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Bovet 1822 - Behind the scenes at Bovet

Bovet 1822 Behind the scenes at Bovet

Only a visit to the Bovet manufacture can give a true picture of what makes this watchmaker different. Follow the guide!

The Bovet manufacture is not like any other. That’s a marketing slogan that every brand can agree with! It has become something of a cliché to claim uniqueness. So why should Bovet be any different?

A 14th-century soul

A few hours in the manufacture at Môtiers begin to suggest some answers. First, there’s the location: Môtiers. Bovet has settled in the heart of absinthe country, having bought the château that used to belong to the Bovet family. 

Behind the scenes at Bovet

Bovet manufactures its spirals in-house © WorldTempus/Olivier Müller

Very few watchmakers now work in their historic place of residence. Vacheron Constantin’s Quai de l’Ile in Geneva is one exception, but watch companies have generally preferred the wide open spaces, easy communication and industrial convenience of the Geneva plains. The Château de Môtiers, however, is a historic monument covering 5,800 square metres, which dates from the 14th century. That is Bovet’s first difference. 

The improbable resurgence of the pocket watch

What the company makes is no less different. Unlike almost every other watch company, in Môtiers Bovet has continued to mine a vein that others thought was long since exhausted: the pocket watch. In fact, pocket watches have never really come back into favour, although a few watchmakers, like Patek Philippe and Jaquet Droz, continue to make one-off pieces. 

Behind the scenes at Bovet

© WorldTempus/Olivier Müller

Where Bovet is concerned, however, pocket watches are not one-offs but actual collections. They require a dedicated technical approach and they are intended for a niche clientele of committed collectors. Seventeen years ago, when Pascal Raffy arrived to breathe new life into Bovet, the word “challenge” was often heard. Today, the Bovet pocket watch is a reality. It has an identity, and the wager has been won. 

Pascal Raffy is also practically the brand’s only shareholder, following in the footsteps of some illustrious names that might be unfamiliar to the general public, who were also owners of Bovet in the past, including Favre-Leuba and Michel Parmigiani! 

Design and technical accomplishment on an equal footing

Nevertheless, a large proportion of Bovet’s annual production, estimated at 2,000 pieces per year, is wristwatches. A first glance reveals a highly individual aesthetic based on skeletonised movements of atypical construction. But it is only by visiting the workshops, and seeing the components before they are assembled, that the Bovet difference can really be grasped. Bovet cultivates its independence through extremely complex plates and bridges, highly refined finishes and calibres developed in-house. The company eschews silicon, in order to guarantee that its watches will still be reparable decades, even centuries, into the future. Its pivots are hand-rolled, its balance springs are made internally, and a single tourbillon cage, which can be machined in 25 minutes, takes 2.5 days to finish! 

Behind the scenes at Bovet

Extremely complex plates © WorldTempus/Olivier Müller

A Bovet watch is the technical embodiment of this quest for excellence. The manufacture prioritises in-house creation. Manufacture calibres currently represent 85% of output, and this figure will eventually reach 100%. The exceptions are the chronographs (the Concepto is built on a 7750 base movement) and minute repeaters (developed by Christophe Claret). However, an in-house chronograph movement is currently in development. It’s a particularly challenging complication to produce. The final product is expected in 2022, in time for the Bovet bicentenary. Not many people know that Bovet already had this complication back in the 1930s: a spectacularly rare split-seconds chronograph. 

What about tomorrow? 

Today, Bovet and Dimier are two parallel entities. The former creates timepieces under its own name, while the latter provides movements, both to Bovet and to a few external clients (of which Harry Winston was one). In its heyday, however, Dimier supplied almost 180 different companies, in the aeronautical and medical fields as well as the watch industry. Today, however, Dimier only supplies Bovet, which means there is no reason to keep them as two separate companies. Bovet will therefore be taking over Dimier’s 110 employees, marking the disappearance of Dimier as a legal.

Behind the scenes at Bovet

Extremely complex dial by Bovet © WorldTempus/Olivier Müller

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