The Hublot Big Bang Referee
Watch & Bullion25 March 2018 | 3 min read
It was only a question of time before Hublot was going to introduce a smartwatch. Tag Heuer gave a taste of what was to come, and both brands being owned by LVMH Hublot followed suite a few years later. We have to ask ourselves then whether Hublot has learned from Tag Heuer about what it takes for a smartwatch in the luxury segment. The Tag Heuer came along with a hefty price tag for what was basically an android connected timepiece with a superior build quality and an interesting deal to switch to a special automatic watch after 2 years.
What does the Hublot offer? Pretty much exactly the same thing, without the option to switch it to a mechanical counterpart, and for $5000. Sure, you do get a 49 mm titanium Hublot for that, but whether fans of the brand will recognise this watch as a real Hublot is another thing.
The name referee stems from the main gimmick driving this watch, namely that it will be worn by the referees in the world cup. This, so Hublot states, was the result of FIFA asking for a watch specifically for referees to keep track of the score. Now sure, you might think that is silly as a referee should be able to keep track of goals anyway and that they are displayed in literally every corner of the pitch on huge displays, but hey, I guess FIFA knows best.
What do you, the customer, get out of this watch? Well, you get a countdown until the world cup, a watch face for each nation, and notifications for before every game and for each goal scored as well as the current score of the games. Whether the notifications can be turned off, or whether this feature will extend to future World Cups, and what happens when multiple games are at the same time, though I do not know.
Now I don’t want to sound too harsh. Sure, some football fans will really dig this watch and its functionality. Sure, referees won’t complain about getting a 5 grand Hublot. And sure, this is a good way for Hublot to tap into younger markets with smaller budgets. But at some point, a watch crosses a line where objectively it’s pricing is just way beyond any value it could present. The Tag Heuer for example only costs $1,500 and I bet you with a little bit of time you could get all the same software features of the Hublot. And the new Apple watch starts at just above $300 and both works and looks better.
At the end of the day, I feel like Hublot missed the mark with this timepiece. I do not think $5000 dollars is too much for a Hublot smartwatch, but it has to have something speaking for it beyond brand name, build quality, and a few software gimmicks.