Automation and globalisation are creating such chasms between the world’s super-rich and the rest that entire industries are skewing towards catering to their every whim.
The Swiss watch industry has exploited this opportunity better than many, but the sort of watches that Rolex and even Patek Philippe are producing are too run-of-the-mill for billionaires. These are people that want what nobody else can buy.
Richard Mille has ridden this wave better than most, with unique six-figure timepieces marketed to a younger generation that has made squillions in Chinese real estate, gaming apps and unicorn FinTech firms.
Roger Dubuis has been another, although its Excalibur timepieces are a little easier to buy with prices start at around $15,000.
That looks set to change as a new chief executive, Nicola Andreatta, suggests Roger Dubuis will become even more exclusive.
Asked in recent interview with luxury lifestyle title Robb Report to describe Roger Dubuis in a word, he snapped back: “Excess”, although he then rather spoiled the ambiguity of the single word with the follow-up: “Because we tend to do everything to the next level.”
He might have been talking about excess, as in too much or too many, a toxic term in today’s watch industry where oversupply leads to grey market and grey market leads to price erosion.
There is no suggestion there are too many Roger Dubuis watches in the world, and Mr Andreatta wants to keep it that way.
“I’m going to reduce the number,” he remarks in the same Robb Report interview. “It’s difficult to keep a certain level of craftsmanship and refinement if we go mass. Roger Dubuis is not for everyone and we don’t want to be for everyone,” he adds.
The brand’s marketing message signed off by its previous CEO was Dare to be Rare, and it looks like Mr Andreatta is sticking to the plan.
Roger Dubuis is formally opening its first boutique in London on Old Bond Street next week.
- WatchPro’s Alex Douglas will have a full in-depth interview with Mr Andreatta in the August edition.