For the last few years, collectors and dealers have been increasingly interested in acquiring neo-vintage Daniel Roth timepieces. Back in 2021, prominent Malaysian dealer Sean Song, told Robb Report he had the brand on his radar and cited it as “one-to-watch” in the secondary market. A Collected Man has sold more than a few; a platinum-cased Monopusher from the early 90s sold for US$110,000 on the site just last June. And, not surprisingly, LVMH has taken notice. Daniel Roth has been owned by Bulgari since 2000 (it was bought by the Hour Glass in 1994 before being sold to the Italian jeweller), and Bulgari was then purchased by LVMH in 2011. Now, the luxury conglomerate is moving Daniel Roth from underneath Bulgari’s wing to Louis Vuitton’s La Fabrique du Temps manufacturer.
The brand will continue to operate independently but will be run with “guidance and incubation,” according to the press statement from La Fabrique du Temps’s master watchmakers Michel Navas and Enrico Barbasini. You can expect some serious watchmaking to come out of this new direction, with pieces that will likely be highly covetable—if done well.
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Navas and Barbasini may operate behind-the-scenes working on funkier, more fashion-forward (but still seriously complicated) watches for Louis Vuitton, but they cut their teeth working under some of watchmaking’s greatest names. They spent approximately seven years working for Gerald Genta while he was still at the helm of his company (also purchased by Bulgari in 2000), and the duo was employed by Patek Philippe’s high-complication department, where they handled minute repeaters and other notoriously challenging complications. Navas also had a stint at Audemars Piguet, and both worked at Franck Muller, where they helped created the company’s famous Crazy Hours and Revolution tourbillon watches. Eventually, the duo would go on to found BNB Concept (along with Matthias Buttet) in 2004 working on high complications for Hublot, Bell & Ross, Jacob & Co. and more. Navas and Barbasini eventually left and began working with LV under their newly established workshop, La Fabrique du Temps, in 2007 until the operation was purchased by LVMH in 2011 (the same year the luxury conglomerate purchased Bulgari).
Daniel Roth’s namesake, however, is no longer with the company, starting when it was sold to Bulgari, but he remains a living legend in the world of watchmaking. Roth is considered a master watchmaker and rose to prominence alongside the likes of François-Paul Journe and Roger Dubuis. The latter is also no longer involved in his namesake company, which is now 100 per cent owned by LVMH’s rival Richemont. The timepieces, however, are a vast departure from those made by its founder and veer more in the direction of an avant-garde high-end streetwear aesthetic versus more traditional Swiss watchmaking codes.
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Will Daniel Roth follow the same path now that there is a renewed focus from LVMH? According to the press statement, “Daniel Roth will aim to capture the mechanical and contemporary classicism that defined Roth’s work in its earliest days.” That is good news for collectors that are familiar with and love the brand’s past work. But given the output of just a few 100 pieces per year, not many will get to see one on the wrist. The first watch available for order will be produced in a 20-piece “souscription” series (meaning that clients must “subscribe” by paying before seeing the finished product in the metal). The release of the new timepieces is said to be slated to drop in a few months.
Previously published on Robb Report.