After being part of the team that took the Roger Dubuis brand soaring to a watch making legend, American Steven Holtzman decided he wanted to launch his own brand. To do so he tapped his former boss Roger Dubuis and a line-up of the watch world’s legends. Having masters work together to create new timepieces, Maîtres du Temps was born. During Baselworld 2013 the CEO caught up with Elite Traveler Editor-in-Chief Douglas Gollan to talk about haute horlogerie.
Elite Traveler: Can you give us an overview of Maîtres du Temps?
Steven Holtzman: Maîtres du Temps is a brand that is based around collaborations. We have teams of watchmakers that work together to make a movement. For our first watch it was Christophe Claret, Roger Dubuis and Peter Speake Marin. Our second watch was Daniel Roth, Roger Dubuis and Peter Speake-Marin and our third watch was Kari Voutilainen and Andreas Strehler who did Opus VII (for Harry Winston).
ET: So how do the collaborations work?
SH: They get together and work through what the movement should be with guidelines from me. With Chapter One and Two we had help with the manufacturing. Chapter Two we did the assembly ourselves, and Chapter Three we made the components and did the assembly so we are advancing in the manufacturing process. Our price points are from 69,000 SFR to 530,000 SFR. Each Chapter consists of a collection so in the case of Chapter Three we came up with a smooth classic watch. It’s the first time I wish we had the capacity to make an extra 10 watches a month.
ET: What’s the scope of your distribution?
SH: We work with about 35 doors in the world presenting the brand. In 2012 we opened our first boutique in Malaysia. The boutique is a beautiful space in Star Hill Gallery. It’s the first time we have been able to show the entire collection. It’s like James Bond. Once you come in and walk to the back the walls come up and you are in a private room. People who buy six figure watches don’t want to do it in the middle of a fairway.
ET: And for the future?
SH: If a store sells 10 watches it’s a good year. With our key accounts we do events where we go in with the collection once a year and it’s very successful. Little by little, step-by-step we are expecting another seven or eight doors by the end of the year.
ET: Tell us about the start?
SH: We launched in 2005 and the first collection came out end of 2007. They say the smartest people in business are the people who know how to deal w the difficult times. We came out in a difficult time, however our target client wasn’t impacted.
ET: Where do the buyers come from?
SH: Our business is split about a third the Americas, a third in Asia and a third in the Middle East. The Gulf is becoming a very hot market for us.
ET: What’s your background?
SH: I’ve been in the watch distribution business for over 30 years. After having the great experience working for Mr. Dubuis, I decided I wanted to build my own watch brand with the best of best master watchmakers. There can be drama, but there are also sacrifice and compromise and at the end you have a child.
ET: Tell us about the logo?
SH: The logo is a tree that bears fruit, has deep roots and is solid. In the watch business it takes 10 years to get recognition, so I am looking forward to that, but it’s gratifying to see the recognition from collectors who appreciate fine watches.