The Master’s Master Complication

Philippe Dufour is the creator of some of the world’s most unornamented, but sophisticated wristwatches. For my readers who are not familiar with who this “living legend" is, I’ll give you a quick history lesson. Born in the mid-20th century, Dufour was raised in Vallee, Switzerland, a paradise for watchmakers. At the age of 15, he left his home and studied horology at the Sentier, developing his passion while he was quite young (sounds like someone we know?) Dufour had been so superbly trained at his school that he was approached by Jaeger-LeCoultre to join them as a watchmaker, where his mentor at the time, master watchmaker Gabriel Locatelli, helped to open many doors for the young Dufour. The next major stop on his road to success was at Audemars Piguet. Dufour was employed by AP at the time Gerald Genta first began to reveal the designs of the, then concept watch, Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. It’s quite obvious that Dufour was growing up in a transitional period in the watchmaking industry; as a result, his personal designs are captivating.

Today, Mr. Dufour is one of the few existing independent watchmakers. When I refer to him as independent, I really mean independent--no watchmakers, no assistants, no giant machinery, absolutely nothing, but him and his workbench. Mr. Dufour has perfected juxtaposition between elegance and simplicity. His movements are highly decorated, but, in their entirety, the watches are relatively simple, so simple that Dufour even named one of his pieces “The Simplicity.”

Do you ever wonder what a modern master of horology, such as Mr. Dufour, wears? Well, I always have wondered and, to be straightforward, I really did not know until after I did some research myself. After a surprisingly intense fact-finding session, I uncovered the answer. Dufour dons a Shellman Repeater, perhaps the most budget-friendly repeater on the market.

This mini, cushion shaped watch is reminiscent of the platinum Patek Philippe minute repeater from the collection of Henry Graves that sold at Christie’s earlier this year. Shellman currently produces a more updated version of Dufour’s repeater which lacks that traditional look and feel. If you would like the same model as the one on his wrist, you can purchase one pre-owned on various wristwatch auction/trading websites (Chrono24, eBay, FSOT) for a price somewhere in the sweet $1,000 range. Now have solved the problems of millions of watch guys who want a repeater without having to think about selling their Ferrari 275 GTB Spider? 

Luke Rottman (Executive Editor: