The DeWitt Manufacture in PerspectiveBy: Dr No (registered) Monday, September 5th, 2011 - Photo Nav: View All 25 photo(s)
The DeWitt Manufacture in Perspective
By Art "Dr No" Dakessian
© September 2011
Our moderator Dr. Magnus Bosse wrote about The Manufacture DeWitt in "A Pandorean box of creativity - a visit to the manufacture DeWitt" , which was posted on May 24th, 2011 (link to article: home.watchprosite.com).
There is little of substance one can add to Magnus's magisterial article, which describes the Manufacture in requisite detail. There is, though, a lingering sense of mystery... Magnus has ably explained the how, what, and where, but the why isn't entirely clear. To explain this and to place the company in the industry's context, we have to ask a couple of questions!
There are countless watch manufacturers. Why would Jérôme de Witt , the founder and president, enter a field with so many established competitors? What makes this question even more confounding is that he is not, as far as I can tell, a watchmaker by trade or training.
One element that I found particularly striking was the devotion to the history of watchmaking exemplified by the DeWitt museum.
Initially, I was astonished by the devotion of resources to acquire and display these instruments of watchmaking from a bygone era, all the more so because DeWitt is a recent newcomer to the ranks of watch manufacturers. It would be understandable if DeWitt had a past to put on display, like so many other revived brands, but that's evidently not the case here. This museum is a testament to Mr. de Witt's interest in the history of watchmaking in a purely academic sense.
Still, no one enters the field of watchmaking just out of historical interest. There has to be something else... Could it be a desire to create and manage an enterprise? That might be part of the answer...
... but only a tiny fraction, at best. Watchmaking is a highly labor-intensive industry which requires great infusions of capital, and it would be difficult to imagine a financial adviser making a recommendation to embark on a watchmaking venture at this level of involvement. Hubris is certainly not an explanation for the creation of DeWitt.
Might the reason for the establishment of Manufacture DeWitt be drawn from an interest in the craft of watchmaking...
... or, perhaps, from a fascination with mechanics?
These are certainly factors to be considered. Nathalie Veysset , Managing Director of DeWitt, alluded to his interest in watchmaking and restoring automobiles during her public remarks at the PuristS gathering in Las Vegas recently.
The critical clue can be divined from a document titled "Corporate Identity". The following statement, I believe, is critical to understanding DeWitt's raison d'être:
"The only rational side to luxury is quality."
There is much more to the document, but these eight words are the key. Where have we heard this sentiment before?
There is an intriguing parallel with one of the great marques of automobile manufacturing. James Ward Packard was best known for founding the company that created the crème de la crème of luxury cars...
[all images from Google]
... during the formative decades of the auto industry. While others built manufacturing empires founded on producing greater quantities of cars, James W. Packard concentrated on making cars of exquisite quality. The firm that bore his name crafted automobiles of distinction, marketed to those who had the wherewithal to indulge in the finest. They are, to this day, held in the highest esteem.
Their motto, "Ask the man who owns one" , is one of the more compelling advertising slogans ever drafted.
While Packard is remembered today for the refined automobiles he designed, he was also deeply interested in horology. He commissioned several pocket watches from Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin, and engaged in a presumably friendly competition with banking mogul Henry Graves for the most complicated movement ever produced.
Can an analogy to be made with DeWitt?
Both Packard and DeWitt were (and in DeWitt's case, are ) driven by a passion to create luxury goods of the finest quality possible, Packard in the field of motor cars, DeWitt in watchmaking. Tellingly, both had (and in DeWitt's case, have ) a passion for the others private interest.
Who today wouldn't be proud to own a Packard?
"Ask the man who owns one." Is this ...
... today's equivalent of the Packard Twin Six? ...
Can this DeWitt movement ...
... be the horological analog of ...
... Packard's engineering prowess?
The watchword of The PuristS is Passion, Opinion, and Information. Of these hallmarks, the greatest is passion. Without passion, purity is bereft of meaning. An endeavor attains worth within the context of a driving passion; otherwise, it is merely commerce.
The evidence of passion driving Jérôme de Witt is abundantly clear from his achievements to date. That is why PuristSPro decided to join with him in creating a watch for our Tenth Anniversary.
The signature DeWitt aesthetic has been infused with the Purists trademark of 1 7 8 , and executed in rose gold with the dial in a shade of chocolate brown, at Jérôme's behest. It is the pride of the P10 collection.
"History doesn't repeat itself but it does rhyme."
Watchmaking is a mature industry, where established manufacturers measure their longevity in centuries. By that measure, DeWitt is in its infancy but in a relatively short span of time, a Manufacture has been created. Given time, their intent, according to their mission statement, is "... to become a full-fledged Watch manufacture that is both independent and self-sufficient in terms of production." [note: emphasis added]
It's my sense that the Manufacture is a product of Mr. de Witt's idealism and passion for watchmaking. His journey is like that of others who have trod the path of making the very best they possibly can, not for gain, but for glory.
He will be judged a success if people will say of his watches ...
... Ask the man who owns one".
Copyright September 2011 - Art Dakessian & PuristSPro.com - all rights reserved
Comments, suggestions, and corrections to this article are welcome.