We have tradition as part of our heritage, but we’re not a traditional brand. We’re a little trendy, or even avant garde. We want to use what our grandparents and parents taught us to create the future – not repeat yesterday the way so many luxury brands are doing, albeit perfectly.
ON BEING BOARD CHAIRMAN
I’m no longer involved in the daily operations, but I am involved in the vision, strategy, innovation, marketing and product development for the brand. The operational deals with the results of yesterday’s efforts but, now, I’m involved in the results of tomorrow. It’s more fun sometimes. It’s like finishing a drink and not having to wash the glass. And I get to decide what drink to pour in next.
When people ask me why our watches have rubber straps, I tell them that the price is not necessarily entirely due to the material. When you look at how much gold there is in a watch, you will realise its cost has nothing to do with the gold, unless there is 1kg of it in there. In the same way, Formula One engines can cost half a million, yet there are no precious metals in them. Building a good engine can be expensive, and we are builders of engines – but for the wrist.
ON DAILY CHALLENGES
When you tell people to close their eyes and design an expensive watch, it will never look like a Hublot. It will be a nice, simple watch. The strap they think of will not be rubber; it will be gold. Will people understand why a ceramic watch costs 250,000 Swiss francs (S$340,000)? Will they think exposed screws are luxurious? We cannot pretend everyone has heard of Hublot, and that is our challenge.
ON SMART WATCHES
As brilliant as they are, I believe they will eventually be obsolete. I will bet you $10 million that the smart watch created by Samsung today will not be able to be fixed in 10 years. Technology would have moved on. It’s not luxury. You buy it to throw it away. But you will never buy an expensive watch if you thought you couldn’t fix it in a decade. The Big Ben is more than a hundred years old and St Mark’s Clocktower was built in the 15th century, and they both still work because, unlike replaceable electronic goods, mechanical things can be forever repaired – and so the art of traditional watchmaking is an eternal one.