Roger Dubuis Interview with Nicola Andreatta
Nicola Andreatta, CEO of Roger Dubuis since the autumn of 2018, talks about the brand’s pursuit of exclusivity and innovation, and the success of its partnership with Lamborghini.
What’s it like to be in the driving seat of a racing machine like Roger Dubuis?
I’ve been training for this for 20 years! But you’re right, I’ve realised that it really is a racing machine, in the sense that it’s a very fast-moving company. I had to familiarise myself with the brand, although there’s always room to learn more, and everything moves forward very rapidly. We set a fast pace at Roger Dubuis, and that’s a good thing, because our partners Lamborghini and Pirelli are also pretty quick! It’s an incredible challenge, and one that brings great satisfaction. It’s a brand with a human dimension, but it has a worldwide aura and a global reach through our retailers, and the partners I already mentioned. It’s both an honour and a responsibility to be the one behind the wheel. It’s very important that we choose carefully, in terms of the 150 retailers who sell our watches, in addition to our own 30 stores. We expect them to be actively engaged, not just passively receptive. Roger Dubuis enjoys a very good brand image within the community of this high-end niche, and we want to keep it that way. We’re an exclusive brand, which needs to be explained appropriately. We are also planning to open further Roger Dubuis boutiques in specific locations around the world, while keeping a balance with our multi-brand retailers. In fact, we opened a new boutique on New Bond Street in London at the end of June, and we’ll soon have another in Singapore.
Excalibur Huracán Performante © Roger Dubuis
Do your partnerships with Lamborghini and Pirelli continue to be a source of inspiration and new clients?
Absolutely. Indeed, we’ve just renewed our commitment, with a long-term perspective. We share very similar values and DNA with Lamborghini, and not just because of the motor and chassis of our products! We have a similar way of looking at things, with the same attention to innovation, design and provocation. Also, let’s not forget that I’m Italian, and I get on very well with their CEO, Stefano Domenicali. Our design teams meet up regularly to explore new avenues together, here in our manufacture or at their premises in Bologna. We draw inspiration from their designs to create watches that bring a new dimension to the motor sport watch, and their clients appreciate that too. Lamborghini brings us targeted visibility, which corresponds exactly to what we’re looking for, because we appeal above all to a non-conformist clientele who are looking for unique creations. Just as not everyone wants a Lamborghini, a Roger Dubuis isn’t the watch for everyone. Some of our clients even discover Lamborghini for the first time at one of our joint events; the partnership goes both ways. The same applies to Pirelli, whose highly individual philosophy, and the adrenaline that goes with it, is a good fit for us.
Excalibur Pirelli Ice Zero 2 © Roger Dubuis
How do you explain the fact that clients who are looking for conspicuous luxury are sensitive to the minuscule details of haute horlogerie?
I think you need to take a step back; you can’t just focus on the micro-components of our engineering, you also have to see the passion for excellence that it implies. Lamborghinis offer exclusive, innovative, high-tech content in both their materials and the way they develop their cars, just as Roger Dubuis designs exclusive watches. We are an haute horlogerie watchmaker that masters grand complications, from tourbillons to perpetual calendars and minute repeaters. But our watchmaking legitimacy goes hand in hand with a desire to push the limits of design and technological innovation, and there’s a type of client who is particularly receptive to that. The fact that our output is limited, with very exclusive limited series that are not particularly accessible, is also a plus for our clientele.
Excalibur Huracán Performante © Roger Dubuis
The Excalibur Blacklight is highly innovative. What was the main challenge in terms of design?
In fact, the Excalibur Blacklight is not part of our car-related range; we make a distinction with our other source of inspiration, which is based on our highly contemporary interpretation of haute horlogerie. This is a very good example, because we started with one of our own calibres and created an innovative implementation that plays around with these luminescent nanotubes, which are an integral part of its construction. It’s a secret that the watch reveals at certain moments of your life, part of the unexpected that Roger Dubuis brings to the haute horlogerie world and to its clients. During the day, you wear a watch. At night, its heart lights up under certain conditions, for instance when you’re at a night club. It’s extremely complex to insert these nanotubes into the movement in a harmonious way. The first clients who discovered it in Osaka absolutely loved it.
Excalibur Blacklight © Roger Dubuis
What are the other achievements of your watchmaking and design teams that have made you particularly proud?
There are many. But one is our strap made of carbon fibre, which is a first for the watch industry. It is fitted to our carbon fibre Excalibur Tourbillon, once again the only carbon fibre tourbillon with the Geneva Hallmark (Excalibur Spider Carbon). It weighs 7.5 grams! Carbon isn’t generally eligible for Geneva Hallmark certification, and Roger Dubuis was the first in the world to obtain it. This model is made entirely out of carbon (case, strap and movement) and weighs just 81 grams. It’s super light and super sporty. This limited series was also very enthusiastically received. We will continue to work on using carbon fibre in other creations, as well as exploring other innovative materials. We are also setting up an R&D unit that brings together talented individuals with a passion for innovation from a variety of different disciplines. We’ll probably introduce it at the next SIHH. 360°, pure innovation!
Excalibur Spider Carbon3 © Roger Dubuis
As well as being a motor racing enthusiast, you’re also a keen sailor. Do you think you’ll take Roger Dubuis into the yacht racing world one day?
Clearly, our clients are interested in yachting, and we have a natural connection with this community, but for the time being we won’t be using it in our branding, because we need to concentrate on our existing partners, and ensure our message is clear. Roger Dubuis represents an alternative haute horlogerie that is both serious and playful, at a time when the world is changing and our clients’ behaviour is changing too. Our laid-back, enthusiastic and refreshing approach appeals to them, and we will be continuing our efforts to invite them into our world.
The Roger Dubuis Manufacture was founded on the desire for independence and watchmaking excellence. With remarkable dynamism, Roger Dubuis quickly ignited the world of Haute Horlogerie and has developed over thirty completely original in-house movements. Striking a fine balance between traditional watchmaking expertise and avant‑garde design, the Manufacture became a specialist in architectural skeletonised movements.Find out more >
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