Lionel Favre, Associate Director of Product Design at Roger Dubuis

At the SIHH 2016, Switzerland Deluxe had the pleasure of sitting down with designer extraordinaire, Lionel Favre. Lionel Favre comes from the world of jewellery design in Paris, where he spent a total of eight years. He then became head designer for Chopard in Geneva. Finally, in 2009, he started working for the «Enfant Terrible» of the watch industry, Roger Dubuis where today, he holds the position of associate director of product design.

How do you go about designing a Roger Dubuis watch/collection? Talk us through the creative process.
I don’t have a process. A process is boring. It is also dependant on the type of watch we are designing; on whether we are designing a watch for women, or for men. For example, most watch brands take their men’s model, reduce its size and put diamonds on it, and voila, that is their women’s watch. Roger Dubuis creates women’s watches from scratch. We have the woman in mind and we try to design a jewel for the wrist. That is a totally different approach to the one we use to create men’s watches. Men’s watches are inspired by mechanics, architecture and strength. To realise femininity you need a lot more detail: proportion, finishing, colours, ergonomics, the smallest details – those are the things that embody the vision of femininity. The watch making process to me also involves many sketches. I am against an engineered approach and process. You have to start with art. It is very important to us to be artistic as we are jewellers of rare artistic masterpieces and we have to be consistent with this phrase.

Which is your favourite Roger Dubuis watch this year and why?
That is difficult to say as we have five new watches in the ladies’ collection this year. I like all of them, but my favourite is the Velvet Blossom for the following reasons: The first is the fact that, although Roger Dubuis traditionally uses enamel, this time we engraved the enamel with strong colours and gave the dial dimension and depth. That way, it isn’t flat and it really plays with the light. Also, the watch is inspired by the Flower Clock of Geneva, which is a symbol for the fact that Geneva is the city of the watchmaker. What is also noteworthy about this watch is that usually, when you design a watch, you are happy with the result but not a 100 per cent so. This is because there are technical limitations to its design. With Blossom, it was better than the initial design. At the beginning I couldn’t have had imagined that we could make something so beautiful.

What sets Roger Dubuis watches apart from those made by other luxury watch manufacturers?
While our competitors usually have a long history that they can look back on, in comparison, Roger Dubuis is a young brand and we do not have that. But we have a significant, if short history that began in 1995, which is almost 20 years ago now. Today, we are working towards writing our history and are thereby able to create some interesting new collections because we don’t have the burden of our history upon us and we are freer when it comes to creating new things.

If you could create the perfect watch, using any materials in the world, what would it look like and what complications would it have?
My perfect watch would be one from the future. Maybe by then we will create an optimally comfortable and ergonomic material or maybe even a watch that is a part of our bodies and is under our skin.

What is the best part of your job?
The fact that I can take time to design is really relaxing for me – a little bit like yoga. When I know I have a few hours to design and it’s quite around me and I am calm – I think it’s really good for my health too!

What is luxury to you?
Everything that isn’t essential is a luxury.