october 2017
september 2017

Jacky Epitaux, co-founder de Rudis Sylva

Cut and Thrust

So, Jacky Epitaux and Laurent Picciotto; what brought you together? 

 
Laurent Picciotto:
on the face of it, virtually nothing – which of course turned out to mean that we were made for each other (laughter)!
 
Jacky Epitaux:
It’s true that you weren’t easy to get alongside – it took me two or three years to convince you that our approach was worth looking at.
 
Laurent Picciotto:
Yes, and it took me two or three years to understand where you were coming from. Technique, personality, based on family values; one has to have a feel for all that to understand the Harmonious Oscillator. In my defence, the first few times we met we were at Baselworld, by far the least suitable place for listening to what you had to say about putting the craftsmanship of the Franches-Montagnes District to use! In the end, perhaps that’s what won me over – a timepiece that could only be understood and appreciated when one devotes the amount of attention it deserves.
 

Jacky, why didn’t you make a more accessible watch, to make it easier for the brand to be more widely known? 

 
Jacky Epitaux:
I didn’t want to do something ‘in-yer-face’ to begin with. My background is watchmaking, not design. What’s most important to me is making good use of the expertise and skills that have always made our region different. I work only with local craftsmen. They’re renowned all over the world for their knowhow, but they’re not the kind of people that are famous for sensationalism or being showy.
 

Is Rudis Sylva a special case? 

 
Laurent Picciotto:
Yes, they’re somewhat in a class of their own. They could possibly be compared to Greubel Forsey. In any case it’s a very personal approach – basically that of their founders.
 
Jacky Epitaux:
Design is one thing, sprit is another. Aesthetically and technically speaking, we have a very distinctive angle, but there are brands that are quite different on the face of it but which actually have a similar spirit of authenticity. Greubel Forsey could be one such example. In any case, I’m not interested in meddling in things I’m not familiar with. My aim is to promote the watchmaking skills of the Jura – our local region. Rudis Sylva is a tribute to people whose roots run deep.
 
Doesn’t that lead to something of a marketing conundrum, with pressure on you to bring out new items at regular intervals in order to grab clients’ attention?
 
Laurent Picciotto:
as far as I’m concerned, at least, it’s quite the opposite – virtually a selling point. It doesn’t make sense to bring out something new every year when we’re talking about watches that are so complicated and for which everything depends on authenticity. The kind of approach you’re talking about involves winning over new clients at regular intervals. With Rudis Sylva, it’s a whole different story.
 
Jacky Epitaux:
We’re in a world that’s becoming exhausted with that kind of approach.
 
Laurent Picciotto:
Not only that, the regular arrival of new models makes the older collections obsolete sooner.
 
Jacky Epitaux:
I’m convinced that truth will always prevail in the long run!
 

Do Chronopassion’s customers need to have the same take on the timepiece for it to be appreciated? 

 
Laurent Picciotto:
Yes. Often my clientele are more ‘grunge’ than ‘rural’! They might get a feel for the importance of craftsmanship when it comes to making a watch of this calibre, but they need guidance if they are really to appreciate the master crafts that have made it what it is.
 
Jacky Epitaux:
The technical approach of the Harmonious Oscillator makes everything more complicated. We decided to have a toothed balance wheel – which went against everything that had ever been seen in watchmaking up till then. But after four years of development, we were easily able to demonstrate the added value of this invention. We have now reached levels of precision in a vertical position that are easily ahead of those of the tourbillon.
 

On the back of that kind of progress, wouldn’t it have made sense for Rudis Sylva to develop marketing and advertising to support the fame of the Oscillator – and incidentally, the work of a commercial partner such as Chronopassion…?

 
Jacky Epitaux:
I suppose so, but I like to think that we’ll get widespread acclaim for our watchmaking skills, rather than for the choice of visual for our latest ad!
 
Laurent Picciotto:
The latest version of your watch is a move in the right direction. It’s still just as technical, with a little more of its movement apparent – adding a spectacular aspect to its aesthetic appearance that it didn’t have before. For the final customer, the watch is just the same. The difference is that they can start to appreciate the fact that they have a top-notch timepiece in their hands, even before they begin to understand it.
 

Looking back, Jacky, do you think that the pace you set for your brand when it was first launched was the right one? 

 
Jacky Epitaux:
I believe in the pace of my output, yes. If I could change anything, it would be the investments agreed prior to the production of the very first watch. I invested enormous amounts in the development of production processes and equipment, even before I saw watch number 001. That said, in the light of current demand, those investments have now turned out to be good ones.