Watches and Formula 1 – Episode 2 – Ferrari and Hublot
Without a doubt, the biggest name in Formula 1 certainly is Ferrari. It is the only brand still running since the formation of the Official Formula 1 Championship in 1950. The have competed in every single race (except the very first one) and in every single season of the championship, with some of the biggest, most illustrious names behind the wheel. Partner it up with a bold, relatively young Swiss watchmaking brand like Hublot and you have a strong, flamboyant bond! Here is our second installment of Watches and Formula 1, with Ferrari and Hublot.
One way or another, you cannot ignore their part in the success of Formula 1 and I everyone has to acknowledge the pedigree of the brand and it’s racing team – and everything they did for the sport of motor racing. The most important part is to understand just what Ferrari (the car maker) and the Scuderia Ferrari (the racing team) have achieved over the years, and that is A LOT!
One of the very first Ferrari Formula 1 cars, the 1950 Ferrari 275 F1
Before looking at the present partnership between Ferrari and Hublot, it is perhaps best to dig into the history, and try to find out just why this team is such an extremely strong magnet for so many around the world. Going over the history, there are some dark periods in the team’s record books but you cannot ignore 16 Constructors Championships and 15 Driver’s Championships, can you? Or all 224 race victories, 208 pole positions and 233 fastest laps? Or maybe legends like Alain Prost, Gilles Vileneuve, Giuseppe Farina, Alberto Ascari, Juan Manuel Fangio, Niki Lauda, Jacky Ickx, Nigel Mansell and of course Michael Schumacher (#keepfigtingmichael). The list just goes on and on, and I am sure I am forgetting some of your favorite drivers.
Ferrari has also sparked quite a bit of controversy every now and then, being disqualified in a number of races, involved in the ”Spygate” espionage-affair between Ferrari, McLaren and Renault F1 in 2007, and the quite memorable squabbles on and off track with their drivers. Remember Schumacher deliberately crashing into Jacques Villeneuve, or Alain Prost being taken out by Ayrton Senna at the first turn of Suzuka in 1990? I think this all adds to the illustrious, colorful memoires of the Scuderia Ferrari and this no-matter-what mentality is actually quite infectious. It is no secret that just about every professional racing driver, being in Formula 1 or not, wants to drive for the team with the rampant horse on the nose. Even our own Max Verstappen has been linked to the team for a future seat but we all know how that one turned out, don’t we?
No, to really understand the love for Ferrari, you have to LOVE Ferrari. Based in the car valley of the most passionate country in the world (at least the people) surely helps but also a rich and colorful history to back up the big talks does too. Whether it is in building road cars, racing cars, or anything else, Ferrari is always trying to up one on all the other supercar brands out there. A few clunkers here and there along the way, and the occasional Italian enthusiasm surely enriches the brand. It takes a special kind of self-awareness to call your latest Ferrari supercar the LaFerrari.
Well, back to the matter at hand. In Formula 1, the Scuderia Ferrari has always allured the biggest names in the business and, through the help of very illustrious ones, the car manufacturer and racing car builder has been able to surge over the years and attract just about everyone in one way or another. One of these partnerships is the Ross Brawn / Michael Schumacher / Jean Todt connection. During the 1990’s and early 2000’s, these three men are the reason why Ferrari came back to their former glory. The engineering part of Ross Brawn, combined with the legendary Michael Schumacher and the visionary guidance of Jean Todt resurrected the brand from a long period of drought. Even though the team was successful at winning races, it took them 21 years to win a new Championship. Before Michael Schumacher’s first in 2000, Jody Schekter was the last driver to clinch the title in 1979. And just considering they have had at least one win in every season from 1994 onto 2013 must convince you that the Tifosi must have got something right.
So how does Hublot fit into that? After we’ve learned that Rolex took over from Hublot as official watchmaker for the Formula 1 Championship, there would be only one logical team to partner up with on the grid. There are some great names still present besides Ferrari (McLaren, Williams, Renault) but none match the luxurious, sometimes a bit too Italian, but always striving for more attitude that Ferrari does, if you ask me. It also allows for an impressive platform to build both brands and bring clientele from both worlds together – generating sales out of that. People that can afford a Ferrari, even though it’s an “entry-level” Ferrari 488, could also afford a (matching) Hublot watch.
Hublot has been in business since 1980 and has been an exemplary story of building a brand, growing it into a global phenomenon. Carlo Crocco, the founder of the brand, failed into attracting any potential customer at their first Baselworld attendance but eventually ended up selling roughly 2 million CHF of them by the end of the first year alone. This very first Hublot, the name being derived from the shape of the case and not yet the name of the brand, featured the world’s first natural rubber watchstrap. Quickly after the initial success, Hublot was founded as a brand itself.
