De Witt watches - A sneak peek at the brand's 2015 creations, including its fourth Concept Watch, a collector's series named after Napoleon and a beautiful two counters Rose Gold chrono
It is always a great pleasure to walk into the DeWitt’s building in Geneva. Since I decided to start with Horbiter, this place has been among my very first visits to a watch manufacturer and also the very first time that I have had the chance to take a deeper look at what could be called “super-traditional” watchmaking, this is a place where everything is hand-made and you can discuss watches with Mr Jerome de Witt in person while sipping a cup of coffee, an always pleasant conversation that I am lucky enough to have every ear.
If you’re interested in learning about traditional watchmaking, enameling and hand-assembling, this is the perfect place for you, even the aisle that takes you from the main entrance to the first floor of the manufacturing lab will remind you of the purest art of watchmaking. When it comes to watches, DeWitt’s latest creations are among the craziest timepieces you will ever see on planet earth, I use the word “crazy” here to describe the most unexpected and bizzarre items (in the past the brand also came up with a couple of prototypes that we covered during the first year of life of our magazine and that you can find on here and on here.)
Those of you who have landed on this website for the first time might be wondering why we are talking about a man who is a true aristocrat and the last direct descendant of Napoleon himself. It is not a coincidence that Mr de Witt took inspiration from this famous French political and military leader to create a special series of his renowned timepieces, the DeWitt Glorious Knight Chronograph. This product line is the brand's first stainless steel one and it is equipped with a turning disc with an open minute-countdown-aperture and a patented reclining system. If you take a look at the macro picture below, you will notice the effigy of the emperor that is printed on the sappire glass, under which DeWitt has applied half a millimetre of Napoleon’s hair that is coming from two original lots.
The manufacturer did the very same thing with the three hands DeWitt Glorious Knight HMS, perhaps today's most accessible DeWitt’s timepiece. If you think that this idea is a bit bizarre, you need to consider the fact that there will be a stock of 400 watches that will contain a piece of Napoleon’s DNA, an extremely appealing feature from a collector’s standpoint and an even “affordable” one if you consider the HMS's base price of around 11,000CHF.
Browsing through this year’s DeWitt collections, one of the most “reassuring” (i.e. “classic looking”) watch is the DeWitt Academia Chronostream II Rose Gold, perhaps the timepiece that, from an aesthetical point of view, is the “less DeWitt” one if compared to other watches and that is geared towards a wider audience, namely those collectors looking for a more classic style.
I’m not saying that this item is not a 100% DeWitt creation but its style and technical features are more on the “conventional” side. Simply gloriously looking on the wrist, this two counters chrono sports a silvered dial with a “Clous de Paris” decoration, two counters surrounded by a rose golden circle and a 42,5mm drum-style case.
Again DeWitt has come up with a series of new timepieces that are part of its high-end collection, where creativity, both aesthetical and technical, is top-notch. This is exactly where Jerome’s vision gets directly transferred, unfiltered, to his group of master watchmakers. For any other manufacturer, creating a tourbillon could be a tremendous effort while at DeWitt it is as easy as making a timepiece with a Power Reserve, therefore the DeWitt Tourbillon Prestige Twenty Eight Rose Gold comes with special features such as a periperhal rotor and an Automated Sequential Winding (A.S.W.), that is connected to a ring with a sinusoidal profile that allows the ASW to enable the movement to constantly work in the 92% to 96% range of the main spring torque, all in all a system that is covered by a patent.
A very few people are aware of DeWitt's passion for vintage cars and architecture, even the brand's logo draws inspiration from a carmaker too (an easy guess if you’re a car-geek) and it is also why the central part of this particular Twenty Eight’s dial pays tribute to the unmistakable shape of New York's Chrysler building, undoubtedly one of the greatest masterpieces of Art Deco.
Another year passing by also means that the 4th Concept Watch has been released, the brand has launched a concept watch every three years since it was originally founded 12 years ago. This timepiece is the DeWitt Academia Mathematical Rose Gold and it took the manufacturer three years to create from scratch the final prototype of a watch with a mysterious time visualization, fully unstructured, and a new fully in-house built 194-component-movement. Four jumping discs fitted with numbers are used to digitally visualize hours and minutes (an extremely original idea that reminds me of some creations by the master watchmaker Christophe Claret). Please consider this post as a "sneak peek"; it is following up my desire to introduce the Italian audience, especially, to a brand and a manufacture that is actually not selling its high-end watches in Italy, I look forward therefore to visiting again the manufacture next January when I will be attending the SIHH 2016 in Geneva. On that occasion, rest assured I will bring you more details and exclusive hands on reviews about calibers, watchmaking techniques and the new 2016 collections by DeWitt.
(Photo credit: Horbiter's proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C. @Horbiter