In Memoriam: Brands And People Who Left Us In 2017, Including Roger Dubuis, MCT, DeLaneau And Walter Lange
The Latin phrase “in memoriam” is often used in place of “in memory of.” And to my mind, people also use it to signify departed who may be gone, but shouldn’t be forgotten.
Every year people working in the watch industry pass away, and brands come and go. This year I’d like to highlight a special few of those we’ve lost.
Brands: MCT and DeLaneau
MCT, which stands for Manufacture Contemporaine du Temps, was founded in 2007. The creative and technical side of the company was masterminded by former Harry Winston head of production Denis Giguet, whose inventive mind brought forth a timepiece outfitted with an innovative display. The MCT Sequential One featured hours passing like they passed nowhere else by using a complex prism display system; challenging conventional watch design, Giguet created a sensational mechanical timepiece that ̶ even though it did nothing more than show the time in hours and minutes ̶ was irresistible to a sliver of the upper echelon of collectors of modern horology. It takes a lot of complexity to get to something that looks so stunningly simple and novel.
Taken over by Cage Holding in 2012, Franҫois Candolfi became CEO of MCT in 2012; he brought caliber production largely “in house,” meaning it was now performed in conjunction with sister companies Digitale SA (research and development) and MCH SA (assembly). The three companies had 40 employees. Candolfi was succeeded by Pierre Jacques in February 2016; Giguet returned to MCT after another stint with Harry Winston as CEO of the watch division in March 2016.
We will miss this innovative brand’s funky, modernistic style. See all the MCT stories we have published on Quill & Pad over the years at www.quillandpad.com/MCT.
Cristina Thévenaz took over the jewelry watch brand DeLaneau in 1996, a marque that had been in existence in one form or another since 1949. The capricious Thévanaz surprised the horological world year for year with her decidedly feminine, yet positively unique designs with a focus femininity and workmanship, two characteristics that aren’t always necessarily congruous. These were timepieces that transported one from the grinding trials of everyday life into the mysterious realm of elegance, beauty, and true luxury.
Additional investors allowed Thévanaz to realize her dream of building an in-house enamel workshop, headed at the beginning by the legendary Dominique Baron, a student of Anita Porchet. Eventually the investors took over the brand. Earlier in 2017 the news reached us that DeLaneau had closed forever.
However, in November 2017 I received a note from a Luna Management in Monaco with the message that it had acquired DeLaneau. I do hope this means a return for this lovely, artistic brand. We remain curious.
People: Walter Lange and Roger Dubuis
In The Life And Times Of A. Lange & Söhne Re-Founder Walter Lange, published in January 2017, you will know how much I felt this man had contributed to high-end watchmaking, the German watch industry, and in a way to humanity itself with his kind spirit, generous gestures, and incredible legacy.
Lange passed away at the age of 92 in January following a wildly long and productive life that included living through one of the most horrific eras in modern history. At the age of 66, he re-founded A. Lange & Söhne in Germany’s “Wild East,” which was made possible due to German reunification (see How The Wall Came Tumbling Down: Made In Germany). He will continue to be greatly missed.
Roger Dubuis likely needs no introduction: this founder of the eponymous brand opened a company together with watch collector Carlos Dias in 1995 with the express goal of creating distinct manufacture movements. By 1998 the company had built its own modern factory on the outskirts of Geneva to accommodate the brand’s creative horology and autonomous new movements. Previously Dubuis had had his own workshop, which he founded in 1980 (during which time he co-patented a bi-retrograde function with Jean-Marc Wiederrecht of Agenhor) after spending 14 years developing complications for Patek Philippe.
In 2005, Dubuis retired from his namesake company. Richemont bought the Roger Dubuis brand in 2008, and in 2011 Mr. Dubuis was invited back as a figurehead, where he remained until his death at the age of 79 in October 2017. Revolution’s Swiss editor-in-chief Sophie Furley wrote a nice personal piece on this man, who she knew very well, in Farewell Roger.
People: Marco Richon and Bill Shuster
Marco Richon, previous director of the Omega Museum and author of Omega: A Journey Through Time (2007) and Omega Saga (1998), passed away in June 2017.
Richon, who I knew through my work with the FHH’s Cultural Council, was employed by Omega in this capacity for 26 years (1983-2009) before retiring. He is the author and co-author of several books, mostly on the subject of Omega and horology in Biel. Born in 1945, Richon had a degree in journalism from the University of Geneva.
William (Bill) Shuster passed away in August 2017 at the age of 71 in his hometown of Hatboro, Pennsylvania. Bill was a journalist in the fields of jewelry and watches for more than 40 years, but known mostly for his 30-year career with JCK. I worked with him for years on the Baselworld Daily News team and have always known him to be a wonderfully helpful, exacting, and serious colleague.
Quill & Pad contributor Sabine Zwettler wrote a heartfelt obituary (in German), Nachruf auf William George Shuster, while jewelry journalist Hedda Schupak wrote an extensive English-language obituary at In Memoriam: William George Shuster, Veteran Industry Journalist.
His kind and caring ways will be deeply missed.