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.