In the world of watchmaking, it is hard to differenciate. Big groups own many multi-secular houses and compete with marketing budgets counted in billions. They differenciate in the way they link tradition, brand history and new models.
Now, in the world of independant watchmaking, it is a completly different ball game. Marketing budgets are far more moderate. Companies are as small one person, generally a few more, rarely a hundred. The production goes from a couple of tens to a couple of hundred watches a year.
So, the competition is nothing like the one between the established brands. They don’t have two centuries of watchmaking tradition in the archives of their companies, they can’t get a moviestar to wear their watch at the Oscar night; they have to be different by nature and they have to excel.
In other words they have to think different, all the time. They also have to pump tremendous added value into their products, because their customers are sharp collectors who know their watchmaking classics like the back of their hand and are not impressed easily.
I recently had the chance to visit such an independant brand for which everything is really different. Ladoire Geneve is a fascinating brand. It seems not possible to work in that team if you are not setting excellence as a target and try passionately your best to reach it.
At first, the main office and workshop is different. Well, I guess entering the building by mistake through the fire exit certainly gave me a feeling that the afternoon would be very different.
I was welcomed in the luminous office located right next to the workshop where the winter sun was playing the shadow game with the shutters.
Three watchmakers were quietly working at their bench, assembling the last models of Mister Green. And mister green even unfinished, on the bench, looks quite appealing. The green glow gets you hypnotized very quickly.
I got the chance to take pictures of the disks with numbers from 1 to 12. I believe they are manufactured using LIGA technology, allowing an impressive accuracy in the shapes and surfaces that even a x12 magnifier could not trap.
Then, I was served with ‘plat de resistance’ (main course, in french). A fantastic unique piece, called RGT (Roller Guardian Time) White Custom.
As mentioned earlier, the production of independant watchmaker is high in quality and small in number. It is far more rare to see a piece unique. This is what a Ladoire custom is.
To fully understand the concept, simply switch to the world of cars and bikes. If you think your everyday car should look like this…
…or your week-end bike for a ride like this….
…then you know all about custom and how to appreciate it.
Well , a Ladoire custom comes with the same spirit. First class mechanics, with fully personalized details, directly designed by Mr Ladoire himself. If you are thinking what sort of watch could be the best association to the Ford GT monster you have in the garage, the white one with the 2 bold black stripes on the bonnet, then the RGT White Custom is made for you.
Ladoire has packed the in-house engine full of very rare features: The various bridges of the whole calibre are arranged circularly aound the micro-rotor. The profile of the cogs is optimized and the various indications (hours, minutes, seconds and second time zone) rotate on microscopic small ceramic ball bearings.
It requires some time to get accustomed to this display of information, just like it takes some time to get used to drive a muscle car.
The sapphire glass on the dial side is especially designed to give this unique effect when you look at the dial from the side as if it was immersed in water.
The finish of the calibre is sharp and very traditional before being customized using various techniques. Just like for cars, what differenciate a custom-shop from another is the attention to details. This goes for teh watch and this goes for the buckle as well.
With Ladoire, you can close your eyes because they looked, they checked, and re-checked everything, as many times as required. It is as close to a perfect finish as you can find. Now, open your eyes, pump the volume of the machine playing your best rock band, and enjoy this different way Ladoire creates Helvetic mechanics.
At this point, if you question the reason for the title of this article, I can only answer: Passion. The star logo present on custom watches can also be seen as a large tatoo on Lionel Ladoire forearm. Passion, full throttle!