If you are in the market to spruce up a heirloom timepiece (or vintage get), Jean Rousseau Paris is the man you need to know.
The French Atelier has been a cornerstone to the leather trade industry since 1954, crafting artisanal made-to-measure leather watch straps for some of the biggest brands in the world (LVMH and Swatch Group), as well as individuals looking to bring life back to a valuable watch.
Back to the beginning
Founded in 1954 by leather craftsman Mr. Jean Rousseau, the company – named 'Cobra' at the time – operated boutique craft shops which provided the French mechanical watch industry with premium leather watch straps. The '90s saw the untimely parting of ways between Cobra and their biggest client, Swatch Group, enabling white knight Jacques Bordier to step in and ensure the company's future.
"I was in my late 40s and frustrated from working for big corporations and not getting things done the way I wanted to," Bordier explains.
"The craftsmen at Cobra had such a wealth of knowledge for premium leather goods, and when I was informed of their unfortunate financial situation, I thought of the consequences to the industry should they disappear. So, I took over Cobra in 1999 and changed the name to Jean Rousseau Paris, with the vision to move up the ladder and focus on the premium and luxury markets."
The unsung hero
With all the know-how and experience as leather craftsmen, working for brands such as Swatch Group demanded volume and quantity; factors which a company can lose itself to.
"Far too long did Cobra focus on quantity and volume rather than quality, especially for clients such as Swatch Group. I wanted to change that and bring it back to a time where artisanal processes were not only paramount, but were recognised and respected."
Importance in the industry
As it stands, Jean Rousseau Paris is the only leather workshop that has a 100 per cent vertical integration; all its operations are under the one roof. A leading advantage is that they own their own tannery, which allows for research and development in the colors and materials on offer. This has gained them widespread recognition in the leather trade industry over the past 15 years.
"We continually strive to become a reference in our market; a label of excellence for the leather and watch straps we produce," says Bordier.
"Our vision is global. We will continue to focus on our high quality products, which are 100 per cent handmade in France, as well as our unparalleled service."
Did you know?
Although a change in direction for the French company has seen a focus on the high-end luxury market, Jean Rousseau Paris still services some of the biggest brands in the world, including LVMH Group and Swatch Group.
Meaning, the beautiful leather goods purchased at Louis Vuitton, Dior or Fendi, for example, could very well be a work of Jean Rousseau Paris.
"Working with those recognised luxury brands is of enormous importance to us, not only in terms of making money, but it means we are permanently challenged to be on top of their requirements, which, in turn, benefits the Jean Rousseau brand," explains Bordier.
Dedication to connoisseurs
With authenticity, service, and tradition at the forefront of the Jean Rousseau Paris ethos, what results is the highest level of quality of its kind; a fact the Frenchman is extremely proud of.
"Our customers expect a certain level of service and a high quality product. We use the best leathers and materials available (including 'non leathers' for our customers that are conscious about Animal Welfare) and have them transformed by highly skilled craftsmen," explains Bordier.
"We work on a 'no compromise' basis which is evident in our designs."
It's this service and dedication that as seen Jean Rousseau Paris recognised by the French government as 'EPV' (Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant) which translates to 'Living Heritage Company' - one of the highest social recognitions a company of this kind can have.
With the success of re-branding, its French president hopes the name will be recognised globally in the near future.
"As an independent family business, we don't have quantitative goals but to continue to provide tradition, authenticity and the unparalleled level of service customers have come to appreciate from the Jean Rousseau brand."