Hublot’s not exactly known for being low key, with A-list collaborations and high-profile publicity standard operating procedure. So when I shook Kobe's hand to congratulate him on the launch of his Big Bang UNICO Chronograph Retrograde timepiece in Napa Valley a few weeks ago, I wasn't surprised to see a honking beast of a watch staring back at me.
To be fair, Kobe Bryant isn't a small dude, so it's not that surprising that he'd engineer a beastly timepiece for his left cannon. "I've never been a small watch guy, why start now?" he explained as I jostled my phone in position for a dual wrist shot. As you'll see above, the timepiece comes in two styles, Ceramic or "King" Gold, but each share the same Burgundy red face, appropriate as Kobe now goes by the nickname Vino. Mr. Bryant says with a smile: "The older I get, the better I play. Like a fine wine, as they say."
It's important to remember too that this isn't Kobe's first at-bat. 2013 marked the launch of one of Hublot's most successful collaborative watches of all time, the Big Bang Black Mamba.
"When I joined the Hublot family, the Black Mamba was a natural fit," Mr. Vino (née Mamba) explained, "but we also discussed the relationship between basketball, watchmaking, and wine; specifically, the dedication of the wine makers to making that perfect blend, the effort that goes into the maturation process and the attention to detail that goes into the art of watchmaking."
The connections between the three might seem a stretch to some, but I have to say, holding the timepiece in my hand, buzzing on some of the best Pinot I've had in ages, sun blasting into my eyes in the middle of a wine grove standing next to Kobe Bryant, I was pretty convinced that they were on to something.
Each timepiece will be available in insanely limited quantities at Hublot's new San Francisco boutique at 174 Geary Street off the Union Square. It's accompanied by a pretty nifty carbon fiber bottle opener and—naturally—price is available on appointment.