Our contributor Ian Ellery had time to sit down with Dominique Loiseau, the master watchmaker who just teamed up with Girard-Perregaux. Loiseau was brought in by the Sowind Group (Girard-Perregaux and JeanRichard) during the last quarter of 2011 in order to strengthen the brand’s “think tank”. The idea is that he will not only bring a fresh perspective to the brand, but has also takes on the project of developing new complications and movements.
The timetable at SIHH can be punishing, therefore it is often preferable to get interviews in early before fatigue sets in. Therefore the chance to interview Dominique Loiseau, 09:00 on a Monday morning might seem jumping in at the deep end, but really it was a chance not to be missed.
Having completed the Blancpain 1735, one of the most complicated wristwatches in the world, he felt that the limit of complications within a “wearable” watch had been reached and that maybe it was time to start with a clean slate.
“I decided to step back and see what I could do to solve the problem, I had a blank page for watch design, my idea was to combine the complications like a poet or a painter to produce a watch where the complications were complimentary. This became the Loiseau 1f4 and was 6-7 years the making”
The announcement of Dominique’s collaboration with Girard-Perregaux took a lot of people by surprise, GP is an venerable house and populated with a large number of talented people, now it has one more.
“The primary reason for partnering with GP, is to create a calibre that will form the basis of a whole range of watches. I want to create a grand complication using the principles of collaboration and this will be the head of a family of watches at different levels, but all with the same DNA.”
The approach of creating an adaptable movement is uncommon today, but it was the basic ethos behind many of the Valjoux calibres of the 50s and 60s where you could specify the basic movement and order additional complications on top. However what Dominique is envisioning here seems to be nothing less than to define the future direction of GP.
Many makers will have many different calibres, sometimes even more than one for a single range. It is easy to see that a modular approach will accrue many benefits in terms of costs, manufacture and repair. Making new models with will require only limited changes to achieve and time to market could be significantly reduced, in these difficult times a very clever approach.
Dominique emphasised that the project is still at the very beginning, and quite a long way to go. But of course what we really want to know is what will the top of line watch of this new family be like? “It will be very very special” was all he would say and based on his smile and those things that have come before, I have no doubt about it.