Roger Dubuis is the Swiss watchmaker famous for its 'Haute Horology'. Their mix of cutting edge technology and bombastic design make their watches very special. They’re the sort of rare timepieces that attract the attention of the world’s most discerning collectors.
One such client, Michael Jordan, was recently seen wearing the brand’s Excalibur Spider Pirelli in the Netflix documentary The Last Dance.
Given the close relationship that forms between client and watchmaker when you’re purchasing a watch that starts at over $70k, we wondered if Jordan and Roger Dubuis might be planning something.
So, while sitting down to talk with Roger Dubuis CEO Nicola Andreatta about the brand’s 2020 novelties and its three world-firsts, we asked him.
GQ : Nicola, the latest Roger Dubuis novelty, the Excalibur Two-Fold Tourbillion is a white watch. White is a traditionally very difficult colour to perfect. How did you manage it?
There are no white metals, so to get a white or close to white watch you need to use a lot of palladium. But it’s still not really white.
When I came on board, I challenged the team to find a material which was as white as possible, but with some kind of different properties from every other compound currently used to obtain a white colour.
We came up with this incredible material called MCF (mineral composite fibre) which is a material we've been working on for at least a couple of years.
MCF allows us to have a material which is 2.5 times lighter than ceramic and 13 per cent lighter than carbon fibre, but at the same time extremely easy to manufacture.
You’ve also made innovations in the way you apply your superluminova paint?
We decided to have something more on the dial, and developed a new way to apply a superluminova. It's 80 per cent more shiny than the normal superlumina, and we found a way to apply it at an angle. It works on the edges of our calibres and up to 135 degrees of inclination.
As you can imagine, inside a watch you have a lot of things moving, and you need to make sure that you don't have any particles going around, because that's going to get stuck in your moving gears. We made sure we found a way to apply the material so that it will stay where it is.
Could we ask how you’ve managed to make it stay on at such an angle?
I’m afraid that’s exactly the maximum I can tell you about the way we do things.
Very diplomatic! Now, when you have such special watches and invested clients, is there a dialogue between you both, an exchange of ideas, as such?
You know, we have a whole programme which we call ‘Rarities’ and within this universe, what we do is develop specific time pieces for our clients.
We’re thinking specifically of Michael Jordan.
Michael Jordan was an incredible surprise. It was not something planned, it was not something we expected, it was totally organic. He's one of our clients, and this is the only thing we knew, but we didn’t expect him to wear our watch during possibly what looks to be the most important sporting event of the year.
I think there is a huge crowd of people looking at Michael Jordan and looking at Michael Jordan wearing a Roger Dubuis, and Scottie Pippen as well. Both are friends of the brand.
Scottie has a double flying tourbillon, and Michael Jordan has a Pirelli auto-skeleton.
What kind of feedback do clients like this give you? Do they make suggestions or ask you to create specific things?
We try to understand what they want from an incredible timepiece, and then we design it together.
In the last six months, we developed a specific department, which we call Q Lab, in honour of the famous Q Lab of James Bond. So we have our Quartermaster, someone dedicated to discovery, to experimentation, they see all the different materials but also new movements.
Also there are new ways of interacting with our clients, and we are inviting them to Geneva. We sit down with them and we literally develop the watch with them. Clearly that gives us a lot of insight on what our clients look for, or what they want and most of all, that becomes the next stream of work to make sure that we implement something directly derived from their requests. So it's a cycle, working with them and then coming up with the next complication or next evolution of work.
So, potentially, we could see a Roger Dubuis and Michael Jordan collaboration on the horizon?
That's an interesting question and I'm afraid I'm not ready to answer but we are talking.
The new Roger Dubuis Excalibur Two-Fold Tourbillon