Luxury, from the heart.
“Superficial luxury and the times of overstatement are over. Instead, there is a new luxury that focuses on the value of things. I call it sincere luxury. People want things that aren’t more inflated than they really are. It is an unhurried luxury, without shortcuts and sensationalism. And this is how I see our tweezers: Because they are the realisation of the best that a pair of tweezers can be. Thought through right down to the last detail, without compromising on materials or workmanship, in a timeless design that sidesteps all fashionable and short-lived trends. This return to real value is what I consider to be today’s luxury.”
All of our products are made by hand from the best steel, consistent with all the rules of traditional craftsmanship. And during all processes, our products are repeatedly tested and controlled, so that no product leaves our manufacturing facilities that does not meet with the very highest standards. It is this desire for perfection that can be sensed in every one of our products - including our tweezers, which you are perhaps holding in your hand right now. Similar to a greenhouse with just the right climate, we try to create an atmosphere in which our employees can give their all and be creative, so that maximum quality can evolve. The individuals with whom we work have the knowledge and experience to achieve excellent results in their specialised areas. And when necessary, they can work quickly and efficiently. However, when it’s a matter of the utmost accuracy and care, they allow themselves the time that is needed - for example, when putting the final touches on the tips. Our passion for quality reflects our quest to preserve Swiss craftsmanship and, at the same to, to combine this with state-of-the-art technology.
Describing herself, Fides Baldesberger says that she’s a well-organised chaotic person. Perhaps that’s her secret to success: Again and again she brings things together in a way that others usually believe is impossible to do. It’s the beautiful things in life that attract her. But that’s not all. She is actually an art historian; however, after completing her studies, she attended the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) in Los Angeles. Initially, she worked for a dealer at the diamond exchange in Antwerp later on, she imported precious gemstones from India to Switzerland: The beautiful and the practical - and a large portion of courage and stubbornness - a pattern that would later repeat itself, over and over again.
When her father died, she travelled to Ticino to settle part of the estate involving a small tweezers company, in which her father had a stake. The company was called Rubis. She discovered that the name stemmed from the tiny rubies that were inserted with tweezers into watch mechanisms at Rolex and other renowned Swiss watch brands. The fine tweezers used for that purpose were produced at Rubis - and they the very finest available. However, in 1984, when the 30-year-old Fides Baldesberger arrived in Stabio for the first time, it quickly became clear that Rubis had seen better days. Things were not going well at the manufacturing plant. The company had missed out on what globalisation had to offer and was having problems adjusting to the changing markets. And while everyone was waiting for the young Swiss woman to pack her bags in the face of such poor prospects and head back to her precious stones, Fides Baldesberger recognised that Rubis itself had the potential to become a little gem: one only needed to make an attempt to free it of all the dust that had accumulated over the years, and make it shine once again.
She ultimately sent the management team on their way and decided to run the company herself from then on. With great passion and dedication, she undertook a thousand different things that she had never attempted before: in a short period of time, she had to build up a sales and marketing department, acquire new customers, develop new products, improve the efficiency of the workshop, have a new factory built and locate new markets. And all at once, at best.
In the process, she quickly identified a much-neglected target group: women. “Back then, there weren’t any quality tweezers in the cosmetics area. The ones that were available didn’t function properly. They were so imprecise that eyebrow plucking was a torture. So, I produced the right ones. Our know-how allowed us to launch a product onto the market that finally complied with what women were looking for.” Steel - that hard, industrial material - was to take on a more feminine touch; and precision was to play a major role in the cosmetics and beauty world. Once again, apparent opposites, brought together by Fides Baldesberger, were to turn out to be anything but that.
And so she designed the first Rubis cosmetic tweezers, making use of a timelessly beautiful, classical language of form. Straight-forward, simple and unpretentious. She counted on the fact that people usually decide in favour of everyday objects that are both attractive and practical at the same time - a plan that won her many customers, then numerous awards and international honours. She created a design icon, travelled the world to present her tweezers and managed to turn the ailing company into a globally-successful manufacturer of precision tweezers.
Today, 20 years later, Rubis cosmetic tweezers are considered to be the “best of the best” (Vogue), and the “Ferrari of cosmetic tweezers” (Bobbi Brown). Fides Baldesberger has transformed a small manufacturer into an international brand. For her numerous achievements she was twice voted Businesswoman of the Year in Switzerland. Her great success is attributable to a very special mix: her passion for everything that is beautiful, her natural Swiss inclination for the practical, a goodly amount of courage and a pinch of thirst for adventure.
