A beautiful life story

Pierre DeRoche is above all the story of… a couple. Pierre and Carole. They went to the same school in the Vallée de Joux. There was a small age difference between them, but at a get-together in Le Lieu everything changed. Carole was 18 and Pierre 23. It was love at first sight and they were never going to leave each other.

 

Pierre et Carole Dubois

Pierre and Carole Dubois © Pierre DeRoche

 

The strength of complicity

In the family of Pierre Dubois, people are watchmakers by calling, a tradition handed down from father to son. And for good reason: for four generations the family company Dubois-Dépraz has been developing and producing complications for the big names in the industry. Carole, on the other hand, started her career working in a laboratory. 

She was also a mother who devoted herself to her children. But she nevertheless had a certain entrepreneurial spirit, and her integration into the Dubois family plunged her headlong into the world of watchmaking. 

Together they created the Pierre DeRoche brand. The alchemy of this couple can be seen in the horological complications that have marked the brand’s history. 

 

Time ticks by, second by second 

Their speciality? The seconds! This can be seen in the TNT Royal Retro of 2009 – a world first – which was the first calibre to incorporate six retrograde seconds mechanisms. 

 

Pierre DeRoche TNT Royal Retro

Pierre DeRoche TNT Royal Retro © Pierre DeRoche

 

Trade secret

A relay of six retrograde seconds hands. A carrier activates, across six periods of ten seconds each, a series of wheels that set a rack into action. Pivoting on a ruby, this rack acts on the heel spring, which coils by moving slightly. It resists for ten seconds… 

Then the carrier disengages. The retrograde seconds hand returns to its starting position and passes the baton on to the next one. And so on and so forth. This complication may well be entertaining but it is also the result of a totally new approach.  

With the TNT Royal Retro Sapphire, this technical prowess is now reinterpreted in a totally transparent way, with the seven visible bridges of the calibre cut from sapphire. The result is fascinating.

 

Pierre DeRoche TNT Royal Retro Saphir

Pierre DeRoche TNT Royal Retro Sapphire Dubois-Dépraz calibre self-winding movement, engraved and decorated oscillating mass in rose gold (22 carat), central bridge with 12 pivots and 6 seconds bridges in sapphire, 6 retrograde seconds hands on a gear train, with return to zero by a heel spring. Hours, minutes and retrograde seconds in 6 sectors of 10 seconds each, date. Case in black PVD treated titanium, 47.5mm, steel bezel, lugs, crown protector and crown in 18-carat rose gold. © PIerre DeRoche

 

Sapphire: clarity, purity and resistance

Sapphire is transparent because of the purity of its composition of aluminium oxide crystals, but it is also very difficult to machine because of its hardness. There is no room for error at any stage, either in its machining or its polishing (which is what makes the sapphire transparent) and both the tools and the diamond moulds are specially designed for this. 

 

A fruitful collaboration

This is why, in order to guarantee the tolerances required on the production plans, Pierre Dubois called upon the services of Audemars Piguet Renaud et Papi, whose technical prowess in the design and production of exceptional movements is well known. 

The six peripheral seconds bridges, as well as the central hexagonal gear train bridge, all in sapphire, are the result of this fruitful collaboration with APRP, as is the production and assembly of the jewel settings for the rubies.

 

Enlightenment

The central bridge, or gear train bridge, also in sapphire, is a veritable technical prowess, since it comprises 12 holes for fixing the jewel settings, excluding the hole drilled in the centre for the hands. It is particularly difficult to drill such small holes in a material as hard as sapphire, since there is a high risk of breakage and scratches. 

A spectacular complication with the seven sapphire bridges of the calibre visible. A limited edition of 11 pieces.

The jewel settings are metal rings into which the rubies are set. They are also produced and fitted by APRP because this artisanal task requires specialist personnel. The indications on the sapphire bridges are added by metallisation. 

This procedure involves depositing, in a vacuum, a metallic layer less than one micron thick, allowing decorative finishes and informations to be added with extreme precision and a homogeneous surface. 

 

A family spirit

Yes, the Pierre Deroche watch comes to life with its movement. And this singular brand, with a contemporary and innovative identity, aims to keep a family spirit within a factory with a limited production.

 

5 key dates

1901
Marcel Dépraz establishes his watchmaking workshop
1907
First additional complication
1937
Reynold Dubois, his son-in-law, joins the company
1956
Gérald Dubois develops the first self-winding chronograph
2004
Pierre and Carole Dubois establish the Pierre DeRoche brand

The Pierre Deroche brand is closely linked to the family history of Dubois Dépraz, whose origins date back to the start of the 19th century with the development of additional complications. From 1907, the company started producing modules that could be added to unfinished movements. It developed its first quarter-hour repeater in 1925. 

 

Pierre DeRoche Milady Royal Retro

Pierre DeRoche Milady Royal Retro © Pierre DeRoche

 

Twelve years later, an audacious system was presented that used cams to replace the traditional column wheel. Across the generations, the family has made a name for itself by developing movements and calibres that stand as references in the industry. It is to pay tribute to this family history, which was responsible for some important chapters in contemporary watchmaking history, that Pierre Dubois, great grandson of Marcel Dépraz, and his wife Carole established the Pierre DeRoche brand in 2004.

 

Pierre Dubois

Pierre Dubois © Pierre DeRoche

 

Interview with Pierre Dubois

TIMEFAIR : What is the origin of the name Pierre DeRoche?

When I was a child, an old watchmaker who I passed on the way to school used to tell me that if your surname was Dubois then your first name could not be Pierre! The combination of these two names was so unthinkable for him that he always called me “Pierre de Roche”. 

 

What are the main challenges faced by an independent brand like yours?

In terms of the product you need to be permanently creative, at the same time giving reliability absolute priority. After that, the major challenge is finding partners, usually multi-brand retailers, who are willing to roll up their sleeves to promote a brand that is hardly know to their customers. With the financial resources of a small brand, we must constantly try to “do better or more with… less”! 

"You need to be permanently creative, at the same time giving reliability absolute priority."

A sports teacher, then a financial expert in the banking sector. Your heart subsequently started beating for watchmaking again. A rhythm you know well because of your family history. What triggered this?

It was undoubtedly my time (14 years) at Audemars Piguet. This was where the pieces of the puzzle gradually started to fall into place and where I really wanted to get closer to the product. After 12 years I had the opportunity to leave the finance department to take on new responsibilities, this time in the product department. I took it with both hands and started my third 90° turn!

 

You were responsible for the financial, and later operational, management at Audemars Piguet for more than ten years before setting up the Pierre DeRoche brand with your spouse. You still have close ties with this major brand. What are they? 

As a resident in the Vallée de Joux I did in any case keep close friendships with a lot of people. As the years went by I also wanted to work with them on a technical level. I wanted to produce a Pierre DeRoche watch with sapphire bridges and I knew the capacity of APRP to machine mineral materials. The friendship I had with Fabrice Deschanel allowed us to combine our expertise and produce this superb Royal Retro movement with its seven sapphire bridges.

TimeFair, March 2014