The name ‘Jean Rousseau’ is, by no means, a household name for those outside of the leather trade.
But it should be.
Built on a history of crafting artisanal leather goods in the way of watch straps, Jean Rousseau has helped sculpt the leather trade industry to what it is today; but by doing so conspicuously.
We ventured down to Robinson Man in Melbourne to speak with Tina and Carol Barghout who not only stock Jean Rousseau products, but take custom-made orders for individuals to create their very own made-to-measure watch strap order.
In 1954 Besançon, France, a craftsman by the name of Jean Rousseau opened a little workshop he would call ‘Cobra’, which is an abbreviation of Companie de Bracelet; “bracelet” is French for “strap.” Over 60 years later, through many trials and tribulations (including a change of hands and name change), Cobra (now ‘Jean Rousseau Paris’) has always remained a cornerstone in the leather trade, particularly in the artisanal craftsmanship of leather watch straps.
Now in it’s 68thyear, managing director Jacques Bordier has restored Jean Rousseau Paris to its former glory, focusing purely on high-end products and the luxury market; a gap which was bridged to provide big watch brands with creative solutions that weren’t, at the time, available.
Today, Jean Rousseau has become a key business partner to Luxury and Prestige Swiss brands, such as the LVMH Group.
Having once made millions of watch straps for the likes of Swatch Group, annually, Jean Rousseau now make made-to-measure straps in the hundreds of thousands annually – the company doesn’t want to become saturated but remain niche in its market.
With ateliers in Paris, London, Tokyo and New York, stores are but few, with only a small – and carefully curated – selection of watch strap options available in each store. There to guide the process is a craftsperson working on-site in each store, keeping the experience very traditional and classical.
All articles under the Jean Rousseau label are exclusively “handmade” by Jean Rousseau
craftsmen/women in France.
Heading down to Robinson Man, we were privy to an exclusive event with Jean Rousseau to launch their made-to-order luxury watch straps in Australia. We were immediately intrigued by the brand’s rich history and artisanal offerings.
Arriving in-store for a one-on-one appointment with Jacqueline Tse of manufacture Jean Rousseau Paris, we briefly discussed the history of Jean Rousseau and it’s place in the leather trade and high-end luxury market, as well as discussing options for a made-to-measure piece.
Going through the different types of leathers was an experience, but harder than we initially thought. At hand was a vintage 1960’s Omega Seamaster. Due to the nature of this vintage piece, we wanted to add to its character with a new watch strap; something to completely complement its style.
After much deliberation (and genuine guidance and advice from Jacqueline), we opted for a tan lizard leather watch strap, which had a striking – and unique – scale detailing. This pattern was a stylish accompaniment to the 34mm face of the gold Omega Seamaster.
Details such as the thickness of the edges, stitching colour, lining, threading and pinholes are all customisable, which is simply fantastic!
Taking our size and specifications, the process was simple and pleasant, and in little over 6-weeks, we would have a brand new made-to-measure watch strap to this highlight this unique timepiece at hand.
This very experience of careful made-to-measure precision was exactly what we were after, and we can’t commend the staff at Robinson Man enough for facilitating this opportunity with Jean Rousseau.
It’s always enjoyable to learn about brands, such as Jean Rousseau, who have changed a particular industry (in this case, the leather trade industry), without being ostentatious; it’s quite refreshing to say the least.
To have your own timepiece fitted with a new and completely customised watch strap, head down to Robinson Man to speak with one of the trained representatives who will facilitate your very own Jean Rousseau made-to-measure leather piece.
604 High St,
*Images taken on Olympus Pen-F