Recently a very remarkable man passed away. He was the driving force behind the ultra-high-end brand Jean Dunand, and he resurrected Bovet in the 1990’s. His name is Thierry Oulevay and he is one of the reasons why Monochrome is what it is today. A personal retrospective…
This goes back to the very first time I visited Baselworld and met with mister Oulevay. At the time I had been blogging about watches for some years, and mainly focused on many of the familiar big names of the industry. I updated Monochrome once or twice or sometimes even three times a week with short posts about new watches are interesting background stories I read somewhere else on ‘the web’. It was at Baselworld 2009 when I met with many independent watchmakers and Thierry Oulevay, the man behind Jean Dunand, was my first meeting.
Jean Dunand had released timepieces like the Shabaka and the Orbital Tourbillon, which both were absolutely impressive for both watch connoisseurs and laymen. While the Shabaka impressed with a triple calendar displayed on rollers – Maître du Temps Chapter One and Two feature ‘just‘ two rollers for calendar functions – my attention was fully caught by the Orbital Tourbillon.
Mister Oulevay didn’t speak about his experience in the watch industry, there was no word about him resurrecting the brand Bovet, no, he talked about the mutual passion for art deco that he and mister Christophe Claret shared. He talked about how he pushed Christophe Claret to create the impossible and at the time an orbital tourbillon was considered impossible.
Thierry Oulevay met Christophe Claret in 2001 and they decided to launch a new brand concept at the very highest level of watchmaking.
“When I met Christophe Claret, I found myself in perfect harmony with his vision of watchmaking,” said Oulevay. “We quickly agreed to launch exceptional watches at the very top of the range. Each model would be a patented world premiere, each watch execution would be unique.”
The next year, a new timepiece created by Thierry Ouelvay and Christophe Claret was ‘talk of the town’ for the entire week at Baselworld 2010. The reason for this was the Palace, a timepiece that offered the pinnacle in technical achievements and in design. Everyone was talking about that watch and when you asked anyone what the most impressive watch was… the answer was always the same: the Palace from Jean Dunand.
And that was actually the last year that everyone at Baselworld agreed on the most impressive timepiece. The ‘vibe’ at the fair was, despite the ongoing crisis, very positive and in total awe of the ultra Haute Horlogerie that Thierry Oulevay’s creations bearing the name Jean Dunand stands for. His passion, his drive and his patience in explaining is what I will remember him for. What he, and several other (independent) watchmakers, showed me, how beautiful mechanical watches can be, is what still inspires me to this day. Rest in piece and thank you for all the beauty you showed us.