Mrs Viviane de Witt follows on from a busy 2014, in which the brand launched a new website, new advertising campaign and in which she personally made the unusual acquisition of a lock of Napoleon’s hair, which promptly found its way into some of the brand’s watches with the announcement of a significant milestone for the company. To coincide with the 12th anniversary of the brand, DeWitt presents an entirely new base calibre that will allow the company to enjoy almost total autonomy in its production.
The new DW5051 self-winding calibre will be assembled in-house, building on the company’s considerable experience in assembling its own grande complication movements, with a particular expertise in tourbillons. Nearly all of the calibre’s 194 components will be produced in-house and the 30.6mm diameter of the movement means that it has been designed to cater for all future DeWitt models, according to the brand.
Securing such autonomy does not come easily, however, since it has taken three years to create this new movement, including two years of initial development and a further year to perfect its definitive features.
IWC took even longer to develop its base calibres, which are slated for final release in 2016, but then there are two of these so-called “tractors”, in the 42000 and 69000 series, that will subsequently be used in the brand’s high-volume collections as an alternative to those currently offered by third-party suppliers.
But the new calibre is so much more than just an alternative, since every aspect of its construction has been imbued with the IWC DNA, as can be seen by its industrial look, which is totally different from that of the “over-the-counter” movements available on the market. As IWC’s Head of Research and Development, Stefan Ihnen, explains, “The minute attention to detail that some brands lavish on their movements is not the main focus for us, it’s more about robustness and reliability. This is in the heritage of IWC and I think if we did more decoration and finishing it could be too much.”
Cartier operates at a different level and in different dimensions in terms of its movement development. Carole Forestier, Cartier’s head of movement development, works on numerous projects simultaneously, covering developments that range from the brand’s 1904MC base manufacture calibre to the research-driven ID projects. One important area of development for the brand, which has a patent in this particular area, is using the mainplate as a substitute for the dial in the skeleton versions of its watches. This is a trend that started with the Santos Dumont and continues this year with a more complicated theme: The Cartier Crash watch. Skeletonising the main plate of the Santos Dumont was relatively easy, since the watch is square and the Roman numerals could easily be incorporated as the structural elements that form the basis for the movement. Achieving the same effect within the totally curved shape of the case that gives the Crash its name posed new challenges. The result is the calibre 9618 MC manually wound movement, which offers three days of power reserve and is Cartier’s first shaped movement and the first of the brand’s Mechanical Legends.