A master of grand complications and hand-finishing, Philippe Dufour stands among the most revered watchmakers of all time. Though his brand-independent body of work amounts to several hundred bespoke watches under his own name, Dufour’s reputation and stature rank second to none in the small world of haut-de-gamme independent watchmaking.
In this feature, Dufour recounts his decades of innovation and uncompromising standards. The master watchmaker shares his insights regarding the advantages of independence, his passion as a collector for an elite handful of brands, and his occasional attempts to hire assistants for the Dufour atelier.
A native of the French-Swiss “watch valley” of northwest Switzerland, Dufour trained at the Ecole d’Horlogerie de la Vallée de Joux and spent the early years of his career working for Jaeger-LeCoultre, Gerald Genta and Audemars Piguet.
Dufour credits the thousands of hours restoring complicated pocket watches as the foundation for his mastery. Along with F.P. Journe, Kari Voutilainen, Michel Parmigiani, Peter Speake-Marin, and other master watchmakers of this era, Dufour regards restoration as the ultimate education. With neither technical documents nor access to the original constructor, a restoration watchmaker faces problem-solving challenges unknown to even elite students of watch schools.
As a watch collector, Philippe Dufour remains a man in the game. From his longtime A. Lange & Sohne Datograph – the “Dufourograph” – to the 2018 Rolex GMT Master II “Pepsi” and an unexpected nod to German independent, NOMOS Glashutte, the watch veteran acknowledges the watches he most admires from other manufacturers.
In a special interview filmed during Dubai Watch Week 2019, Mr. Dufour opened up to Tim Mosso about challenges to his pride when working for another company, his uncompromising standard of excellence, and the questionable merits of silicon in watchmaking. Dufour recounts his personal journey from the heights of grand complications to his current philosophy of “simplicity” – both small and large “S” – and the joys of working without constraints.