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

ANDREA FRIGERIO

Nicola, Roger Dubuis was a pioneer in the world of watchmaking and now you run his own brand. How do you manage such a legacy and what are the cornerstones you are focusing on to build the future of the brand?

NICOLA ANDREATTA

Even though the history of the brand is quite short, we have always been quite creative and dedicated to bringing constant news ever since the house was founded in 1995. When I joined the company, my concern was not to change or revolutionize. the strategy of the brand and I decided to continue the path traced by my predecessors by increasing the strength of the brand. I focused on our people, who are incredible professionals and have been able to excellently lead the brand, on'to be "disruptive" and on innovations. Innovation, in particular, is the real strength behind Roger Dubuis, we continually innovate what we do and by being “disruptive” we want to be different from what can be found on the market today. We are truly unique and want to make sure we continually differentiate ourselves from the competition.

ANDREA FRIGERIO

Roger Dubuis is the only (or one of the very few) brands able to certify all its watches with the Hallmark of Geneva. Do you think it has the same importance today as it did in the past? I mean, nowadays you can find excellent suppliers all over the world.

NICOLA ANDREATTA

Good question, we had a long internal discussion about whether or not to continue with the Geneva Seal. I believe that this is a certification that can guarantee a certain way of making watchmaking, it is more about the craftsmanship and quality of the watches than saying 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 holology, but at the same time not many brands are able to handle it as it is expensive and there is a third party entity. party that supervises your activities in the factory to check how you work.

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

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

ANDREA FRIGERIO

If you find a certain technology in the world that is useful for developing your watch, would you be more interested in developing or buying this?

NICOLA ANDREATTA

The question of " Make or Buy”Is always very important. Clearly, the idea of ​​being a manufactory implies two main points. First and foremost we want to maintain the highest levels of quality possible and there is no better way to do so than keeping all processes in-house. Then, there is the question of intellectual property. Once a certain technology has been developed, we want to keep it to avoid sharing it with sub-suppliers who work with other companies. Furthermore, with our attitude to innovation, we want to continue to challenge and explore the boundaries of watchmaking and we want to do it on our own. To support this philosophy, we have recently created a new department within the company dedicated only to innovation, new materials, new movements and developments on IT technologies related to our work. 

ANDREA FRIGERIO

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

NICOLA ANDREATTA

Great question! One of my main interests over the past 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 keep a certain unique 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 have no intention of increasing production. It is about choosing your own battles, we cannot be a mass brand and at the same time continue to produce minute repeaters, 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 for us to connect with them remains the word of mouth. When we stimulate emotions, when we share intense experiences with our customers, they share their feelings with the people closest to them. We like to call our customers a "tribe" because it always comes back to the brand. We don't need a large number of customers because we wouldn't be able to serve them properly, therefore 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 issues we are experiencing. What are the activities involved in the transformation process from "old" companies to 4.0?

NICOLA ANDREATTA

Speaking of “old” for a 25-year-old company is a bit 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 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 you are dealing with extremely tight tolerances, able to self-adjust our CNC machines and check the status of the tools used. This system clearly highlights our attitude towards 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 labor of 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 of be inspired but not subdued 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 Hallmark of Geneva does not foresee the possibility of using new materials in the production of watches, imagine how they got their hands in their hair when our movement completely made of carbon fiber was inspected! The specifications of the Hallmark of Geneva, in fact, do not speak of carbon fiber or how to finish it. What we do is try to move the bar a little higher each time, showing the Geneva Hallmark that we are able to push the limits of their specifications, even if it is very difficult. Speaking of carbon fiber, we finish the material so that it is opaque and then polish each screw or component installed inside it in order to create a contrast and obtain 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. Regarding theExcalibur Diabolus in Machina introduced this year, for example, we started from a minute repeater, 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 the gongs, managing to make high watchmaking is expressive and contemporary. 

ANDREA FRIGERIO

Speaking of innovations, where are you focusing 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 a matter of materials and I'll give you a perfect example. We recently launched our new double flying 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 ask ourselves what we can do to raise the bar even more and by 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 these live the brand. Our innovation is hidden in everything we do and it is really a matter of mentality.

ANDREA FRIGERIO

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

NICOLA ANDREATTA

Il New Excalibur Twofold is based on one of our iconic calibers, the flying double tourbillons introduced in 2009, i.e. 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 due to customer requests for completely white watches. However, ceramic presents problems during the manufacturing process. Our case processes and movements require thin layers and complex surfaces, and the inherent fragility of ceramic makes it impossible for our watches to be used. So I decided to challenge my team to find something different, unique, very Roger Dubuis. The features we were looking for were clear: we needed a white material that was stable, light and easy to work with.

