Earlier in June of this year, Hublot launched what was the watch industry’s first digital boutique. Therein it was just a matter of time before the brand was going to take a dip into the realm of e-commerce. But, ever the innovator, Hublot was never going to simply launch another online shopping platform.
So the first thing that Hublot did, before putting a foot into the e-retail space, is that it sought out the partnership of Hong Kong based, Octagon Strategy Limited (OSL), Asia’s largest digital brokerage. Why a digital brokerage? The idea was that in creating an online shopping experience, Hublot didn’t only want to create a retail platform on the web, it wanted to do so with the currency of the web: cryptocurrency. And in doing so, Hublot positioned itself to step into e-retail with both feet.
“The idea came from our team here in Hong Kong, who proposed this partnership with OSL,” says Ricardo Guadalupe, CEO of Hublot. “I thought that the idea was interesting. It allowed us the opportunity to have a Hublot watch sold online, not just like every other watch brand with an e-retail avenue, but to offer it for purchase using bitcoin. We took a risk to go into this project and even created a special watch commemorating the ten years of the bitcoin.”
Now the reason why Mr Guadalupe would refer to the project as a risk, is because you have to remember that where Hublot has the reputation for being one of the better known and respected Swiss watch brands, bitcoins — and cryptocurrency in general — has a reputation of being the choice currency for shady internet transactions. But maybe that’s just a case of people being weary of what they don’t fully understand. Pair that fear with a USD 25,000 luxury timepiece and you have the perfect recipe for a DOA venture.
Stating his case, and curbing fears on the ground, Dave Chapman, Chairman and Co-founder of OSL shared with Revolution saying, “We saw Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley clear bitcoin futures on the CME and Cboe last November. That was a pretty bad day for the bit naysayers. And now we’re seeing more and more traditional financial institutions enter the space. Fidelity, two weeks ago, one of the world’s largest asset managers, came into play. Nothing gives more acknowledgement, confirmation, legitimacy and credibility than when you get these massive financial players get involved.”
Okay, but that’s squarely in the realm of financial institutions that are more than accustomed to wheeling and dealing with complicated financial tools. What about the luxury consumer? Is there such an individual who would buy luxury goods off the web using cryptocurrency? Well, if Hublot is to be taken as a case study then such an individual does exist.
“We see that our first approach to e-commerce has been very successful. Because since the pre-launch the watch has been oversubscribed,” says Guadalupe. “People have shown great interest in the watch and the way we are availing it. This despite the fact that in the pre-order phase, we hadn’t even shown the watch yet.”
Adding to this, Wayne Trench, CEO of OSL says, “For Hublot, it’s a number of firsts: it’s their first foray into e-commerce and they skipped fear and went straight to cryptocurrency. The delivery mechanism is a first for the watchmaker as well. For OSL, it’s the first big luxury brand that’s collaborated with us, where we’ve taken part in such an exercise.
“It’s great for both sides of the partnership because the watch has been oversubscribed to, many times over. We’ve proven that there is demand for luxury items from people within the cryptocurrency community and people who are willing to transact in bitcoin.”
Successful launch aside, where does Hublot’s e-commerce effort go from here? To that, Trench shared saying, “Hublot is announcing today that the brand will be accepting cryptocurrency at its retail outlets — initially in Hong Kong but then on a global basis — and in their global e-retail site [soon to come].”
The watch in question — that launched this entire project — is a limited-edition version of the Big Bang Meca-10. Rendered in a microblasted and polished black ceramic case and bezel, with the unique identification number of the transaction made via bitcoin, etched on the bezel’s edge.
Oversubscribed as it may be, only 210 pieces of the watch will be issued, a nod to the 21 million bitcoins that will ever exist and that 2018 is the 10th year since the cryptocurrency was invented by the mysterious, Satoshi Nakamoto.
Price for the watch has been set as USD 25,000 (for the benefit of the layman). But because interested buyers are only allowed to buy the watch using bitcoins, the rate being offered is 6,262.906652 USD/BTC (spot rate provided by Gemini Trust Company, LLC published on the page bitcoinity.org/markets/Gemini/USD as at 31 October 2018, 12:00 PM GMT+ 8).
For more information, check out hublot.com/blockchain-presale