Lionel Favre, a young and very energetic man responsible for the product design at MRD. Having joined the firm about 3 years ago, Lionel came from Chopard where he was responsible for design of pieces such as Mille Miglia, Happy Diamond as well as technological marvel like the Tech Regulator. As one can imagine, he was longing for a chance to take his inspiration to the next level, a level that proved a bit too bold for Chopard. As such, when the opportunity to work for a young and daring brand like Roger Dubuis knocked on the door, he gladly answered!
Believe it or not, Lionel was technically the 1st in-house product designer. Prior to that, it was Carlos Diaz who penned most of the pieces, with the help from out-sourced consulting services. What we can expect going forward is a design direction that would be more in tune with the firm's direction yet with a more structured approach. The following is a brief interview that I had with Lionel, right before the launch of La Monégasque.
PPro: Lionel, the La Monégasque line is the firm's first completely new design since you came on board, tell us more about your thoughts & inspiration behind this model.
LF: When I joined the firm, I was completely mesmerized by the Sympathie line and believe it truly represents the iconic era of the brand. As such, I wanted to re-design the line and re-launch the series. This time, we want to create a theme around the line and expand the product gradually with the similar underlying philosophy.
PPro: Why do we not stick with the original name of Sympathie but instead adopting a new name of La Monégasque?
LF: While the design draws very significant clue from the Sympathie line, we want to clearly identify our new product from the new era, the era under the management of Richemont. As such, we felt it was more appropriate to give it a new name as it's really a combination of new case & movement designs under the new management.
PPro: Why did we choose the name of La Monègasque?
LF: We want to have a name that truly represents the mythical history and the social glamour of the line. Given the long history of gaming industry in Monte Carlo, we thought it would be a good idea to name the line after the habitant of Monaco.
PPro: What kind of customers did you have in mind for this series of watch and how does the design resonate with them?
LF: We're very much aiming for the core customer base of Roger Dubuis: the collectors who're looking for something different & bold while not forgetting the root of traditional watch making and technical innovations. The whole line draws on a theme of sophiticated, classy casework mixed with a touch of playfulness. The colourful dials of Big Number & Club remind us of the gaming tables in the casino and the chesterfield inspired strap remind us of the sofa in the salon prive.
PPro: Within the La Monégasque line, there're the limited edition chronograph, based on RD78 and normal production chronograph, based on RD680. Can you elaborate a bit on the difference? Any other challenge in the creation of the line?
LF: While the watchmaker & movement designer would have a bit more details, the RD680 is a completely new integrated chronograph movement designed from scratch. The approach that we took was so efficient that it took a little more than 2yrs from conceptualizing the movement to delivering the product and this INCLUDES the COSC & Geneva Seal certification! Moreover, the RD680 is the first chronograph from RD that features vertical clutch. One challenge that we face was the creation of the unique chesterfield inspired strap. It was so difficult to get it right that we have had well over 30 samples made until the final approved one.
PPro: What other models are being planned for La Monégasque?
LF: While the La Monégasque line is meant to be sophisticated, we currently do not have plan to introduce ultra high complication into the line, such as minute repeater or double tourbillon. Having said that, we are indeed planning some very useful and not so-complicated functions for the line such as GMT. Last but not least, we also want to develop the 'gaming' aspect of the line so don't be surprised if we come out with some 'gaming' oriented complication in the future!