Thanks to the help of Lamborghini and the possibility of looking for solutions from different industries (especially aeronautics), we found this amazing material called MCF (Mineral Composite Fiber) which requires a manufacturing process similar to carbon fiber but it was necessary that it 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 ceramic, 30% lighter than carbon fiber, very stable in terms of UV resistance and completely white. Given these incredible properties we also used it for movement, particularly for some bridges, but we weren't happy enough.

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

ANDREA FRIGERIO

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

NICOLA ANDREATTA

The Richemont group is very sensitive to innovations, what we develop is shared internally and there is a constant exchange of ideas between us and the Richemont Innovation Department in Neuchatel. I cannot say that what we develop is not shared, but at the same time when we develop important and incredible innovations internally we have the possibility to keep them for a while only for ourselves 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 to achieve mass production. We are able to make 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 had to summarize 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 had to use only three words, I would choose: Haute Horologerie, expressiveness and a contemporary approach. You talked about tourbillons, but we mustn't forget about the minute repeaters, the 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 design watches and in the way we approach watchmaking. Going on to answer your question, if we looked instead at the whole world of Roger Dubuis and had to describe it with a single word, I would use "Excess". This is who we are. 

ANDREA FRIGERIO

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

NICOLA ANDREATTA

This question takes hours to answer. We have always had a certain obsession with regulatory organs, think of the tourbillion or the movement used in the Excalibur Spider Huracàn Performante, and our idea is to increase the precision of our calibers by fighting gravity. The tourbillon does exactly this and this happens, albeit on a lower scale, when you tilt the balance wheel because its medium position allows it to operate in a more stable condition than when you place it horizontally. We can then extend this approach by saying that the greater the number of inclined barbells the better, which is why we have complicated our lives by creating theExcalibur Quotuor with 4 45 ° inclined escapements.

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 ° balance wheel. We keep wondering how to increase the accuracy of our calibers and 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 stunning.

NICOLA ANDREATTA

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

It is interesting that you are 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 client. So, we decided to create what we call a "unique series", meaning that we designed a single watch but with the idea of ​​being able to produce similar ones for other customers, based on the same movement and modifying the specifications, the colors a little. , the materials involved and always designing it side by side with the customer. We sit with our best customers around a table and develop the clock together.

This approach creates the Two-Off, a similar watch, with the same double flying tourbillons at a 45 ° angle, 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. Could these partnerships be a limitation 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 issue because when I joined the company we decided to extend our collaborations for a few more years. These partnerships are 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.

Furthermore, Lamborghini pushes a lot on innovation, excess, extravagance and we share these characteristics a lot. Consequently, our collaboration was built on this principle and was successful because it allowed us to create different things together (such as the Excalibur Huracàn or the Adventador S) and to generate the possibility of making interesting experiences with our customers by organizing of 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 world honoring the collaboration with Pirelli and Lamborghini, now we need to work and exploit a little more the other pillar, what we call "Excalibur Original" which presents different ideas in the movements and in the cases compared to the Excalibur Spider. In summary, we know that there is a risk of being overshadowed by lamborghini, 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 your watches, are you planning other collaborations with them? Is there the possibility of having 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 pro skier as crazy as we are and our two worlds are truly 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 themselves 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 for this we strengthen relationships with our friends, especially those who share our same 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 did you not expect it?

NICOLA ANDREATTA

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

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

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

ANDREA FRIGERIO

Another particular clock 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 constant reference to the mythology of King Arthur in the Roger Dubuis collections?

NICOLA ANDREATTA

I have been asking myself the same question since I joined the company because I was not aware of the story. I can't really tell you why the Excalibur was created since I wasn't there, but I know that it recalls 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 have done is invent a new type of "micro-grallure", the ability to sculpt micro elements of metal, so we have started sculpting the golden statues of the twelve knights around the dial. Basically, we managed to create a 3D effect in the dial. Then, we went further by creating something more contemporary and using low-poly technology. Instead of perfectly sculpting the kings, we decided to create small inclined planes that, when combined, would generate the final shape of the statues and finally we arrived at the latest edition presented last year.

This watch is unique, impressive, complex to manufacture, just think that a single dial takes 12 months to complete and we are able to produce only 28 pieces each year, which never reach the market as they are all already sold. Furthermore, 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!