May 23, 2016
HUBLOT’S NEW FACILITY FOCUSES ON RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT, CASE MAKING AND MAGIC GOLD PRODUCTION.
With the new manufacturing facility in operation, Biver, who is president of Hublot and of the Watch Division of LVMH, expects Hublot in 2016 to produce 22,000 of its in-house Unico chronograph movements and more than 700 tourbillons.
For any manufacturer, these are impressive figures, and there is much more, he adds.
“Our manufacture also includes a metallurgy department where we make our own gold cases,” he notes. Hublot Magic Gold is an 18-karat patented alloy that cannot be scratched, he explains, and this year the company is finally shipping models encased in the high-tech precious metal.
“The purpose of this new manufacture is to enable us to produce more in-house pieces, to create new specialties. The innovation depends very much on the ability of the production facility. If you own a metallurgy department you can start to develop new materials,” says Biver. “If you do not own a metallurgy department, how can you develop new materials?”
Working with Magic Gold, he notes, is difficult, and delays in recent years were the result of a time-consuming case-cutting procedure that needed to be overhauled.
After attempting to cut Magic Gold cases using diamonds, Hublot – with assistance from a start-up metal machining company – discovered a better method that didn’t require replacing the tooling so often: water-borne laser milling.
Biver says Hublot has purchased twelve laser-cutting machines. In 2016 he expects Hublot to deliver a full complement of watches cased in Magic Gold. He expects to ramp production up to ship about 2,000 watches cased in Magic Gold per month. The gold itself is tinted slightly green, he explains, because Hublot wanted to identify its new 18-karat gold alloy with a “high-tech” color, or green gold.
HUBLOT’S NEW FACILITY FOCUSES ON RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT, CASE MAKING AND MAGIC GOLD PRODUCTION
He adds that Hublot 2 will also house expanded case manufacturing that now includes developing carbon and ceramic cases and is developing new scratch-proof aluminum, silver and even platinum alloys.
“When we have visitors to our Nyon facility they are always amazed at how much production is happening there,” says Biver.
“It’s true that Hublot is often seen as a trendy brand with many sporty ambassadors, but that doesn’t give justice to the amount of manufacturing we do. We are now focusing our message on our true substance, on our legitimacy as a manufacturer.”
Hublot chose to open its Hublot 2 manufacturing facility with a star-studded celebration that featured many Swiss traditions. Cows, cheese and the melo- dies of alpenhorns mingled with more than 300 guests as Hublot CEO Ricardo Guadalupe and Biver opened the doors to the new manufacturing building situated next door to the firm’s original space in Nyon, Switzerland.
On hand to witness the event were Hublot ambassadors Bar Refaeli, soccer legend Pelé and the über-stylish entrepreneur and Fiat heir Lapo Elkann.
As the doors to the new manufacture opened, Biver enthusiastically addressed the crowd.
“This is the magic of our watchmakers, they are the artisans, they give birth to the soul of the watch and that is why people are addicted to Hublot,” he quipped. “Do not buy one. Be careful you will get addicted. You will buy a second one and a third one and then we will have to open another manufacture.”
In a quick six years and following a 20-million-Swiss-franc investment, Hublot has doubled the surface area of its production space by adding 8,000 square meters of surface with this Hublot 2 expansion.
The new manufacture echoes the sleek design of the original building, and both are connected via a Formula One-style bridge that hurdles the railway, as designed by local architectural firm Coreta.
In addition to its enhanced case-making manufacturing, Hublot has added a turning department to expand its in-house production of screws and axles. Carbon fiber components are now brought under the same roof along with the fine finishing area with extra space for diamond setting, decoration and electroplating. In addition, Hublot’s after-sales department and a portion of the administration department have relocated to Hublot 2, allowing the research and development department room to expand.
Hublot is projecting a steady growth in the workforce over the next five years. It plans to add 100 employees in Nyon to a total of more than 400.
Hublot already plans to add another 1,000 square meters at Hublot 2 for its watchmaking school and to use, temporarily, as an event space. Hublot says it will focus its innovation on developing new materials and components that will continue to expanded in-house manufacturing capabilities.
“The ultimate goal is that we sit here in 2025 in the third building,” adds Biver. “That is the responsibility now of the team. Because we have had ten years of such hard work, this building exists. My dream is to sit in the third building in ten years, which means I am alive, I am active and we are successful.”
What’s next? What about transparent metal, Biver asks.
“I have seen this new material,” he said recently in New York. “It isn’t totally
clear, but in ten years I think it might be,” he added. With its expanded manufacturing and case-making capabilities, it’s safe to bet that Hublot will be the first to make a watch with just such a metal case. Magic Metal anyone?