The launch of the eagerly anticipated Shawn Carter by Hublot collaboration was a big deal in the watch world. Carter (a.k.a. Jay Z) is the biggest tastemaker in horology today: When he first rhymed “New watch alert: Hublots” in his duet with Kanye West, “Otis,” the world started to pay attention.
Carter originally approached Hublot seeking a partnership, not a role as a brand ambassador. “He is over 40 now,” says Hublot’s CEO Ricardo Guadalupe. “He wants to create a Shawn Carter brand apart from Jay Z.”
Dressed in a tailored gray suit, Carter appeared in the dining room of Zurich’s Dolder Grand Hotel looking every inch the businessman. “I’m not interested in making a cookie-cutter watch,” Carter told his guests. “It’s not something you just put your name on.” He spent the next two hours enjoying Armand de Brignac champagne and listening to guests share their timepiece passions.
When word of the partnership first surfaced, watch watchers were expecting a tricked-out version of Hublot’s Big Bang chronograph. Even Guadalupe says, “I was expecting something bling-bling, but Shawn wanted to start a new trend. ‘Enough diamonds,’ he told me. ‘I want something elegant.’ ”
Carter chose to work with the Classic Fusion. At 45mm, it’s still a big boy, but marks a shift away from hockey-puck-size sport-chic watches, thanks to the 2.90mm HUB1300 movement. “Shawn asked us to do things we thought were impossible,” says Guadalupe. “For example, he wanted the shape of the movement to work with the cutaway logo on the dial.” Carter also pushed for finishes in black ceramic and 18-karat gold.
The limited-edition collection (available at Hublot boutiques) is part of a multi-year deal, with a new edition slated to arrive next fall. As for Carter, he plans to be even more involved in the development of future watches, including a complicated tourbillon piece.