Follow the smell of petrol, engine oil and burning rubber, and that’s where you’ll find Roger Dubuis, in a world where the purr of an engine is music to the ears and speed, as much as time, is of the essence. It’s almost as though the brand had been born with a steering wheel as its logo. “In its 22-year existence, Roger Dubuis had never entered into any kind of partnership,” CEO Jean-Marc Pontroué reminded us at Dubai Watch Week. “Then, after teaming up with Pirelli at the start of the year, we went on to sign a deal with Lamborghini in September. We couldn’t have dreamed of a more spectacular positioning, given the powerful mechanical content of our watches, and the shared drive for research and innovation. These partnerships pretty much speak for themselves!”
A "young" brand
Pirelli, sole supplier to Lamborghini and to Formula 1; Lamborghini, whose Super Trofeo championship holds races all over the world… this combination of motorsports and Latin soul proved irresistible for Roger Dubuis, which is already adopting its codes. First of all, the watchmaker is adapting its schedule to coincide with the motor racing calendar. It’s also building a “club” spirit around the brand with a ten-year extended warranty and a leasing programme. And it’s planning what it promises will be “extraordinary” events, including at the Colette concept store in Paris and on New York’s Fifth Avenue – with the Italian supercars front and centre.
“It’s true that we’re a niche brand,” says Gregory Bruttin, Roger Dubuis’ head of product strategy, “and from that point of view Lamborghini will give us excellent visibility. But we’re also a young, creative brand for connoisseurs. A brand that truly seeks to understand its customer. We’re hearing a lot about millennials right now, how they want everything to be fast and different. The last thing they want is a watch like the one their father wears. We can offer them personalisation across our entire range. And we bring our products to market very quickly. Our new watches are in stores within weeks of being launched. With an average price point in the region of CHF 50,000, we’re certainly not entry-level but don’t be fooled: millennials have money too.”
For the love of Excalibur
Roger Dubuis has a surefire way to catch these millennials’ eye and that’s Excalibur, its flagship range which makes up 80% of sales. This is where the brand intends to focus its efforts, with a little help from its Italian friends. Pirelli has supplied rubber from tyres that equipped Formula 1 Grand Prix winning cars, which Roger Dubuis has transformed into competition-grade straps. Pirelli has also inspired Roger Dubuis for the accent colours in its Excalibur Spider. Over at Lamborghini, Roger Dubuis has come up with the forged carbon for its cases, a high-tech material developed by the automaker in collaboration with Boeing. It also found the creative inspiration that produced the Aventador S whose double sprung balance is inclined to resemble the placement of the eponymous Lamborghini’s engine.
“When you first think about it, using old tires can seem pretty incongruous,” continues Gregory Bruttin, “but that would be to underestimate the impact motor racing has. Customers also appreciate the Pirelli accent colours. The partnership makes perfect sense to support Roger Dubuis’ existing collections. As for Lamborghini, it gives us access to its technology, and without restriction as we’re obviously not in the same markets. It’s still early days in terms of R&D and design but it’s already obvious that the partnership will contribute to product development, right down to the movement.” Roger Dubuis is already reaching out to influencers who have a Lamborghini tattooed on their heart. As for the two watches unveiled in Dubai prior to next year’s Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie, they were of course an Excalibur Spider Pirelli Automatic Skeleton with white accents, a limited edition of 88, and an Excalibur Aventador S in carbon and pink gold, 63 of which will be made. How many seats in a Lamborghini?