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.
In this article I look at why high end watches cost so much by examining one of the most important factors. To answer this question, there are quite a few reasons, including low production numbers (mass manufacture brings prices down) and high complexity, but the one I will focus on here is hand-finishing, because unlike low production numbers and high complexity, ultra-high-level hand-finishing is not usually easy to appreciate.
There is not much art that that packs as much into such an aesthetically pleasing parcel as Romain Gauthier’s Logical One Secret Kakau Höfke. This watch uses one of the world’s finest timepieces as a “canvas” for the artwork of two renowned artists: Kakau Höfke and Olivier Vaucher. These two work in very different fields and even on different continents: Höfke is a painter located in Rio de Janeiro and Vaucher is a stone artist at work in Switzerland. What all three have created is nothing short of a masterpiece.
Romain Gauthier’s Logical One is a masterpiece of complicated mechanics, boasting − as with all of the models in his collection − a level of finishing rivaled only by the likes of Philippe Dufour, Greubel Forsey, and Kari Voutlainen. That’s high praise, indeed. With its four patents, Logical One delivers what it promises: a re-imagined complication laid out very logically. And the most recent edition of the timepiece taking home the 2013 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève prize for best men’s complication is a surprising all-black version.
One of the most important boutique openings took place in the heart of Mayfair with a launch party on June 24, 2015. William Asprey – a seventh-generation Asprey – opened the doors on a spacious new three-storey boutique. William & Son is a retailer with a distinctive Britishness about it, stocking bespoke luxury home wares, glasswares, writing instruments, and timepieces from brands and boutique makers such as Romain Gauthier, Breguet, De Bethune, Graham, H. Moser & Cie, Laurent Ferrier, F.P. Journe, Breva, and Ludovic Ballouard.
“This is a kind of homage for me,” Romain Gauthier explained as he showed me his superbly finished HMS Ten at Baselworld 2015. Gauthier celebrates a milestone with the appropriately named wristwatch: ten years of his company’s existence as a boutique watch brand. While this watch appears solidly classic in style at first glance, don’t be fooled by that. It contains a number of elements that are bound to make it an interesting evergreen in the years to come: compelling movement design, intriguing dial design, and great crown placement.
When Romain Gauthier presented his Logical One at Baselworld 2013, I wasn’t the only one impressed: it was awarded the prestigious prize for best Men’s Complication at the 2013 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève thanks to its quadruple patent-pending constant force and much more.
“Art”, what is it? If we allow that horology at its finest can indeed be art, then I have no problem accepting Romain Gauthier’s Logical one as art. While beauty may be in the eye of the beholder (and mine sees beauty in Logical one), there is no denying Romain Gauthier’s fertile imagination in reinventing the chain and fusee, eliminating the ubiquitous winding crown, improving the mainspring barrel and adding a few diamonds!