RJ-Romain Jerome is a Swiss luxury watch company founded in 2004. RJ makes limited edition watches using rare materials that are unusual to the watch world. Some unique materials include Moon dust, steel from the Titanic, and volcanic ash from Eyjafjallajökull.
I was fortunate enough to speak with the CEO of RJ-Romain Jerome, Manuel Emch about his time at RJ and the future of RJ watches. Mr. Emch studied design at the Art Center in La Tour de Peilz and gained a Master’s degree in business at Lausanne University’s Faculty of Business and Economics (HEC). Emch started his career as a business process re-engineering consultant and a marketing manager in FMCG before joining the Swatch Group in 2001, and joined RJ-Romain Jerome at the beginning of 2010. “I believe RJ-Romain Jerome is a great opportunity for my career in terms of brand building. To me, to breathe life into a brand, to re-think its strategy and positioning are the most interesting challenges in the watchmaking industry.”
With RJ using rare and limited materials, as well as catering to the higher end consumer, there are many hurdles to jump over, and RJ is jumping high. “ It is a day-to-day job which involves building the brand, conceiving the products, organizing and structuring the company and last but not least ensuring an effective distribution. It is quite challenging!” says Emch.
Here’s some Q&A with Manuel Emch:
RN: Can you tell us how you are able to make such fine watches with such unique and rare materials?
ME: The material we use for our Titanic-DNA collection for example is a fusion between authentic steel from the Titanic’s wreck and that supplied by the Harland & Wolff shipyards in Belfast, where the vessel was built a century ago. For the Moon-DNA collection, we use Moon dust and elements of Apollo 11 spacecraft which we acquire through auctions. We wanted to incorporate into our watches a material that was previously inaccessible to our industry and that would create a certain controversy liable to stimulate creativity. We pay attention to every detail of our timepieces, work with some of the most famous craftsmen and do very good corporations with the best suppliers of movements.
RN: Can you share with us some of the growth at RJ?
ME: 2011 was punctuated with great victories for RJ-Romain Jerome. We sold more than 3,000 watches and accessories, making it a record year. The collections were enriched and the brand expanded geographically. We also opened our first own-name boutique in St. Tropez and we now operate 150 points of sale in almost 50 countries. Besides, RJ-Romain Jerome has been rewarded several times in 2011 for its Steampunk model and its creative advertising campaigns. Last June 3rd at Las Vegas, our new Steampunk Chrono timepiece also received the Couture Time Award for Watch Architecture. The objective is to build an international, innovative, creative and desirable state of the art watch brand. We are much more free, independent, daring and provocative than the other watchmaking brands and we hope that our irreverence puts a footmark on the industry.
RJ is expected to grow by double digits by the end of 2012 as well as “launch a new legend and other novelties” with in the year. RJ has recently launched the Libery DNA watch which contains fragments of the Statue of Liberty.