Hublot De­buts Bit­coin Watch

WWD Digital Daily - - Wwd - BY TIF­FANY AP

HONG KONG — Like most lux­ury brands, Hublot has been puz­zling over how best to sell its rar­i­fied goods on­line. Un­like oth­ers, the com­pany took its first steps into the world of e-com­merce by sell­ing a time­piece by only ac­cept­ing Bit­coin.

The Swiss watch­maker worked with dig­i­tal as­set bro­ker­age Oc­tagon Strat­egy Lim­ited to sell the Big Bang Meca-10 P2P watch un­veiled here Tues­day evening. In to­tal, 210 watches were made — a nod to the fixed 21 mil­lion Bit­coins avail­able in the world — although the wait list quickly ex­tended to more than 600 peo­ple. Each cost 3.99175677 Bit­coin, or about $25,000.

“I think it’s a way of try­ing re­ally to be in­no­va­tive in e- com­merce,” Ri­cardo Guadalupe, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Hublot, said at the launch. “Ev­ery­body is talk­ing about e- com­merce [ask­ing] ‘ When will you sell your watches on­line?’ I don’t know yet be­cause just to put a watch on­line, there’s no suc­cess. Be­cause when you put [on­line] the watches you can put ev­ery­where, peo­ple are less happy to buy. But if it’s only on­line [it’s dif­fer­ent]. Thanks to the world of cryp­tocur­rency, we can touch new peo­ple, new types of con­sumers.”

Tony Tao, found­ing part­ner at Neo Global Cap­i­tal, had flown in from Sin­ga­pore for the event and snapped up five of the watches — one for a friend, one for him­self and the oth­ers just “as ex­tra.”

“You be­long to a com­mu­nity once you have the watch,” Tao said.

As to whether that com­mu­nity was de­rived of mainly crypto fans or Hublot devo­tees, Tao, who owns a col­lec­tion of 10 more tra­di­tional watches, said, “A lit­tle bit of both from my point of view. The two brands ac­tu­ally gel pretty well. For other brands [to do Bit­coin], it’s a lit­tle bit too fash­ion or too high-end but Hublot is en­er­getic and has the younger gen­er­a­tion.”

Wayne Trench, ceo of Oc­tagon Strat­egy Ltd., said the ap­petite for lux­ury brands and Bit­coin is grow­ing. Although the watch is a nov­elty now, Trench said he ex­pects more high-end goods to be trans­acted in the cur­rency over time.

“There is a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of peo­ple on a global stage — very, very af­flu­ent peo­ple who hold crypto right now and would ac­tu­ally like to spend dig­i­tal as­sets on lux­ury goods,” Trench said.

“If you’re part of the Gen Y, you don’t like phys­i­cal cash. Most of your wealth sits in Bit­coin or Ether and you’ve got $500 mil­lion worth of Bit­coin — that per­son, that DNA — does not want them to go and con­vert them. [They think], ‘I’ve got Bit­coin, if you want me to buy some­thing, take my Bit­coin.’ For lux­ury re­tail­ers, it ac­tu­ally ex­pands your ad­dress­able mar­ket.”

Dig­i­tal cur­ren­cies cost less to re­tail­ers and pro­vide faster pay­ment set­tling times over credit cards, he pointed out.

“I would be very, very sur­prised if a whole bunch of lux­ury re­tail­ers don’t do it soon,” Trench con­tin­ued. “For those won’t don’t, it won’t kill their busi­ness if they don’t ac­cept it now, ob­vi­ously, but if you con­sider your­self for­ward think­ing, now is an op­por­tu­nity.”

Robert Tay­lor, an­other buyer who had ar­rived from New York for the oc­ca­sion, sub­scribed to that idea.

“I hold Bit­coin so it is a has­sle if I have to change it to cash,” he said. “Ac­cept­ing crypto as a pay­ment, I think they’re just pre­par­ing them­selves for what the fu­ture is.”

The Swiss watch­maker worked with the bro­ker­age OSL, pre­dict­ing that Bit­coin-driven lux­ury pur­chases would grow.

The Hublot Big Bang Meca-10 P2P watch is the first model from the brand to be sold on­lineand can only be pur­chased with Bit­coin.

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