Born into the family behind the Binda Group watchmaking company, Italian watchmaker Carlo Crocco (b. 1944) decided to leave the dynasty to create his own company called MDM Genève in 1976. He spent the next few years developing his bold debut product: the Hublot watch.
Named for the French word for “porthole,” the Hublot, which debuted at the 1980 Baselworld watch and jewelry trade show, did indeed look like a porthole. What made the watch stand out, however, was its radical “fusion” approach to design — that is, the combination of a complex gold case with a band made from rubber. At the time, most high-end watches featured wristbands crafted from luxury materials, so the humble rubber material was a radical shift from fashion trends.
The rubber wristband wasn’t just made from any old rubber. Crocco reportedly spent $1 million developing the material to create the perfect blend of durability and style. The result was a watch that felt sportier than its competition but had all the technical makings of a luxury timepiece. Crocco’s risk paid off, with A-list clients from Prince Albert of Monaco to Jay-Z strapping Hublots to their wrists (the latter collaborated with the brand to produce two watches in 2013).
In 2004, watchmaker Jean-Claude Biver became CEO of the company, pushing the brand into the 21st century, including through major collaborations with athletes like sprinter Usain Bolt and artists like Shepard Fairey. In 2005, Hublot launched the Big Bang watch, a fresh statement on the brand’s inventive mixing of tradition and technology with options ranging from gold and a tire-tread-like rubber to a sapphire crystal casing. Other models include the Classic Fusion in 2008, which recalls the 1980s design, and the Manufacture Pieces (MP) collection, which features complex movements. The luxury Swiss watch company continues to innovate, all the while staying true to its “art of fusion” roots.
Find a collection of Hublot watches and other jewelry on 1stDibs.