I had the good pleasure of dining with a fellow watchmaker tonight and, as one might expect, much of our conversation over the evening centered around watches. Those we admired. Those we had fixed. Difficult clients we have had. Our dream watch. That sort of thing. Later on into the evening, while flipping through Guido Mocafico’s Movement, my friend’s face lit up when we happened upon an image of F.P. Journe’s ‘Chronometre A Resonance’ – a watch movement with two balance wheels. At first, I thought that he was intrigued by the purpose of the mechanism and its immaculate execution, but that wasn’t it. I could tell he was digging for something, at the back of his mind. A name. He had worked on a piece like this before, but it wasn’t Journe’s. He was thinking of something even more immaculate. “Dufour,” he said, “Philippe Dufour! That was it.”
I almost fell off my chair.
He had serviced Philippe Dufour’s ‘Duality’ several years ago for a very selective client. I don’t ever expect to have the pleasure of servicing a Dufour timepiece in my lifetime, but if the day ever comes, I will greet it with open arms. Dufour is one of the most respected and revered independent watchmakers alive today. I know from pictures that the level of fit and finish of his watches is unparalleled. My friend assured me, it’s true. “They’re perfect,” he told me, “They look like they’re made by a machine, but you know that no machine could ever have made them so perfectly.” Working on the Duality was ethereal.
I can only imagine.
If you have never heard of Philippe Dufour before, I encourage you to get acquainted. Timepiece, a short film by UK-based Animal Monday, is well worth watching and Elizabeth Doerr’s recently published book, Twelve Faces of Time, both offer a unique and intimate look into his life and work. Another excellent book that offers some more insight into Dufour’s work is Michael Clerizo’s Masters of Contemporary Watchmaking, which we have profiled previously here on the blog.