referee 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia announces the football matches 15 minutes before kick-off, along with every red or yellow card, player substitution and goal. Every time a goal is scored the watch vibrates instantly, and displays the word “GOAL”. During matches, the dial shows statistics for the current match, including the score, number of cards, names of goal-scorers, player substitutions and match time. All the information, in real time, on your wrist. If you wear the watch during the tournament, wherever you may be, it will almost be like being a match official in the stadium, with the technology with which the referee is connected available to fans of the beautiful game.

The first watch with a World Cup tie-in

Björn Kuipers, FIFA referee © Hublot

The actual watches that every match official will wear during the world cup will be connected to goal-line technology, a video assistance system that follows the ball’s trajectory and confirms whether the ball has crossed the goal line. It’s a way of helping referees to make a decision.

What about tomorrow?

This very special Hublot Big Bang watch has been available to football fans around the world since the beginning of May. Having the perfect companion to wear on your wrist for the cup will set you back 4,900 Swiss francs. The World Cup features have not yet been activated, so for the time being, impatient fans will have to be content with a countdown to the first game. So much for “before”. What about “after”? Will the watch be any use once the World Cup is over?

The first watch with a World Cup tie-in

The Matrioshka's secrets © Hublot

In terms of football and game information – no. The Big Bang Referee 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, as its name suggests, will only be connected to this specific tournament. Not to any future World Cups, or to the Champions League or any other FIFA or UEFA tournament. At least for the time being. But, given that it runs on Android, it’s not too much of a stretch to imagine Hublot coming up with an update that would enable the features and notifications to be adapted for other games and other players, in other countries.

The first watch with a World Cup tie-in

The Big Bang Referee 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia in the colours of the 32 participating countries © Hublot

After the World Cup, the watch will continue to provide the same features as any other smartwatch (using iPhone or Android technology), including on-screen notification of alerts from the connected smartphone, and data from its many sensors – accelerometer, gyroscope, tilt detector, GPS, etc. Its alternative “fan” dials in the colours of each participating nation will also remain available forever. The Big Bang Referee 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia is the world’s first event-specific smartwatch. And perhaps, one day, it will become the watch world’s first “smart” collectors’ item, following in the footsteps of the Swatches produced for the Olympic Games of the 1980s and 1990s..

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From the outset, Hublot has embodied design and innovation that differ markedly from the established watchmaking order. With the impetus provided by Jean-Claude Biver, by 2004 these values had already become the basis of a new DNA, leading the brand to develop particularly audacious timepieces – most of them with a highly-developed sporting aspect.

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