There is a lot of work, passion and emotion that goes into Dufour’s creations. From the wood that he has picked himself for polishing to the ceremonial experience of hand delivering his work to clients, the watchmaker is so inextricably intertwined with his watches that it is impossible to separate the two. Studying his pieces can almost feel like an examination of the man himself.
In an attempt to better understand the almost cult like fascination that surrounds him, we’ve dissected the techniques and inspiration for Dufour’s pieces, however, as with all great things, the answer is often more than just the sum of its parts. In a way, what matters most with Dufour is his almost artistic approach to watchmaking. His work is uncompromising, imbued with the spirit of the watchmaker and, most importantly, it feels like its appeal is forever lasting. Dufour’s personality, and the fascination and admiration it conveys, only helps to round this all off.
These qualities are obvious in those who have followed his work from the beginning. Those who have been able to discern between a machine which can artificially create perfection and the quality of something hand-made, both in its unique voice and dedication to craft, have seen the value of the watchmaker’s art.
Any discussion relating watches to art should often be treated with caution, as this remark is often hyperbolic, and so frequently used, that it has become a cliché. However, if one cannot discuss the artistic merits of Dufour’s work, then we feel hard-pressed to think what area of the horological world would deserve such a label. The man, his aura, his belief and his craft all culminate in watches that – despite what we’ve attempted to do in this article – have an appeal which is hard to quantify or explain. Then again, that feels true for the best of things.
Our thanks, once again, to Philippe Dufour for taking the time to speak with us about his creations and share a few of his technical drawings. We would also like to thank Peter Speake, Michael Tay, Michael Hickcox and Gary Getz for sharing their experiences with Dufour and his watches along with a selection of images.