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A Day at Bovet Part III

Rue Bovet de Chine

Bovet – Château De Môtiers

Having completed the tour of the Dimier manufacturing facilities in Tramelan and after a delicious lunch including locally sourced fish and lamb, I was driven to Fleurier and, specifically, the Château De Môtiers.  I had no idea what to expect but, if I may say this; even my wildest expectations were met.  Driving past the Parmigiani office and close to the ‘city hall’, previously the Bovet House as noted in Part I, we made our way up a winding road to what I can only describe as the Bovet castle.  With snow having fallen all night and temperatures remaining at around freezing despite the winter sun, I genuinely could not have asked for a more picturesque setting.  Magical perhaps? Absolutely.

Driving through the gates straight in front of us was Mr Roffy’s personal accommodation, to the left a beautiful showroom which normally houses some historically important Bovet pocket watches (unfortunately all but one were missing because they had been on show at SIHH the previous week and had yet to make their way back home) and, behind us, Bovet’s administration and final assembly room. To think that the employees get to work in this environment every day… what a privilege indeed! All the staff were extremely friendly and could not do enough to make us feel welcome. We then made our way upstairs for the pièce de résistance. The assembly room.

This is where all the watches, manufactured at Dimier, are sent for a final inspection before delivery.  On top of that, this is also where all the engraving and personalisation takes place.  If you want fleurisanne (the most popular case engraving), you can have it.  But with Bovet, they pride themselves on personalisation, so if you would prefer to go off piste, you can; whether it’s your initials, a family crest, or anything else that can fit on a wrist watch.  Indeed such is Bovet’s commitment to personalisation, around 30% of the pieces they create are bespoke and, given they only make around 1,500 a year, that really is something special.  To put that figure into perspective, Patek Philippe manufacture around 50,000 a year whilst Richard Mille make around 4,000.  Given these numbers I specifically asked whether they had identified a ceiling at which they would cap manufacture.  They confirmed 3,000 is the maximum they will produce; maintaining the balance between financial sense and exclusivity.

Testing my watch

Before we left, I had the opportunity to experience two things.  Firstly, the water tightness testing machine they use to ensure all their pieces pass the required standards.  Intrigued to see how it worked, I volunteered to test my watch; a Patek Philippe Nautilus 5726a.  The machine works by putting the case under stress, up to the pre-set pressure you want to test, equalling the depth to which one would be swimming.  Setting the pressure to the equivalent depth of 30m I put my hand in my mouth… what happens if it fails I asked myself?!  Fortunately, my concern was short lived; within two minutes the screen displayed three green ticks and it had passed.  Once more illustrating Christophe’s love for watches and respect for other brands, as he handed it back to me he remarked… “that dial is just amazing…

The Edouard Bovet

Lastly, I had one more opportunity to admire an Edouard Bovet (around 300,000CHF), which is how this epic trip all started.  This one was in the final stage of assembly and so not quite complete but, regardless, it is a thing of wonderment.  Moreover, it is worthy, like all the watches Bovet produces, of making its way through those gates at the Château De Môtiers.  That was what struck me about my visit; absolutely everything was of the highest quality.  No stone had been left unturned in terms of production or customer experience; painstakingly detailed, refined, elegant and harking back to a time long forgotten when it would take four months to make a journey that today would be a matter of hours.  That’s what you’re buying into when you purchase a Bovet timepiece.

I really cannot thank Christophe and Bovet enough for their hospitality.  It was an incredible day and one that will live long in the memory.