Rodolphe makes management changes; wins ‘Watch of the Year’ Honor

Swiss luxury brand Rodolphe Watches & Jewellery has made some top management changes. In a related story, Rodolphe’s Instinct Chrono 180° has been named “Watch of the Year 2006” by a leading European watch magazine.

Jacky Epitaux , who was Rodolphe Watches & Jewellery’s director of sales and marketing, left in October, says a statement by Franck Muller Group, which acquired the company in 2005. Didier Decker, the chief operating officer of the Group, has added the duties of director of Rodolphe Watches & Jewellery. He’ll focus primarily on communication, marketing and brand development.

In addition, two long-time Rodolphe company employees were promoted. Julien Mottaz is the new sales manager and will concentrate on expansion of the brand’s watches and jewelry worldwide. May Margot was named executive assistant to the board of directors.

Co-founders Rodolphe Cattin and Gabriele Guidi continue to provide “the creative and operational management” of the company “in close collaboration” with Vartran Sirmakes, co-founder and chief executive officer of the Franck Muller Group, said the statement.

Sales of Rodolphe watches have grown since Muller acquired the company. Its 2006 orders triple those of 2005. In addition, Rodolphe and his team also design for many private labels.

The “Watch of the Year 2006” honor was announced Nov. 1. Rodolphe’s Instinct Chrono 180° was unanimously picked from dozens of prestigious competitors by a jury of watch experts for the Swiss watch magazine Montres Passion. Concerning the watch’s sideways tonneau shape and design, the idea was to “see the world from a different standpoint,” says Rodolphe Cattin. “Reality is an individual perception.”

The Instinct Chrono 180° is equipped with both an automatic chronograph movement with date and a quartz movement showing hours and minutes. The chrono movement, developed exclusively for the Instinct model, was rotated 180° (hence the name) from a traditional chronograph, putting the crown on the left side.

Rodolphe also continues to produce jewelry. Though focused primarily on watches in 2005 and 2006, it will unveil a new line of jewelry at the 2007 “World Presentation of Haute Horlogerie,” the annual show of the watch brands and jewelry of the Franck Muller Group. While the price range hadn’t been set at press time, the new collection will be “more elegant” and “more ‘high-class,” JCK was told by a Rodolphe spokesperson.