WatchTime’s Roger Ruegger sat down with Matthias Breschan, member of the Extended Group Management Board at the Swatch Group since 2005 and President of Rado since 2011, to talk about his role and the brand’s recent transformation.
WT: Having been at the helm of Rado since 2011, what was your personal highlight of the past eight years?
MB: There have been many, but the one that really stands out is from this year . We had been working for a really long time to create an unrivaled color palette in high-tech ceramic. It was a passion project for me and the whole team as well as something the industry expected of us as the pioneer and leader. With the True Thinline Les Couleurs Le Corbusier collection, we’ve produced nine amazing, vivid and vibrant colors that nobody else can. The Architectural Polychromy was created by Le Corbusier in two collections in 1931 and 1959 and contained a total of 63 colors in nine color groups. We chose to make one color from each of the nine groups. Even though it was developed so long ago, it is still the most relevant color theory and is still taught in design and architecture schools all over the world.
WT: What made you choose a career in the Swiss watch industry?
MB: To me the watch industry is truly fascinating in that it’s the only industry I can think of that is always looking back to its tradition rather than forward to innovation. Most industries need to adapt or die. With watchmaking, continuing to live a tradition is what keeps it alive. That’s the most exciting thing about working at Rado. We’re doing something that nobody else does or can do – and we’ve been doing it since the very beginning. We’re the exception that proves the rule.
WT: Rado is a relatively young brand; what advantages do you see in a history dating back to “only” 1957?
MB: It’s an interesting question because most people see it as a disadvantage. In an industry where the buzzwords are history and heritage, being the “new kid on the block” can be tough. The biggest advantage of Rado is not its age but the fact that it is truly a “unicorn” in the watch industry. As I said, nobody else has ever done or does what we do. We’re a niche brand with global appeal.
WT: In the last few years, Rado has evolved into a brand with a much higher appeal to collectors. What led to this recent change in strategy?
MB: There has been no change in our strategy. Since 1957, Rado has been focused on materials, innovation and design. We’re not doing anything differently now. Every piece in our collection is based on delivering the best watches that fit those three criteria. Being true to who we are is what has led to our higher appeal among collectors. Reaching new target audiences usually means tapping into market segments that are covered by other brands.
WT: What is the most popular model today?
MB: There is no one most popular product because Rado means different things to different people. Icons like Integral and Ceramica still appeal to wearers who fell in love with Rado in the early days of high-tech ceramic. True Thinline is the go-to for a young, fresh audience looking for color as well as a long-lasting piece that offers the opportunity for personal expression. Tradition, HyperChrome, True Thinline – it’s the same. They all have strong appeal for different people for different reasons. We really seem to have captured the imagination of the U.S. market this year with the Captain Cook and Golden Horse from the Tradition collection and the Le Corbusier True Thinline collection.
WT: What role does design play in the world of Rado?
MB: Design is absolutely essential at Rado. As well as being one of those three key pillars we always focus on, it has been a part of the brand’s DNA since day one. Our work with external designers in our designer collaborations is vital to our research and development. We challenge them to bring their unique design to a product on a micro scale and they challenge us to deliver on their vision. Designers show us what the future looks like and it’s our credibility in the design world that opens doors for us to work with incredible names like Bethan Gray, Konstantin Grcic and Jasper Morrison. Whatever we produce based on their design is always a Rado with a focus on quality, innovation and materials as well as the design itself.