We've written before about Pierre DeRoche, high-end watchmakers with a fantastic collection of unusual complications. Check this out all those hands.
Six, yes six, retrograde second hands. Over the top? Amazing? Both?
The men's version:
Their site has a very good animation of the mechanism that's well worth checking out. It looks to be mesmerizing.
One more, from the SplitRock collection:
Now that I've hopefully piqued your interest, please allow me to introduce the CEO, Pierre Dubois, who graciously agreed to an interview [Ed. note a few years ago we also did a trip to their manufacture].
ABTW: So what's the story of how Dubois-Dupraz came to start a watchmaking company?
Dubois Dépraz, the family company, has never decided to start a watch company! After 14 years spent at Audemars Piguet, I have decided to set up my own brand. Based on my financial personal background (Audemars Piguet CFO), based on my global experience in the watch industry and business and, of course, based on the potential technical support to be provided by DD, I have asked my brothers if they were interested in developing exclusive movements for me. They have been enthusiastic, then I set up Pierre DeRoche (PDR). Dubois Depraz’s policy is to serve the brands, not to be “the” brand. They do it for Pierre DeRoche as they do for many other brands, probably with a bit more emotion than in the usual relations for a supplier-customer!
ABTW: You have some really amazing movements, such as the Royal Retro and GrandCliff. Are these unique to Pierre DeRoche or have other marques licensed them as well? How were they envisioned and developed?
If I may put aside the ShinyPebbles collection and its quartz movements, all our mechanical movements have been developed by DD exclusively for PDR. None of them have been licensed to other brands. Our current strategy is not to license our developments. In 2013 we have slightly “redesigned” our strategy. On one hand we are keeping on developing exclusive complications (one novelty to be unveiled at Baselworld); on the other hand we are developing a new collection with non-exclusive movements. The goal of this new collection, called GrandCliff Pure, is to match the best as possible the Chinese expectations. But all the watches will keep minimum one small complication. The 1st watch of this collection will be unveiled at Baselworld as well.
ABTW: As CEO, what is your favorite watch and why? Do you have one you wear everyday?
Year after year my preferred watch is the last one we launch! Usually I wear the new models during several months in order to have my own feedback as a wearer, and also to collect other people (customers, friends, journalists. ..) comments as well. As you know I have also a sport background and I wear probably more frequently the TNT models rather than the other collections. Nevertheless the SplitRock collection and its amazing concentric chronograph will remain one of my preferred watches due to the fact that it’s the 1st movement we have developed (for launching the brand).
ABTW: Those sapphire bridges are spectacular and excellent for showcasing the works. Do you see more use of sapphire in the future, perhaps even cases like the recent Richard Mille?
Sapphire is a wonderful material. But the cost of manufacturing it in another way than the traditional sapphire round crystal is difficult (and costly). As long you are making a hole in the sapphire or to screw in a sapphire component, the sapphire may break if there is any small defect in the raw material or in the tools used. As a result of that, out of the TNT Royal Retro bridges, out of any dials (such as the TNT BelCanto one), we are not going to use more than this material in the future.
ABTW: Again as CEO, does Pierre DeRoche feel more like a design company or a tech company?
We are basically technically oriented. As far as Pierre DeRoche is concerned, the technique first drives our product developments. Then, after having defined the technical specifications and features of a new complication, we ask our designers to work on the design of the movement. The TNT collection (and the GrandCliff Milady Royal Retro) have no dial. As a result of that, the movement design is essential as well.
ABTW: I am impressed that your prices are public on your website. Do think other Swiss brands will become more transparent about pricing as time goes on? How have customers responded?
Why not provide the retail prices? Today with the internet all the information moves around the world in less than one second. Type any request on a web search engine and you’ll get the price of most of the existing watches. Different professional web portals or mobile applications provide retail prices. PDR has been the 1st brand to do it through its own website and our partners appreciate it a lot. We are transparent and in a similar way, we have never said that we are a manufacture!
ABTW: What sort of production numbers does Pierre DeRoche do, and do you have a limit or goal you can share? Are you aiming for enthusiasts with the menagerie of complications? Or would you like to become the next Rolex?
We sell between 200 and 250 watches/year. But if this number has been pretty stable for two to three years, our average price has increased through the development of the TNT collection among others. We aim to double the production within the next few years by following the strategy we have redesigned (see point 2 above). We are not keen on “nuclear plant” complications, due to the fact that, based on the family background and its 112 years of experience, we consider the reliability and the after sales service as essential. To make a talking piece is nice for communication. But to make it work and to be able to service it within the next 20 years is another story. And we want to be able to write this story! If you look at our 2012 catalogue, you will read several times “Genetically”; PDR makes watches based on the skills and the experience of a fourth generation family story. Nevertheless we always push for making evolution in technique, in the use of materials and in design. Rolex is a benchmark in the development and manufacturing processes. But as far as we are talking about developing new complications or the aesthetic of our watches, we have other benchmarks.
ABTW: What do you feel differentiates you from other brands?
In 9 years (including 2013), starting from a scratch, we have developed 12 different complicated mechanisms with useful and/or fun complications (such as the Royal Retro). Proportionally speaking, we are probably one of the most creative brands. And all these complications have been developed exclusively for us. This differentiation is our strongest USP. Finally, after ten years PDR, remains 100% independent, which is also very important.
ABTW: What would you like our readers to know about Pierre DeRoche?
I would like that your readers look at our watches through another unusual eye! The PDR story is also the story of a couple. Carole and I shared the same values for more than 30 years. We share the same passion for the sport and we've worked together for about nine years. I think that the PDR watches reflect this alchemy, balancing between power and femininity, technic and emotion. pierrederoche.com