In Philippe Dufour's new watch, the repeating work
is on the front side of the calibre, fully visible through a sapphire
crystal dial. For once, the complex striking mechanism is as crystal
clear to the eye as its timbre is to the ear.
This is the first time that Philippe Dufour has extended his inventiveness
to the exterior of the watch. "I wanted to create a watch where
one would see the striking work properly" he explains. "In
the process, I also wanted to make the dial of the skeleton watch
more readable than usual. Those were my two challenges". The
result is a timepiece that its inventor describes as "modern",
with remarkable innovations. The watch is in 18-carat white gold,
with a highly polished rounded case and cambered, soldered horns.
An unusual feature of the casework is the hinged outer bezel; this
swings open to reveal the repeater slide-bolts and their hand-engraved
and enamelled titles, set in the caseband beneath. The system of
the outer bezel recalls the covers of the traditional hunting-case
watches for which the Vallée de Joux is known. But here,
its purpose is to create an outer impression of simplicity and purity.
All the attention is thus focused on the movement.
A privileged view
Compared with other watches with exposed mechanisms, the view here
is spacious and uninterrupted, rather like viewing a landscape through
a luxurious plate-glass window. Two innovations create this sensation
of clarity and transparency. Firstly, the hands are not the same
colour as the movement, as is the usual practice. These are original
"Dufour" hands in polished, blued steel. The contrast
between the deep blue hands and the smoothed steel of the mechanism,
with its shining, bevelled angles and edges, makes the dial more
readable, and is also extremely beautiful. The hands were designed
and made by Philippe Dufour, and are tiny works of art.
Second innovation, the traditional hour circle has disappeared.
Arabic numerals in the same blue as the hands are placed directly
on the dial, and seem to be floating in space. As a result, more
of the movement is visible. "It seems such a pity to create
an exposed movement and then close it in again by adding an hour
circle" explains Philippe Dufour. "My aim was to open
the visible area as much as possible, and keep it open".
Perfectionist to the end, Philippe Dufour even created the buckle
that fastens the crocodile leather strap. Substantial, like the
watch, the distinctively shaped buckle curves to the shape of the
wrist, and had to be carved from a solid block of precious metal.
The watchmaker built it, right down to its smallest screw, and says
that this gave him great satisfaction. "It's made on the same
principle as my watches" he explains "totally mechanical,
so that everything can be taken apart. I wanted it to be both beautiful