One of the most fascinating aspects of the Swiss watchmaking industry is not merely the powerful worldwide presence of its major brands, but also its strength in depth.
The more you delve the more you discover small but dedicated watch manufactures delivering passion, quality and style.
While perhaps less known to most, the pedigree of Delaloye Watches, run by 40 year old owner and founder Nicolas Delaloye, doesn’t really get much better.
Nicolas began his career in 1991 with Patek Philippe where he quickly graduated to working on chronograph calibres, perpetual calendars and rattrapante complications. But rather than play it safe and remain an unsung hero in the workshops of Patek Philippe, Nicolas broke away and spent a year in the States helping to launch a new watch brand. He then returned to Switzerland and spent a year with Roger Dubuis as Workshop Manager.
In 1997 he returned to Patek Philippe now a fully qualified watchmaker where he specialised in restoring some of Patek Philippe’s rarest antique clocks and pocket watches, and of course at Patek Philippe, this is strictly top of the premier league stuff.
In 2003, like all the most talented watchmakers, Nicolas knew the time had come to start his own manufacture. Unlike many watchmakers who take the easy route and buy in a movement from another supplier, Nicolas took the long hard road and spent two years working on his own in-house movement, the calibre ND01 (ND standing for Nicolas Delaloye).
Calibre ND01s indicate the hours and minutes in the centre with a subdial at 6 o’clock. The total diameter of the movement is 28mm with a total thickness not exceeding 4.4mm and has a power reserve of 72 hours. The movement runs at 18’000 vibrations/hour oscillating screw balance, spiral Breguet.
Beyond that it gets a lot more technical, suffice to say all geartrains are chamfered by hand and circular grained following the highest horological traditions. Each movement has a plate with its number. This number corresponds to the one on the watch case. The whole movement is governed by the Maker’s Mark engraved on the bridge of the barrel. In other words, there are absolutely no shortcuts.
Each of the watches in his Garde Temps collection, exhibited for the first time at Basel Watchmakers Fair in 2007, are unique. Nicolas works with craftsmen who share his obsession for top level craftsmanship that builds on the rich heritage of Swiss watchmaking.
The Garde Temps collection comes in a 41mm case in a variety of finishes including red gold, grey gold, with black and silver guilloche dials, and each is of course powered by the ND01 movement.
On a day when the hot news from the Swiss watch world is of how Baselworld will be set alight by a new player on the independent scene: Martin Braun’s new brand Antoine Martin, it’s fitting to focus on an inspirational Swiss manufacture with ‘Le respect des traditions’. Respect is an all too rare commodity in this world.