Brand Histories

Carlo Crocco
Hublot defied every convention in 1980, when Carlo Crocco created the gold Hublot watch with the first natural black rubber bracelet in the history of watch making. It has now become the inspiration for a watch making style famous everywhere.

Its creator, Carlo Crocco, acquired his sense of beauty as a child, growing up in an Italian family of watchmakers. By 1967, he had designed his first watch. In 1980, he set up his own company, MDM Geneva, and sought to produce a watch that would transcend fashion, with an elegant, sporting design that would make it sought after worldwide.

With pure lines, and enormous respect for his chosen materials, he developed an elegant yet sporting watch to wear on any occasion, yet refused to follow the dictates of fashion,. His guiding principle was simplicity, and his look was modelled on a ship’s porthole. Twelve tiny titanium screws secure the lunette to the case, and mark the hours, in a meeting of form and function.

In the mid-90s, rubber captured the interest of renowned watch making brands, as the creations of the time show. This confirmed the validity of the choices that had led to the creation of Hublot watches, and reinforced their status as great classics. For Hublot, rubber wasn’t a fashion phenomenon; it ideally represented a philosophy, a life style and the brand image from day one.

Three years of research were required to produce the unique bracelet and reveal the exceptional properties of a natural rubber that appears to regenerate on daily contact with the skin. When the two strands that make up the bracelet are strapped to the wrist of the customer who has just bought a Hublot watch, they instantly adapt to the wrist, for a unique impression of lightness and comfort. The technology proved to be so successful that the rubber bracelet is still the only one used on every Hublot watch, and remains the only possible choice for the future.
The splendid porthole-shaped case, with its combination of brushed and polished metal, as well as the minimalist black dial, perfectly set off the inimitable Hublot black natural rubber bracelet. The dazzling impression of this timepiece is reinforced by the simultaneous presentation of a covering mount that highlights the image of the porthole.

Royalty, followed by an increasing number of celebrities worldwide, quickly showed appreciation for the Hublot. Carlo Crocco had taken an enormous risk, but within a few short years, Hublot watches entered the exclusive and prestigious circle of great watch brands.

Hublot started one of the last independent family watch making businesses with a unique, mono-product concept, that gave him the total creative freedom required to preserve its personality and expand the range across a spread of collections, some of which include sporting complications. The Hublot’s master craftsmen and their meticulous attention to detail enabled the production of the Limited Series collections, with a wide range of dials in chased enamel and bas-reliefs, or with covers superbly engraved, inset or enamelled, using the most talented artists in each speciality, and making it possible to produce the made-to-measure pieces that now enrich the « Hublot Art Collection ».


Kept busy by his creative work and multiple activities for the Foundation MDM to help the world’s underprivileged children, Carlo Crocco sought the right man to direct his watchmaking house.

Jean-Claude Biver is one of the rare few to have made his mark on Swiss watch making. He was born in Luxembourg on September 20th 1949, and his family moved to Switzerland when he was 10. He was educated at the Saint-Prex school, pursued further studies at the Collège de Morges and University of Lausanne, and arrived at Brassus with a newly acquired HEC diploma.
The Vallée de Joux, cradle of complicated watch making, would mark him for life. He moved in straight away, and set up home near a farm that, years later would become Blancpain’s head office. He was married in the valley in 1979.

Jean-Claude Biver set himself to learning all he could after joining Audemars Piguet in 1975, followed by a period at Omega in Bienne, until 1981. That year, with his friend, Jacques Piguet, he bought up the Blancpain business, which until then had long been out of production. The two partners decided to save the brand’s identity by returning to the origins and traditions of watch making at a time when quartz was king. From this intuition was born the Blancpain concept. However success didn’t come easily. That year, watch making was going through a period of crisis. " It’s only when everything goes badly that everyone is interested in the birth of something new, and Blancpain became the object of an extraordinary attention ", remembers Jean-Claude Biver. Ten years after its creation, the company was fully and very successfully launched. Despite this, the two associates decided to sell, to protect the business and enable smooth development. Nicolas Hayek and the Swatch Group bought up Blancpain in 1992.

Jean-CLaude Biver
Jean-Claude Biver stayed on as boss, while also becoming member of the Swatch Group Directors’ Committee until the end of 2003, intending then to take a sabbatical year to rest and recharge his batteries.

Carlo Crocco, who knew Jean Claude Biver’s track record well, saw that he was the man for the job. So instead of the year off he had envisaged, on Wednesday May 2nd 2004, Biver took on the post of CEO and board member of Hublot, full of projects for the house’s future development, including the launch of the Fusion, illustrating Hublot’s new guiding principle. In 1980, the unexpected marriage of gold and rubber gave birth to a unique watch, the Hublot. Twenty five years later, the brand reinterpreted its DNA by going back to first principles: Fusion through the traditional art of watch making, bringing together unexpected materials such as gold and ceramics, Kevlar, pink gold or tantalum, and rubber– and the fusion of movements marrying Swiss traditions with the XXI century art of watch making - while retaining the unique, timeless Hublot feeling for watch design.

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