The Luxury Beat: Hublot’s Jean-Francois Sberro Talks Time

Jean-Francois Sberro, the president of Hublot North America, is a long time expert in the watch industry. Having spent the entirety of his career working with luxury timepieces, first starting out at TAG Heuer in 2004 and later joining Hublot in 2009, Sberro has learned all aspects of the business, working closely with mentors Jean-Claude Biver, head of LVMH Watch Division, and Hublot Global CEO Ricardo Guadalupe. In 2012, Sberro relocated to the Hublot North America subsidiary, first as the Finance and Operations director, and later taking over the whole subsidiary in 2014, now focusing his efforts on the growing North American market. With the United States ranked as the most crucial country for the prestigious luxury brand in terms of sales, Sberro has an important perspective on the unique watch market in the U.S., and particularly one of its biggest markets—Miami. Here, the expert discusses trends in the watch industry, newly released timepieces, the digital market and what makes Miami unique.
How is the Miami market unique in terms of the luxury-timepiece world?
JS: Miami is and always has been one of the strongest markets for Hublot in the United States, so we tend to give special care to the Magic City when it comes to product. We have a truly unique experience in Miami due to the presence of two corporate stores, one in Bal Harbour as well as the one in the Miami Design District, which is very special as it is solely dedicated to limited-edition-only timepieces.
Classic Fusion Aerofusion Concrete Jungle timepiece, launched in partnership with street artist Tristan Eaton.
In a competitive luxury-timepiece market, how do you keep your brand relevant?
JS: Hublot offers prime retail locations with exclusive collections for Miami clients, who play a key role in the exclusive network the brand has developed there. The proximity we have to our clients allows us to engage them in a bevy of the brand’s fresh and exciting activations, collaborations and launches that are hosted in various new and established venues in and around the city.
Is there a latest introduction during the SIHH and Baselworld that you have high hopes for in the Miami market?
JS: Some of this year’s latest releases at Baselworld 2017, the Big Bang Sapphire watches in red and blue sapphire crystals, mesh very well with the flashy and fun aesthetic that performs extremely well in Miami.
How does Hublot utilize digital marketing?
JS: The brand engages in both classic advertising in the digital space, as well as geo-targeted campaigns to better market partnerships and pieces within particular regions. Hublot is very active on social media and currently has among the highest user-engagement on Instagram of any fine watchmaker.
Big Bang Sapphire watch in red, just released at Baselworld 2017
As more access is available to consumers via social media and online, do you find that this is affecting how educated the consumer is when they come to buy a timepiece?
JS: Absolutely—customers are far more knowledgeable of every model released in terms of both technical and material specificities, as well as pricing. Thanks to social and digital engagement, we are seeing a savvier customer with a strong preconception of the brand before they enter a retail space.
What Hublot timepiece do you like to wear most?
JS: I enjoy wearing the watch released in partnership with street artist Tristan Eaton in New York City last year called the Classic Fusion Aerofusion “Concrete Jungle.” The watch is beautiful to look at, showcasing a piece of Tristan’s artwork on the caseback, but it also features an interesting aspect that is unique to Hublot and a first for the watch industry: the usage of real, concrete elements in its bezel. It is the perfect illustration of Hublot’s motto: “The Art of Fusion.”
When you’re in Miami, where is your favorite place for a power lunch?
JS: Zuma, located in Downtown Miami, is great for a power lunch because it’s an internationally recognized restaurant that boasts an
excellent Japanese menu in a visually stunning space