Entering the 2000’s, Carlo Crocco became too busy to fully focus on Hublot and make it grow into a global marketing success it is today. The Biver-era followed, as in 2004 Carlo Crocco stepped out of Hublot and handed over the lead of the company to Jean-Claude Biver. Setting out to create a new flagship line of watches, the Big Bang was unveiled at the 2005 Baselworld fair. The rest should really be history to you, but sales skyrocketed from 24 million CHF in 2004 to close to 100 million CHF in 2006. After the initial surge in sales from the first Big Bang collections, many variations were introduced including branded watches for Jet Li, Diego Maradonna, Ayrton Senna, Manchester United, Ajax Amsterdam, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, UEFA Euro 2008 championship, FIFA World Cup 2010 & 2014 and so on. All of this lead to a global brand awareness, reaching beyond the people who can actually afford them, down to the average Joe around the corner who saw their biggest idol in a wide range of sports or events wearing a Hublot while claiming victory or scampering across a red carpet.
The partnership with Ferrari came about when Rolex took over as official watchmaker for Formula 1 in January of 2013 as I mentioned before, ending a bond that was initiated in 2010. Already being an official partner with Ferrari (the car manufacturer) since January 2012, the break as official watchmaker to Formula 1 also created the opportunity to partner with Scuderia Ferrari as official sponsor for the 2013 season onwards. This created the ideal platform for both brands to start working together, which resulted in an array of watches, some more attractive than others but always combining the cars with watches. A clear example of this is the Hublot Big Bang Ferrari Speciale Unico Ceramic we showed you last year. Inspired by the Ferrari 458 Speciale in design, it featured a ceramic case, honeycomb dial and the in-house Unico Chronograph movement (the the photo above).
Over the years, both brands share a history of innovative, creative engineering at the forefront of their respective industries. One of the earliest fruitions of the collaboration was the Hublot Big Bang Ferrari Magic Gold, which featured a case of scratch-resistant gold. This unique alloy, developed by Hublot mixes ceramic powder, boron carbide, with 24k gold to achieve a gold case that measures 1,000 points on the Vickers scale of hardness. Normal 18k gold only comes up to 140 Vickers and the usual 316L steel many manufacturers use measures between 200 and 240 on the Vickers scale.
One of the most impressive collaborations, in name at least, is the Hublot MP-05 LaFerrrari watch collection, currently comprised of three models. There is a titanium version, a black version and a full sapphire version. The design of the watch is vastly different from any Big Bang or Classic Fusion we’ve seen so far, but it still is as Hublot as you’ve might have guessed. It’s bold, big, impressive, somewhat difficult to wear but an attention seeker nonetheless. The reason for it’s unusual design and timing display is the choice of engine. And I say engine instead of movement as it is displayed as a car engine, especially in the full sapphire one.
The HUB9005 manufacture movement features no less than 11 series-coupled barrels combining to a power reserve of 50 days (or 1,200 hours!), setting a record in the industry. The manually wound movement also features a vertical suspended tourbillon escapement at the “traditional” 6 o’clock position (mind you, there is nothing traditional about this watch!) which is visible through a sapphire display. With a bit of imagination, the centrally aligned barrels almost look like the intake manifold of a Ferrari V12 engine, like the one on the impressive LaFerrari.
Time and power reserve is indicated through multiple rollers on the left (power) and right side (hours and minutes) of the movement, with the small seconds displayed on the edge of the vertical tourbillon at the bottom when checking the time. Hublot wisely provides a little power-tool to wind this thing, as it would probably bore you to death if you had to wind that much power into a movement by hand. The power tool provided can be inserted into the top of the case, and resembles a wheelgun from an F1 pitcrew, how cool is that?
So, coming to a conclusion, would you say that Ferrari and Hublot would be the perfect partners for each other? I think they truly are. Just by looking at the somewhat disappointing watches that have seen the light of day in previous collaborations between Ferrari and watch-brands, I strongly feel the look and feel both brands are trying to omit complement one another. Even if you are not the biggest fan, the similarities between the two are obvious and both basically cater to the same crowd of people (yes I know, not every Ferrari owner will also own a Hublot and vice versa but you get the point). Some combinations just look silly, or out of place, but partnering up these two powerhouses of their respective industries is a good thing, even though one of them might not float your boat.
Opening photos – source: web – credits to its owner