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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
These are heady times in which we watch collectors live. We have the great fortune to have several fantastic watchmakers alive and producing. Right now, I have three in mind: Philippe Dufour, Martin Braun, François-Paul Journe, and Peter Speake-Marin. There are of course others, but a great many of those others make stuff I like to one degree or another but that is sold at prices I'm unwilling or unable to afford. The three I mentioned, however, each offer one or more things I like quite a bit and that are within my budget.

So, what do you think of these three watchmakers? Based on your impressions of them as artisans, whose watches would you feel are most "worthy" of being purchased. I ask with regard to the men, more so than the watches because I know quite well that I can choose a watch from any of them and have a great thing. I like certain things about each gentleman.
  • Dufour -- As the oldest, he's at the height of what he's going to achieve, more or less. Time makes that so more than anything having to do with him per se. At some point in the next decade or there about, I'd expect him to retire. But surely there's more he can achieve if he wants to do so. Much as I like his work, I also fear this guy's watches will be hard to come by and more bother than I'm keen for to obtain.
  • Braun -- Something of a wild card in my mind. No question about his prowess, but he's now assumed the mantle of CEO and it's not clear to me how involved he'll actually be with the watch produced by his company.
  • Journe -- He's young, he's outspoken, he's independent and he's got lots of growth yet to do (said in a positive way). He seems like the one to go for right now while it's still affordable (relatively) to do so.
  • Speake-Marin - This is the maker who most speaks to me aesthetically and he's the only one included here largely for the watches. Though the other three make beautiful watches, this guy's stuff seems to always have his "signature" in the design messages embodied in the watches. In Mr. Speake-Marin's own words, "...something with that kind of identity, price range, and quality…when you look at the whole thing together, it’s actually quite extraordinary." Though I'm not a movement junkie, I have to say I love what his watches look like from behind as well as from the front. Modern and traditional. The other thing is that he strikes me in a way that appeals to my very American sensibility of "value for dollar." SM's Serpent Calendar is one complicated watch that works for me visually and engineering wise.

As you might infer from my statements above, SM is the most likely next thing for me. I still have this year's "things" to obtain first and Lord knows what'll happen between then and now...

The thing that I'm also uncertain about is just what to expect when buying from this calibre of watchmaker that, unlike PP, VC and other larger companies, has such a limited annual production and no shortage of orders in the wings. If anyone here has some insight to offer on the process, I'd be thrilled to know if/how it differs as a purchasing experience. I will contact the respective companies to find out about the logistics of the process, but if any of you have done so before and have insight on how effectively these or any other small suppliers are at setting and keeping to delivery schedules, I'd like to know what you think.

All the best.

Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him.
- Aldous Huxley, Texts and Pretexts: An Anthology With Commentaries
 

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Mr. Dufour is in my opinion at the top of the horological food chain (and has a waiting list that make PP minute repeaters seem common and no website). He works alone and always has.

Mr. Voutilainen also does superlative work with a refined aesthetic verve and is the near the top but does not work alone and produces more pieces per year. Another stellar watchmaker not often mentioned is Andreas Strehler (see below).

Guys like Roger Dubuis and Francis Paul Journe run much larger scale operations

Here are some links to some great individual and small team makers:


ANDREAS STREHLER | UHRMACHER
Home | Grönefeld
Laurent Ferrier
McGonigle Watches - Home
Romain Gauthier
Speake-Marin
http://www.voutilainen.ch/
 

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This is probably not rational, but I am totally mesmerized by Mister Hajime Asaoka's work. I imagine he does not even compare to your list, but if I was to bet on one today, it would be him :)

hajime-tourbillon-watch.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Mr. Dufour is in my opinion at the top of the horological food chain (and has a waiting list that make PP minute repeaters seem common and no website). He works alone and always has.

Mr. Voutilainen also does superlative work with a refined aesthetic verve and is the near the top but does not work alone and produces more pieces per year. Another stellar watchmaker not often mentioned is Andreas Strehler (see below).

Guys like Roger Dubuis and Francis Paul Journe run much larger scale operations

Here are some links to some great individual and small team makers:


ANDREAS STREHLER | UHRMACHER
Home | Grönefeld
Laurent Ferrier
McGonigle Watches - Home
Romain Gauthier
Speake-Marin
http://www.voutilainen.ch/
TY. I appreciate the links. I'm not familiar with Uhrmacher or Voutilainen. I'll dig a bit on those two. I know I don't want a McG Bros. watch; I just don't go "oh, wow" when I look at them, even as I have great respect for their work. SC.

Dufour - yes, I knew his wait list is long and at his age, I'm not sure I should even get my hopes up. I agree he's the "bees knees" right now.

Thanks again. I've got some reading to do. <winks>

All the best.

Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.
- Marcel Proust
 

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last i heard, Dufour stopped taking orders as he has a list he doesnt know when he will finish. I think as soon as he is done he's gonna retire (technically he is). Furthermore, you really need to have a collection to even think of getting a Dufour...as he kind of runs off a application/resume basis only. Just cause you got the cash doesn't mean you can have the Dufour charm with it.

F.P. Journe is, in my opinion, the king of watch brands so he wins the battle...just one exception...
If you are looking for a piece that is really unique...as in made specifically in really small numbers, even less than FPJ's 900, i would look into Voutilainen, he is somewhat affordable in his category. Check Roger Smith as well, British watchmaking at its finest and from what i saw, he is easy to get in touch with.
 
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I think that you meant Andreas Stehler. Uhrmaker means clock maker...:)


TY. I appreciate the links. I'm not familiar with Uhrmacher or Voutilainen. I'll dig a bit on those two. I know I don't want a McG Bros. watch; I just don't go "oh, wow" when I look at them, even as I have great respect for their work. SC.

Dufour - yes, I knew his wait list is long and at his age, I'm not sure I should even get my hopes up. I agree he's the "bees knees" right now.

Thanks again. I've got some reading to do. <winks>

All the best.

Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.
- Marcel Proust
 
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·

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It's impossible to get a new Dufour nowadays, unless you have strong connections with Mr. Dufour himself or one of his clients in his waiting list.

I'd advice to get a FP Journe while it's still cheap and more accessible compared to most other independents (I expect his pieces to gradually increase in price in the next few years).
 

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Do any of these watchmakers have boutiques? I know FPJ has a few
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Do any of these watchmakers have boutiques? I know FPJ has a few
Speake Marin: Yes, at least one and multiple retailers around the world.

FJP: you already know the answer.

Martin Braun: His site indicates where his business is, but it isn't identified as a boutique per se. Antoine Martin doesn't indicate a boutique or retailers/distributors.

Dufour: No. None that I can find.

All the best.
 

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Dufour doesn't even have a functioning website. I assume you really need to be IN the industry to get in touch with him. Too late either way...no more orders from that guy, only legend
 

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Speake Marin: Yes, at least one and multiple retailers around the world.

FJP: you already know the answer.

Martin Braun: His site indicates where his business is, but it isn't identified as a boutique per se. Antoine Martin doesn't indicate a boutique or retailers/distributors.

Dufour: No. None that I can find.

All the best.
Awesome thanks! I'm going to Hong Kong and Macau soon so no doubt a lot of high-end shopping to do :p
 

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I have always been a huge fan of the smaller Independents.. But like many out there, most of them are far out of my reach at the moment. I recently picked up my first higher end true Independent (recently owned an Alain Silberstein, I believe considered independent) the Speake Marin Spirit an absolutely love the watch. Has been a grail watch for me for a long time and finally got a chance to acquire one. Hopefully within 3 years will have a Journe to join the PSM..

 
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