Star NBA basketball player Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat was recently announced to have signed on with Swiss watch maker Hublot as a brand ambassador. Hublot’s CEO Jean-Claude Biver knows how to market his luxury brand very, very well. Though special partnerships, sponsorships, and ambassadorships, he has brought a lot of attention to Hublot. As part of the brand’s strong push in America, Hublot is wise to align with popular celebrities and athletes. Hublot already works with a number of such entities all over the world. Hublot is starting to join the ranks of some very large brands who work with major celebrities in the US – the most expensive celebrities around. Hublot will also work to assist Wade’s efforts with his charitable foundation called “Wade’s World Foundation” that works to support community-based organizations for at-risk youth. Look for not only an Hublot on Wade’s wrist, but Dwyane as the face of many Hublot marketing campaigns.
Now here is a nice new watch. Corum’s interesting and iconic Golden Bridge watch that features a long and thin mechanical movement now comes in an automatic version. The nature of the concept needed something different than the ordinary half-circle style automatic rotor. Corum uses a linear moving weight as an automatic winding mechanism. As you can see through the back of the watch, the platinum weight moves up and down as opposed to around in a circle. This “linear moving weight” concept is not new, but rarely used. It is part of the new Corum calibre CO313 movement that has 18k gold plates, guilloche machine engraved decoration, and shows just the time.
As in existing Golden Bridge models, the movement is more or less suspended in the tonneau style case. For the automatic the watch is a bit larger (thankfully) being 37.2mm wide by 51.8mm tall. You can get the case in 18k red gold or 18k white gold. The crown is located at the bottom of the case. One funny issue with the watch is that Corum doesn’t do the greatest job on the face of the watch in helping you determine which is the top and which is the bottom of the case. The watch is however surprisingly comfy on the wrist. I would personally consider this a men’s watch, but I could also see women wearing it. The new Golden Bridge Automatic watch comes on a black crocodile strap.
Swiss watchmakers Audemars Piguet and Hublot have been at each other’s throats the last few decades. Although the former dates back about a century before the latter, today both are after the same upscale market of luxury buyers looking for a bold expression on their wrists. A couple of years ago Audemars Piguet pulled its sponsorship from America’s Cup, and Hublot didn’t miss a beat picking it up in its rival’s stead. Audemars came out with a watch to mark 200 year of Mexican independence, so Hublot did the same. Now that Hublot has acquired the license for official Formula One watches, Audemars Piguet has responded with an F1-inspired watch of its own.
Named after Italian racing driver Jarno Trulli – a brand ambassador since 2008 – this latest special edition Royal Oak Offshore features a carbon-fiber case, ceramic bezel and titanium fixtures. Its face includes red luminous hands and markers, hiding the Calibre 3126/3840 automatic 59-jewel movement and affixed to the wrist with a sporty rubber strap. Only 500 examples will be made, launched during this month’s Japanese Grand Prix and available exclusively at Audemars Pigeut’s Tokyo boutique before being offered in other markets.
Piaget luxury watches and jewelry finds a new home for one of its uncommon boutique stores on Bond Street in London. “Go to luxury shopping streets” around the world are filling up with not just watch stores, but brand boutique watch stores (as opposed to multi-brand stores). Richemont Group, who is the parent company of Piaget, is responsible for the majority of these locations in what can be seen as part of a new marketing and sales strategy. For consumers, it helps showcase the brands as a destination versus just one product out of many in a store.
The Piaget boutique on Bond street for example is able to tell the whole story of the brand’s current collection – which ranges from sophisticated to sporty men’s pieces, as well as extremely artistic high-end jewelry watches for women. From a distribution perspective, such boutiques serve another potential purpose. As Richemont gears up more brands for online sales, boutique stores double as fulfillment centers for shipping product. This way, Piaget has a local distribution center for online sales made in the UK. This would not be possible or as simple with the traditional model that includes selling product to independent third-party retailers. As far as I know, Piaget is not yet a brand that is available for sale online, but given the direction sister Richemont brands are taking – it could very well be a reality sooner than later.
One of Japan’s best kept horological secrets – Grand Seiko – will very soon be available world wide. For years (and years) watch lovers longingly looked to Japan at the prestigious high-end Grand Seiko timepieces that were available exclusively in that domestic market. Grand Seiko has been around for 50 years, and this month will officially be available around the world. Until now, only a few places like Hong Kong (I believe) were able to sell Grand Seiko timepieces.
Seiko announced that Grand Seiko would be available world wide last March, but didn’t disclose any specific schedule. News has just been released that this month Seiko will offer the entire Grand Seiko collection (with the likely exclusion of a few special models) to 20 new markets around the world – including in North America, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Oceania.
