It is a pleasure for me to bring to Perpetual Passion the Instagram interview of a few weeks ago with Nicola Andreatta, CEO of Roger Dubuis. Roger Dubuis is an innovative and cutting-edge brand that plays an interesting role within the Richemont group. Enjoy it!

ANDREA FRIGERIO

Nicola, Roger Dubuis was a pioneer in the world of watchmaking and now he's leading his brand. How do you manage such a legacy and what are the key points you're focusing on building the future of the brand?

NICOLA ANDREATTA

Although the history of the brand is quite short, we have always been quite creative and dedicated to bringing constant news since the maison was founded in 1995. When I joined the company, my concern was not to change or revolutionize the state of the brand and I decided to continue the path traced by my predecessors increasing the strength of the brand. I focused on our people, who are incredible professionals and were able to drive the brand very well, on the'be "disruptive" and on innovations. Innovation, in particular, is the real force behind Roger Dubuis, we continually innovate what we do and through being "disruptive" we want to be different from what you can find on the market today. We are truly unique and we want to make sure that we are constantly differentiating ourselves from the competition.

ANDREA FRIGERIO

Roger Dubuis is the only (or one of the very few) brands able to certify all his watches with the Geneva Punch. Do you think today is as important as it used to be? I mean, nowadays you can find excellent suppliers anywhere in the world.

NICOLA ANDREATTA

Good question, we have discussed at length internally whether or not to continue with The Geneva Punch. I believe that this is a certification that guarantees a certain way of making watchmaking, it concerns more the craftsmanship and the quality of watches than to say that they are manufactured and made in Geneva. It certainly represents a plus for our customers because it implies that our watches are at the top in terms of quality for high holorogeria, but at the same time not many brands are able to handle it as it is expensive and there is a third-party entity that supervises your factory activities to check how you work.

For Roger Dubuis the Geneva Punch is more of a mindset approach than the certification itself, we do not know a way of working other than that of the Geneva Punch. Roger Dubuis is a manufacture in the truest sense of the word, we do everything internally starting from the creation or realization of the gauges and integrate every step necessary to do so. Believe me, if we decide to change our philosophy of making watches we should completely change the company organization and it would be much more expensive than continuing to use the Geneva Punch.

The Punch has been certifying watches for more than 150 years, is very respectable and works in the direction of building ever better watches.

ANDREA FRIGERIO

In case you find in the world some useful technology to develop your watch, would you be more interested in the development or purchase of this?

NICOLA ANDREATTA

The question of " Make or Buy" is always very important. Clearly, the idea of being a manufacturer implies two main points. Firstly, we want to maintain the highest possible levels of quality and to do so there is no better way than to maintain all processes internally. Then there is the question of intellectual property. Once a certain technology is developed, we want to keep it to avoid sharing it with sub-suppliers working with other companies. In addition, with our attitude to innovation, we want to continue to challenge and explore the boundaries of watchmaking and we want to do it ourselves. To support this filisophy, we have recently created a new department within the company dedicated only to innovation, new materials, new movements and developments in IT technologies related to our work.

ANDREA FRIGERIO

How do you communicate the huge innovations in Roger Dubuis watches? Especially today, communication of the type of product we wear on the wrist is crucial.

NICOLA ANDREATTA

That's a good question! One of my main interests over the last three years has been managing the trade-off between visibility and exclusivity. We want to be visible to everyone but at the same time we want to maintain a certain exclusive charm behind everything we do. We do not have mass production, we manufacture a few thousand pieces per year and I officially announce that we do not intend to increase production. It is about choosing your own battles, we cannot be a mass brand and at the same time continue to produce minute repeats, flying tourbillons, double flying tourbillons and perpetual calendars since the industrial organization is not the same.

In terms of communication, we are seeing a huge acceleration towards the digital world that forces us to be more present on social networks and to use new ways to connect with our customers, but the best way to connect with them for us remains word of mouth. When we stimulate emotions, when we live intense experiences together with our customers, they share their feelings with the people closest to them. We like to call our customers a "tribe" because it always returns to the brand. We don't need a large number of customers because we wouldn't be able to serve them properly, so we prefer to be extremely focused and word of mouth is the best way to maintain a quality communication approach.

ANDREA FRIGERIO

The transition to industry 4.0 is one of the main themes we are experiencing. What are the activities involved in the process of transforming from " old " companies to 4.0?

