At Baselworld, MB&F was accompanied by a high-profile friend in the shape of Reuge. While those in the watchmaking know are accustomed to this name, it was a delightful discovery for the public at large. The hundred year old company is indeed one of the last remaining developers and producers of hand-crafted music boxes.
This was an unexpected opportunity of visibility for Reuge, which mainly functions on the basis of special orders from individuals and states. Diplomatic discretion is thus very much the order of the day. With the Music Machine project driven by the dynamic Max Büsser, the unassuming Reuge firm thus enjoyed an intense yet short-lived burst of media coverage!
The current challenge is how to best leverage this moment under the spotlight, to prolong its effects and accelerate the company’s growth. The aim is clearly to develop its renown and gain the attention of new audiences. “We have effectively noticed stronger demand from end consumers” emphasises Kurt Kupper, CEO. “We already had a few, but up until now, we were mainly targeting retailers and companies”.
Kurt Kupper concedes daily that the territory explored by the Music Machine has opened up new horizons. “Max hates anything that is usual and commonplace”, smiles the CEO, “but the way we work has helped us to understand his universe and develop the Music Machine together”.
The public doesn’t see this way of functioning. It has to do with the overall thought and development process upstream of the product itself. Who could imagine that a diplomatic gift might call for up to nine months of prior research (read our article "Maximilian Büsser makes a confession")?
“We conduct something akin to a psychological study for every request,” continues Kurt Kupper. “In a political context, for example, one needs to understand the culture of the person offering it, as well as that of the person receiving it, their rank in terms of protocol and the mission associated with the gift. There is an enormous amount of research. For a company, it is pretty much the same thing.”
And for MB&F? “Also, but in this respect we had a lot of fun and it was very stimulating!” remembers the CEO.
Toys for boys
The MB&F effect has had repercussions beyond the product development as such. With this highly visible achievement, Reuge has seen orders arriving from boutiques that specialise in accessories. This is a great opening for a brand which mainly targets watchmaking points of sale: “It’s about a development in mentality” explains Kurt Kupper. “A retailer with 50 or 51 brands will basically only sell one watch to any client coming into his shop. On the other hand, with a Reuge, he has understood what he can offer with a timepiece… and an accessory. So it’s a win-win-win situation for him, for us and for the end consumer.”
"Our profession is the development of luxury objects, not mass-produced items"
So is Reuge set to become the latest fashionable men’s accessory? Diversification is well and truly the desired effect after Baselworld. It is not necessarily about producing more, but about spreading its sales in a different manner.
At the end of the day, one might almost wonder whether Reuge is not seeking to gain access to the general public. One can rapidly become accustomed to the glare of the cameras… This does not however appear to be Reuge’s aim, for a fundamental reason summed up in six letters: luxury.
“Our profession is the development of luxury objects, not mass-produced items. On the contrary, I would like to move more towards a custom-made approach. This is not a question of products, but service. Swiss added-value stems from ingenuity and grey matter.”
Looking to 2015... and beyond
In the immediate future, Reuge is focusing on the present, with the production of 66 Music Machine 1 (MM1) creations for MB&F. It will then be the turn of the MM2, to be announced in the autumn. In light of the success of the MM1, production of the MM2 will be increased to 99 units.
The first two models will be followed by the MM3 – which currently remains very mysterious – as well as “other more long-term projects,” hints Kurt Kupper. Reuge appears bent on having a little more fun with its Friends, to the delight of the fans who are busily snapping up the Music Machines.