Romain Gauthier Logical progression
Romain Gauthier is hoping to use the kudos of winning the Men’s Complication prize at last year’s Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix as a springboard for the company’s transformation into a “micro-brand”.
From a corner office in an anonymous yet functional building overlooking a Breguet production facility in Le Sentier, Romain Gauthier explained to Worldtempus his plans for the development of his company against a background of soft jazz emanating from a high-end music system.
“People don’t appreciate the capacities we have. We want to become a micro-brand with a haute horlogerie philosophy.”
His aim for this year is “to move from the image of a small independent watchmaker to a micro-brand,” he explains. “If we succeed that will be a big step.” Unlike many other brands, however, the foundations for Romain Gauthier as a mini “manufacture” were laid long ago. Using state-of-the-art machines (Romain Gauthier refers to them as the “Rolls Royce” of watchmaking machinery and they operate in a climate-controlled room whose temperature is only allowed to fluctuate by plus or minus one degree Celsius), the company has been supplying big names in the watchmaking industry with components for a number of years. Even today, this manufacturing activity accounts for the lion’s share of the business, supplying “three big brands and two others”. Production for the Romain Gauthier brand only accounts for 30 per cent of the company’s manufacturing capacity.
Low volume, high quality
This equates to production of around 60 watches per year, which explains why the brand currently has a one-year waiting list. The low production volume is also explained by the huge amount of work that goes into Romain Gauthier timepieces, such as the Logical One model that won the Men’s Complication prize at the Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix in 2013. “The Logical has so much hard work put into it that it is a separate profession. It is not something that a watchmaker alone can do,” Romain Gauthier explains.
To take just a few examples, the barrel bridge alone requires 20 hours of finishing work, the entire movement comprises 40 interior angles that are meticulously chamfered and polished by hand and the balance springs, which arrive at the factory as concentric raw springs, are rated in-house by the company’s watchmakers.
Aside from the challenge of marketing his “micro-brand”, Romain Gauthier faces new challenges in selling watches to an increasingly secretive and wary clientele. “More and more customers don’t want to be seen in stores or at cocktail parties,” he explains, which is why he is considering a more bespoke approach to retailing in line with that offered for the company’s timepieces.
“I want to set up our own store as a subsidiary but with a unique concept. There will be no storefront, instead it will be bespoke retailing. We will be the ones who approach the customer,” he says.
In this particular price segment, where customers are paying much more than the price of a luxury automobile for their watch, new retail paradigms are emerging that will be interesting to follow, as too will Romain Gauthier as a brand, which celebrates its tenth anniversary next year and has some major new projects on the horizon.
Romain Gauthier is a firm that has been built with care and patience. Using his knowhow learned over some 20 years in his native Joux Valley, and with his manufacture named after him, Romain Gauthier embodies an innovative vision of watchmaking aesthetics based on movements that are as cutting-edge as they are meticulous.Find out more
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