NICOLA ANDREATTA

Talking about "old man" for a 25-year-old company is a little too much! We are very young and the average age of our employees is quite low. For Roger Dubuis there is always the theme of duality; on the one hand we have a deep respect for the art of watchmaking (which is what we do), but on the other hand this must be linked to the new production techniques and at new technologies in which we are deeply involved.

Speaking of industry 4.0, we are pioneers in the Richemont group for many innovations such as the new system, called Jarvis, which deals with metrology, a key factor when dealing with extremely tight tolerances, capable of self-regulating our CNC machines and checking the status of the tools used. This system clearly highlights our attitude to innovations and the steps we are taking towards industry 4.0, but at the same time we maintain the " maitres d'arts " and related processes that involve the same manual work as 200 years ago.

ANDREA FRIGERIO

Roger Dubuis is a "brand made by real watchmakers", how did you manage to balance innovation and tradition?

NICOLA ANDREATTA

We like to say that we are inspired but not submissive by the past. Watchmaking is an art and we want to respect tradition in whatever we do, but at the same time we want to challenge ourselves. The Geneva Punch does not provide for the possibility of using new materials in the production of watches, imagine how they put their hands in the hair when our movement completely made of carbon fiber was inspected! The specifications of the Geneva Punch, in fact, do not speak of carbon fiber or how to finish it. What we do is we try to move the bar a little higher each time, showing the Geneva Punch that we are able to go beyond the limits of their specifications, even if it is very difficult. Speaking of carbon fiber, we refine the material so that it is opaque and then polish each screw or component installed inside it in order to create a contrast and achieve different effects.

This example represents well the way we operate; we want to evolve watchmaking and innovate but we always start from the origins and the past. As far as theExcalibur, the devil in the Machine introduced this year, for example, we started from a minute repeat, a complication invented more than 150 years ago, transforming it into something completely new by introducing an innovative material for the case, new materials to transmit the sound of gongs, managing to make haute horlogerie expressive and contemporary.

ANDREA FRIGERIO

Speaking of innovations, where are you concentrating your energies? more on materials or mechanics?

NICOLA ANDREATTA

It is difficult to distinguish between the two. We innovate at 360°, it's not just about materials, and I'm going to give you a perfect example. We recently launched our new flying double tourbillon, theExcalibur Twofold, which uses a specially invented and patented composite material.

Excalibur Twofold caliber

We even decided to use the same material for both the case and the movement trying to combine everything. In general, when we discover something really interesting, we always wonder what we can do to raise the bar even more and following this approach we want to innovate not only with regard to watches but also in the way we collaborate with our customers and how they live the brand. Our innovation lurks in everything we do and it's really a matter of mindset.

ANDREA FRIGERIO

Innovation is a great resource for Roger Dubuis, but now I'd like to know more about the new composite material you used in the Excalibur Twofold!

NICOLA ANDREATTA

The New Excalibur Twofold is based on one of our iconic calibers, the double flying tourbillons introduced in 2009, that is, a skeletonized and very complex movement since mounts a differential able to balance and mediate the impulses given by the two tourbillons to obtain perfect precision.

The most important innovation of this watch, however, lies in the material. A year and a half ago, when I joined the company, we started thinking about the use of ceramics in our watches because of customer requests to have all-white watches. Ceramics, however, presents problems during the production process. Our cash processes and movements require you to obtain thin layers and complex surfaces, and the inherent fragility of ceramics makes it impossible for our watches to use. So I decided to challenge my team to find something different, unique, very Roger Dubuis. The characteristics we were looking for were clear: we needed a white material that was stable, light and easy to work with.

Thanks to Lamborghini's help and the ability to look for solutions from different industries (especially aeronautics), we found this incredible material called MCF (Mineral Composite Fiber) which requires a carbon fiber-like manufacturing process but needed to be white and resistant to time and wear. After much research and testing we have created a very easy-to-manufacture compound, 2.5 times lighter than ceramics, 30% lighter than carbon fiber, very stable in terms of UV resistance and completely white. Given these amazing properties we also used it for movement, particularly for some bridges, but we weren't satisfied enough.

