Faster than time: shaping the future with Roger Dubuis

For over 25 years, they have kept their promise to push the boundaries of Haute Horlogerie. Roger Dubuis makes collectors' timepieces for prestigious collaborations. Their craftsmanship is appreciated by enthusiasts worldwide and their latest creation is a tribute to 150 years of Pirelli

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They are the provocateurs of Haute Horlogerie driven by a nearly physical urge to better themselves, to go beyond, to create “hyper-watches in an industry in which almost everything has already been said and done in 300 years of history” and to respond to the existential need to shape the future. “In the Roger Dubuis style, this means being the master of one's future, building it in one's own way”, explained CEO Nicola Andreatta. “It also means being a trendsetter, electing to choosing the unusual instead of being chosen by a brand”. A bold and polarising stance emerges in the design, materials and mechanisms of the limited-edition watches made by the Swiss maison, founded in 1995 and also known for its motorsport collaborations. The latest creation is Excalibur Spider Pirelli Monotourbillon, a tribute to the 150th anniversary of Pirelli, to which Roger Dubuis had previously dedicated the Excalibur Spider capsule collection with tyre rubber inserts.

Faster than time: shaping the future with Roger Dubuis 01
Faster than time: shaping the future with Roger Dubuis 01

What does Hyper Horology mean according to Roger Dubuis?

“It is our trademark formed by the Greek prefix hyper “beyond, go beyond”. Hyper is a mindset at Roger Dubuis, starting with the product based on an evolved concept of the most expressive and contemporary Haute Horlogerie. It drives our desire to be an alternative to classical watchmaking. This is why we define our approach as 'Hyper Horology' ".

You call yourselves “serial innovators” and “troublemakers” but your watches have the all-important “Geneva hallmark”. What is the secret of blending respect for tradition and breaking the mould?

"With over 300 years of history behind us, finding something 'different' in Haute Horlogerie is extremely complicated and this is why we claim to want to push the boundaries of the industry. Our expressive, creative and contemporary approach expresses the need to evolve from traditions. This is the legacy of the values of Roger Dubuis, who worked for years in classical watchmaking, but then wanted to create something new. We are still very much with Roger although he passed away in 2017”.

What does it take to become a Roger Dubuis watchmaker?

“You have to be a bit crazy [he said with a smile, author's note]. The technique is not enough. What makes the difference is the mindset, the attitude and a personality that makes sense in our world.”

What is your R&D working on now?

“We recently created the Q Lab department (named in honour of James Bond's Mister Q), a physical and virtual space equipped with instruments where we bring together product creativity and more, from marketing to customer relations. Not everyone can access it because it is where we develop the ideas there that we then place in watches. This is the case of our concept watches, examples of style and technique that we will use to demonstrate the innovation, creativity and savoir-faire of Roger Dubuis but that may not necessarily be marketed”.

How do you marry the idea of “shaping the future” with “going beyond” and motorsports?

"Going beyond one's limits is part of human nature and allows one to achieve the highest goals.  Challenges like this, competing against the clock and precision are values shared by drivers and watchmakers linking us to motorsports, even more so when we think of our partners, Pirelli and Lamborghini.”

Faster than time: shaping the future with Roger Dubuis 02
Faster than time: shaping the future with Roger Dubuis 02

How is the homage to Pirelli's 150th anniversary expressed?

“The Excalibur Spider Pirelli Monotourbillon is an innovative manufacture built around a flying tourbillon, Roger Dubuis' prime complication, in a very trendy ultra-white silicon fibre composite case. With Pirelli, we chose three different bezels in red, silver and gold to celebrate the anniversary. This design parallels the idea of a pitstop. Just like a Formula 1 tyre change, the look of the watch can be changed by swapping the crown, strap and bezel to have four watches in one and satisfy the desired for customisation.”

What has changed with the crises of recent years since the pandemic?

“We have evolved with a digital acceleration in the customer's shopping experience. The market has increasingly shifted towards Asia and the younger generation. In many countries, we have experienced exponential growth after the various lockdowns, in China and the US first and foremost. We aspire to remain a global brand and have 32 retail boutiques today. The present is positive even though fears of inflation and recession are beginning to be felt. In this kind of dynamic, we are working hard on brand equity and increasing the value of what we do. It plays to our advantage to have cut the entry level to 50,000 Euro. That wasn't what we did best.”

Today you like to call yourselves the “provocateurs of Haute Horlogerie”. How do you think Roger Dubuis will be perceived 50 or 100 years from now?

“I would like to think in very much the same way. We want to create the future of watchmaking, even 100 years from now. If we were to turn to vintage, there would be a lack of willingness to take risks. Of course, it is easier to relaunch a successful product than to come up with something never seen before, but we don't like to look back. We are a creative team of exceptional people full of ideas to keep our narrative going.”

What is time according to Roger Dubuis?

"It is the dimension in which one perceives the distance between emotions. In Roger Dubuis, the experiential dimension is strong and since we use time to measure life in every sense, we define it as the distance between two emotions.”