“Time matters”: Rodolphe Cattin, a visual person

Temps de lecture : 4 minutes

Before him, the designer’s job had never had a name in watchmaking. Those artists who did have a name used to sell their drawings anonymously to both the brands and the case manufacturers. One day, there came the Rodolphe by Longines…


Interview by Joël A. Grandjean, Editor-in-Chief of JSH® Magazine & Swiss-Watch-Passport.ch | Linkedin | Facebook | Instagram


His first name is a journey. At the beginning, he acted as an “artist” in a management team within the emerging Swatch Group, under the leadership of Walter Von Kaenel at the head of Longines, already a great watch industry’s captain. Because he was commissioned to create a feminine model, he designed a watch. Because the watch had no name, his colleagues gave it his first name.


The Rodolphe by Longines model had been born and was to be a huge commercial success. With it, without anyone noticing, the history of watch design could begin being written. There was a “before” and an “after”. By coincidence, he was the turning point. All watch designers today should remember that their craft might never have emerged if Rodolphe Cattin had not, in spite of himself, opened the way. Their profession is now noble and recognized since this first name was given to a timepiece. Since then, his recognizable signature continues to genially inhabit the collections of various brands, via his design studio Rodolphedesign SA.

So, Rodolphe Cattin, when was the first time?
There is now more than 45 years on the record and numbers are still not my cup of tea!

Are you always on time?
Always very approximately… It depends on motivation

What is the worst delay you can remember, the one that embarrassed you the most?
When I arrive 10 minutes late at the theater and the room is already in the dark! Shame! But that was a long time ago… just prior to a certain pandemic!!!

Was there a delay or an earlier start that allowed you to avoid the worst?

On the other hand, did a delay or an early start allow you to experience the best?
In the creative work we do, we must be spontaneously and naturally ahead of our time, feeling new shapes, colors, etc. Anticipation to create new identifiable products…. If you are late, it’s a shame!

What was your longest day?
In the last few years, I don’t have too many memories of a particularly long one!

Other than a watch or timepiece, what design do you consider to be the most timeless?
A ring!

What is the precise longitude and latitude of your birthplace?
Latitude 47.412973, longitude 7.078629

What is a personal object that you would like to remove from the grip of time so that it will never deteriorate? Avoid saying a watch as that would be too easy!
A Breton penty somewhere.

What is the type of “chronophage” (something that eats your precious time) that you fear the most?

If time could be written, what format would you prefer it to be in – a book, proverb, citation?
No one is a prophet in his own country

A South proverb says, “You have the hour, we have the time.” Your comments please?
Time passes too fast! Sometimes my mind is full of ideas, projects. At other times I am fine with ‘doing nothing’ and in either case, time goes too fast!

Which book took you the longest to read (or that you never finished, for example)?
My spirit is always visual, my mind thinks creatively and has many projects… So it’s not easy to concentrate on reading. Nevertheless, I enjoy reading Michel Onfray’s books, but it takes me a while to get through them…

What is your first memory that was related to a duration of time (either positive or negative)?

I always have deep inside some sadness linked to very difficult moments that I experienced at the end of my youth… But I also have the construction of a happiness connected to my family and professional trajectory. Very positive!

What are the moments in your life that should never end?
I often repeat: love in every sense of the word, love protects us!

If you sometimes cry, what was the time you thought you’d never stop?
That was over thirty years ago.

How do you differentiate time from eternity?
Time is the rhythm of every day, every month and every season. Eternity is forever!

What was your first watch?
My father’s gift, an Ebel watch.

If you own several watches (thanks for stating the approximate number), what roles do they play in your life?
I love the product, whether it is current or from another time. It’s my life’s course, it’s traces, memories, successes but also failures… I must have between 60 and 80.

What is the watch you would like to have the most?
An old Longines Conquest watch.

What is your collection watch that you are most proud of, and why?

I think it’s the Rodolphe Instinct 5053! Because it’s very strong, very typical, like nothing else! And when I created this product, that was all I had in me!  Without constraint, in total freedom… I had the strong feeling to open a new way, in the direction of ‘inspiration‘!

Without a time indicator, what would you plant in the ground, like a sundial, to tell you the time?
My crayon!

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