A&E Interviews: Chasing Time with Roger Dubuis’s Jean-Marc Pontroué

Lara Mansour   |   29-12-2017

Between the cross-junctions of engineering and precision timing, motorsports and watchmaking have long held a synergistic relationship, thus the collaboration between Roger Dubuis and Lamborghini Squadra Corse and the birth of the limited edition Roger Dubuis Excalibur Aventador S. Stemming from a shared focus on aesthetics in their respective approaches, Roger Dubuis and Lamborghini Squadra Corse Excalibur Aventador S combines the design skills of Manufacture Roger Dubuis and the legendary Centro Stile R&D department of Lamborghini into a limited-edition Excalibur watch which combines high horology with high material technology including multi-layered carbon and C-SMC carbon, the same technology as that used for Lamborghini super cars.

Are your collaborations part of a strategy to make the brand more visible?

Yes exactly, they are about enriching our customer experience program and product development, not only with watches but also with supercars. Over the past two years I have been researching many brands, from helicopters and private planes, to yachting and motorbikes, finally settling on Lamborghini and Pirelli. We wanted to have these types of partnerships to be exposed to a customer base who are relative to Roger Dubuis.

What are the common codes between the brands with which you partner?

Lamborghini is a brand which you either like or you don’t, like Roger Dubuis. They are not cars and watches for everybody’s taste. We also have a lot of other similarities, from our production numbers to how we both strive to merge high-tech engineering with flamboyant design, we are also both small companies that belong to major groups. We have a coherent objective and vision together, and believe that a partnership exists if it makes sense for the customer.

What is an objective that you are aiming to achieve?

Brand visibility. We want to demonstrate to the world that we are the most avant-garde brand in the watchmaking industry, and our collaborations are platforms to boost brand awareness. Alone, you are not as powerful.

What is your view on over-visibility, especially with the growth of the digital world?

I feel that brands certainly over expose themselves, and when you see too much of a brand it is not as powerful. We as a brand are far from being in that field for a simple reason, we sell smaller units which keeps us niche. Our mission is to make spectacular models with true storytelling, which are limited to the world. With the Lamborghini partnership for example, the watch has been limited to 88 pieces worldwide, and just 6 for the Middle East region.

To what extent do you feel passion is important in the watchmaking business?

It is probably the number one fuel to activate the industry. If you work well, it will ultimately translate into numbers sold. You work to create products that have a different appeal to everything else in the industry.

What is coming up for the brand?

We will be looking to give women their share, as currently for women the styles are in size 42, and were a men’s concept which we womanised. However, we will be introducing the 36 at SIHH this year, which has been made especially for women.

Do you think ladies are now understanding the complications, and no longer just seeing watches as jewellery?

Of course, it is a masculine world but you do have women who are interested by mechanical details and complications, as long as the watch has a visual added value.

What is a life lesson that you would like to pass on?

Don’t be afraid and be creative. If you have a target you should be consistent for the long term, believing in what you do.

What do you tell yourself when you wake up every morning?

I wake up with the belief that nothing is impossible.

What are the three things that you hate?

Arrogance, stupidity, and people who don’t question the world as it is today.

What scares you?

The only issue that scares me the most is having issues with my health. I look after myself, putting my body through a lot, depending on always being healthy.

Do you read?

I read a lot of newspapers and magazines, especially because I spend a large amount of my time travelling. I like to be able to catch up on the latest news and culture about where I am visiting next.

Can you share with us your perfect ‘me-time’?

I take my music and I go running. Listing to pop music gives me energy to run faster!

Do you have any regrets in life?

Possibly dedicating too much time to work, when life should be about balance.

What is your opinion on social media, influencers, and blogging?

About three years ago I was aware social media was existing, but I didn’t give enough attention to it, however now I know that I do need to. We are a brand which by its expression is very well adapted for social media, because of the theatre that we create with our products and advertising. So, social media can highlight and support the exuberance of our brand, and we are embracing it.

What are your resolutions for 2018 personally and professionally?

Professionally it is to not change anything, as although we have signed the contracts and created partnerships, it is now about implementing them. This is through marketing and customer experience, and requires a different energy. Personally, it is to continue enjoying life at the same speed, as boring isn’t in my blood.

Finally, can you sum up Roger Dubuis?

Exuberant, mechanical, and spectacular timepieces.

By Lara Mansour Sawaya