‘Roger Dubuis’ plans to add brand and widen production

Roger Dubuis, one of the world’s most exclusive and expensive Swiss watch brands, plans to widen its market and production in the next couple years, says Carlos Dias, president and chief executive officer. Dias made his comments in an interview with JCK at the recent JCK Show in Las Vegas.

The watch firm “in the next two years will launch another brand and at a different, slightly lower price level,” he said. The brand’s price range now is $9,500 to $400,000, with the average sale to begin around $30,000.

The firm produces only 28 of each new model in its six collections of generally large-sized watches, a limited-edition strategy designed to keep the brand exclusive and, says a company statement, “something exceptional” for each of its wearers.

However, with the new brand, said Dias, “we will broaden production” to possibly 55 pieces of each new model. In addition, the firm—which designs, develops, fabricates and assembles its own mechanical movements—is thinking about “possibly adding a ladies line with quartz movements.”

Roger Dubuis is now sold in major markets “on six continents” and, claims Dias, “we have a waiting list of [potential distributors] in 24 countries.” He expects the firm’s distribution and revenues to “continue going up” in the next few years. “The potential is big,” he says.

Yesterday and today. The Geneva, Switzerland, firm was started in 1995 by master horologist Roger Dubuis, formerly with Swiss luxury brand Patek Philippe, and Dias, a successful Portuguese businessman, fashion clothing designer, and avid vintage watch collector. Their goal, they said, was to create “watches of today, inspired by the past, but not bound to it.”

Within a year, they produced their first collections, “Hommage” (round shaped) and “Sympathie” (square-cambered).

Since then, they’ve added four more collections: “MuchMore,” rectangular curved case; “TooMuch,” rectangular curved case, on a double strap; “GoldenSquare,” square case; and this year’s unusual FollowMe, a Swiss-cross shaped curved case on a double strap cross-enameled and dual time zones timepieces. The company has also produced nine calibers, including three this year, among them a flying tourbillon with large date. Each calibre is each stamped with the prestigious Poinçon de Genève hallmark, given only to movements assembled and finished in Geneva, according to strict quality requirements.

The brand entered the U.S. market in 1999 (distributed by Helvetia Time, Wilkes-Barre, Pa., also the site of its North American service and repair center) and business has “increased annually” since, says Dias. Currently, Roger Dubuis is sold by 20 fine high end jewelry retailers in the U.S. (25 doors), and Dias expects the brand’s business to continue to grow.

Ongoing growth. Because of its success and continuing overall growth, the luxury watchmaker in 2002 moved into a new, specially-built facility in Meyrin-Satigny, just outside Geneva. The 9,843 sq. ft. building has two sections. One is for watchmaking operations (including state-of-the-art micro-mechanical technology which produces every component of its movements in-house, plus workshops for various complications, research, and development). The other is for administrative departments.

The company doesn’t release revenue or production figures, but Dias said annual revenues have increased 125% in the past five years and that the company produces “several thousand” watches year. The firm, which started with one employee in 1995, now has 180 and expects to double that-thanks to its new models and proposed additional brand, and somewhat increased production-in the next two to three years.

The brand is growing and changing in other ways, too. It unveiled a new worldwide ad campaign this summer, which “associates the brand with a lifestyle image,” said Dias, and has launched its own network of boutiques. Since December 2002, it has opened three-in Geneva, Paris and Dubai-plans to open “one or two” in the United States within “three to four years,” he says.