Disruptive Roger Dubuis

Haute Horlogerie brand Roger Dubuis has, since its inception, frequently astonished watch aficionados with its powerful and daring designs. This year is no exception, explains the maverick marque’s Product Strategy Director, Gregory Bruttin, as he talks to “Day & Night” magazine on why the brand likes being disruptive

Q:What does Roger Dubuis’ motto of the year “Being Disruptive” mean?
A:“Disruptive” means finding a different way of making watches and we have succeeded very well this year. Our best example is the Excalibur Spider Pirelli – Double Flying Tourbillon; we tried to find a new material for the strap. For this, we worked with Pirelli, the company that leads the industry in rubber, especially R&D. We collaborated with them to find a new approach for rubber straps.

Q:How did the partnership between Roger Dubuis and Pirelli begin?
A:It began at the Grand Prix in Monaco one year ago. It was not only the rubber and the tyres that fascinated us; it was the long history of the brand and its style. We wanted to use the technology of the rubber and we met the R&D team from Pirelli. We discovered that the technology of rubber differs quite a bit in watchmaking and tyres, and we found a good way of working together to bring out a good product.

Q:Are there any tangible benefits to collaborating with Pirelli?
A:In these watches, we used the rubber from the award-winning tyres of Pirelli to make the straps. This is the first time something like this has been done. Further, we want to work on the specificity of the rubber. We use two different kinds of rubber in the watchmaking industry. Pirelli’s R&D centre has tried different combinations and mixtures to create new kinds of rubber. They created three different tests for the new formula for the watchmaking industry and 2,000 new formulae every year for Pirelli. This is very interesting for us as it accelerates our knowledge and research on rubber.

Q:In this watch, you have used rubber on the strap; what is the possibility of using it on the case or dial?
A:It is possible; five years ago, we used rubber for a collection. We think it is possible to use different kinds and different thicknesses of rubber to improve the technical quality of the rubber. It is possible to find different ways to change the perceptions of rubber straps.

Q:What is so unique about the rubber strap of the Pirelli edition?
A:This year, the unique factor is that the rubber used is the actual rubber from the tyres of cars that won the Grand Prix. For next year, we are working with Pirelli to use a rubber with improved technical qualities. It is very interesting for us from the aspect of design as we can work with very thin rubber, and the feeling of the strap is also great.

Q:Why have you re-launched the Quatuor in Cobalt?
A:The reason we have used cobalt in the Excalibur Quatuor Cobalt MicroMelt Watch is that we want to replace steel. Steel is a good material for watchmaking but it is an old material in the industry. We wanted to find the best material to replace steel; we studied a number of materials and discovered that the best is cobalt. It is scratch-proof; its resistance to corrosion is incredible. It is not possible to corrode cobalt as it has no iron; the only challenge is in manufacturing it. Working with Carpenter, the leader of premium alloys in the world, we were able to create a new alloy with very special qualities. The choice of cobalt is for the customer’s benefit because cobalt is the best material and choice to replace steel.

Q:How is cobalt “scratch-proof”?
A:If there is a scratch on steel, it shows up as a different colour; in cobalt this is not so because of the particulate of cobalt. In cobalt, we use cobalt powder, which is very thin, and when we scratch the material, it is not seen as the polish hides it. The material is not scratch-proof; due to the particulate of the material, the scratch is not seen.

Q:Why does the brand find carbon so fascinating that it has used it a lot this year?
A:This is because of popular demand; we started working with carbon two years ago. It is an interesting material and compared to titanium, it is better because it is lighter in weight and warm to wear and therefore an ideal material to use in the movement. This year, we have changed to this carbon as it is multi-layered and the quality is better because there is more of carbon and less of polymer.

The reason for using the carbon in the tourbillon upper-cage was to increase customer comfort. Another reason that we have used carbon is the fact that the material by itself looks like a horological decoration. With a single barrel, the watch has a power reserve of 70 hours.

Q:What were the problems in using carbon for the tourbillon upper-cage?
A:It is not an easy material to work with, but it is noteworthy for its resistance to shocks as it has wonderful elasticity to absorb shocks. We had to develop some special tools and machinery to work with the carbon.

Q:Why is Roger Dubuis so fascinated with skeleton watches?
A:The reason we are so captivated by skeleton watches is because it is the perfect showpiece for a brand. The customer is able to see all the parts, finishings, and decorations in the movement. The second reason is an artistic one. I like art, and if we use only the dial as a platform for the art, it is two-dimensional whereas if we can use the entire volume of the watch, then the effect is much more striking and three-dimensional as you can see all the layers.

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