For clothing, we have fashion week. For watches, we've heard of big names such as Baselworld in Switzerland and the Salon International Haute Horlogerie at Geneva. As the heat of Summer comes to an end, Watch & Wonders happens - an annual fine watchmaking exhibition event in Hong Kong. The experience can be intimidating - from the polished up crowds dress up, champagne glasses and rare watches; but the intention is quite the opposite. Many visit the 4-day event as a chance to learn more about luxury watches and the production behind it.
We've all heard of the big names - Cartier, Mont Blanc, Van Clef & Arpels. All European companies that have a rich history behind them, although surprising that some of them have actually only been around for 100 years (despite its name). And so when I sat down and interviewed Jean-Marc Pontroue, CEO of Roger Dubuis, there was a lot to learn about the market for the brand and its youth; this year merely marks the 20th anniversary of the brand.
Watch & Wonders is a way to let the public experience Roger Dubuis, in a way that might not be available in normal boutiques.There's a story to tell - it's a fantasy-like brand that naturally has its stories to tell. Creative director Alvaro Maggini is in charge of the style of the brand and, when asked on what his title involves, he says he never stops working; inspiration is everywhere and one's brain is an evolution. He then points to the Excalibur Star Of Infinity - a RD01SQ skeleton model with Roger Dubuis' famous double skeleton 'star' dial. He then points to architecture, engineering, and fashion. Stating Alexander McQueen as one of his favourites, in particular the Armadillo shoes from his SS10 show. His inspiration board also included the 3D designs of Dutch fashion designer Iris Van Herpen and the gothicness from Gareth Pugh.
3 words to describe Roger Dubuis:
Exclusivity, because such a couture company cannot possibly get involved with mass production and satisfy the world. Controlled, as the brand decided to differentiate itself from its competitors with the use of new materials. Innovation, where new materials come with new investments and new complications.
Popularity in Asia vs Europe:
Surprisingly, Asia is not seen particularly more than anywhere else. This may come to the relief of shopping patterns seen from the Far-East, in particular Mainland China. Though there is much more acceleration - China today is so much different than China 10 years ago.
If Paris is the capital of couture, Geneva would be the capital of luxury watchmaking. Roger Dubuis prides itself as being one of the few watchmakers that qualifies for the Geneva Seal - a certification for wrist and pocket watch instruments that go through very strict admission and technical requirements. Geneva is place where there's richness of networking; over 300 years had luxury watch manufactures been in this industry.
What's to come in 2016?
It's the year for the ladies. Roger Dubuis recognises the power to women and how the luxury watch manufacturing business has often neglected on. And if you'd think watches were all springs and dials, think again. See the Velvet: some straps replicate the materials of a stocking, the dial is embellished with diamonds with elements of pink gold. As Alvaro describes it, all will be 'progressive, not regressive'.
To be continued... #tbc