Grand Seiko watches are hand-made in Japan by highly skilled watch makers – probably the very best in the country. I personally visited these manufactures and wrote about them here. Most watch lovers agree that Seiko has ‘gold’ with Grand Seiko. The collection includes timepieces of three varieties based on the movement. One collection has quartz movements, another has purely mechanical movements, and the third collection contains Seiko’s now famous Spring Drive movements (that is a beautiful combo of mechanical watches with high accuracy quartz regulation).
A brand new website has been released for Grand Seiko here. The well-done site includes information on all the available models, and clearly describes the many benefits and selling points of Grand Seiko watches (not everyone has someone like me to sit there and passionately explain why they should like these timepieces). I am not alone in my ability to be impressed by these watches. The designs are classic, the quality is superb, and the movements are beloved among collectors. The best part is that compared to their distant Swiss cousins, these watches are a good value. Prices (for mechanical and Spring Drive models) generally seem to be in the $4,400 – $9,700 range. My current favorite model is the Grand Seiko SBGE001 with a GMT Spring Drive movement. When Grand Seiko watches come to a store near you (there is a store locator on the site), I highly recommend you check them out.
Hublot’s new charity spectacle series involves soccer and “giving.” The first such event was held in New York City where members from the UK’s Manchester United team attempted to kick soccer balls into small targets (I wrote about that here). The accuracy of the kicks defined the amount of money Swiss luxury watch brand Hublot was to donate to charity.
As the first event was successful enough, Hublot did it again. This time in Moscow, Russia featuring legendary Argentinean ‘football’ player Diego Maradona. Maradona is a well-known Hublot watch lover, and famously wears a watch on each wrist. Maradona was faced with kicking a soccer ball at 10 targets of various sizes. Each had a dollar amount value, and if Maradona hit all 10 targets, Hublot would donate a full $1,000,000 to the Raisa Gorbacheva Memorial Institute for Children Hematology and Transplantation. Maradona nicknamed the event his “Russian Challenge.”
Wearing his duo of Hublot watches, Maradona aimed for the targets at a distance of 10 meters in front of a public audience. Maradona raised a total of $500,000 for the children’s charity, and hit the smallest of all targets with the ball – which carried a value of $300,000. In celebration of the event and for Russia’s Hublot watch fans – Hublot will also release a limited edition watch to commemorate Maradona’s “Russian Challenge.” It will be known as the Hublot Maradona Gold & Ceramic watch, and will be limited to just 100 pieces. The watch will be in polished red gold with a black ceramic bezel. The dial will be in black, and bear Maradona’s signature in a blue. Look for more details on this limited edition piece soon.
The real winners here are the charities that benefit from events like this designed to offer PR pushes to Hublot, as well as the brand’s fans who enjoy seeing Hublot active in the media.
35 year old star Yankee player Alex Rodriguez (A-Rod) entered a very small club of baseball players over the summer when he hit his 600th home run. That also made him the younger baseball player in history to reach the 600 home run mark. To celebrate this achievement, Hublot – in cooperation withManfredi Jewels – awarded Rodriguez with a limited edition Hublot watch recently. A Rod received a Big Bang King Power Black Magic watch that comes in a 48mm wide ceramic bezeled case. It has a complex split second chronograph movement with a power reserve indicator as well as an exposed column wheel on the dial that is part of the chronograph mechanism. The watch is limited to just 500 pieces and is a luxury timepiece by all accords. See Alex wearing the watch in the image next to that of the timepiece
As an exclusive for watch retailer Tourneau, Bell & Ross has created a new limited edition of 50, Vintage BR 123 watch collection. The 50 watches are based on the newer Vintage BR 123 pieces, but with special colors. The standard cream colored dial is matched to a gray, almost anthracite colored case (likely steel) in a satin finish. The watch is matched to a thick black leather pilot style strap.
Just like the standard Bell & Ross Vintage BR 123 watches are, the cases for this limited edition are 41mm wide (which sit big as they have a small bezel). Inside the watch is a Swiss ETA 2893 automatic movement. Overall this limited edition offers a slightly different character for the new collection which is already impressing a lot of people with their straight forward good looks. Price for the standard Vintage BR 123 timepieces is $2,900 – so I imagine that this Tourneau exclusive collection will be about the same.
In the past we’ve written about the special limited edition watches created by Panerai to celebrate the annual Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge sailing contests. Now one of the nautical timepieces has turned up in a totally different setting: on Sylvester Stallone’s wrist in the new shoot-’em-up action flick The Expendables (above). This isn’t just another example of pricey product placement, however; Stallone is a longtime Panerai fan who’s credited with introducing the brand to the U.S., and the watch, a limited edition Luminor 1950 Regatta Rattrapante 44 mm, is his personal wrist candy. The split-second chronograph is coated in Diamond Like Carbon (DLC) for durability while sailing or fighting bad guys, and only 500 numbered examples were produced.