Photo Credit: David Alvarez
Leave it to Hublot Replica, which likes to do things with a big bang, to roll into San Francisco this week to not only open the doors to its new Union Square boutique with golfer extraordinaire Justin Rose, its new brand ambassador, but used the occasion to unveil its Big Bang UNICO Chronograph Retrograde Kobe “Vino” Bryant, created for brand ambassador Kobe Bryant with the NBA superstar himself at an exclusive, private winery in Napa Valley.
This is the second timepiece the brand has produced with the basketball legend, after the success of the King Power Black Mamba Chronograph coinciding with his 2013 ambassadorship announcement. Known as the Big Bang “Vino,” (a nod to Bryant’s nickname “Vino”), the timepiece is the world’s first mechanical watch designed to time basketball.
Photo Credit: Courtesy Hublot
The Big Bang “Vino” is available in Ceramic and King Gold and features a sleek design that reflects Bryant’s personal style off the court. Burgundy embellishments are reflected on the strap, stitching and dial of the timepiece. The Chronograph Retrograde is designed to time the two halves of a basketball game—an innovative concept that Hublot has produced specifically for this timepiece. The dial features a prominent basketball design integrated into a matte burgundy multilayer disc.
On the case back, a green glass in rare earth minerals with an interior anti-reflective treatment carries Bryant’s signature. Available in two versions, 18K King Gold and Black Ceramic, each piece will be delivered with two interchangeable straps – one black rubber and burgundy stitching and one burgundy python with burgundy stitching.
Photo Credit: Courtesy Hublot
“The inspiration was linked, of course, to basketball,” said Hublot CEO Ricardo Guadalupe, who presented Bryant with two watches during an elegant afternoon at the winery on April 29. “We did a chronograph with a retro seconds that you can calculate basketball time, 48 minutes—4×12 minutes—the display of the chronograph is quite different. It never existed before in the watch industry.”
Equal inspiration came from the name itself. Guadalupe said, “We worked on the color—the watch is dark burgundy like the color of wine; on the case back we put green sapphire glass like the bottle; it’s going to come in a box like a case of wine. There are some [other] touches linked to the wine world. I think that’s interesting because Kobe also likes wine. He’s passionate about wine.”
A couple of years ago Bryant began to transition from the Black Mamba to Vino, a nickname a copywriter friend of his came up with because the pal said Bryant kept getting better and better with time. Bryant draws a correlation between creating a watch and winemaking.
“If you look at it, it’s all about a process,” he said, speaking at a press conference at the winery. “In making wine there is a certain process that goes along with it. There’s a certain attention to detail that you have to have—a certain patience that you have to have, which is the same as watchmaking; which is also the same thing as how I’ve built my game—especially now to live up to being Vino there’s a lot of little things that I have to pay attention to. it’s a very patient process.”
The setting couldn’t have been more perfect: a glorious warm and sunny day with vineyards and flowers in the background. The setting connected both to the burgundy-colored watch’s namesake and inspiration, but also the star’s childhood spent in Italy and Hublot’s surrounding Vaudois countryside dotted with wineries. This wasn’t Guadalupe’s first time at the private winery.
“I went there last summer,” he told us. “Kamal [Hotchandani, Haute Living publisher] introduced me to the place, and I said “Wow.” We wanted something very intimate. I said to myself, “That’s the right place to do this event linked between Kobe, the Vino watches and the wine.”
Bryant was equally impressed and told Haute Living, “I’ll be back.”
In addition to receiving his two watches, Bryant was on hand for an “Art of Blending” session and gourmet wine-paired luncheon in the estate’s private dining room.
The two days of festivities kicked off April 28. Rose, fresh off a win at the Zurich Classic and second-place finish at the Masters, arrived to the two-story Hublot boutique at 174 Geary Street in haute style—a flashy red Ferrari FF—and was greeted by Guadalupe. Rose spoke passionately about his love for Hublot and how he was introduced to the Swiss watchmaker.
“In 2012 I was staying at a hotel in Dubai and there’s this beautiful watch in the window,” he recalled. “Every morning on the way to the golf course I walked past this watch. It was a King Power Ceramic. It was beautiful. I was drooling over this watch. I said to myself, ‘If I play well this week I’m going to buy that watch.’ On Sunday I shot a course record 62. i finished second in the tournament to Rory McElroy but it was good enough to deserve the watch. Since that moment, I’ve been a fan of the watches. It’s nice to be onboard officially with (Hublot).”
The sleek, 1,500-square-foot, two-story boutique marks the brand’s 12th freestanding boutique in the U.S. store. Rose and Guadalupe handled the official ribbon cutting honors then Rose, the first professional golfer to partner with the brand, putted a golf ball throgh the entrance as he stood on a small green outside the front doors to commemorate the store’s opening.
Afterward, guests strolled inside, where they sipped Ruinart champagne and nibbled on bites while admiring the watches on display.
“We are thrilled to celebrate these two exciting milestones for our brand – our first store opening in San Francisco with Justin Rose and our latest timepiece with superstar Kobe Bryant,” Guadalupe said. “At Hublot, we strive to be first, be unique and be different, and we work with the best of the best. San Francisco’s diverse culture attracts an eclectic mix of consumers, making this Northern California enclave the perfect location for Hublot. Given its close proximity to San Francisco, Napa is the ideal destination to honor Kobe Bryant, “Vino,” who, like a fine wine, only gets better and more legendary with age. With these launches, Hublot continues to celebrate the Art of Fusion by blending the worlds of luxury, innovation, sports and, now, wine.”