February, 2014 – This article from Luxury Daily discusses Swiss watchmaker Hublot opening its first Latin American boutique in Rio de Janeiro with a watch dedicated to renowned soccer player Pelé. (http://www.luxurydaily.com/hublot-capitalizes-on-approaching-world-cup-with-pele-timepiece/)

By  Jen King

Swiss watchmaker Hublot opened its first Latin American boutique in Rio de Janeiro Feb. 5 as the Brazilian city prepares for the FIFA World Cup beginning June 12.

Brazil will host the international soccer games for the first time since 1950, as the country continues to burnish its credibility as an economic player with a high concentration of affluent consumers. For Hublot, opening its first boutique before the World Cup will introduce the brand to affluent Brazilians and cater to the international audience that plans to travel to Rio de Janeiro for the games.

“The affluent in Latin America, especially Brazil, represent a large market for luxury watches,” said Ron Kurtz, president of the American Affluence Research Center, Atlanta.

“A store in Rio, which is a major vacation destination, will also benefit from the tourists attracted to the World Cup and the 2016 Olympics,” he said.

“The Rio store ties in with Hublot’s involvement with the World Cup and the new Pelé watch.”

Mr. Kurtz is not affiliated with Hublot, but agreed to comment as an industry expert.

Hublot was unable to comment directly.

To introduce its brand officially to the Brazilian consumer, Hublot created a watch dedicated to renowned soccer player Edson Arantes do Nascimento, better known as Pelé. Although well-known throughout the world, Pelé was a likely choice due to his accomplishments on the field and his Brazilian heritage.

Also, Pelé is the watchmaker’s ambassador to the World Cup games, where Hublot will serve as the official timekeeper for the matches.

The Hublot watch designed to celebrate the World Cup and the watchmaker’s partnership with Pelé is limited to a 500-piece reserve and was presented at the grand opening of the boutique located inside the Fashion Mall in Rio de Janeiro.

Hublot’s Classic Fusion Aero Chronograph features a polished, satin-finished ceramic case and a sapphire dial with transfers in silver powder and yellow. On the watch’s case back, a silhouette of Pelé’s signature mid-air kick is found with the player’s signature.

To introduce the timepiece to its international following, Hublot used Facebook to post photos of the new watch and fete its Brazilian outpost’s grand opening.

Hublot’s Rio de Janeiro boutique represents the famous “Art of Fusion” concept by including elements of glass, metal, leather and wood to create an inviting atmosphere, according to a brand statement. The watchmaker also has boutiques in Place Vendôme, Paris, London, Moscow, New York, Miami, FL, Orlando, FL, Atlanta, Houston, TX, Dallas, TX, Beverly Hills, CA, Palm Beach, CA, Ginza, China, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing.

International players club
To celebrate the opening of a new boutique, watchmakers often create signature timepieces to drive foot traffic and interest in the new location.

For instance, Swiss timepiece manufacturer Bovet 1822 added its fourth boutique worldwide Dec. 12 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at The Ritz-Carlton Central Park, New York.

The new boutique is located at 50 Central Park South and will feature fifty timepieces that are exclusive to this location.

Choosing to open a boutique in an area frequented by affluent consumers makes sense from a retail strategy perspective.

For example, Swiss watchmaker Richard Mille targeted affluent travelers with the debut of its second United States boutique in Las Vegas’ luxury shopping outpost, the Shops at Crystals.

The Richard Mille Las Vegas boutique officially opened Sept. 23 and joins the Beverly Hills, CA, location as the timepiece brand’s second bricks-and-mortar location in the U.S. outside of authorized retailers.

Although sports partnerships are common among watchmakers, they must align with the brand’s total image to be successful.

“As the World Cup timekeeper, Hublot will get good brand exposure during the event and have content for its various communications programs through media publicity, social media and advertising,” Mr. Kurtz said.

“The new Pelé watch is a great tie in with the World Cup and its new store in Brazil, where Pelé is a local icon,” he said.