Bovet, 200 Years Of History And Many More To Come
The past, present and future of one of the oldest watchmaking brands in Switzerland.
There are not so many watchmakers that are able to celebrate their 200th anniversary. So is Bovet. Among the different events organized to mark this milestone anniversary, MONOCHROME was honoured to be invited to spend a day at Bovet’s headquarters, the Motiers Castle. There, we were able to discover their brand-new museum, to attend masterclasses – watchmaking, engraving and miniature painting – and to meet Pascal Raffy, CEO and owner of the Maison as well as his daughter Audrey who joined the company a few months ago.
Bovet was founded in 1822, just a few years after the Bovet brothers left their hometown of Fleurier. Edouard Bovet had headed to China where he was able to sell four of his mechanical timekeeping instruments for CHF 10,000 each. He came back from China convinced of the strength and opportunity in the Asian market, and together with his brothers, he formed the Bovet manufacture, focusing on highly decorated and chronometrically advanced pocket timepieces. Very soon, the brand would meet formidable success in Imperial China and beyond, to the point that many other watchmakers soon began to imitate the Bovet designs…
Two hundred years later, Bovet still manufactures timepieces standing out with a distinctive style that references its history. These watches are manufactured in two different locations, in Tramelan (where parts and movements are crafted) and in Motiers. The brand develops and produces its watches in-house with a rare level of vertical integration, in particular for a company of that size. Bovet produces in-house most of its components including cases, dials, and movements. The brand even manufactures hairsprings and balance wheels internally, which remains a rarity in the industry.
This is the result of the vision of one man, Pascal Raffy, who since 2001 has invested consistently in the production and in the crafts that are key to creating these watches. His idea is that of a company with a holistic approach to watchmaking, of expert craftsmanship fueled by an ethic of no compromise. Since 2006, no fewer than 16 patents have been registered by Bovet. And in 2018, the independent watchmaker received an industry accolade and was awarded the Aiguille d’Or at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Geneve, the Oscars of Watchmaking, for the Récital 22 Grand Récital.
As explained by Pascal Raffy, “What is important for Bovet is quality, not quantity. The idea is to keep pushing the boundaries, cultivating our mastery of traditional crafts and nourishing our technical expertise. When visiting our workshops, you discover humanity, sincerity, and shared values… altogether we strive for excellence. This is not by chance that the collections are called Récital.”
When asking Audrey Raffy what is the main challenge for the brand, she advises “There are so many challenges. The way I see it is the innovation part: always bringing something new, always doing something that is not a copy of someone else, that is not a repetition of what we have been doing. Something that is not on the surface but something with value and character.”
If Bovet timepieces are exhibited in some of the most famous museums around the globe – The British Museum in London, the Forbidden City in Beijing, the Moma in New York, the National Palace in Taipei, the Patek Philippe Museum, the MIH (International Watch Museum) in La Chaux-de-fonds to name a few – the brand has just inaugurated its own Museum in Motiers. Past masterpieces and recent milestone timepieces of the brand are now jointly on display, inviting the visitor on a voyage through two centuries of horological art. Several historical documents and over 50 timepieces encompassing the entire lifespan of Bovet’s production are exposed.
Last but not least, the event was also the opportunity to discover some of the watches presented earlier this year by the brand, particularly the Virtuoso V and Virtuoso VII salmon dial limited editions.
Bovet Virtuoso V Salmon Dial
Combining jumping hours and retrograde minutes on one side with an off-centre independent hours/minutes dial paired with power reserve indication on the other side, the Virtuoso V is now available in the Amadeo case in grade 5 titanium for the first time (the back of the case, which is part of the Amadeo system, is in steel, as soldering titanium to titanium is impossible). Thanks to the patented Amadeo system, the watch converts from a wristwatch to a pocket watch or a desk clock, without the need for tools. The elegant salmon lacquer dial is crafted in-house.
Quick Facts: convertible Amadeo titanium case – 43.50mm – lacquered salmon dials – water resistant to 30 meters – in-house hand-wound movement – 21,600vph – 5-day power reserve – hours/minutes, small seconds, power reserve indication on one side – jumping hours and retrograde minutes on the other – alligator strap – chain
Bovet Virtuoso VII Salmon Dial
Another titanium case & salmon lacquer dial combination introduced in 2022, the Virtuoso VII features a perpetual calendar with retrograde date indication on one face and off-centre hours and minutes indication on the other. Just like for the Virtuoso V, the patented Amadeo system allows you to convert your timepiece from a wristwatch to a pocket watch or to a desk clock.
Quick Facts: convertible Amadeo titanium case – 43.30mm – lacquered salmon dials – water resistant to 30 meters – in-house hand-wound movement – 21,600vph – 5-day power reserve – hours/minutes, coaxial seconds, power reserve indication on one side – retrograde perpetual calendar coaxial seconds on the other – alligator strap – chain
For more information, please visit www.bovet.com.