Philippe Dufour, a child of the Swiss Jura Valley and father of the legendary Simplicity, is a superstar in the hearts of watch collectors worldwide. The portable pipe turns into clouds, antique machine operation and handling, and elaborate hand retouching constitute the daily life of Philip Dufour.
The white coat and loupe on the forehead are typical of watchmakers; the creative sparks in the eyes, the antique pipe in the mouth and the Simplicity watch on the hand are the unique style of Philip Dufour.
In the field of traditional fine watchmaking, all roads lead to the same route, right in front of Philip Dufour. His studio is located on Le Solliat; if you move on, you’ll find notable watchmakers whose factories line the road and weave into a net around the Jura Valley. Philip Dufour’s studio is an inconspicuous building. It used to be a rural school. There are no shiny nameplates on the walls and no conspicuous sign telling pedestrians that behind this seemingly ordinary door, there is a well-received Master watchmaker revered by collectors worldwide. Innocent, prudent, and concise.
For others, this workbench is cluttered, but Philip Dufour knows which tool is where.
Since Philip Dufour changed the classroom to a studio in 1995, there has always been a cloud of tobacco, mixed with ancient wood and metal. Philip Dufour was there to welcome visitors, even if they were unknown. Of the five workbenches, only two are in use. One of them, of course, was Philip Dufour himself. Dozens of tools, files, grinders, and gentian wood were scattered on the workbench, arranged in a system that only Philip Dufour could understand, and he sat between parts, sketches and cases, and chose to use. The other table belongs to the watchmaker Paco. Paco has now retired from Audemars Piguet, and for the past year he has been assisting Philip Dufour “part-time”, just like a young apprentice. Silence came to an end in a cluttered and organized studio. Outside the window, fields and forests stretch to infinity.
Sitting in front of the workbench, looking out the window, the beautiful rural scenery is in my eyes. In the transitional area between grassland and forest, Philip Dufour volunteered as a nature caregiver.
Watchmaker Without Borders
Philip Dufour was born in a working family in the Jura Valley in 1948 and is one of four children in the family. ‘My father had polio and my brother left the family early. So when I turned 15, my parents wanted me to stay by my side and learn a craft in the valley,’ recalled Philip Dufour. ‘I have a quick mind and flexible hands, but mathematics is not my strength. Someone told me that I am only suitable as a watchmaker, so I can’t really say that I chose my profession.’
There are dozens of antique machines on display in the studio, filled with oil and tobacco.
Tobacco pipes, gifts (for admirers), clocks and (imaginarily filled with treasures) kitchen cabinets, Philip Dufour’s studio is full of amazing things.
In 1967, Philip Dufour graduated from the Ecole Technique school in Le Sentier. Eager to take risks, he packed his luggage and flew to Germany to start his career in the Jaeger-LeCoultre after sales department. Soon after, Philip Dufour was sent across the Channel to restructure the brand’s after-sales service in the UK. After that, he waved farewell to Europa and went to St. Croix. St. Croix, an island in the Caribbean, 25 miles long, was home to 14 watchmaking ‘factories’. For two years, Philip Dufour hone his eyesight and skills under the neon lights of the General Watch Company. Later, as the dollar devalued and the factory closed, Philip Dufour had no choice but to bid farewell to the lush palm trees and the scorching sun. These early experiences led him to a belief: ‘Watchmaking is universal and can be achieved anywhere.’
Two models of Simplicity.
Thanks to the exquisite hand retouching, the back of the watch made by Philip Dufour is just as deep and charming.
At the height of the ‘Quartz Crisis’, Philip Dufour resolutely returned to his hometown. After a short suspension in Audemars Piguet, in 1978, Philip Dufour established his own portal. After his outstanding achievements at Audemars Piguet, after issuing the Declaration of Independence, Philip Dufour devoted himself to the repair of watches and the development of complex timepieces. It was a difficult time, struggling to maintain ultimate success. ‘Repair work has kept me going for five years,’ he said. ‘Introduced in 1992, Simplicity was released in 2000, and finally I reversed the situation in 2003.’
Work by Philip Dufour: the first Simplicity watch, 34 mm in diameter.
Simplicity watch in rose gold, 37 mm in diameter, is more modern.
Highly respected in Japan
At that time, Philip Dufour did not know that Simplicity (n ° 000 never left his wrist) would be his magical and masterpiece. Only the central hours, minutes and offset small seconds are displayed. This is a lesson of classicalism, but it is a ‘welcome’ and a warm welcome, especially by Japanese fans. In 17 years, 120 of the 204 watches made by Philip Dufour were worn by Japanese watch fans. Just like his friend Anthony Peixo (by the way, it was Anthony Peixo who suggested to Philip Dufour to create an exclusive watch for the Japanese market) that Philip Dufour was very popular in the country of sunrise Highly respected. ‘I receive two to three email requests every week, but I hate working under pressure. I set a deadline. Remember a British buyer who agreed to wait six years for a watch!’ Nearly Rare, but retirement is still not on the agenda. The Duality double escapement watch launched by Philip Dufour in 1996 may not be as successful as Simplicity, but there are still about 60 requests waiting, just lack of time.
Thanks to Paco, after he retired from Audemars Piguet, Philip Dufour found the ideal ‘apprentice’ to assist him.
Le Solliat Village School before 1995, Philip Dufour’s studio is on the first floor of the building.
In addition to trying to keep up with Simplicity watch orders with Paco’s assistance, Philip Dufour also plans to re-create the self-reliance minute repeater pocket watch to meet the wishes of a Chinese collector. He also has several plans to travel to Japan, and Philip Dufour regularly teaches at the Tokyo Watch School, especially hand-painted courses such as chamfering and countersinking-techniques he himself never learned while in school. Philip Dufour deeply regrets this, ‘What the watchmaking company needs to teach students. Knowledge, traditional hand retouching, all withered, and I am doing my best to reduce losses.’ So Philip Dufour Seoul’s studio is always open to people who want to explore the mysteries of watchmaking. Of course, there are investors. The disillusioned invisible clouds drifted from Philip Dufour’s pipe. The former rural school has now become the hall of fine watchmaking. ‘I am only myself,’ Philip Dufour said with a smile. ‘I said what I thought. At my age, I have the right to be qualified.’ Philip Dufour is a true watchmaker and hand Craftsman, and Simplicity watch is his perfect reflection, like a loud voice, an invisible elephant, a simple road.