With the Excalibur Twofold we have introduced other two exclusive news, one concerns the way we apply super-luminova to movement (deposited at 135° on an inclined surface, we patented this solution and no one in the world knows how to do it) and the other concerns the way we apply it in the strap, which generated the need to create a new rubber type to succeed. To sum up, we have created a new watch, with double flying tourbillons, certified by the Hallmark of Geneva which includes three world news. It is obviously an expensive watch but not so much if you think about all the work needed to get the finished product. We have produced only eight pieces, of which you are already sold.

ANDREA FRIGERIO

What is Roger Dubuis' role within the Richemont world? Can we say that Roger Dubuis is the playground of the Richmond group or do the solutions that you develop remain within the brand?

NICOLA ANDREATTA

The Richemont Group is very sensitive to innovations, what we develop is shared within it and there is a constant exchange of ideas between us and the Richemont Innovation Department in Neuchatel. I can't say that what we develop is not shared, but at the same time when we develop internally important and incredible news we have the opportunity to keep them for a while just for us before sharing them with other brands.

There is, however, a key point that I want to share with you, as we said earlier our nature is to be exclusive, we work hard to develop solutions such as the new composite material to produce only 8 pieces and I doubt that we would be able to industrialize manufacturing processes in order to achieve mass production. We are in a situation where we can do a small series or even a single piece without the need to deepen their industrialization, we can say that we are process craftsmen. Other brands in the group have a completely different mindset and approach since there is a requirement to have large volumes, but that's not our problem let me say.

ANDREA FRIGERIO

If I were to sum up Roger Dubuis I would use three words : Excalibur, Tourbillons and skeletons. Do you agree?

NICOLA ANDREATTA

partially. These are three excellent expressions of our brand and the Excalibur is the collection that best represents it. But if I were to use just three words, I would choose: Haute Horologerie, expressiveness and contemporary approach. You talked about tourbillons, but we must not forget about the minute repetitions, perpetual calendars and also our skeletons, which are quite unique. We are masters in skeletons, but these are about our expressiveness.

Finally, we want to be traditional but at the same time we want to always be current and constantly innovate. We want to be contemporary in the way we draw watches and in the way we approach watchmaking. Continuing to answer your question, if we looked instead at roger dubuis's whole world and had to describe it with a single word, I would use "Excess". That's who we are.

ANDREA FRIGERIO

I ask you a technical question, can you explain why some of your watches have sloping escapements? The Excalibur Quatuor, for example, also has 4 sloping escapements; can you explain the technique behind this approach?

NICOLA ANDREATTA

This question takes hours to get an answer. We've always had a certain obsession with regulators, think tourbillions or the movement used in the Excalibur Spider Huracàn Performante, and our idea is to increase the accuracy of our gravity-fighting calibers. The tourbillon does exactly that and this happens, although on a lower scale, when tilting the barbell because its average position allows it to operate in a more stable condition than when positioned horizontally. We can then extend this approach by saying that the higher the number of inclined barbells, the better, that is why we have complicated our lives by creating theExcalibur Quotuor with 4 escapements tilted to 45°.

Excalibur Quotuor

Of course, we have also created less complex calibers, such as the Duotuor with two escapements or the Huracàn Performante with a single 12° barbell. We keep asking ourselves how to increase the accuracy of our calibers and we want to constantly improve the way we design time trains and tourbillons.

ANDREA FRIGERIO

Another very interesting watch is the Excalibur Spider One-Off with two flying tourbillons and jumping hours. Have you thought about producing it on a large scale? this watch is absolutely amazing.

NICOLA ANDREATTA

This watch was presented during SIHH 2019 and was created together with Lamborghini for only one customer. It is called One-Off because it was conceived together with a single Lamborghini One-Off, with the same color combinations. As you can imagine, this is not a commercial approach.

It's interesting that you're asking us to do more because, as I said before, we want to remain very exclusive but we spent almost 2 years designing with this new movement for a single customer. So, we decided to create what we call a "unique series", meaning that we have designed a single watch but with the idea of being able to produce similar one for other customers, based on the same movement and modifying a little the specifications, colors, materials involved and always designing it side by side with the customer. We sit with our best customers around a table and develop the watch together.

This approach creates the Two-Off, a similar watch, with the same double flying tourbillons tilted to 45°, but with a different module at 12 o'clock and we hope it will be delivered within a couple of weeks. This is our approach to exclusivity and innovation.

ANDREA FRIGERIO

Roger Dubuis has signed two important collaborations with Pirelli and Lamborghini. Can these partnerships be a limit for Roger Dubuis as people think more about extreme watches and forget collections in their entirety?

