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Hublot - One Year, One Watch

Hublot One Year, One Watch

2005 : Big Bang*


In April, a video entitled Me at the Zoo became the very first to be uploaded to a new website called YouTube. It shows one of the website’s founders walking round San Diego zoo. At the same time, in their office in Los Gatos, a couple of guys were watching this first attempt at streaming. They had been working for some time on a ‘box’ aimed at broadcasting video content for television. They believed in it so firmly that they had already bought the rights to a few films. When they saw YouTube, they abandoned their project and decided to focus their efforts on streaming films instead. Their company, which had specialised in renting out DVDs, was about to be transformed. Apart from the name: Netflix. And a few miles down the road, a bunch of Apple engineers were starting to work on a project they thought might be of interest for their company: a telephone.

One Year, One Watch

Big Bang © Hublot

In mid-2005, Facebook became available in US high schools, creating a phenomenon that would soon become known as social media. Students would be using it to talk about Revenge of the Sith, the latest Star Wars movie, in which Anakin Skywalker went over to the dark side of the force and became Darth Vader. At a time when the world continued to see its fair share of crises and turmoil (not least Hurricane Katrina in the US), 2005 was the year in which the social media revolution really took off. It was a special year in that a number of events that were not necessarily much-noticed at the time were to influence the future of the world – and thoroughly transform it.

So when the time came to choose a watch to represent 2005, I made a list of several words: media, social media, YouTuber, black, implosion, transformation. 2005 heralded a media Big Bang; and what better watch to stand as a representative of that than the Hublot Big Bang, with its portentous name?

Why Hublot?

In summer 1980, I was on holiday in the south of France. To this day, I can still remember having stopped in front of a shop window to admire a gold watch with a black dial, mounted on a rubber strap. I dreamed about it for a very long time; that MDM Hublot probably played a major role in my passion for watches. Hublot was founded in 1980; Jean- Claude Biver became its CEO in 2004. Biver was a man with a vision: fleshing out the Fusion concept created 25 years earlier by Carlo Crocco. The idea was simple: combine elements that had never before been put together to create an element of surprise. Nobody was expecting Hublot. And that was precisely the stroke of genius. What’s more, Hublot not being a normal brand, emerging ‘normally’ from a ‘normal’ watchmaking workshop, it could afford to be daring. Hublot was very quickly to become an image watch and a social media icon. It brought with it a certain freshness – amid harsh criticism from the ‘classic’ brands – and drew inspiration from ambush marketing to establish itself. In fact, thanks to the Big Bang, it was to become the first ‘2.0’ watch brand.

One Year, One Watch

Big Bang © Hublot

The Hublot Big Bang – Vader Horology

This first Hublot from the Biver era has something Darth Vaderish about it. Appearing out of nowhere, it was dark, threatening, and eye-catching. Its appeal lay not just in its design, but also in the feelings it provoked. The fact was that it immediately polarised watch-lovers, who saw it as a watch that had gone over to the dark side. It was imposing, too, measuring almost 45mm. It was different, boasting an assembly consisting of several different elements and materials. And it worked. As did the colours: black, gold, and steel. There was nothing subtle about the Big Bang. It was entirely ‘in yer face’.

It came out at the perfect time: 2005, the year that was to transform the way we communicate, chat, and get information. Within the following five years, Hublot’s sales figures were to increase tenfold, and its brand image by even greater orders of magnitude.

The Take from The Devil’s Advocate

Mephistopheles loves Darth Vader, so he’s bound to be a fan of this wickedly successful Hublot. Looking at the Big Bang today, 15 years on, it’s easier to understand why it’s so important. If I’d been asked for some advice at the time, I’d probably have uncluttered the dial a bit in a return to the MDM style, and I wouldn’t necessarily have used a red hand. I’d redo the design of the rubber strap, too. But then again, perhaps my lack of faith might be found disturbing. You know what? I’m thrilled this particular Hublot turned out the way it did.

*On the occasion of GMT Magazine and WorldTempus' 20th anniversary, we have embarked on the ambitious project of summarising the last 20 years in watchmaking in The Millennium Watch Book, a big, beautifully laid out coffee table book. This article is an extract. The Millennium Watch Book is available on www.the-watch-book.com, in French and English.

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The brand

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, which is currently headed by Ricardo Guadalupe - its CEO since 2012, to develop particularly audacious timepieces – most of them with a highly-developed sporting aspect.

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