The luxury industry is built on dreams, magic and stories. People like to use their imagination and be taken on journeys of fiction and tales. In fact, being kid is rather ageless if life is generous enough to keep your playfulness forever. The ever-cited quote of Marvin Davis’ (American oil and entertainment tycoon) is rather true: “As men get older, the toys get more expensive.” – I guess the same applies to women too. And where there’s demand there’s supply too; the luxury industry is full of great storytellers.
One of them is Roger Dubuis, whose image is so strongly imbued with myths and peculiar sounds that it makes looking at their watches as pure objects of art not possible. The company has defined a fantastic world and the timepieces are the part of this illusion. The white exaggerated house at SIHH 2014 with the cuckoo on top, surrounded by white loupe-equipped figures holding the timepieces attracted a huge crowd – staring at their orchestrated moves to the sound of the cockoo each hour.
And have you seen the episodes about ”The Astral Gateway” broadcasted on social channels this year? They set the quite horroristic milieu of a haunted mansion to the introduction of the new Astral Skeleton timepiece.
The world of Roger Dubuis dreamt by Alvaro Maggini Creative Director, and the timepieces born under the wings of Gregory Bruttin R&D and Watchmaking Director make Roger Dubuis not everyone’s cup of tea. You accept this domain and feel comfortable with it or deny it by heart – there’s nothing in between.
Last week I was invited to celebrate the brand’s 20th anniversary in Vienna. Beyond letting myself carried away by the timepieces right in the middle of the myths, it was a good occasion to commemorate the interesting history of the brand itself.
It’s not unusual in many industries that someone after having worked for a company for decades, finally decides to start something new on her/his own. In fine-watchmaking we can see this happening pretty often.
Mr. Roger Dubuis watchmaker from Geneva, had developed complications for Patek Philippe for more than 10 years. He designed new complications for other brands too. Later, in 1995 he partnered with the Portuguese-born Carlos Dias (a designer, among others) and founded a company, which was named simply Manufacture Roger Dubuis.
The brand quickly built a name for avant-garde design and movements qualifying for the Poinçon de Genève. (The Geneva Seal is originally the official seal of the City and Canton of Geneva. In horology it is a certification reserved for wristwatch movements made in the City or Canton of Geneva. This certificate with its strict and precise specification is a significant quality hallmark for mechanical movements.)
Mr. Dubuis left the company in 2003, but remained a consultant to the brand. In 2008 after economic downturn Roger Dubuis became part of the Richemont group. It was more than just a financial investment; by taking a new direction and a serious brand “revamp” it also triggered the “cleaning” of the product line.
In 2010, Georges Kern – CEO of IWC and Baume & Mercier then – became the president of Roger Dubuis and played a great role in restructuring the company.
Jean-Marc Pontroué took the seat in 2011, who advocated the daring and recognizable design paired with very strong mechanical “content”. He brought back Mr. Roger Dubuis as “natural ambassador” who works with Gregory Bruttin and a shamelessly young team on the timepieces.
The extravagance is not for everyone but it doesn’t have to be, especially not in the luxury market. The aforementioned Alvaro Maggini describes “Roger Dubuis as a brand a little bit like the l’enfant terrible of the watch industry”.
From 1996 the Manufacture introduced two collections, Sympathie and Hommage followed by the TooMuch, MuchMore, GoldenSquare and FollowMe.
In 2005 the brand launched the Excalibur, which by being probably the most recognizable collection, is one of the flagships of the Manufacture.
In 2008 the Kingsquare was presented. It has a strong angular case with triple-faceted sapphire crystal covering the dial and enhancing the three dimensional effect.
Monte Carlo became the theme of the La Monégasque collection in 2011. The pink or white gold La Monégasque Chronograph is bold, quite big (44mm) and it has the roulette-table-like dial – I would say it balances on the thin line between avant-garde and elegant.
Roger Dubuis is the only manufacture to stamp the Hallmark of Geneva on all of its movements. Not surprisingly the company celebrated the 125th anniversary of Poinçon de Genève in a special way. In 2011 they created the Excalibur Flying Tourbillon Monopusher Chronograph, limited to 8 pieces. A 45mm wide 18k pink gold timepiece with the RD580 automatic movement which encompasses a one minute flying tourbillon, platinum monoblock micro-rotor and single pusher chronograph.
One of the greatest stars of RD is the Excalibur Quatuor from 2013, a very limited edition of 3 pieces entirely cased in light and durable silicon. The watch has four sprung balances, each set at a 45 degree angle.
The Velvet collection is dedicated to women. To promote it Roger Dubuis teamed up with two famous ladies. In 2012 Daphne Guiness personified the watchmaker’s feminine collections. She is a British-Irish aristocrat (heir and direct descent of Arthur Guinness, who as a brewer created one of Ireland’s top export items), artist and often referred to as an icon in the world of fashion. She worked with Karl Lagerfeld, Philip Treacy or Alexander McQueen, just to name a few. Her style is a great match to Roger Dubuis’ daring design (page 64-67).
Another great woman, Stephanie Seymour participated in the 2014 campaign of the Velvet Haute Couture collection. I guess I will remember the American supermodel and actress forever by her appearance in the Guns N’ Roses videos “Don’t Cry” and “November Rain”. I still find it ultra-cool!
Her photo shooting for Roger Dubuis was directed by Alvaro Maggini creative director and filmed by the internationally acclaimed fashion photographer Mikael Jansson. She embodies the Roger Dubuis’ Diva.
Photo credits: Roger Dubuis, Loupiosity.com.
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