If you read MONOCHROME on a regular basis, you should be well aware that independent watchmaking has always been one of the main topics of interest of our founder, and of most of the members of the editorial team. We’ve always been passionate about creative, soul-infused watches made by small ateliers or even one-man shows. And in this instance, we’re always keen on discovering new members of the indie scene. The latest to surface is a relatively young Frenchman named Vincent Deprez, and despite his young age, his track record is rather impressive. Today, we’ll be taking a look at his first eponymous creation, a traditional, handmade, classically designed and superbly finished watch, the Tourbillon Classique Souscription Edition.
Vincent Deprez, a Frenchman now living in Geneva, had an early start with watchmaking. Always keen on working with his hands, he first thought about starting a career in watchmaking at the age of 12, when most of us dream to be pilots or movie stars… Two years later, at the extremely young age of 14, came the trigger moment, after doing a school work experience week at Vacheron Constantin. This is when he decided to embrace a career in this field. He will then become a watchmaking apprenticeship with Vacheron Constantin at the precocious age of 15 years. Vincent Deprez will be with Vacheron for the 10 coming years, working in restoration, regulation, assembly, and ultra-thin watches.
Later on, Vincent moved to Patek Philippe, once again working in the restoration department. Yet, he had the underlying dream of creating his own, eponymous watch. In 2017, Deprez left Patek to set up his own atelier and began working on making his own tourbillon. The idea was simple, creating watches in the most traditional way, using mostly traditional tools and techniques.
Making a watch, and by that I mean a case, a dial, hands and a movement by hand in 2022 is a challenge, specifically knowing the presence of so many computer-controlled machines that will, inevitably, make the life of a watchmaker far easier. The temptation would be high to use external partners to deliver parts that just need a bit of decoration. Vincent Deprez decided to do differently, adding charm and tradition to his creation. The Tourbillon Classique is his personal achievement and thus had to reflect a vision of traditional watchmaking.
The Vincent Deprez Tourbillon Classique is mostly made by the hands of the man who designed it. Using traditional tools (understand no CNC machines), Vincent makes most of the movement’s components himself, but also the case and even fired his own enamel dials internally. Surely, some parts can not be made by hand, and some components require specific tooling that a one-man watchmaking company can’t afford. For this reason, and in complete transparency, Vincent Deprez explains that the strap, the buckle, the jewels, the mainspring, the balance spring, the balance wheel, the hands, the sapphire crystals, the mainspring barrel and some highly specific gears are outsourced – most of them being components that don’t bring added value to the watch, or that requires large-scale facilities to be crafted. All the rest, the bridges, the wheels, the dials, the tourbillon cage, are the result of Vincent’s work, by hand, in a traditional way.
The Vincent Deprez Tourbillon Classique Souscription Edition somehow gives us the same (highly positive feelings) as some of the recently-discovered young independent watchmakers – think about the new generation represented by Cyril Brivet-Naudot, Antonin Falk, Théo Auffret or Remy Cools – yet in an even more accomplished way. The level of execution, the attention to detail and the overall coherence of the watch shows that even if still relatively young and only launching his brand, Vincent Deprez already has quite some experience.
The watch, the Tourbillon Classique, is rather typical of this recent trend for overly-exposed movements, where the work of the watchmaker is in full sight, not hidden behind elements of habillage. This is typically what I’d name a true watchmaker’s watch, a timepiece that reflects the work on a man behind his bench, and not behind a computer or a drawing board. There’s a certain refinement in the roughness of this watch, something that will speak to indie watch lovers. Straightforward watchmaking in the noblest sense of the word that doesn’t need to be hidden behind a dial.
The movement of the Vincent Deprez Tourbillon Classique has been conceived with the regulating organ as the star of the show. The anti-gravity device is suspended under a large (over 22mm) straight bridge that shows classic, high-end decoration with black polished flat surfaces and large anglage. Underneath, the traditional screwed balance and the equally beautifully decorated cage beat at a slow 3Hz frequency, with the cage making a full rotation in one minute.
In order to leave all mechanical elements on full display, Deprez went for an off-centred dial to indicate the time. As such, most of the mainplate of the movement is visible, with handmade frosted decoration, contrasting with the rhodium-plated and steel elements – mostly the winding and setting mechanism on the right side. The dial for the hours and minutes is oven-fired enamel and is available either in dark blue or cream.
The backside reveals the movement conceived by Vincent Deprez. Once again, it’s a relatively straightforward conception, yet with superb decoration. The bridges, here coated in silver, also use the traditional frosted finish, which brings great contrast with the hand-polished anglage with sharp internal angles, as well as the hand-polished countersinks and screw heads. The whole conception is elegant, classic in a noble way and very coherent. Note the handsome and concealed spring barrel click that runs around the curve, following the outline of the numbered edition disk.
The movement of the Tourbillon Classique Souscription Edition is housed in a 39mm case, again handmade by Deprez from a steel blank. The caseback is rather special in its conception, as it is set into the case to maximize the slim profile of the watch. The watch is worn on a leather strap.
The Vincent Deprez Tourbillon Classique will be made in a total of 20 watches, with the Stainless Steel Souscription Edition representing the 10 first versions. The watch can be pre-ordered directly from Vincent Deprez at [email protected] and on his website vincentdeprez.watch. The price is CHF 89,500 (excl. taxes).