Introducing The Vincent Deprez Handmade Tourbillon Classique Souscription Edition: Traditional Artisanal Independent Watchmaking At Its Best
by Ian Skellern
While most people get into watches from the bottom up, i.e., starting with relatively more affordable models and then broadening their knowledge and experience over time to more complex and higher-end timepieces, I started at the top. And because that spoiled me, my interest has basically stayed there. I’m referring to my interest in high-end watches from independents rather than being able to afford them: I consider myself an aficionado of independent watchmaking rather than a collector.
My very first experience of watchmakers in Switzerland was around 20 years ago. With a British collector friend I’d met through ThePuristS, over a few days that I described as “watch heaven” we visited François-Paul Journe, Philippe Dufour, Felix Baumgartner, and Daniel Roth. I naively came away from the experience thinking that these men were just normal Swiss watchmakers and that how they worked and the watches they made were representative of what Swiss watchmaking was all about.
While in the passing decades I’ve learned that’s not the case, those few days cemented a love of high-end independent horology that hasn’t faded.
And I’m always both reassured and extremely pleased whenever I learn that far from fading, traditional watchmaking is not just alive and well today, it’s thriving.
Vincent Deprez: traditional handmade watchmaking
One of my highlights during Geneva Watch Days 2021 – in fact one of my highlights of 2021 – was meeting a new young independent watchmaker called Vincent Deprez, who showed me an early prototype of his first watch, the Tourbillon Classique. I was immediately impressed by both Deprez’s obvious passion for traditional watchmaking and the extremely high quality of his watch.
But most of all, I was impressed by the fact that Deprez had made virtually all of the watch himself using traditional tools. And not “just” the movement, but also the case and even oven firing the enamel dial.
Deprez’s Tourbillon Classique is limited to just 20 pieces in total, and he is launching with a Souscription Edition of ten pieces in steel.
Vincent Deprez Tourbillon Classique Souscription Edition
With a case diameter of 39 millimeters, the Vincent Deprez Tourbillon Classique is both perfectly sized and classically proportioned. Deprez chose an open dial to maximize the view of the one-minute tourbillon and winding/setting mechanism.
The dial side of the Tourbillon Classique is dominated by the large 12.6 millimeter-diameter tourbillon cage suspended under a 22.8-millimeter long beautifully polished bridge (which reminded me of Greubel Forsey). The “dial” is actually the visible main plate that features a traditional frosted finish, which was common on historical high-end watches.
A dark blue (also available in cream color) oven-fired subdial (fired by Deprez himself) sets the backdrop for the hours and minutes.
Vincent Deprez is a French watchmaker living near Geneva. As a child he always liked working with his hands in Legos, mechanics, metal, and wood. He first thought about being a watchmaker when he was just 12 years old (his father also liked watches and clocks and had a family heirloom Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso). Deprez’s dream turned into a passion two years later after doing a school work experience week at Vacheron Constantin, which led to him starting a watchmaking apprenticeship with Vacheron Constantin at the precocious age of 15.
On finishing his work experience at Vacheron Constantin, Deprez told his mentor that he wanted to do an apprenticeship but was informed that VC had already filled its apprenticeship positions for the following year. He stayed in contact with his mentor, who was impressed by Deprez’s resolve and passion. And two months later he informed Deprez that he had managed to convince Vacheron Constantin to take on another apprentice and that he had the position.
After ten years at Vacheron Constantin working in restoration, regulation, assembly, and ultra-thin watches, Deprez moved to Patek Philippe where he worked in the restoration department. The desire to make his own watch grew ever stronger, and in 2017 he left Patek Philippe to set up his own atelier and begin working on making his own tourbillon. With his passion for traditional watchmaking, Deprez decided at the outset that he would make handmade watches using traditional tools.
Handmade Tourbillon Classique
Deprez uses only traditional tools (no CNC machines) to make the movement components (including tourbillon cage), hands, and case, and as mentioned fires his own enamel dials. The only components not made by Deprez are the strap, buckle, jewels, mainspring, balance spring, balance wheel, sapphire crystals, mainspring barrel, and the 90° gears of the winding mechanism.
The 60-second tourbillon movement is an original Vincent Deprez design and construction. Like the visible top main plate, the back of the movement features a traditional frosted finish with hand-polished anlage and sharp internal angles.
Jewels and screws sit in hand-polished countersinks and the screw heads are also hand-polished. Of note is the neatly concealed barrel spring click running around the curve of the numbered edition disk.
The 39-millimeter case is hand-polished in 316L stainless steel, handmade from a blank by Vincent Deprez. To keep the watch as slim as possible (it’s only 11. 3 millimeters high), the backplate framing the sapphire crystal display back is set into the case rather than being simply screwed on the back.
After the ten Souscription Edition models have been completed, Deprez will make ten more pieces in precious metals and then that’s all for this model. His next watch will have a different complication.
The Vincent Deprez Tourbillon Classique Souscription Edition is a limited edition of ten pieces in stainless steel with a dark blue or cream-colored oven-fired subdial displaying hours and minutes. The price is 89,500 Swiss francs with 30 percent payable on order. The watch pictured here is his prototype and Deprez promises that the production models will be even better. He expects to be able to deliver three to four watches per year.
The Vincent Deprez Tourbillon Classique is everything I love most about independent watchmaking: a talented watchmaker with a superlative traditionally crafted watch.
Quick Facts Vincent Deprez Tourbillon Classique Souscription Edition
Case: 39 x 11. 3 mm, 316L stainless steel, 30-meter water resistance
Dial: dark blue or cream-colored oven-fired enamel, 18 mm diameter
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds (indicated around tourbillon cage)
Movement: manually wound handmande caliber with one-minute tourbillion, high-level finishing, tourbillon cage 12.6 mm, tourbillon bridge 22.8 mm, balance spring with Breguet overcoil, 2.5 Hz/18,000 vph, 52-hour power reserve, handmade by Vincent Deprez using traditional tools and machines
Limitation: 10 pieces in stainless steel; movement will be limited to just 20 pieces overall
Price: 89,500 Swiss francs (excluding shipping and any taxes)