Not many watchmakers can celebrate their 200Th Anniversary. Bovet too. Among the various events organized to mark this milestone anniversary, MONOCHROME was honored to be invited to spend a day at Motiers Castle, Bovet’s headquarters. There, we were able to discover their brand new museum, attend master classes – watchmaking, engraving and miniature painting – and meet the CEO and owner of the maison, Pascal Raffy, and his daughter Audrey, who joined the company a few months ago. .
Bovet was founded in 1822, a few years after the Bovet brothers left their hometown of Fleurier. Edward Bovet moved to China, where he was able to sell his four mechanical timekeeping instruments for CHF 10,000 each. He returned from China convinced of the strength and opportunities in the Asian market, and together with his brothers, he set up the Bovet manufacture, focusing on highly ornate and chronometrically sophisticated pocket timepieces. Very soon, the brand would become a resounding success in Imperial China and beyond, with many other watchmakers soon beginning to imitate Bovet’s designs…
Two hundred years later, Bovet is still making timepieces with a distinctive style that speaks to its history. These watches are made in two separate locations, in Tramelon (where the parts and movements are made) and in Motiers. The brand develops and produces its watches with a rare degree of vertical integration, especially for a company of its size. Bovet produces most of its components in-house, including cases, dials and movements. The brand also manufactures hairsprings and balance wheels in-house, a rarity in the industry.
It is the result of the vision of Pascal Raffi, a man who since 2001 has consistently invested in production and the craftsmanship that is key to creating these watches. His vision was a company of expert craftsmanship with a holistic approach to watchmaking, uncompromising ethics. Since 2006, no fewer than 16 patents have been registered by Bovet. And in 2018, the independent watchmaker received industry acclaim and the Aiguelle d’Or award at the Grand Prix de Horlogerie de Genève, the Oscars of watchmaking, for the Recital 22 Grand Recital.
As Pascal Raffy explains, “What matters to Bovet is quality, not quantity. It aims to enhance our mastery of traditional handicrafts and develop our technical expertise, pushing the boundaries. When visiting our workshops, you will find humanity, sincerity and shared values… We strive for excellence as a whole. It is no coincidence that collections are called recitals.“
When asked by Audrey Raffy what the main challenge is for the brand, she advises “There are many challenges. The way I see it is part of innovation: always bringing something new, always doing something that’s not a copy of someone else, not repeating what we’re doing. Not on the surface but full of value and character.“
While Bovet timepieces are exhibited in some of the most famous museums around the world – British Museum in London, Forbidden City in Beijing, MoMA in New York, National Palace in Taipei, Patek Philippe Museum, MIH (International Watch Museum) La Chaux-de-Fonds to name a few – the brand opened its own museum in Motiers. The brand’s past masterpieces and recent landmark timepieces are now jointly on display, inviting visitors on a journey through two centuries of horological art. Many historical documents and over 50 timepieces spanning Bovet’s entire lifetime have been uncovered.
Last but not least, this event also offers the chance to discover some of the watches presented earlier this year by the brand, notably the Virtuoso V and Virtuoso VII salmon dial limited editions.
Bovet Virtuoso V Salmon Dial
With an off-center independent hours/minutes dial combining jumping hours and retrograde minutes on one side, coupled with a power reserve indication on the other, the Virtuoso V is now available for the first time in an Amadeo case in grade 5 titanium (the case back, part of the Amadeo system, is in steel, because of the titanium-to-titanium soldering impossible to lay). Thanks to the patented Amadeo system, the clock transforms from a wristwatch to a pocket watch or desk clock without the need for tools. The elegant salmon lacquer dial is crafted in-house.
Quick facts: Convertible Amadeo Titanium Case – 43.50 mm – Lacquered salmon dials – Water resistance up to 30 meters – In-house hand-wound movement – 21,600vph – 5-day power reserve – Hours/minutes, small seconds, one-sided power reserve indication – Jumping hours and other retrograde Minutes – alligator strap – chain
Bovet Virtuoso VII Salmon Dial
Another titanium case & salmon lacquer dial combination introduced in 2022, the Virtuoso VII features a perpetual calendar with retrograde date indication on one face and off-center hours and minutes indication on the other. Similar to the Virtuoso V, the patented Amadeo system allows you to transform your timepiece from a wristwatch to a pocket watch or desk clock.
Quick facts: Convertible Amadeo Titanium Case – 43.30 mm – Lacquered salmon dials – Water resistance up to 30 meters – In-house hand-wound movement – 21,600vph – 5-day power reserve – Hours/minutes, coaxial seconds, power reserve indication on one side – Retrograde perpetual calendar coaxial seconds On the other – alligator strap – chain
For more information, please visit www.bovet.com.