Swiss watchmaker Hublot unveiled its 12th free-standing U.S. boutique in San Francisco on April 30th with a ribbon-cutting ceremony led by CEO Ricardo Guadalupe and pro-golfer and brand ambassador Justin Rose.
Known for their collaborations with famous athletes, including the Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade, Brazilian soccer star Pelé and Lakers star Kobe Bryant, Hublot welcomed Rose—its first professional golfer—into the mix last February.
At Thursday’s store opening event, Guadalupe told DuJour: “San Francisco’s diverse culture attracts an eclectic mix of consumers, making this Northern California enclave the perfect location for Hublot.” And as for Northern California, it appears the watchmaker is having its moment.
As the official timekeeper for the recent Ferrari racing challenge in Sonoma, the brand’s presence had been building up to the boutique launch, along with the anticipated debut of their newest timepiece in partnership with Bryant, the Big Bang Vino. Officially known as the Big Bang UNICO Chronograph Retrograde Kobe Vino Bryant, the collaboration with Bryant is the world’s first mechanical watch designed to time basketball.
“We started with the Black Mamba edition three years ago,” explained Guadalupe “and that was an incredible success…we sold out very quickly.” So the two powerhouses got together and came up with the idea for the Vino. “I asked ‘why Vino?’ and Kobe said, ‘I’m like the wine. I’m getting older and better.’” Guadelupe explained of the process: “To link the winemaking science to the watchmaking production, there are many similarities like passion, creativity, innovation…and so we took the color of the wine, which is a dark burgundy, and we were also inspired by that.” The substantial and technically advanced timepiece was unveiled during an intimate reception in the Napa Valley at a private wine reserve, where DuJour spoke to Bryant about his link to Hublot, the inspiration for the new watch and his best vintages.
You’ve been a partner with Hublot since 2013 when you launched the Black Mamba. Can you tell us about the partnership?
It’s been great. I always try to partner with teams that view their industry a little differently, and Hublot is really good at doing things in a different way.
Arguably you’re one of the best players in the game, but today we’re in Napa Valley and not on a basketball court—what brings us here today?
Hublot’s always done things on a grand scale. It’s beautiful to be here and to be a part of such an incredible launch for the Vino, that’s the first reason. The other reason is because my shoulder doesn’t work, and because my shoulder doesn’t work we’re not in the playoffs, so I had the time to be here!
So, why Vino?
A friend of mine, a copywriter by trade, came up with the nickname ‘Vino’ because he said I just keep getting better and better with time and that’s where the name for the watch came from…and how I started the transition from the Black Mamba to the Vino.
When we talk about wines, we define their greatest harvest by a vintage. Relating this to your career, what years would you consider your greatest vintages?
Every year we won a championship! [In] making wine there is a certain process, a certain attention to detail, a certain patience you have to have, which is the same as the way I build my game. Especially now…it’s a very patient process and that’s the common thread.