There is perhaps no better place in the world to hold a party than Miami Beach. And Swiss watchmaker Hublot knows just that. A longtime patron of the worlds of art and football, Hublot in its signature style fused these two spheres united by their shared values of play, creativity and dreams in a days-long celebration that Prestige Singapore was invited to in early December.
To a glorious backdrop of blue skies, swaying palms and colourful streets, Hublot made its presence felt through a host of events and experiences during the period of Miami Art Week that saw a fascinating intersection of personalities and projects.
A memorable highlight of this press trip was an eye-opening visit to Art Basel Miami Beach, a post-pandemic milestone event at the Miami Beach Convention Center with the global fair’s largest show to date. Marking its 20th anniversary, it played host to 282 premier galleries including 25 first-time participants, and showcased a cultural programme across the city’s world-class institutions and private collections.
One of the stops within the exhibition was at the Ruinart Art Beach Lounge, where we rubbed shoulders with Jeppe Hein. The bubbly Danish artist introduced us to the limited-edition Jeroboam box he designed for Ruinart Rosé, explained the concept behind his installation Right Here, Right Now, and encouraged us to partake in his art via an experiential activity that had us feeling the texture of chalk and smelling the uplifting scent of chardonnay flowers, before we scribbled our thoughts onto his installation.
Another fascinating experience was a meet-and-greet with sculptor and Neo-Pop visual artist Richard Orlinski, who has collaborated with Hublot since 2017. The Frenchman, who is responsible for the Hublot Classic Fusion Orlinski Bracelet line launched earlier this year at Watches and Wonders, has just opened Galeries Orlinski on Lincoln Road in South Beach.
Beyond marvelling at the bold, facetted sculptures in his gallery (how I adore them), we took a walk with him down the promenade of the open-air Lincoln Road Mall to take in his large-scale creations on display in public. The iconic Wild Kong, Shark, Panda, Standing Bear, Lion and Howling Wolf – all the vibrant creations looked nothing short of magnificent contrasted against the tropical greenery and a stark blue sky.
These experiences were part of the longstanding Hublot Loves Art campaign, with 2022 being the 11th consecutive year where Hublot held its legendary activations in Miami. Over the years, other artists who have pushed the frontier of the city’s art scene with Hublot included Shepard Fairey, Maxime Plescia-Buchi and Samuel Ross.
However, the main event we were in Miami for this time was a truly special one. This was the first time Hublot, renowned for what it calls the Art of Fusion, was combining the universes of art and football. While the brand is a visionary in creative collaborations, it has outdone itself this edition through a partnership with London-based fashion designer and artist Mira Mikati.
Mira for Miami
Mikati, who is well-known for her eclectic and colourful aesthetics, brought to life Hublot’s philosophy of “First, Unique and Different” in more ways than one. And what a blast it was.
An evening poolside party themed Hublot Loves Football at W South Beach was transformed into a playground of cool and colours. The interiors of the hotel’s Grove space was adorned with Mikati’s joyful designs and installations, along with an exhibition of 15 of her custom-designed footballs imagined with Hublot’s football legends: Women’s FIFA World Cup champion Alex Morgan, Pelé, Kylian Mbappé, Laure Boulleau, Marcel Desailly, Didier Deschamps, Luis Figo, Ada Hegerberg, Roberto Martinez, José Mourinho, Alexia Putellas, Hervé Renard, Xherdan Shaqiri, Gareth Southgate, David Trezeguet.
Turning up in full force were not just international media and VIPs, but American glitterati from fields as diverse as golf, entertainment and fashion but united in their love for what Hublot stands for. Many of Hublot’s impressive artist alumni were also present to toast to the brand, including British fashion designer and artist Samuel Ross, who won the Hublot Design Prize in 2019.
Also spotted in the crowed were US golf pro Dustin Johnson, models Devon Windsor and Halima Aden, and actor Quincy. All night long, guests were dancing to the beats of Canadian deejay and recording artist BLOND:ISH, while a performance by music producer Alissia on her signature bass guitar was positively electric.
Hublot also commissioned Mira Mikati to design an exclusive set of limited-edition technicolour bracelets, custom-made for the Big Bang e FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 watch. The bracelets echo the dream footballs imagined by friends and ambassadors of Hublot, featuring playful stars and rays of light, and the Hublot Loves Football logo designed exclusively for the campaign by Mikati.
Post-party, the collaboration between Hublot and Mira Mikati lives on at the Hublot Miami Design District Boutique, where the façade and surrounding Palm Court area are adorned with imaginative decor, and the 15 custom-designed footballs and their unique stories are featured.
Celebrating art and sport in a unique and different way is the vision behind this Miami project, says Hublot CEO Ricardo Guadalupe. “We wanted to show how football and art can connect people, and bring to light dreams and hopes of people around the world. Hublot has been celebrating art in Miami for over 10 years now, and this edition is very special because it is the first time that our two worlds are brought together. This is the art of fusion,” he says.
