Now, it seems fairly evident that we are on the down slope of either a cyclical correction in prices or, if one takes a less optimistic view, a permanent loss of watch value as the mechanical timepiece industry faces a variety of challenges and potential disruptions. So what’s a collector to do? And what lessons can we draw, both from recent watch auction results and the history of other luxury categories, to guide us?
It’s no secret: I’m an immense admirer of Philippe Dufour. Part of greatness, of course, is leaving a legacy; not only through one’s works, but in the skills and inspiration passed on to those who follow, which Dufour has liberally done. But who, if anyone, will history regard as the lineal heir to the Dufour tradition? I’ve reached what may seem a counterintuitive conclusion: Romain Gauthier.
I deliberately wrote the headline as “Why We Are In A Golden Age For Appreciating Superlative Hand-Finishing . . . ” because, the fact is that if many people do not appreciate superlative hand-finishing, then fewer will pay for superlative hand-finishing, so there is likely to be less superlative hand-finishing on offer. So what does any of this mean for the future of superlatively hand-finished timepieces?
Ah, Paris! City of Lights, Paname, Babylon on the Seine – no matter how one refers to it, there is nothing remotely like it. For the watch collector, it’s a great place to visit as well with boutiques aplenty, some owned and operated by the major brands; high-end mega-stores like Bucherer; and smaller independent retailers like Chronopassion and Dubail. Recently, I took a quick weekend trip to Paris and while there I took the opportunity to pack in as much fun as possible. Come along with me and join in!
For this edition of Behind the Lens, I’m sharing a series of photographs of one of the great watches of our time, the Philippe Dufour Duality. The Duality, with its linked twin escapements, was originally planned for production in a series of 25 watches. In a turn of events that seems almost unbelievable today, a lack of initial demand eventually led Dufour to limit production to just nine pieces, one of which is owned by a good friend of mine.
For the past five years, I’ve had the delightful experience of traveling to Switzerland with several friends to experience SIHH week, before finishing up with a Friday night dinner at which we review our impressions of the week by answering what watch we thought was best of show at SIHH; what was the worst watch; what current-production watch that we saw at any event during the week would we buy if money were no object; and what current-production watch did we see that we would buy with our own money?
It seems like only yesterday, but it was all the way back in January of 2014 that I had the opportunity to sit down for the first time with Elizabeth and Ian and hear their plans for Quill & Pad. Before the year completely gets away, here are a few of my observations and reflections on the industry, my first year at Quill & Pad, and my year in watches.
Many of you are likely to have come across at least a few heated discussions of “finishing,” a topic that seems to fascinate, and divide, watch enthusiasts. Like many people, my starting point for serious watches was with a well-priced brand long known for its expertise in developing movements, justly viewed as offering good value for money – but not necessarily for the refinement of its movement finishing, at least on its less expensive pieces. What have I learned since then?
This young award is just barely three years old, but indeed it has already managed to reward some of the greatest personalities in the world of watches for their “passion” and “talent” – which are undeniably the most essential ingredients for the finest watchmaking. A jury from the Cultural Council of the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH) honored two exceptional personalities in 2014: Philippe Dufour for his “talent” and Henry-John Belmont for his “passion.”
The short documentry film “Time Piece” features two of the world’s best living watchmakers, Philippe Dufour and Vianney Halter and provides insight into what makes the watches by these masters so special.