A hunger for creativity drives Ricardo Guadalupe, Managing Director of Hublot at both work and play. Hublot’s gregarious managing director, who was in town to launch the Big Bang Caviar Carat watch and host an exclusive dinner prepared by three-star Michelin Chef Philippe Rochat for guests of The Hour Glass in September, takes time out to chat about his horological sensibilities and gastronomic passion
How did you get involved in the watch business?
I was born in the watchmaking region of Neuchatel. My father was an engineer who worked on atomic clocks for the meteorological centre. You can say that horology is in my blood. I joined the watch industry right after my studies. My first job was with Bulgari as the company’s product manager. At that time, they were just starting their watch division in Neuchatel, so it was a pretty exciting start.
Hublot CEO Mr Jean-Claude Biver calls you his ‘right-hand man’. How did you guys meet?
I met Mr Biver in the early 1990s at the BaselWorld fair through a mutual supplier, a case maker. I recall we had good vibes about each other. He was kick-starting Blancpain then and asked me to help, which I eventually did. After I left the Swatch Group, we kept in touch and the opportunity to work together again came up in 2004, when he took on Hublot. You can say that I’ve been working with him since 1994.
How would you rate your working relationship with Mr. Biver?
It couldn’t have been better. Mr Biver’s track record with brand building is clear for all to see, and he is a true genius. He has the ideas but I am the one who makes things happen (laughs). I think it’s incredible, the things that we’ve managed to achieve as a team.
You are responsible for Hublot’s global retail strategy. How did the brand’s relationship with The Hour Glass begin?
Even before Hublot’s re-launch in 2004, the brand was already represented by The Hour Glass. Personally, I knew Michael Tay (The Hour Glass’ executive director) and his father Dr Henry Tay (The Hour Glass’ executive chairman) from my days at Blancpain. We had already established a friendship from before, so it was easy and natural to continue this relationship with Hublot.
And how has Hublot’s journey with The Hour Glass panned out?
I think The Hour Glass is one of the most professional retailers around. I like the fact that the people in the company are not only experienced, but also passionate about what they do. I think we have been very well represented and I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect retail partner.
What are you like away from work? What are your interests besides watches?
Apart from my family, my job is my life. It’s true what Mr Biver often says about needing to be passionate in our line of work, because it can be consuming. That said, I think I’m really fortunate because I love my job – I’m not doing this just to put food on the table. Speaking of which, I actually do love to cook.
Tell us more about your culinary exploits.
I cook on weekends. I think I’m pretty good; good enough to invite friends over (laughs). French and Spanish cuisines are my forte. I prepare my dishes based on the best ingredients available for that moment. For instance, if I’m cooking chicken, I make sure that I get one that is reared by the best farmers; if it’s fish, I make sure that I know exactly when and where they are caught – I am very particular about these things.
How would you describe your food?
Simple but good (laughs). My signature dish is Osso Bucco alla Milanese. It’s an Italian meat dish (braised veal shank or shin), which takes hours to prepare. If you cannot finish the dish at one go, you can save it for the next day. It usually tastes more flavourful that way, too.
Which are some of your favourite restaurants?
Three Michelin-star chef’s Philippe Rochat’s restaurant one of them. His restaurant is in Lausanne, which is near where I live, so that is great. I also love Nobu in New York and Guy Savoy in Paris. That said, simple and relaxed brasserie food, as well as Chinese food in Singapore and Hong Kong is great too. I’m pretty open-minded with my food choices.
Do you apply culinary philosophies to your work or life in general?
Definitely. Cooking is something that can be elevated into an art form, just like watchmaking. Also, elements such as top-quality materials, experience, a sense of adventure, respect for tradition and eye for details are important to both cooking and watchmaking.