La Maison BOVET is more than a luxury watchmaking brand; it is the embodiment of passion and respect for transmitting ancestral knowledge and tradition to the next generation of watchmakers. If the famed Brazilian writer, Paulo Coelho de Souza was right that, Elegance lies not in the things we wear, “but in the way we wear them”, BOVET 1822 and Dimier 1738 Owner, Pascal Raffy tells Haute Time precisely why.
Dellvin Roshon Williams (DRW): How would you characterize your contribution to Bovet and to wider Haute Horlogerie since you took over?
PR (Pascal Raffy): Respect for the history of BOVET and the unrivalled savoir-faire of its artisans are the fundamental values that I have stressed for nearly 20 years. BOVET heritage is based on tradition, a deep concern for detail, and a sense of taste for the most beautiful expression of time and watchmaking skills. BOVET innovations and the 15 patents filed since 2001 illustrate my constant quest for perfection. This is what guarantees both the prosperity and long-term future of the House. Let me give you one historical and one contemporary example.
First, the patent of a chronograph dating back to 1889 indicating hours, minutes and seconds or, on demand, the time of a second-time-zone. To create this double functionality, a true flyback mechanism was invented 14 years before the inaugural flight of the Wright brothers. Second, the six patents of the Braveheart Tourbillon also come from this philosophy. To respect the soul of the pocket watches, I wished to display the second at 6 o’clock on both faces of the timepieces. To succeed, three patents were filed for the sole tourbillon, and one exclusively for the co-axial seconds’ display mechanism. The spherical differential gear on the stem of the winding system enabling the gear ratio to be doubled, and the number of crown rotations required to obtain the 22 days of power reserve, were also halved.
DRW: Your limited edition timepieces are based on movement. What sets BOVET’s precision-timing performance apart?
PR: BOVET timepieces are manufactured with total respect for bicentennial artisanal tradition, and for the aesthetic and chronometric qualities of the materials used. Regarding the reliability and functionality of the technical complications that imagine, they have to meet today’s criteria and expectations.
DRW: What is the impetus, the emotion behind BOVET’s use of Tourbillons?
PR: In 2011, I presented the Amadeo system enabling the conversion of a BOVET timepiece into a table clock, a pocket watch, or a reversible wristwatch – and to do so without any tools. This combination of roles is all the more legitimate for a tourbillon movement, given that the tourbillon was invented in the age of pocket watches to counter the effects of gravity when timepieces are in a vertical position. That was the impetus. The emotion comes always from the prestigious history of BOVET—interspersed with innovative concepts and ingenious developments
DRW: Heritage is a word that comes up a lot when BOVET is mentioned. How would you describe the culture of the Maison?
PR: BOVET has always been about uniqueness. Its mechanical skills and sensitivity to the fine arts remain nearly two centuries after the House was born. BOVET is very much attached to true watchmaking values; the artisan is the key contributor to expressing our sense of time in the most beautiful way. Our fundamentals are deeply linked to bringing more collectors to the necessity of preserving and strengthening virtuosi skills in a globalized world.
DRW: What is the hallmark of BOVET’s relationship with its collectors?
PR: Only a very few watch houses have proven themselves able to safeguard the decorative arts—like hand-engraving or miniature painting. My Maison belongs to this highly exclusive circle, and I have succeeded in preserving the unique patrimony we inherited from the 19th century. The excellence displayed by BOVET in the watchmaking decorative arts has not only contributed to preserving skills otherwise threatened with extinction but has also enabled them to draw on those skills as we move ever closer to perfection. Personalised BOVET timepieces demonstrate just how strongly the house is linked to its collectors.
DRW: BOVET doesn’t do celebrity partnerships like other watchmaking houses? Why?
PR: Most influential personalities in the world collect BOVET timepieces. This being said, it has never been the philosophy of my House to disclose any names for marketing purposes. The same goes for the numerous watchmaking brands, aeronautical or medical companies for which we do very precise handcrafted components, regardless of their uniqueness—thanks to our artisans.
DRW: True luxury means…
PR: Uniqueness of design, clear identity, and the ultimate finishing in limited quantities. To me, that will always remain the soul of true luxury. That is why the Amadeo system has been often copied but never equaled.