Since a year or two, a friend and I are running the ‘a Passion for Watches‘ group on LinkedIn. Over 3,000 watch enthusiasts joined and a relative high number of them participate in discussions. One of the more recent discussions is really worth mentioning here, as it started three months ago and still receives comments on a daily basis. The initial post was quite a simple question, “Audemars Piguet or Hublot. Which one would you buy if this was the choice?”. The votes are unanimously for Audemars Piguet.

Although being a huge Audemars Piguet fan myself en would pick it any time over a Hublot, I will have to admit that I am a bit biased and never did much research in the current line-up of Big Bang watches and their in-house movements. However, I am pretty sure that Hublot has less watches with complications than Audemars Piguet has (including those non-Royal Oak models) in their catalog. I am also more attracted to the almost satin finish of the stainless steel Royal Oak cases and bracelets as opposed to the exotic materials used on most Hublots for casing and bracelet/straps.

In the discussion over at LinkedIn, a number of comments include the fact that Hublot is being recognized as a decent watch brand, but certainly not on par with a brand like AP. As member Scott Montemurro puts it: “AP sits at the pinnacle of fine timepiece making along with Vacheron Constantin, Patek Philippe and Breguet. As with the others mentioned, Audemars Piguet has the heritage and legitimacy of one of the world’s finest horological creations. I truly admire the asthetics, craftsmanship and success of Hublot and would absolutely purchase one but not without choosing the AP first.”

You can debate whether AP is on the same level as Patek or Vacheron, but it seems to be the common thought on this brand from Le Brassus. At least it is a spot (or ranking) where Hublot has not been put (yet). Although Hublot’s Big Bang resembles the most popular range of Audemars Piguet, the Royal Oak Off-Shore models, they do not seem to be in the same league according to watch aficionados at LinkedIn. However, consumers might think otherwise, as Hublot’s Big Bang is a big success in terms of sales.

The impopularity of Hublot in the discussion might also have something to do with what Thorsten Heitzmann posted in my opinion, which is as follows: “When it comes to spending a lot of money, many people will rather go for something iconic than for the ‘special alternative’.” An interesting and perhaps logical point of view, but Jerome Pineau (former Hublot employee) replies with the following questions:  “How do you define traditional values though? Are values better by virtue of simply being older?”.

Thorsten Heitzmann continues “I see no evolution of virtues in Hublot. I see a desperate struggle for originality in the “football” theme which has nothing to do with Hublot, IMHO. I see watches to fit every taste, black, gold, colorful,..instead of an idea of what’s behind the watch. 10 years ago I could spot an Hublot from a neighboring table – today, I see just another watch.”.

Yesterday, I sat down with a couple of watch friends and the name Hublot was dropped. One of the guys said something in line with Thorsten’s comment above, “Hublot should work on their watches and movements for 10 more years and then we will – again – compare them to AP’s Royal Oak models”. A bit of a bold statement and it does not do justice to Hublot’s attempts (whether successful or not) to be a well respected brand, but my take is that it’s a common thought about Hublot. Does Hublot try too hard being an alternative for the Off-Shore with these football themes? Should they invest more money in being haute horlogerie or at least focus their advertising campaign to their horological achievements instead of being the number one choice for football of F1 fans?

On the other hand, does Hublot complain about their sales? Should they change their campaign because watch aficionados (only a small group of people) are of the opinion that there is still a huge gap between a Royal Oak Off-Shore and a Big Bang? What’s your take?

Join the ‘a Passion for Watches‘ group on LinkedIn and follow this discussion or leave a comment below.

  • Hampus Winqvist

    To me, it’s not really comparable. AP has tradition, class, originality, history, not just accurate but also beautiful in house movements and has a broad product line including everything from minute repeaters to automatic and skeleton tourbillons. Hublot only has the in-house movement from the list above (not a very beautiful one) and adding to that, it seems like their costumers tend to be people you’d avoid gettin stuck talking to at a party. That’s just my general opinion of Hublot owners. Hublots pride and joy is the Big Bang series which virtually is a rip-off of the Offshore. AP has the Jules Audemars, the Edward Piguet line and let’s not forget the classic, iconic, Genta-designed Royal Oak.

  • Nicholas Von Becker

    How about Breguet vs. F.P. Journe

  • And the answer is: “No”! Hublot shouldn’t change anything as quite clearly they are immensely succesfull at what they do and are impervious to criticism – as are most brands in their category anyway 🙂

  • Andrewluff

    Very interesting article and debate. Its funny but being a Hublot fan (but have owned AP’s) but everytime I now see a Royal Oak Offshore… I think the same thing… another version of the same watch with a different name… volcano, safari, bumblebee, lava, Rodeo Drive, etc, etc… all nice names but… hmm the same watch! This also frustrates me about Hublot and their endless Limited Editions (as they are called) and I am in no way a football fan so that does not draw me to the brand either.

    Its also strange that when I put the 2 watches next to each other they do not strike me as being any more similar than another 30 brands out there… they have a strap.. check… bezel… check… face… check… hands… check… but this could be said about any of the others as this makes up a watch.

    OK agreed that Hublot does not have the history that AP does, but every company starts somewhere. Hublot does not also have the range of different ranges under their name as they are all based around different sizes and combinations of the Big Bang. In house products are developing, so far the minute repeater, tourbillons and the Unico are all in house products, so not a swatch watch either.

    Imagine life where we all drive around in Renaults (sorry Renault owners), life would be pretty boring or imagine where everyone owned a Ferrari… then it would no longer be classed a supercar in there streets were lined up with them?

    So rather than trying to put AP on top of Hublot, everyone has their own tastes, budgets and what they want from a watch which is why there are so many brands bought by a wide spectrum of buyers.

    Just my 2c

  • Alejandro Munera

    Interesting discussion.

    I would start by comparing the Hublot Classic 1521.1 with a 1972 Royal Oak and sit down and watch what would happen from that point on.

    Very good article. 😉