— World Replica Watches took advantage of the Roger Dubuis CEO’s presence at TimeCrafters 2016 to get some scoops.
You are the only CEO from any of the big brands to attend TimeCrafters in New York. Why is the show so important to you?
New York, and the United States in general, has always been an important market in general for Roger Dubuis Replica Watches. Regardless of the product category, whether it is luxury cars, yachts or fine watchmaking, the more niche your brand is, the more important the United States is as a market. For Roger Dubuis, it is one of our top three markets in the world. Six months ago we still didn’t have a mono-brand store here – now we have our boutique on Madison Avenue. I think that, together with China, this is the market where we have the biggest potential over the next three years. That is why we are here this year and that is why we had a private dinner for collectors here in New York.
Swiss watch exports to the US plummeted according to the most recent statistics published by the Federation of the Swiss Watchmaking Industry. Is Roger Dubuis feeling the effects of this, too?
We cannot say that we don’t feel any effects at all. There is some uncertainty in the market but when you are setting out you can only take market share. Our skeleton watches can only win market share from existing competitors. Yes the industry is in difficult times, but we have seen this before. Let’s not forget that 2015 was the third best year in terms of results in the entire history of the Swiss watch industry. But you don’t run a brand based on geo-political considerations. You have to move forward and be more agile than your competitors and more creative than them.
Roger Dubuis recently announced a partnership with FFF racing, which is unlike any other association between a watchmaker and a motor racing team. Can you tell us more about this?
Roger Dubuis never does anything like other Replica Watches UK brands do. We work a lot with different types of material and the engines inside our watches, the automatic skeleton and the double tourbillon being two perfect examples. In fact, a lot of our product developments are a result of customer requests. As an example, the Rarities collection was born from customer demands for more personalized watches. We have several partnerships in motor racing that have come from customer requests – from people who have Ferraris and Lamborghinis competing in GT series. They ask us to develop designs for their cars and we produce roll-overs of their fake watches shop that they can cover their cars with. It’s a whole package that is developed in collaboration with the customer and our design department.
In the case of FFF, the team owner Mr Sean Fu Songyang, who is a client of Roger Dubuis, asked us to produce a limited series for the team and we developed a corresponding design for the car as well. This certainly won’t be the last such partnership and it is something I hope to develop over the next five years. The partnership is so logical for us because it is so closely linked to what we do. Our design team spends more time at the Geneva Motor Show than it does at Baselworld, for example.
Few people may have noticed that you discreetly presented your first watch without the Geneva Hallmark at the SIHH this year. Is this an open secret and what is the rationale behind this?
All our fine watchmaking collection, which represents at least 50 per cent of our sales, will continue to bear the Geneva Hallmark. The aim is to turn the manufacture into a kind of laboratory where we will build upon our existing models. I can reveal to you exclusively that we are working on three different world-firsts for next year in terms of materials and calibres pushed to the extreme.
Over the next few years we want to give our entry-level products (and remember we are nevertheless talking about watches that retail for between 15,000 and 25,000 Swiss francs, which is the high end for many other brands) a much stronger signature. We don’t want to leave people indifferent and the calm, historical and classical segment is not for us. We have noticed, and this is particularly true for the US, that the concept of the Geneva Hallmark is very difficult to understand. People here are more focused on design and many of our customers are relatively young. They are interested in a particular movement, a particular size of watch and a strong design. So we have replaced the Geneva Hallmark by a gold oscillating mass instead of a stainless-steel one. It is much easier to explain the added value of this to a young customer looking for design than it is to explain all the different criteria of the Geneva Hallmark. For a double tourbillon, on the other hand, people understand that this is the top end of watchmaking and we don’t need to remind them of all the criteria for the Geneva Hallmark.