The creation of Bovet timepieces in steel is intriguing luxury watch enthusiasts who wonder whether this marks a move into higher volumes and lower prices – a diffusion line for the exclusive watchmaker, perhaps.
The 19Thirty collection, presented to WatchPro at an exclusive lunch hosted by Asprey London today, was described by horology blog Perpetuelle as: “an interesting move for Bovet which until now has been an ultra-exclusive and ultra-expensive purveyor of haute horlogerie…a sign of the times at the highest echelons of the market, perhaps.”
Bovet currently builds around 3000 watches per year. It is thought that a third of all watches are one-of-a-kind commissioned pieces. Its only retailer in the UK is Asprey on London’s exclusive Bond Street.
The exact number of 19Thirty units being produced was not disclosed today, but talk of production increasing to 3000-4000 units per year suggests it will be produced in greater volumes than Bovet has done with all previous collections.
“I don’t want to produce more than 4000 timepieces per year. You cannot do ‘luxury’ if you are producing 20,000 watches per year,” said Bovet owner and president Pascal Raffy.
Watches in the 19Thirty collection are priced at CHF 16,800 (£11,270), a lower entry point than Bovet has delivered in all the years since Mr Raffy bought the brand in 2001.
A steel case is an unexpected development from Bovet, albeit housing a watch of exceptional beauty and complexity.
The 19Thirty collection is inspired by the decade when timepieces overwhelmingly migrated from pockets to wrists. It was also the decade in which steel cases took off thanks to its strength and durability.
Mr Raffy personally defined the blueprint for the modern 19Thirty watches. The 18 reference collection uses a historic easel chronometer, one of the last pocket watches made in any quantity by the company in the 1930s, for design elements including hands and numbers.
A brand new hand-wound caliber with 7-day power reserve – the 15BM04 – has been entirely developed and manufactured by DIMIER 1738, which is also owned by Mr Raffy.