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Roger Dubuis - Carlos Dias: the independence card

Roger Dubuis Carlos Dias: the independence card

“... it's an up-to-the-minute watch, inspired by, but not subservient to the past, which extends towards a future that belongs to us”, such is the definition that Carlos Dias, Chairman and CEO of Roger Dubuis, gives to his watches.

Tribune des Arts - n° 313 - July- August 2003

G.T.

 

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Established in the summer of 1995, the Roger Dubuis watchmaking manufactory epitomises what the future holds for Swiss watchmaking. Admittedly Carlos Dias, its founder and CEO, is an extraordinary one-man band. Passionate about watches ever since he can remember, he was brought up in an industrial environment as his father owned a motorcycle factory in Portugal before it was swept away by the Carnation Revolution. A hard worker, he has managed to achieve a perfect synthesis between the watchmaker's workbench and high-tech automation. “I was brought up inside a factory where, from the age of 9, I joined my father. This taught me the value of independence, not to be at the mercy of an engine supplier who might hold you hostage and cut off your deliveries for one reason or another”.

Therefore, by branching out into watchmaking, Carlos Dias not only had very specific ideas about what he wanted to do in terms of both watch quality and marketing but was equally determined to totally verticalise his production. A risky venture considering the interdependence of Swiss watchmaking, but a visionary venture which enabled him to anticipate the changes which occurred last year in the Swiss watch industry. And so, in his brand-new factory at Meyrin, he has managed to manufacture his watches from start to finish in the same way as the great Breguet, Arnold and Berthoud in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

From simple metal to a rare watch

With a 180-strong workforce comprising 70 watchmakers, micromechanics, designers and, of course, administrative personnel, Carlos Dias has come a long way since the day in August 1995 when, at Carouge, in small premises taken over from a bank, he started out, in the company of Genevan watchmaker Roger Dubuis, to manufacture what were already exceptional watches. Today he is flanked by cutting-edge machines with hyper-qualified watchmakers constructing movements and complications using thousands of parts manufactured on the floor below. To the extent that, to parody the image of the Chicago canning factories where cattle were seen entering at one end and boxes leaving at the other end, at Roger Dubuis, we see metal bars coming in and rare watches going out. An independence that allows Carlos Dias to accomplish great feats. “We only produce a series of 28 numbered pieces for each of our models, which is a definite asset to retailers as it means that each country, almost, has unique timepieces”. As both a lover and connoisseur of horology, Carlos Dias himself basically designs the functions he wants to achieve from a basic calibre and then instructs his designers to produce the movement, on computer, from elements already in production, thereby resulting in a remarkable process of rationalisation while at the same time maintaining enormous originality and simplifying the work of the after-sales service which does not collapse under a welter of spare parts.

 

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The future extension of the Roger Dubuis factory in Meyrin. DR

In each workshop Carlos Dias has displayed a maxim which is signed by him and which reveals the spirit of creativity pervading the company: “Those who don't want to do anything find an excuse. Those who want to do something find a way”.

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Some of the staff in the workshops of the Roger Dubuis manufactory. DR


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Watch production. DR

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The micromechanics sector. DR


No challenge is too outlandish

And, above all, this arrangement has earned him enormous loyalty. “Our movements are designed never to break down because I have all too often seen customers disappointed that the expensive watch they were given has stopped,” he explains. A one-man band, Carlos Dias appears to have no limits. He was the first to launch large format watches with “MuchMore”; he revived the Genevan tradition of enamel painting by creating a specialist workshop which produces hundreds of refined dials each year; he designs unexpected watches such as the cross-shaped “FollowMe”, which is all the rage despite its price; he has no hesitation in transforming his stand at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie into the Sistine Chapel, causing some to grind their teeth whilst attracting broadcasters and journalists from around the world; he creates “tourbillon” movements while simultaneously drawing up the plans for a new building to extend his already imposing manufactory. An extraordinary creativity which would be stifled without an efficient and independent industrial facility which allows him to react instantly and to embark on the most unbelievable challenges. At a time when success depends on originality and speed, Carlos Dias steers a path that allows him to overcome the eternal crises which beset the watchmaking industry.

 

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The brand

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.

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