"The watch industry is too boring"
As the creative mind behind one of the more “out there” brands in the watch industry, Roger Dubuis's creative director Alvaro Magnini is not your usual mild mannered, toe-the-line kind of employee. At the launch of the Geneva-based brand's 2017 collection, he spoke to Esquire Middle East about the importance of being disruptive and why too much emphasis on heritage makes the industry boring:
ESQUIRE: The phrase “disruptive materials” is central to the Roger Dubuis campaign for 2017. How important is that idea in the DNA of the company?
ALVARO MAGNINI: Very important. In its 22-year history I think it has proven that it is one of the more disruptive brands in the watch industry. We don’t have a 200-year history like some of the other brands, but because of that I don’t have to be the caretaker of history, I can trust my feelings and be more adventurous. Being disruptive doesn’t mean breaking, it means shaking things up while staying within the brand’s vision. Our vision is to dare.
ESQ: Would you say that ‘heritage’ is overrated in the world of horology?
AM: Yes. I think there is too much emphasis on it. If you go to a Hermes or Chanel boutique you don’t have to ask how many years that have existed – you know that the quality is fantastic, you will pay good money for the product. I never understand that in the watch industry you always have to prove that you can only be good if you have 200 years of tradition. If that’s correct, then that is boring.
People don’t like it when I say things like that. I believe that people today are writing history. So in 20 years, I want to ensure that Roger Dubuis is elevated to the status like a Lamborghini – a really sexy, exclusive product that you desire to have.
ESQ: How would you describe your creative direction?
AM: I use the comparison of Tim Burton. We are like the Tim Burton of the watch industry. I want to be fantastic but not fantasy. I came up with the slogan “Dare to be rare”, it’s nothing crazy, but it is correct. The brand is doing something different and we are only making 2,000 pieces a year so they are rare. Building around the idea of “daring” means I have the framework to develop the concept in as creative a way as possible. My passion is in storytelling. I’m not a watch designer. I love watches, but I couldn’t design one! I’d prefer to build a house, than build a watch.
ESQ: Did you join Roger Dubuis because you knew it would allow you the freedom to create?
AM: No, I think you have to push to create a working environment that’s best for you. I used to work for a lingerie brand and it was the same. Now I am more confident it my abilities, and I’m sure it would be the same in another brand, or even another watch brand with more conservative values.
ESQ: As a storyteller, what are the main points when marketing Roger Dubuis?
AM: There has to be good storytelling and elements of fantasy. Not doing the same thing all the time. I want people to think of us as a “sexy” brand. One that stands out from the more formal and traditional watch houses. I want you to feel that this brand makes your blood race, like it’s pushing you to live. It’s a party, not a dinner party.
ESQ: So, tell us a funny story that you’ve heard about the brand…
AM: About 10 years ago a client brought a watch in New York, he was so excited. He paid around $250,000 and shortly after walking out the door one of the hands fell off! It’s crazy, but the truth is that an accident like that has happened to all watch brands. It is not something that we want to hide, even at the very highest level accidents happen and we can celebrate these unique stories, because they are rare, true and funny.