Is Hublot's sporty take on the luxury smartwatch set to replace the traditional timepiece?

By Rose Adams | 27 Mar 2018 | Brits, Art

With the spotlight on how luxury watch brands will embrace the digital age, it's clear times are changing for FIFA World Cup Official Timekeepers, Hublot

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* Hublot showcased its Big Bang Referee 2018 World Cup Edition Russia at Baselworld

Swiss watch brand Hublot premiered its first luxury smartwatch, the Big Bang Referee 2018 World Cup Edition Russia, at the Baselworld Watch Fair earlier this month – and it is already making waves in the sporting world as FIFA World Cup referees sign on to wear it during competition fixtures. Designed with the avid football fan in mind, the sports-inspired timepiece is capable of instantly connecting the wearer to 2018 FIFA World Cup matches. 

Hublot, the Official Timekeepers of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, called on a roster of sporting stars including Maradona, Usain Bolt, and Jose Mourinho to join them at their Baselworld launch on Wednesday 21 March. Limited to 2018 pieces, the watch's digital display on its analogue mode dial provides the wearer with a 15-minute warning before their kick-off, while during the match, the dial shows statistics including the score, names of goal-scorers, player substitutions, red and yellow cards and match time. 

Related: Baselworld: TAG Heuer's Jean-Claude Biver on why digitalisation is the future of luxury

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* The sports-inspired timepiece is capable of instantly connecting the wearer to 2018 FIFA World Cup matches

“The Big Bang Referee 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ offers all the usual features of a smart watch of course, but that’s not where Hublot has applied its innovation and audacity,” said Ricardo Guadalupe, CEO of Hublot. “It brings together everything that inspires the passion of football lovers! The FIFA World Cup is the Holy Grail of emotions for football fans, so just imagine what an object such as a watch that captures each and every one of its moments, its turning points, its stakes could suddenly represent? The football aficionados from among the brand’s friends have been waiting for this watch for a long time!”

The version of the watch set to be worn by World Cup referees will allow communication with the controversial Video Assistant technology.  "Wanting a customised watch for the referees, FIFA asked Hublot to conceive the perfect watch to accompany them on the pitches during the matches," said a statement from the company. "The referees' watches will be connected to goal-line technology, an electronic video assistance system for refereeing which follows all the trajectories of the ball and determines for certain if the ball did or did not entirely cross the goal line."

Based on the brand's existing Big Bang series, the Referee 2018 World Cup Edition contains a slightly thicker dial to house the electronics required for WiFi connectivity. The watches will come with two straps and a range of dials to represent each participating nation competing in the tournament, which kicks off 14 June.