Few watch-nuts can deny that the thought of starting, owning or working for a watch company has crossed their minds. Being part of an ongoing legacy, or just a highly innovative company that caters to the wishes of the crowds is something very appealing. Now a project is kicking into high-gear that offered just that: being part of a watch brand.
I intentionally say “offered,” in the past tense, because the project is now entering its second stage. The first stage, however, is what sparked me to write this article. Headed by CEO Thomas Scheinemann, an endeavor is underway to resurrect one of the oldest names in Swiss watchmaking: DuBois & Fils Sa. In fact, it can be called the oldest watch factory in the World, originating from 1785.
A few other brands in Switzerland might take offense at that statement. Blancpain for instance, started back in 1735 as a watchmaker, and Vacheron Constantin dates back to 1755 as a manufacturer. The factory part in this claim, is the key thing that distinguishes DuBois & Fils from these other two.
A brief history of the brand tells us that Moise DuBois started his watch trading business in 1743, and set out to start producing his own watches in 1751. His son, Phillipe DuBois, took over in 1760, who in turn incorporated his own two sons in 1785: DuBois & Fils Sa. was born. Some of the accolades of DuBois show that they meant business: 110,000 pocket watches produced by 1798 (only 55 years since the first build.) That might not sound like much when compared to, lets say, soda-cans, but remember that this was back in the eighteenth century! In 1910, the first wristwatch was produced. During the 100 years prior to that, countries like Germany, Brazil and the USA were becoming key markets for DuBois.
The most notable model of DuBois in its rich history is perhaps the Autorist, introduced in 1931. This rectangular shaped wristwatch featured a system to wind its movement through movement of the lugs.
As we gradually move on to the present day, we make a small stop in 2012. Last year, the first stage of the resurrection was began through crowd-funding! The term “crowd-funding” almost explains itself: it is a method to finance a project through investors other than banks or financers – rather, directly by the consumer. Everyone who was interested could become part of the project by buying one or more shares in DuBois & Fils Sa. A total amount of 1.5 million Swiss francs was the goal, and now has bean reached. A group of 225 funders, from 19 different countries, applied and gathered the necessary amount of cash to kick the project into high-gear. Dubois even had to turn down some interested parties. This unique way of funding a project is now for the first time ever being introduced in the watch making industry. Once again, DuBois et Fils seems to be right “up there” and breaking new ground once more.
This year the first two models, Concept ONE (left) and Concept TWO (right) will see the light of day. A third model, Concept THREE obviously, will be revealed soon. Up until now, the watches only existed in the digital world of renderings and CAD designs; but they are being produced and tested as we speak. The Concept ONE will have a round 316L steel case, with a six hand layout and a large date. It will feature a Chronograph function, and red accents to give it a sporty and modern look. The case will be elaborately decorated with different finishes and details. Inside, there will be an ETA 2892-A2 movement, with an added DuBois Depraz 4500 Chronograph module.
Concept TWO will have a different look, with a cushion shaped case. The rounded square will house an automatic ETA Valjoux 7750 movement, featuring a Chronograph, spread out across a nicely decorated dial with orange accents. Interestingly, the design ideas also included a Bullhead layout for the pushers and crown, aligning them on the top part of the casing. This was scrapped before finalizing the design, now featuring shaped pushers and a knurled crown, but perhaps we will see something like this in the near future (Concept THREE?)
Both models will have a production run of 99 pieces for 2013, available at a reduced price for the 225 investors. I am just wondering one thing; two times 99 pieces doesn’t add up to 225 investors, so perhaps production will be expanded into 2014 with higher numbers.
The project is rather special to us; the unique way of resurrecting a brand from the past, is what separates the ordinary from the extraordinary. We will keep a keen eye on how DuBois et Fils will fare, and perhaps our paths will cross once more in the future.
More information about the “startupticker project” can be found here. The entire project and the models that will be produced from mid-2013 are available on the website (click here) or Facebook-page of DuBois & Fils Sa (here).