Guests at the party would have already been privy to two of Hublot’s latest limited-edition releases on display: the MP-09 Tourbillon Bi-Axis 5-Day Power Reserve Rainbow and the Big Bang e FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. Just like how the watchmaker is a pioneer in fusing tradition and craftsmanship with innovation (it invented the rubber strap to pair with a gold sports watch in 1980, when the brand came into being), these models are the very representation of high watchmaking’s intersection with art and football.
Art Of The Highest Order
Freshly unveiled at Art Basel Miami Beach, the Hublot MP-09 Tourbillon Bi-Axis 5-Day Power Reserve Rainbow is a showcase of cutting-edge technology from the brand’s Nyon manufacture and proprietary R&B department. Entirely designed in-house, it takes the rainbow design and thrusts it into the 21st century through a complete reinvention of the concept, method, tools, materials, and all the associated colour ranges.
Reproducing the rainbow effect of coloured gemstones on the case surface using carbon and composites, this watch achieves through high-tech material what was historically made possible by the natural variation of diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds.
Thanks to its powerful watchmaking and industrial machinery, and the ingenuity of its researchers, Hublot was able to overcome considerable manufacturing complexities one after the other. On the MP-09, hundreds of tiny inserts in different shades had to be created one by one. The case is also braided from thin bars of carbon, bars of coloured composite and a carbon mesh across all three dimensions – length, width and height – to ensure the same thickness.
The eye spontaneously combines all the coloured elements to recreate a harmonious gradation, almost akin to an optical illusion. In reality, Hublot had to develop a complete prism of infinite shades to recreate the brilliance of gemstones – a first in watchmaking. Another challenge was to position each composite in the right place so that the incredible amount of work would disappear and appear seamless.
The surface of this showpiece, which is limited to eight pieces only, is entirely smooth and polished to the touch. Each insert is imperceptibly cropped with carbon, and polished and adjusted to the nearest micron. Never before has a watch boasted as many shades of coloured composite as this model.
The movement is the exceptional calibre HUB9009.H1.RA.B with manual winding and a five-day power reserve. Its bi-axial tourbillon makes one complete rotation per minute for the first axis, and a second rotation every 30 seconds for the second one. This hypnotic unique double-rotation engineering has guided the design of the case with curved sides, which displays the tourbillon at 6 o’clock within a new, multi-hued architecture.
The Future of Watchmaking
Meanwhile, in the world of football, Hublot was the first luxury brand to align with the world’s game, and the US’s fastest growing sport. In 2008, Hublot’s then-CEO Jean-Claude Biver signed a brand sponsorship with Manchester United and also established itself as the Official Timekeeper of the UEFA Euro.
Some 14 years into this love affair with football, Hublot has continued this year, for the fourth consecutive time, as the Official Timekeeper and Official Watch of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, where the brand is timing all 64 games, equipped 129 official referees with the new Big Bang e FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, and integrated a “timeline” function into this Gen3 connected watch to take fans right into the heart of the action.
Made in a 1000-piece edition, this high-performing watch with a high-definition screen counted down the days to the tournament, and delivers team line-ups and player profiles 15min prior to every match. Upon kick-off, it automatically enters “match mode” and activates the “timeline” feature that indicates the first and second halves, additional time allowed in each half, half time, animations for goals scored, and symbols for goals, yellow or red cards, and penalties.
The display also automatically switches into extra time mode, and then again into penalty shootout mode. A final “match period animation” would play when a game was over, announcing the final score. Wearers are able to replay these events at any time during the game by scrolling the dial using the watch’s crown. After five seconds of inactivity, the watch would automatically switch into low-consumption mode to save battery.
Highly legible, ergonomic and interactive, the Big Bang e FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 comes in a 44mm case in micro-blasted and polished black ceramic and black titanium. In place of Hublot’s state-of-the-art watchmaking mechanics is a Qualcomm Snapdragon WearTM 4100 processor powered with the latest version of Wear OS by GoogleTM (Wear OS 3). While a dedicated app offers the wearer a seamless match experience, the watch also comes with a full suite of useful, pre-loaded apps for daily life, as well as Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity to a wide range of devices and accessories. Its impressive hardware specifications include an accelerometer, gyroscope, microphone, speaker, GPS and heart-rate monitor.
Android- and iOS-compatible and water-resistant to 30m, it promises all-day battery life and a two-hour charge from empty to full. The personalisable model boasts dozens of dial options, with the official version bearing a burgundy dial and a black and burgundy rubber strap inspired by the flag colours of Qatar. Even when the excitement of the tournament is long over, wearers can still relive fond memories by switching between dial and strap designs in the colours of each of the 32 participating countries.