Last point I'll make on striving for perfection...

Alex, please delete if inappropriate…

We discussed last week if expecting perfection from a luxury watch company was demanding too much. The consensus seemed to be that while the luxury watch manufacturers should strive for perfection, errors could not be avoided – but the important thing when a faulty product was delivered is how the watch company responded.

I’ve just seen this story on another forum and I was impressed enough by it that I though I would share with you:

A poster complained that he had recently received a as wedding gift from his wife a Hublot Big Bang King, but that after only wearing a few times, the metallic indicator on the bezel fell off. He brought the watch back to the AD, who exchanged it for another piece. The same thing happened again with the new watch. He said how disappointed he was with that watch and Hublot, and asked “Would I dare to buy another Hublot??

JCB’s (JCB: Jean-Claude Biver, CEO of Hublot) response was as follows:
I am nearly as disappointed as you are. Believe me, I am touched in my deepest part of my heart and cannot resist making you the best offer I ever made to someone.
Not only will we repair your watch, believe me that we will make it work (if not, we would not be in business anymore). But furthermore I would like to offer to your wife a Big Bang 38mm in steel with diamonds
I will also send you my special hand written and extended guarantee till end of 2015 for both your wife’s watch but also of course your Big Bang King
I am copying the person in charge of Hublot at the Hour Glass and she will follow up the repair of your watch and the present to your wife
I hope that you will be happy with my offer and will soon recover the pleasure and emotion of wearing a Hublot.
You have an open invitation to visit our factory and to have dinner with your wife and my wife in my home.
See you soon I hope and all the best”

OK, JCB’s response might have been a little bit over the top – but what better marketing can you have than this? This sends a strong message that you are confident in the quality of your product and that you are ready to stand 100% behind it (otherwise you wouldn’t be giving free watches away to everyone who had a problem), and that you care about the customer.
Needless to say, the angry customer is now a very happy one and is claiming he will buy another Hublot soon, and the feedback from all the other posters was tremendous. And it made me feel happy that I am a Hublot owner.

I don’t know exactly what is the financial cost of giving a watch away vs. paying for an add in a magazine, but IMO this is marketing money well invested by Hublot.


There is only one Biver and he should be lauded for having personally
03/25/2009 - 16:11
taken things under hand and having publicly posted: it gives an excellent message. However not sure giving off a free Hublot makes sense: in my opinion it depreciates the brand (if given for free then it shouldn't cost too much to make) and from now on all those with problems with their Hublots will expect a freebie.
IMO, as long as the ratio of watches that are twice defective
03/25/2009 - 18:00
are kept at a minimum and that only the forum posters know about this gesture, it could actually create more business than it would cost.  Re your point about cheapening its products by giving some away for free, in my case I didn't even think about it one second when I read the article, but I can see where you are coming from... Cheers,  Francois 
Giving away a whole watch may be a bit "over the top."
03/26/2009 - 18:27
However, when another watch company repeatedly screwed up my watch they gave me a nice winder and I thought that was an appropriate gesture. Unfortunately, the watch never performed to my satisfaction and I ended up disposing of it. I would therefore hesitate to buy another of the company's products, but I still feel friendly toward it because I know it made an effort.
Re: Last point I'll make on striving for perfection...
03/26/2009 - 03:36

It is good manufacturing processes, not necessarily the outreach of the CEO, that help make a great watch brand.  Notwithstanding that the Hublot story may be anecdotal or accurate, it is the responsibility of the manufacturer to produce a fine product and stand behind it.  Quality control and testing , from the receipt of components to careful evaluation and monitoring of the assembly process, to final, comprehensive  inspection are processes that should be expected as the key elements of fine timepieces.  I know that there are Swiss makers that follow these principles holistically. I expect Vacheron Constantin is such a maker. Robert