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A visit to Philippe Dufour...

October 23 2005 at 8:27 AM

Paul Boutros  (Login pboutros)
AP Discussion Group

 
Before our in-depth visits to Vacheron Constantin began, a small group of us met up this past Monday to visit Philippe Dufour's atelier in Le Sentier.

The Road to Le Sentier
From Geneva, it's approx. a 1-hour drive up the winding roads of the Jura Mountains to reach Le Sentier. The weather was very cloudy and overcast in Geneva, so as we raced up the mountains (we were way behind schedule), we drove right into low-hanging clouds, reducing our visibility, at times, to nearly zero! About two-thirds of the way to our destination, we emerged from the clouds and were treated to the view below:


Peering down onto a sea of clouds, with snow-capped mountains in the distance...

We stopped for about two minutes to enjoy the view and take a couple photos and rushed back to the car. More magnificent views were opened to us on the drive to Le Sentier, though we had no time to stop again for pictures...


A view from the car down onto Le Brassus, with Lake Geneva in the distance...

The Philippe Dufour Atelier
After just a couple wrong turns, we arrived at our destination...



The Philippe Dufour Atelier

We knocked on the door...


Curses! Nobody answered. We arrived much later than we had wanted to, and it seemed that everyone was out to lunch. In the classic words of Dr. Rosen, "This was sooo anti-climactic!"

Views from the patio, taken while we were waiting...




After about 10 minutes of standing around and laughing at ourselves, Anne-Marie, one of Dufour's watchmakers, returned. She surely was a bit overwhelmed to see four random visitors with silly grins on their faces standing at the doorway...

Nevertheless, she very kindly welcomed us into a cozy, well-lit, and wonderfully quaint workshop.


Philippe Dufour's workbench...

Within minutes, The Man himself returned...


A charming gentleman with endless charisma, M. Dufour began sharing his passionate views on traditional watchmaking with us.

For nearly two-hours, we listened to him explain the importance of keeping traditional watchmaking values alive, the philosphies behind his watches, and the trends, both past and future, of the watch industry. I was so immersed in the conversation, that I neglected to take more photos-apologies to all!

Anne-Marie at work...








A tray of goodies...






A talented young watchmaker performing finishing work...


M. Dufour's first grande-sonnerie piece (it sounded AWESOME)...






Dr. Rosen and M. Dufour, holding a wonderful vintage Vacheron pocket watch with a superbly finished frosted gilt movement...


Special thanks to Bill Lind for arranging the visit for all of us.

Sincerest thanks to M. Dufour for allowing us a peak into his fascinating world, and for spending his valuable time sharing his insights with us.

Hope you enjoyed,

Paul

 
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