To own a unique timepiece is the quintessential dream of every watchmaking fan and a number of watchmaking companies have made this ultimate luxury their particular speciality. Special orders, bespoke or custom-made watches and personalisation are all terms that serve to describe the same concept: offering timepieces which fulfil the taste requirements of their owners at every level.
“From the moment one personalises a watch for a client, it becomes a unique piece,” emphasises Philippe Dubois, CEO of Badollet. Since its re-launch, the brand has been involved in custom-made development to the point of devoting 50% of its annual production to this activity – amounting to around 25 watches.
“In the Observatoire collection, we have a dial on which one can do absolutely anything” explains Philippe Dubois. The client can also engrave whatever he likes on the case middle and even modify the lugs. The side of the Crystalball also offers great scope and can be easily personalised with materials such as lapis lazuli, malachite or jade. The engraving and setting are also facilitated by the size of the case.
There is really no limit to personalisation. When you have the end client in front of you, anything is possible”. Or very nearly perhaps: Badollet has not yet managed to overcome the hurdle of personalising its movements, for cost-related reasons. The brand is nevertheless currently developing a specific watch case in the event of a client falling completely in love with a Badollet movement but without necessarily being entirely thrilled with the case intended to house it.
Four to six months’ work
At DeLaneau, watchmaking personalisation is akin to haute couture. And like Badollet, 50% of the production involves special orders or some 50 timepeices per year. A niche rooted in the history of the company which since the end of the 1940s has offered bespoke jewellery creations.
Ever since, DeLaneau has bent over backwards to meet requirement for special orders. “The only constraint that we have to deal with is working with our own cases” explains Estelle Tonelli, Deputy Managing Director. The rest has to do with the inherent complexity of enamel work, but the creative scope is enormous and we have the added strength of having an in-house workshop.”
It takes four to six months of work to create a custom-made timepiece. This is a fairly reasonable timeframe when one knows that a bespoke watch generally requires some 30 sketches which are firmed up through close interaction between the client and the brand.
A new kid on the block
When it comes to personalisation, Romain Gauthier has in recent months been eyeing all fans of unique timepieces. “We succumbed to the temptation of personalising watches about six years ago. But the area of expression offered by our watches wasn’t enough and we didn’t yet have the level of clientele likely to buy themselves a timepiece costing between one and two million,” points out Romain Gauthier.
With the Logical One Secret and its broad cover, the creative watchmaker has found the perfect answer. Gem-setting, enamel, engraving… “Anything is feasible, both on the upper part and on the inside area,” enthuses the watchmaker. “And all the more so because we are now a full-fledged Manufacture and have all the facilities necessary to take on this area of expression and endless pleasure.” A word to the wise…