Ong Chin Huat sits down with Nicola Andreatta, the CEO of Roger Dubuis, during his visit to the Malaysian Capital, Kuala Lumpur, where he opened the renowned watch company’s new flagship, Roger Dubuis boutique.
Coming from a watchmaking family spanning three generations, without doubt, put Nicola Andreatta in good stead as the CEO of the luxury Swiss watch brand Roger Dubuis. It was also an added bonus that he came to the company with twenty years of experience working in the watch industry.
From setting up Tiffany & Co.’s watch division to launching his own watch brand, no one can accuse Andreatta of not having a 360-degree view of this competitive industry.
With big plans underway for Roger Dubuis in the near future, both in Asia and the Americas, Andreatta was in Kuala Lumpur recently for the grand opening of the new flagship Roger Dubuis boutique located at the swanky Pavilion KL Mall, and Ong Chin Huat grabbed the opportunity to ask him some questions.
With its concrete walls, minimalist, industrial vibe and signature star motif greeting customers as they enter, this boutique is the first one in Southeast Asia to feature this new store concept.
“We want to convey the right feeling to the right clientele,” Andreatta says, adding that even though the overall look is similar, every boutique will be different. “We try to have a localised approach, but the consistency has to be there, so people recognise it is Roger Dubuis.”
For the local element in the KL boutique, an installation by Malaysian light artist Jun Ong hangs on a prominent wall inside the boutique, radiating a multitude of colourful lights.
Constantly evolving and pushing boundaries whilst remaining true to their DNA is what this luxury watchmaker is all about, and one of the ways Roger Dubuis stays relevant and current is by collaborating with contemporary artists who lead in their field.
A case in point is their collaborations with LA’s most sought-after tattoo artist Dr Woo, French graffiti-turned-studio artist Gully and world-famous Japanese illustrator and sculptor, Hajime Sorayama.
Roger Dubuis has also collaborated with various other brands to create one-off products like cognac and sake, which serve as gifts to their VIP customers.
An example Andreatta mentions is the collaboration with D’Aincourt Cognac, with over 100 eau-de-vie, each over 75 years old and with only a limited quantity of only 88 bottles.
Founded just 28 years ago and therefore considered a relatively young watch brand, Roger Dubuis has nevertheless created a niche for itself in the horological world. “Our manufacture has so far created more than 40 different calibres in-house, and our factories are fully integrated,” said Andreatta, justifiably proud of such an achievement.
“We have mastered all the complications, including the perpetual calendar and every kind of tourbillons, and that’s why say we are the inventor of Hyper Horology.”
But apart from the mechanical marvels of Roger Dubuis, it’s the unique and eye-catching aesthetics of the brand which make it stand out from the rest. “Design for us is key. In our case, function follows form. First and foremost, we want to have a beautiful watch, and then we will find a way to make it work.”
Looking at Roger Dubuis’ latest novelty, the Excalibur Backlight Spin-Stone Monobalancier, Andreatta is definitely not wrong. Powered by the RD720SQ calibre, the dial is rimmed by subtle colour-gradient spinels, which are coated with Super-LumiNova giving this stunning timepiece a luminescent look.
Limited to only 28 pieces worldwide, this timepiece demands attention the moment it is placed on anyone’s wrist.
With every single component finished by hand, every single Roger Dubuis timepiece is also certified by the Geneva Seal, an official seal awarded to watches submitted for inspection to an independent bureau operating under state control in Geneva.
To receive the seal, a timepiece must meet 12 strict criteria related to the quality of the movement’s finishing and the materials from which it is made.
It’s no wonder then that Andreatta’s definition of luxury is something which is difficult to obtain and difficult to manufacture. To that, he adds, “There always needs to be a creative impulse behind luxury.”
And who are Roger Dubuis’ customers? “That’s a very complicated question,” says Andreatta. “We have a very diverse clientele. They are between 20 and 60 years old and roughly 80 per cent men and 20 per cent women. Culturally our clients are very diverse, ranging from Japanese to Americans to Middle Eastern. But one thing all our customers have in common is that they love beautiful things and enjoy pampering themselves.”
With his vast experience in the luxury market, where does Andreatta see this particular market sector heading?
“I see a division where big brands will become bigger and expand horizontally and offer not just one or two products but an entire lifestyle, while smaller, niche brands which make very special things will gain larger followings and new customers because of their exclusivity and unmatched craftsmanship…and there will be a co-existence of these two very different worlds in the luxury universe.”
For further information on Roger Dubuis, please visit www.rogerdubuis.com.
Read more exclusive interviews and people profiles here.