Philosophies on Watch Design

Watch design is truly an integral part of why we, the consumers, purchase the timepieces. Watch design truly defines many brands.

On occasion, design is learned and evolved over generations. (Ex: Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin) Sometimes design is a conscious effort from the beginning, set to meet specific criteria, often motivated by finance and marketing efforts.

It is well known that a sudden and major shift in both design and brand image can produce unfamiliarity in the minds of consumers and watch enthusiasts across yearly models.

Roger Dubuis is a particularly interesting example of a drastic branding pivot, one that would change the trajectory of the brand, and perhaps the industry, forever.

Early Roger Dubuis was nothing short of classic; an independent spirit with a remembrance of the pioneering masters of horology. This can easily be seen in design choices that reflect the understated nature of their product, yet the wearer knows the immense beauty and craftsmanship inside.

shakko [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

shakko [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

However, brand trajectory changed in the early 2000’s. Following a drastic pivot toward sport and ostentatious design, the watches were comparable to racing machines (a nod to Richard Mille) than elegant accouterments easily worn in full black tie dress. Maison Roger Dubuis became more of a competitor to Richard Mille, Christophe Claret, than the venerable Vacheron Constantin, Patek Philippe, Voutilainen, or even the legendary Philippe Dufour to some degree.

Thesupermat [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

Thesupermat [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

Despite the time that has past since the extreme shift, the glorious days of early Roger Dubuis have not been forgotten. Early Roger Dubuis is continuing to gain steam subsequent to the renaissance of classically inspired timepieces, and a return to elegant and traditional proportions.

This shift was most likely a decision indicative of its time; an era fraught with “interesting” choices, and a continuing adjustment in the wake of the quartz crisis. Many brands were still searching for a way to survive in the technologically advanced 21st century economy. Will Roger Dubuis counteract this and make a glorious return to their past? Only time will tell.


Colin Carpenter