Philippe Dufour is a living legend. The independent watchmaker is one of most (if not the most) worshipped experts in the industry and his watches are viewed as a definitive in conventional hand-finishing. We visited the 70-year-old master in the little town of Le Solliat, in the Vallée de Joux. There, Philippe Dufour creates his watches completely by hand, elevating the specialty of watchmaking to the most significant level. Visiting his workshop is an extraordinary encounter. It is actually what you have envisioned about, but then everything is an astonishment and grabs your eye: old instruments, antiquated machines, drawers, books, crude materials… This spot has soul.
How does one become quite possibly the most venerated experts in the Swiss watch industry?
First of all, it takes persistence and difficult work. You should eliminate a few words from your jargon: ends of the week, occasions or retirement. Whenever this is done you can begin. It’s been a lengthy, difficult experience. Being perceived for your work takes years. I have been an independent watchmaker since 1978. First restoring classical watches, then I made a grande sonnerie pocket watch, and created five of these for Audemars Piguet.
From 1989 to 1992, I created the primary Grande Sonnerie wristwatch (Editor’s note: more than that, it was a grande and modest sonnerie minute repeater). It was the principal watch under my name and a prompt success.
Back then, things were extraordinary. I did no marketing or communication. ‘Product represents itself’ was the solitary choice. Today, when I see the outcomes at closeouts of watches like the Simplicity or Duality, I am upbeat. The street I picked was right.
What was your ambition?
In 1989, I examined what was being made. There were chronographs, schedules, a couple tourbillons… I needed to accomplish something that had never been finished. I figured out how to utilize a computer without anyone else to build up the development, the development was in 2D. Following over two years, I introduced the Grande Sonnerie at Baselworld.
Then came the Duality in 1996. A few customers were asking for something less complex than the Grande Sonnerie. There were a huge number, however I am not an enthusiast of tourbillon wristwatches. I figured I would make a watch with a similar goal of improving chronometry. I saw an image of a watch from a US exhibition hall. It was a watch made here in the Vallée de Joux. It had two equilibrium wheels. I attempted to see how it functioned and made a model. I comprehended the principles of a differential that midpoints mistakes between the equilibrium wheels, reducing the expected blunders significantly. I needed to make 25 of these and made nine. Then, I halted. Presently I have a waiting rundown of 75 individuals asking me to make one.
So will there be a 10th one?
I don’t have the foggiest idea. Never say never, however I don’t know.
And then came the Simplicity?
My companion Antoine Preziuso came to see me and advised me, ‘you ought to make a watch for Japan. You are truly well known and have a fan club there’. I addressed ‘quit joking around! I never sold a watch in Japan… ‘ I figured I would create a basic watch to my taste.
There were two different ways to do this. The primary way would have been similar to any other person to call Lemania or Frédéric Piguet and have your name engraved on the watch and development. Be that as it may, this was not my thought. This isn’t acceptable over the long haul. I then planned my own development for the Simplicity that I introduced in 2000 at Baselworld. There was quickly a great deal of interest from Japanese retailers. They all needed it yet disclosed to me they couldn’t work with me straightforwardly. The standard for Japanese was to work with merchants. In any case, my creation was too low to even think about working with a merchant. Then I met Shellman from Tokyo who said he would work straightforwardly with me. Presently, it has been a long time since we began working together. Shellman has been my elite retailer in Japan since then, selling 120 Simplicity watches out of the 200 I have made.
How numerous watches have you crafted?
About 210 Simplicities, 9 Dualities, 7 Grandes Sonnerie wristwatches, 5 Grandes Sonnerie pocket watches for Audemars Piguet, in addition to one under my name. Along these lines, around 230 watches, so far.
What are you manufacturing these days?
I have a couple of Simplicity watches under advancement. What’s more, I am crafting a significant pocket watch commissioned by a client.
Who inspired you?
After watchmaking school, I worked at Jaeger-LeCoultre with a companion who showed me numerous things. Then I began restoring old fashioned watches, for the most part pocket watches. My number one period was 1800-1920. Among 10 repeaters I reestablished, seven had been fabricated in the Vallée de Joux. The development spaces were all from the Vallée. Those spaces were utilized by all creators, Patek, Vacheron… The scaffolds were extraordinary yet it was a similar development. What’s more, it was the equivalent with German (Lange or Grossmann) or English (Dent or Smith) watches. While removing the dial, it was consistently a similar development. These could be finished in run of the mill German or English styles, yet they were consistently the equivalent ébauche. I got the affirmation with this 1903 LeCoultre list showing the ébauches made by LeCoultre in German or English style.
This truly inspired me. I figured, ‘they did these sublime watches, why not me?’ I am truly keen to the work done at that point. My thought was to attempt to sustain this ‘Beauty Horlogerie’.
What is your most noteworthy wellspring of pride?
I think the Grande Sonnerie wristwatch. Now and then I think I probably been insane, ignorant of the test. Yet, the day I began, there was no going back. Fortunately, an Italian gatherer upheld me for right around three years.
And your most noteworthy regret?
Time flies. I’m 70 years of age and there are such countless watches I’d love to do. Time passes by too fast.
What is your interpretation of the industry?
The industry is everywhere. I have the feeling that there is no vision. A great many people follow patterns. Dial tones, for instance: a brand comes up with a thought and everyone follows after accordingly. There is almost no originality.
The creation limit is too large. Some of the time I keep thinking about whether individuals understand that if the estimation of watches delivered goes up, we make less and less units.
Last, it is critical to put the individual back at the middle. Watches need essence. This is the thing that makes feeling. Everyone discusses feeling. Be that as it may, you can’t request feeling, it is something you just feel.
You must be straightforward, show how you are doing make a relationship with the article. Presently, you see 3D-renderings of watches and films showing parts fabricated with CAD machines… this isn’t the way you make feeling. Individuals need to know whether their watch has been made by a watchmaker or a robot. On the off chance that they can meet the man or lady who made their watch, the watch gets an entire diverse measurement and worth. This is the thing that we miss today, and not simply in the watchmaking world.
How would one be able to purchase a Philippe Dufour watch today?
Well, there are very few arrangements. You must be patient and hang tight for one to be sold at sell off. (Editor’s note, be set up to spend about USD 1 million for a Duality or USD 250,000 for a Simplicity – around multiple times the retail cost).
I get a couple of messages each week, individuals proposing to pay ahead of time for their watches however I can’t take any new orders.
One I had always wanted is to show up at my workshop one day and understand that I have no requests to deliver, and afterward have the opportunity to say what I am going to do, and afterward make something crazy.