RDI Charles Kaeser A serial inventor and innovator enters the watch accessory market
RDI watch winders are a new player on the market, bringing a high-quality Swiss touch to the most indispensible of watch accessories.
Your editor-in-chief was amazed to discover a serial inventor living and working just ten minutes’ drive away from his home in the bucolic countryside above Lausanne with sweeping views across to the Swiss Alps and his horses in a paddock adjacent to the garden. But sitting alongside a small country lane, this is indeed the global headquarters of RDI Charles Kaeser, which has for decades been a factory of ideas.
The self-taught inventor has come up with ideas as varied as a shower head with integrated brushes, cosmetic devices, massage brushes, machines, special containers for contact lenses and medicines, a portable generator for the Swiss army and even an air compressor for hairdressers to vaporize hairspray that was way ahead of its time in its aim to eradicate aerosols.
Through his activities over the years, Mr Kaeser has developed close ties with plastics companies in neighbouring France and has developed a unique injection moulding process that allows plastic containers to be moulded in a single manufacturing step. Because of its cost effectiveness, this had already gained the attention of certain watch brands.
Mr Kaeser’s true entry into the horological world, however, came with the launch of an imposing mechanical watch winder that was about four feet high and cost an eye-watering 150,000 Swiss francs. Now, disappointed with the cheap offerings of standard watch winders available on the market, he is launching a more affordable luxury range targeted at the connoisseur. “It is a travesty to see people buying watch winders fitted with a motor from a children’s toy that costs 90 Swiss cents to wind a tourbillon that costs in excess of 200,000 Swiss francs,” he says. His answer? “I develop from scratch to the finished product and then I go to find my own customers. I want to have fun and innovate. Maybe three times out of ten I will succeed and that is where I get the satisfaction.”
The new range of RDI Charles Kaeser watch winders is developed, created and assembled by a team of eight people working in the unassuming outbuildings of the company premises. At 100 Swiss francs, the motor powering them alone costs more than some watch winders. But it has the quality to match and comes with 16 different programmes, each suitable for a particular type of watch. A special section on the company website allows the owner to find the precise winding data for a number of brands and their individual models.
The finished product is produced in high-quality materials, is powered by either mains electricity or 2 AA size batteries and weighs in at a solid 3.2 kilos. The first models in the Prestige series retail for around 2,000 Swiss francs, while the new Signature line offers limited editions with decorative leather cladding. The company has no problem meeting requirements for bespoke orders, either.
Mr Kaeser is looking to secure land in his local area in order to open a dedicated production facility for watch winders in the near future. He then plans to complement his high-end offering with more accessible products that watch brands themselves could conceivably offer as gifts to their customers or use as decoration in points of sale.