Steel is feminine
Around 40 tonnes of only the very best high-grade steel are used yearly in Rubis’ manufacturing process. It must not only be rust-proof, it cannot weaken, as this would cause the tweezers to lose their tension; and they must also be acid-proof, so that they can be sterilised without a problem. The quality of the steel is decisive for that of the finished product. Because only when the steel itself is produced with the greatest possible care, does it ultimately yield the grade required to manufacture fine precision instruments. Rolled up like a snake, it arrives in coils at the plant where it is rolled out, formed and processed. This is where it is then transformed into tweezers or scissors. Each and every time, the form must be wrested from it anew. There’s something archaic about steel -and, at the same time, something ultramodern. It is from this hard material that Rubis creates its gentle, rounded forms - the classic Rubis design. “The steel remains the same”, says Fides Baldesberger. “It invites one to experiment, to discover the many things that can be done with it. Every time it’s a fight to determine who is stronger: the idea or the material. For me, steel is feminine.”
We believe that there is also a social quality to work. This is one of the values that are part of our range of products. And we believe that that is something one notices. Because every product is also always a result of the manner in which a company deals with its staff and suppliers. Mutual respect and standards, such as adequate remuneration and proper working conditions are quality factors for us. And we were one of the first Swiss companies to have ourselves certified in line with the SA8000 standard for Socially Responsible Management.
Vincenzo and the visitage
There are probably only a few people who know as thoroughly as Vincenzo Zagari does what it takes to produce a really perfect tweezers tip. He has been working in Rubis’ production facility for 38 years, having begun shortly before he turned 20; today he oversees the visitage process. The French name stems from the Swiss watchmaking industry, which was traditionally located in the French speaking part of Switzerland. Visitage denotes the process during which each product receives its finishing touches. This is where the quality is determined. Vicenzo and his colleagues in the visitage workshop are responsible for finishing and perfecting the tweezers: each and every one, individually and by hand - with a vice, fine wooden clamps, tongs, magnifying glass, file, various small hammers - and very experienced eyes which, again and again, precisely inspect the tweezers against the light: To make sure, in the end, that both tips rest perfectly on each other; that the steel transports the pressure of the fingers to the tips; and that they then grab with maximum precision.
Something that no machine could accomplish.
For the visitage process that a tweezers undergoes, Vincenzo needs between three and five minutes. For the larger special tweezers with broad tips it can take twice as long. In a sequence of steps that has been perfected over the years he files, adjusts and checks the tips according to all the rules of the art. On a good day he process 150 tweezers. More than that would jeopardise the quality. “You definitely need five to six years”, explains Vicenzo, “before you have a good command of everything. That doesn’t only have to do with skill, but with feeling, a good eye and taking great pains.” For those who are first getting started, the rule is that they generally need six months until they have mastered the visitage process to the extent that they can work on a simple tweezers. “But most”, he adds, “only last a few days. Nine out of ten simply don’t have the calmness that you need for this work.” Making tweezers, says Vicenzo with a smile, has a touch of Zen.
Made in Switzerland
There are a few things which are really important to us Swiss. And which explains why one can sense them in our products. Precision for example. The typical Swiss desire to design everything with the utmost meticulousness, right down to the last detail; the perfectionism that drives us to not give up before everything is exactly as it should be. This is simply an integral part of our makeup. Maybe we developed this passion because the winters in the remote Alpine villages used to be so long - after all, we needed to do something. The very finest watchworks, for instance. As we have no raw materials to speak of - ourselves excluded - we attach great importance to things that are long-lasting. So long, ideally, that they can be passed on from one generation to the next. That’s how we build our houses, knives, watches, bags - and our tweezers. And which is why we don’t like any unnecessary odds and ends, but rather straight-forward, timeless functional forms, without extra frills.
Here's where we work
Rubis actually lives it values. The architecture of our headquarters in Stabio, Switzerland, embodies the symbiosis of traditional craftsmanship and contemporary design. At the front, a timelessly-attractive new building for the administration; behind this, the long hall of our manufacturing facility with its machines and around 30 men and women who file, hammer, cut and grind. The minimalistic forms and materials of the products are reflected in the architecture. At the entryway is a pond with Japanese koi fish and an installation by the artist Daniel Spoerri; to the rear is a warehouse with thousands of different tweezers. It is this unique mixture that makes the location so fascinating: nature and art, creativity and skill, the traditional and the modern.
The perfect line
Why should we fill up our day to day life with mindlessly-produced objects which already look old the next day, that do not last long and that function poorly, at best? Wouldn’t it be better to try and surround ourselves only with those things that have been designed by individuals who have intensively given them some thought? Over a period of days, weeks or even months, right down to the last detail? Because they wanted to wed form and function. Because they wanted to fully realise an ingenious idea. Because they knew that it is somewhere out there - the perfect line. Because they searched for a form that would provide comfort and security when using an implement. Because they were searching for durability. Because, with an abundance of creativity, they wanted to design a wonderful and unique product. And because they wanted to supply us all with a little bit more pleasure in our day-to-day lives.