Roger Dubuis SA Founder Carlos Dias Leaves

Carlos Dias, the founder, chief executive officer, and primary shareholder of the Swiss luxury watch brand Roger Dubuis SA, has left the company. His departure was confirmed by the watch company.

Dias was the driving force behind growth of the brand, known for its innovative mechanical watches in limited editions of 28 and 288, in the past decade. In recent years, it added jewelry and opened several boutiques worldwide.

As founder, owner, and designer, he once told an interviewer, “ever since the first day” everything produced by the company was “100 percent Carlos Dias.”

No specific reason was given for his leaving. A Roger Dubuis spokesperson told JCK simply that Portuguese-born Dias—an avid watch collector who has a doctorate in political science, and has also been a furniture designer and book publisher—“has chosen to leave the company.”

Matthias Schuler has been named the new CEO of Roger Dubuis SA, replacing him, effective Aug. 19, announced the brand and Richemont, one of the world’s leading luxury goods conglomerates. Richemont, whose portfolio includes several prestigious Swiss watch brands, purchased 60 percent of Roger Dubuis SA from Dias, effective Aug. 11, in a private transaction.

Schuler was previously chief operating officer of IWC, one of Ricehmont’s upscale watch brands. The dual announcement called him a man with “significant expertise in the Swiss watch industry.”

Roger Dubuis SA, based in Geneva, will continue to create, manufacture and distribute watches under its brand name, operating as an autonomous brand within Richemont, said a company statement. “[The] broader integration of its distribution” into the Richemont structure, it noted, will develop its international business and brand recognition.

Roger Duis’ absorption into Richemont began last September, when Richemont bought its watch components production facility in Meyrin, Switzerland, outside Geneva, months after some Swiss press reports alleged financial difficulties for the watchmaker. It now makes components for Roger Dubuis and other Richemont watch brands. Richemont also agreed in September to distribute Roger Dubuis watches in some key markets, including the United States and the Middle East.

The company was founded by Dias in 1995 (originally called Sogem SA, for Société Genevoise des Montres) and launched its first watches 1999. In 2000, it began developing worldwide distribution. The first building of its Meyrin facility, designed by Dias, went up in 2001. A second opened in 2004.  That same year, Roger Dubuis SA added jewelry (also designed by Dias) and has since opened several boutiques around the world. By 2006, it had a workforce of 450 (though that later shrunk to half).

At the annual international SIHH luxury watch fair in Geneva, Roger Dubuis SA regularly unveils innovative new models—usually square and in limited numbers of 28 and 288—and new mechanical movements, including a number of world firsts.

In addition to Roger Dubuis, Richemont’s other luxury watch brands include Jaeger-LeCoultre, Piaget, IWC, Baume & Mercier, Vacheron Constantin, Officine Panerai and A. Lange & Söhne.