NICOLA ANDREATTA

During the last few months we have thought a lot about this topic because when I joined the company we decided to extend our collaborations for a few more years. These partnerships have been extremely successful because they are not just a matter of marketing, but they have a foundation on common interests and values we share. Lamborghini is a very special car company, it is a very polarizing brand just like us; either you love it or you hate it, it's not a car for everyone.

In addition, Lamborghini pushes a lot on innovation, excess, extravagance and we share these characteristics a lot. As a result, our collaboration was built on these principles and was successful because it allowed us to accomplish several things together (such as the Excalibur Huracàn or adventador S) and to generate the possibility to have interesting experiences with our customers by organizing track days, factory visits and driving experiences.

In Roger Dubuis we have two universes of expressions that we like to play with,

one is the " Adrenaline Factor " and the other is the " Expressive Singularity ".

If during the last three years we have focused a lot on the adrenaline-pumping world honoring the collaboration with Pirelli and Lamborghini, now we need to work and take advantage of the other pillar a little more, what we call "Excalibur Original" which presents different ideas in movements and crates than the Excalibur Spider. To sum up, we know there is a risk of being overshadowed by lamborghinis, but so far we are happy with how we are cooperating. I have never heard anyone talk about Lamborghini watches but I have heard many people talk about Roger Dubuis with Lamborghini and we want to continue working in this direction.

ANDREA FRIGERIO

I've seen some videos of Jon Olsson and Benjamin Ortega showing off your watches, are you planning other collaborations with them? Is there a chance to have brand ambassadors like them in the future?

NICOLA ANDREATTA

We love our friends and we have established a special relationship, without considering the working one. Speaking of Jon, we have common interests and approaches. He was a crazy professional skier like us and our two worlds are really connected. If we can communicate together through what we do, through our experiences and the incredible moments we live, I think we can continue to express ourselves also through the voice of our friends.

Speaking of testimonials, Ideally I would like our tribe to express itself more and more without having to use them. As I said earlier, we believe in word of mouth, we believe in people who talk about us and that's why we strengthen relationships with our friends, especially those who share our own values.

ANDREA FRIGERIO

Were you surprised to see Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen wearing Roger Dubuis watches during the Netflix series " The Last Dance "?  Was it wanted or didn't you expect it?

NICOLA ANDREATTA

It wasn't planned at all! I've been playing basketball for almost 35 years, the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan were my idols. When there was no chance to watch games during the day, I and my brother would get up at 3 a.m. to watch every single game they played. When I first saw the footage with Michael Jordan wearing a Roger Dubuis, I said, " WOW, this is really amazing!".

All this generated a lot of noise and we received a lot of requests. It is also interesting to note that Scottie wears a watch with a value 3 or 4 times greater than Michael's despite the wage difference they have had during their career and both have bought watches.

We met Scottie three years ago at an event in Las Vegas, then she decided to buy a watch and so did Michael in New York. Michael is a watch lover, not the only Roger Dubuis who possesses and has a very particular taste.

ANDREA FRIGERIO

Another particular watch that we can easily see on social networks is the "Knights of the round Table". What are the peculiarities behind this model and why is there this continuous reference to the mythology of King Arthur in the collections of Roger Dubuis?

NICOLA ANDREATTA

I've been asking myself the same question since I joined the company because I wasn't aware of the story. I can't really tell you why the Excalibur was created since I wasn't there, but I know it remembers the power of the legendary sword and its symbolism perfectly represents our main collection. A few years ago, we were looking for something that could represent the peak of the Excalibur collection with the idea of creating a new art craft.

What we did is we invented a new type of " micro-grallure ", the ability to sculpt micro metal elements, so we started sculpting the gold statues of the twelve knights around the dial. Basically, we were able to create a 3D effect in the dial. Then, we went further by creating something more contemporary and using low-poly technology. Instead of sculpting the kings perfectly we decided to create small inclined planes that once combined generated to the final silhouette of the statues and finally we arrived at the last edition presented last year.

This watch is unique, impressive, complex to manufacture, think that a single dial takes 12 months to complete and we are only able to produce 28 pieces every year, which never reach the market since they are all already sold. In addition, we use sapphire to complete the dials and expect the unexpected for the next edition!

The Perpetual Passion team would like to thank Nicola and the Roger Dubuis team for the time they dedicated to us!