Hublot Fires Latest Salvo In Contentious Chinese Watch Market, Appoints Jet Li First Asian Brand Ambassador

Swiss Luxury Watch Brand Appoints Jet Li Brand Ambassador

Jet Li at the grand opening of Hublot's new Beijing flagship (Image: PR)

Jet Li at the grand opening of Hublot's new Beijing flagship (Image: PR)

The Swiss brand Hublot upped the ante in the battle for the Chinese luxury watch market this week, opening its first flagship store in Beijing and appointing martial arts superstar Jet Li its newest China brand ambassador. Regular Jing Daily readers will remember that TAG Heuer recently roped in the Chinese film legend Chen Daoming as its ambassador, and also opened its largest flagship to date on Shanghai’s Nanjing Road West. With Chinese tourist-shoppers flooding Hong Kong, and many of them returning with bags filled with high-end watches — generally destined for friends, family, or “business partners” — it’s not terribly surprising that watch companies are looking to associate a familiar face with their products and set themselves apart in such a crowded market.

Although Montblanc and Omega recently jetted their brand ambassadors — Nicolas Cage and Nicole Kidman, respectively — in to China for lavish events, Chinese (technically Singaporean, in Jet Li’s case) stars are being appointed to do the job at an ever-increasing rate.

Hublot’s Beijing flagship (its third, and largest, location in China) is located at Oriental Plaza, previously featured in Jing Daily’s list of “Must-Know Malls in Mainland China,” one of the city’s oldest — yet most popular — high-end malls. The store design follows Hublot’s “Art of Fusion” aesthetic, with steel, carbon fiber and aluminum accents offset by wood, leather, rubber and glass. According to HH Magazine, at the store opening, Jean-Claude Biver, CEO of Hublot, said: “Each opening reflects the great vitality and fantastic expansion of Hublot, with every month seeing the inauguration of new exclusive locations in the most prestigious settings around the world. Totaling 30 boutiques by the end of this year, including Paris Place Vendôme and New York on Madison Avenue, Hublot has never been so strong and successful as it is today”.

Remarking on his appointment as Hublot’s first Asian brand ambassador, Jet Li said he hopes his new role will benefit his non-profit One Foundation (which he formed in 2006) in its mission of developing China’s social sector. “As Hublot seeks to extend its brand and support of social causes to China, I hope we can find ways to partner with One Foundation to help even more people,” Li said. “In sharing these common humanitarian values, I am honored to become Hublot’s first Asian ambassador.”

Although the one-two punch of a new Beijing flagship and Jet Li is impressive, Hublot will have its work cut out in the China market. As noted earlier, Hong Kong — rather than Beijing or Shanghai — is the epicenter of luxury watch buying in China, and despite new, stricter border measures aimed at taxing Hong Kong luxury purchases, this is likely to continue. To combat this reality, and perhaps plan for a future in which China reduces its luxury tax, Hublot recently announced that it plans to build 15 new boutiques in China over the next three years. With existing boutiques in Shanghai, Dalian and now Beijing, the company would probably be wise to look inland for its future growth.

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Watches & Jewelry