Roger Dubuis goes full throttle ahead
Pushing boundaries. Living larger than life. These attributes best describe hyper horological Swiss watch brand Roger Dubuis, and synchronically, its new chief executive officer Nicola Andreatta.
Alchemy in action
The chemistry between the brand and the man was in full evidence at a recent immersive event held in Macau for select clients. Roger Dubuis, which prides itself as a serial innovator, let rip first at the Morpheus Macau where guests were treated to an intimate soiree and gastronomic dinner while getting up close and personal with the new limited-edition Excalibur Huracán Performante, the entry-level Excalibur Huracán and the audacious Excalibur Shooting Star for women. The next morning, they were whisked off to the Zhuhai International Circuit to experience the riveting world of Lamborghini’s high-performance supercars.
First up, the setting that kick-started the adrenaline-fuelled weekend was an excellent fit. As the world’s first free-form exoskeleton high-rise architectural sculpture, the ultra-luxurious Morpheus designed by the late Zaha Hadid represents several architectural and technological breakthroughs, an apt connection with a wow factor for the Roger Dubuis timepieces with their code-breaking astral skeleton movements and super-sleek aesthetics.
As for the full-throttle experience on the racetrack, the spin in Lamborghinis was a given after the brand formed a partnership with the amazing marque in 2017. Since then, it has taken clients to see the Super Trofeo races around the world and invited them on the annual Run to Monaco, a driving adventure that takes supercars and their owners on the scenic road from the Swiss Alps to its culmination point at the Monaco Grand Prix at the end of May.
Presiding over these events is the charismatic Andreatta, a watch industry scion, watch lover and designer who hails from a family with the well-known watch components manufacturing business Timeo SA.
“In fact, my father made one of the first cases for Roger Dubuis,” Andreatta recalls. So taking the helm at the brand since December 2018 feels like coming full circle. And having worked in Hong Kong for five years from 1997 to 2002, he also feels at home in the city and Macau where Roger Dubuis’ largest markets are based. Close on the heels is the neighbouring mainland Chinese market.
His affinity with the brand comes naturally for Andreatta. Seemingly sharing its DNA, the Swiss Italian is equally driven by passion and lives an adrenaline-fuelled lifestyle. He rises early each morning to run five to 10k to feel good and to adapt to jetlag. He flies planes and performs aerobatics, paraglides and ski dives, loves ski racing and windsurfing. He aims to climb an 8,000-metre mountain one day. Basically, Andreatta gets his thrills taking part in extreme sports in the air, sea or land. The only sport that he is grounded from is auto racing after he became a father.
“I have been on a kind of gym training all my career for the real thing - Roger Dubuis,” he explains. “Here is where I can really express myself in the sense that I feel very close and connected to the brand itself. At Roger Dubuis, we want to convey the brand message with emotion, and there’s no better way than with adrenaline. We like to do things differently from anyone else, to push the boundaries of design and manufacturing in ways that don’t exist today, to live larger than life, to be more experiential and to create a lifestyle that connects with our long-term partners Lamborghini and Pirelli. Our events communicate emotions so that our clients will not only remember them but feel like they are part of a special tribe.”
Roadmap to the future
“We are not here to sell watches; we are here to sell the brand,” says Andreatta. “Selling watches is a consequence, a sign that people understand what we are and what we do. The more they appreciate voracious hedonism, the quest for pleasure and the beautiful things in life, the more they will get closer to us and want to become a part of the Roger Dubuis world.”
With the maturity of the clients, especially Asian ones, ripening rapidly over the past 20 years, Roger Dubuis has to elevate its game and level of communication. “Today, clients know everything about watchmaking. They know exactly what they want, and they appreciate the exclusivity of timepieces. They need to see that you are the best to convince them. We cannot be mainstream and need to be very sophisticated in the way we talk to them and what we do. We will keep developing the brand without diverting from the vision we have today of unleashing tradition. While remaining true to our DNA, we will take what’s been done in the past and evolve them into something that will be the watchmaking of the future. Balancing increased visibility with keeping the brand very exclusive will be a challenge.”
Perfection lies in the details
Shaping the future of the high-octane brand in tandem with Andreatta is product strategy director Gregory Bruttin, who has been with the Maison since 2002. He likes to quote Leonardo da Vinci’s famous saying ‘Details make perfection, and perfection is not a detail’ when describing the brand’s modus operandi and philosophy.
“There are a lot of small details in the new novelties, from the 12º angled balance wheel, the shape of some elements to the colour of the coating, everything needs to be perfect. The new skeleton automatic RD630 calibre is a very standout movement, unique in the watchmaking industry. Also unique is our new Excalibur Spider – Carbon flying tourbillon. Super light and comfortable, it is the first ever watch created by Roger Dubuis to offer a full carbon structure, with the case, calibre and bracelet all made of multi-layer carbon, ” he says.
With a small team who are constantly opening their minds and coming up with new ideas, Roger Dubuis is also more adept at challenging themselves. The Excalibur One-Off, launched at 2019 SIHH and snapped up quickly by a client who saw it on the Internet, was a good example. “The One-Off is like a concept car, a unique piece that we took more risks with,” Bruttin continues. “The design and manufacturing of this watch were very complex; we used the same technique in the car industry. We learnt a lot, so it’s possible to use this technique for another collection. We can use 3D and play more with metal, and it would be interesting to use carbon on some elements in the watch case in our regular collection.” With the phenomenal success of this One-Off which also became the most expensive timepiece without diamonds Roger Dubuis ever sold, expect to see the Maison launch a new one-off every year or two in the future as it continues to grow its distinctive form of expressive, hyper horology.