Early in April, we took a trip to a famous valley in the Jura mountains, synonymous with the great and the good of Swiss watchmaking. We had an appointment to see a famous watchmaker, with a story or two to tell...
The beating heart of Swiss horology (if you'll pardon the pun), La Vallée de Joux to this day, is home to some of Swizterland's finest watch manufactures. Whilst all undeniably worthy of a visit, its significance to us that fine spring morning, was as the birthplace of Philippe Dufour, standard-bearer in our eyes, of all that is great at the highest-level of mechanical watch-making.
In an unassuming house in Le Soliat, there is a simple sign on the door, it reads: Philippe Dufour, Horlogerie compliquée. To most, this discreet plaque would not mean much, but for those who know a thing or two about watches, it's enough to create fervoured excitement. You see, Philippe Dufour’s watches are perhaps amongst the hardest to attain, due to his small-scale production and the fact that he is effectively a one-man Atelier. Some of the last collectors to order his Simplicity, had to wait almost twelve years for it to be delivered, and while Philippe always feels bad about making his clients wait, they were more than happy to. That for us, perfectly reflects the esteemed reverence in which he's held by so-much of the watch world.
On that sunny morning in Le Soliat, we sat down with Monsieur Dufour in his workshop to discuss his life as a watchmaker. Both charming and a great story-teller, he touched on his thoughts about the industry, and the ups and downs of becoming a fully-fledged independent watchmaker - not to mention showing us some of the timepieces that have come to define his career. This is not one to miss.