''If you do something like everyone else, you cannot be recognised''
Philippe Dufour was born in 1948 in Le Sentier, in the Vallée de Joux, to a mother and father who were both watchmakers. At the age of fifteen, he attended the Ecole d’Horlogerie in Le Sentier, where he excelled in his studies. Upon graduation, in 1967, he joined Jaeger-LeCoultre, spending time in their after-sales department. Whilst there, he worked closely with Gabriel Locatelli, who became a mentor for the young watchmaker, educating him on “all the things you don’t learn at watchmaking school,” Dufour recalls.
In the following years, he worked for a few different manufactures, including Audemars Piguet, before focusing on restoring antique and vintage watches, on behalf of collectors and auction houses. In doing so, he became enamoured with the pieces which were created in the Vallée de Joux between 1800 and 1920, before any sort of industrialisation was introduced. He realised that the ébauches created here had been used throughout Switzerland, Germany, and even Britain, making this the epicentre of traditional watchmaking.
The chiming mechanism
“To make the first one, it took me two years and a half. I never stopped one day. No holidays, nothing. I used to go to sleep at eleven at night, when my eyes were crying”