“Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.” – Confucius

In the valley of virtuosity – Part #1

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I ended my February article along the lines that Bovet timepieces receive a kind of personal touch from their makers that no doubt keeps on ticking in every single piece. Their appearance evokes immediate attraction and their owners’ devotion points well beyond the desire to possess valuables. These pieces have character and soul that creates an everlasting bond with the wearer over the first impression of beauty and technical virtuosity.

I wanted to see the workshop for myself; in particular the people who bring the ticking alive, thus my August visit to Bovet entered my calendar, circled in bold red.

Bovet conducts almost all the watchmaking phases in-house, in their factories in Tramelan, Fleurier and Geneva. The design and manufacturing is based in Tramelan, the assembly, and quality-control in Môtiers while the watch dials are made in Geneva. The movements are created by Dimier 1738 Manufacture de Haute Horlogerie Artisanale, the dials  made by the Dimier 1738 Manufacture Artisanale de Cadrans – both members of the Bovet Group.

The legacy, that Pascal Raffy obtained by acquiring the brand in 2001, is at once very valuable and a great responsibility. In the 1830s Bovet became synonymous with the watch in Southern China with his fine workmanship and artfully decorated pocket watches, before the company entered a dormancy of almost 140 years in 1864. Pascal Raffy’s goal is to revive the exclusive watch manufacture positioned in the upper segment that makes 2000 watches a year, showcasing exceptional technical and aesthetic solutions, capturing strong emotions. I will not say that Bovet watches are loved by everyone, or that they are for everyone; however I am certain, that whoever they touch, will feel a stronger bond with the timepiece and the brand than the collectors of many others.


The towns of Tramelan and Môtiers lie in the picturesque Jura Mountains, where instead of the noise of the city, birdsong fills the crystal clear sky. The mountain ranges embrace perfect peace that exudes a sense of calm and serves as inspiration. Wherever I glance in the villages, there are small signs pointing to the centuries-old watch industry. Could there be a more ideal setting for creation?

The Bovet timepieces are designed in Tramelan. Strong visions and strategic thinking are indispensible for the success of a brand, to set the path and simultaneously release creative energies. Pascal Raffy himself participates in the creation of the novelties. The ideas become models on the computer and are then turned into working prototypes by the engineers. The design and prototyping is conducted in once space, thus experiences can be directly exchanged, and new creative ideas can take shape. The final designs are realized into actual pieces in parts, in the manufacture. The parts of the watch movement are made both by machine and hand, in addition to the modern CNC mills, 50-60 year-old stampers are also operated in the factory. The hairspring is also made by Bovet and of course the unique composites and the process are kept a secret.  It was interesting to see the skilled hands polishing the tourbillon bridge. Every piece of the movement is checked, and then the ébauche kit is compiled, that contains all parts for the final assembly of the watch movement.


The article continues here… Part #2

Photo credits: BOVET, Loupiosity.com.
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