Philippe Dufour Simplicity Deconstructed By The Naked Watchmaker

Philippe Dufour is the epitome of traditional watchmaking: the watchmaker often says that he has never invented anything but simply builds on what past watchmakers have done before him. But being traditional doesn’t mean not doing anything new: Dufour was both the first to make a grande et petite sonnerie in wristwatch form and the first to make a dual-escapement wristwatch with a differential linking and averaging the two regulators.

But as groundbreaking as both these technical accomplishments were, it was his time-only Simplicity that really brought Dufour horological fame.

Philippe Dufour Simplicity (photo courtesy The Naked Watchmaker)

When the Simplicity launched in 2000 it made waves: here was a niche independent watchmaker who few had ever heard of with the audacity to “market” a simple time-only wristwatch for the then seemingly exorbitant price of around $35,000. That was then significantly more than a Patek Philippe Calatrava cost; you could buy a serious complication from a top-tier brand for the same sum.

Beautiful hand-finished anglage of the Philippe Dufour Simplicity (photo courtesy The Naked Watchmaker)

The simplicity offered no complications; Dufour explained that the price was justified by the time it took for the fine hand-finishing. At that time very few even appreciated hand-finishing, which wasn’t surprising as display case backs were in their infancy. Imagining that collectors would pay $35,000 at that time for a simple watch with “just” hand-finishing, even if it was superlative, seemed fanciful if not downright crazy.

Guilloche dial of a Philippe Dufour Simplicity (photo courtesy The Naked Watchmaker)

But Dufour had three things going for him: he spoke good English, he looked like the archetypical Swiss watchmaker, and internet discussion forums like ThePuristS and Timezone (which we accessed at the time with a dial-up modem) were becoming popular with watch collectors and aficionados. This meant that a small independent watchmaker could reach an international pool of potential clients with no real marketing. The circumstances and timing of Dufour’s launch of the Simplicity was perfect.

Back of a Philippe Dufour Simplicity (photo courtesy The Naked Watchmaker)

Now with prices of a Dufour Simplicity reaching millions of dollars, it is clear that that $35,000 price tag of the launch series was an absolute bargain. The Simplicity didn’t just put Dufour on the horological map, it opened the door for a new generation of independent watchmakers.

Deconstructed movement of a Philippe Dufour Simplicity (photo courtesy The Naked Watchmaker)

Peter Speake, aka The Naked Watchmaker, deconstructed (stripped down) three Simplicities to reveal why this now iconic watch is so special from the inside.

I highly recommend checking out The Naked Watchmaker’s comprehensive deconstruction photos and comments on the Philippe Dufour Simplicity at

Quick Facts Philippe Dufour Simplicity
Case: 34 and 37 mm cases in platinum, white gold, and pink gold; one example gem-set with white and pink diamonds
Dials: silver or dark grey guilloche with applied indices and white lacquer with printed Roman numerals
Movement: manually wound proprietary Philippe Dufour caliber
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds
Price: original production prices 48,000 to 64,000 Swiss francs
Limitation: 206 known examples of the first series

You may also enjoy:

Why Philippe Dufour Matters: Luckily It’s Not A Secret

Behind The Lens: The Philippe Dufour Simplicity

Behind The Lens: Philippe Dufour Duality

Philippe Dufour 70th Birthday Celebration Film

‘Time Piece’: If You Only Watch One Film On Independent Watchmaking, Watch This One

John McGonigle Oileán H-B1 Triple Calendar Chronograph: I Don’t Know Of A More Beautiful Complicated Movement Available For The Money

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6 replies
  1. Review The Watch
    Review The Watch says:

    I like reading your articles as I have a keen interest in Horology. Your in-depth articles are not only interesting to read but also very informative and analytical.

  2. Ray
    Ray says:

    I think you meant to say he spoke English well ! Jumped off the page , to me anyway . lol The prices of these things take on a life of their own, do they not ? Takes one rich guy who is a “aficionado” and others fall in line and then just a bunch of “investors” to start flipping a watch and then have these astronomically priced watch’s, then they become grail to the masses ! Now that’s deconstructing ! 😉

    • Ian Skellern
      Ian Skellern says:

      Hi Ray, I meant to say “he spoke good English” but thanks for keeping me on my toes.

      “I speak good English” and “I speak English well” are both correct sentences but have a slightly different meaning. To speak good English would be more common to describe a non-native English speaker who has the ability to express themselves in English. To speak English well has more of the meaning of speaking with eloquence.
      To speak good English is often implied that the person is a non-native English speaker but doesn’t make a lot of mistakes.

      A native English speaker might speak English well, but as a native French speaker, Dufour speaks good English

      Regards, Ian

  3. David Hunter
    David Hunter says:

    Did Philippe Dufour make his Simplicity movements entirely in-house or are the movements “simply” finished in-house. Who made the movements in these early Simplicity’s?


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