Roger Dubuis, Founder of Roger Dubuis Hor­loger Genevois, on life of semi-retirement.

Esquire Singapore Watch Guide - - THE INTERVIEWS -

What is retirement or semi-retirement like for you?

I don’t con­sider it a retirement. It has been great, and I am still fol­low­ing my pas­sion. Now I have no obli­ga­tion to ar­rive on time. I can come and go as I please. I also have more time to be a grand­fa­ther to my grand­chil­dren. So I am a bit anti-so­cial th­ese days around the man­u­fac­ture.

Do you miss be­ing a full-time watch­maker?

I don’t miss watch­mak­ing that much; but hav­ing said that, I do miss sit­ting at my watch­mak­ing desk and do­ing some­thing. The com­pany is so kind to me and they set up a lit­tle pri­vate stu­dio for me. I can do what I want, and I am also con­sulted by the watch­mak­ers as to how to solve the prob­lems that they face. It’s more like I’m play­ing a god­fa­ther role to them. It’s like be­ing back at work, but yet it’s not.

Did you al­ways want to be a watch­maker?

Yes, I al­ways wanted to be a watch­maker ever since I can re­mem­ber. It all started with me fall­ing in love with the church clock in the vil­lage where I grew up. I came from a fam­ily of car­pen­ters, so I learnt to ap­pre­ci­ate ar­ti­sanal skill. It all started with the vil­lage cob­bler who was also the keeper of the steeple, and I was asked to help him with the tower bells. I was fas­ci­nated with the mech­a­nisms of the clock, which led me to a life­long love for watch­mak­ing. When I be­came of age, I left my fam­ily and be­gan my watch­mak­ing ed­u­ca­tion and ca­reer.

What do you think of watch­mak­ing to­day? Is it still the same or has it changed, and in what way?

It is go­ing pretty well, but there is a pres­sure to per­form to­day com­pared to the old days. To­day, you need to at­tract peo­ple to the brand, and to do that you need to cross a lot of bound­aries of tech­ni­cal in­no­va­tions. We had many crazy ideas, but due to the tech­ni­cal lim­i­ta­tions in the old days, we couldn’t make them hap­pen. To­day, there are many good ideas, and the younger watch­mak­ers are push­ing bound­aries into the realms of space and il­lu­sion, and leav­ing it to faith.

How much do you think tech­nol­ogy has helped move watch­mak­ing for­ward?

It is es­pe­cially true where in­fras­truc­ture is con­cerned; tech­ni­cal in­no­va­tion has al­lowed watch­mak­ers to cre­ate al­most any­thing. Let’s take the per­pet­ual cal­en­dar, for in­stance. Twenty years ago, it was a night­mare to make one as we had to make every­thing by hand, and all the parts have to be pre­cise right down 0.001mm. Now with the new high-tech ma­chines they can cut the parts right down to an ac­cu­racy of one mi­cron. It’s fan­tas­tic. They can do things bet­ter than we could only dream of. The great­est as­pect of our progress has a lot to do with the tech­ni­cal evo­lu­tion in ma­chin­ery. This is the new way to go, be­cause dur­ing the quartz era, we lost a lot of our crafts­men. To ad­dress the short­age in the cur­rent boom­ing industry, we need the ma­chines to cope with the ex­pan­sion. Quartz, at the end of the day, is a nec­es­sary evil; with­out it, we would have pro­gressed at a slower pace.

If you were to re­turn to watch­mak­ing, what would your new cal­i­bre or move­ment be like?

If I were to do that, the next watch I would make would be a me­chan­i­cal one, of course, and it would be a per­pet­ual cal­en­dar. I have spent most of my time mas­ter­ing the move­ment; it is also one that presents the most chal­lenges.

For watch­mak­ing, how much DNA should be re­tained, and how much would you let go?

DNA holds a brand back and it doesn’t do much to help the brand to move for­ward. Roger Dubuis Hor­loger Genevois is a young brand. It has no past to fol­low and no her­itage to con­cern it­self with; there­fore, it is free to cre­ate and push the bound­aries. Roger Dubuis rep­re­sents ease and care­free qual­i­ties, though we al­ways make sure we ad­here to the Poinçon de Genève stan­dard, and main­tain the ac­cu­racy and the pre­ci­sion of our watches. It is im­por­tant to let the watch­maker cre­ate, do their own thing and never be cre­atively re­pressed.

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