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Like perpetual motion or fitting a square peg into a round hole, a show window without glass that is nevertheless secure was considered an impossibility. In partnership with Dietlin Artisans Métalliers, the Hublot watch company has developed a revolutionary display concept: “Raptor” offers nothing but benefits by guaranteeing both perfect visibility of the product and optimum security by means of a retractable system that employs state-of-the-art technology. This brand-new innovation undoubtedly heralds the dawn of a new era in product display.

The eras will be divided into “pre-Raptor” and “post-Raptor”. The presentation of the brand- new “Raptor” display concept by the Hublot watch company in partnership with Dietlin Artisans Métalliers opens up new possibilities for displaying luxury goods.

Constraints based solely on security have hitherto imposed the use of glass for display purposes. No matter how well developed such glass was, it always compromised the visibility of the object displayed. Such problems are now confined to history, since the new “Raptor” display case not only dispenses with glass – and offers perfect visibility – but also incorporates security, since the object on display disappears into the display case whenever movement is detected nearby. It then reappears once the distance between the watch and the movement is judged sufficient and secure.

The new “Raptor” display case offers three levels of security: a whole host of infra-red sensors are located around the watch, or any other prestigious object on display; the watch is secured to the plinth by a grip attached to the bracelet; and finally, any change in the mass on the case of +/- 5 grams triggers an audible alarm as well the immediate retraction and disappearance of the plinth at a speed of 2 metres per second. Its reaction time of 1/10th of a second easily outstrips the speed of a human hand. Given the complexity and the fragility of watches and other objects displayed, the designers have developed an ingenious system of acceleration and deceleration for the retractable mechanism.

The ease of use of the new “Raptor” display case is another big argument in its favour. Developments in computer technology and robotics that have resulted from this project have made it possible to programme the case as required (security level, retraction and extraction times of the mechanism – overnight, for example, connection to the central alarm of a store, control via Internet etc.).

In order to develop the electronics and robotics for this brand-new concept, Hublot and Dietlin Artisans Métalliers called upon the services of Fiveco and Bluebotics SA, two start-up companies located in the Science Park of the EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne) whose innovative projects are supported by the Service de l’Economie, du Logement et du Tourisme (SELT) de l’Etat de Vaud (Service for Economy, Accommodation and Tourism in the Canton of Vaud). Philippe Sordet, director of the SELT, said "I am fascinated by this innovative concept," and highlighted the "promising and tangible results of the development work carried out by the two companies".

Jean-Claude Biver, CEO of Hublot and one of the first partners and investors in the "Raptor" concept, pointed out that "this new type of display is a giant leap for those working in product display and will revolutionise the worlds of luxury goods and watchmaking". Hublot will be presenting this innovative new concept to its representatives from all over the world at next week’s opening of the BaselWorld watch fair. In return for financing the project, Hublot has an exclusive licence to use "Raptor" display cases for 24 months.

The man behind the concept, Xavier Dietlin, recalled that "before deciding on the ‘Raptor’ principle, we studied fanciful ideas such as protecting the watch with an electric current or using a viewing window so small that it would be impossible to gain access to the product," and that "the main difficulty in the project was combining a perfect view of the product without compromising security. Having overcome this problem, ‘Raptor’ opens up hitherto unimaginable possibilities for exhibition areas, stores and museums by giving them an increased level of security whilst at the same time offering the visitor an exceptional view".

Given its intrinsic qualities and the technology used, the new "Raptor" display concept undoubtedly marks the dawn of a new era in displays and exhibitions.

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