Bovet: Six years of partnership with Pininfarina
You get a special feeling when you meet the small but perfectly-formed team at Bovet and you have the chance to visit the Dimier 1738 production facility in Tramelan and the beautiful Chateau de Môtiers where the brand’s watch replica makers and engravers work. Maybe this comes from the fact that Bovet’s owner is a serious watch replica collector who is the main source of inspiration behind the Bovet collections.
When he purchased the various facilities 15 years ago, Mr Raffy at a stroke acquired the means to produce a watch replica movement from start to finish, including a rare workshop specialized in the production of balance springs and an even rarer stamping workshop staffed by a dying breed of toolmaker capable of producing dies for the stamping machines. Rarer still is the traditional way of burnishing pivots and cutting teeth (without any use of CNC), which are perhaps the two things that differentiate the brand and allow it to offer unprecedented levels of precision. The brand’s technical experts also admit that they were lucky enough to have received a particularly fine vintage of the alloy they use for their balance springs, which also helps. Furthermore, what other brand is so confident of its 10-day “chronometric” power reserve (meaning that its precision remains deadly accurate over the full ten days) that it actually adds a negative scale to the power reserve indicator in red because it knows the true power reserve is more like 11.5 days?
The product development approach comes, therefore, from a collector’s point of view rather than from someone who has their eyes on the bottom line. This is why the magnificent Braveheart® tourbillon has 22 days of power reserve (Mr Raffy wanted it still to be working when he got back from a three-week trip to Asia) and the spherical winding differential was invented to halve the winding time of the single mainspring barrel (collectors don’t like to waste too much time winding their watch replica ).
Bovet’s unique approach to watch replica making is also seen in its cooperation with Pininfarina. Pininfarina’s CEO Paolo Pininfarina admits that it took a year or so before the two companies could understand each other’s language. But since then, the relationship has blossomed. “I see more Pininfarina in the Ottantasei than in its predecessors,” he says. “It has been much more Pininfarina-driven than the other models.” For the new Ottantasei Tourbillon, Pininfarina even designed individual movement components and a special type of “bi-polar” Clou de Paris (hobnail) bridge decoration, where the two arcs described by the decoration have two different origins. This is just one of many fascinating details about the watch replica , which also includes specially designed screws by Pininfarina, concave sapphire crystal on the case middle etched with the Pininfarina logo and a similarly engraved sapphire disc on the crown.
How do you top the Braveheart® and this new Ottantasei tourbillon? For Pascal Raffy, the answer is simple and once again reveals his opinions as a collector rather than a marketing man. “I would like to have an in-house chronograph movement over the next three to five years,” he says, “or at least in time for our 200th anniversary [Editor’s note: 2022].” One thing that collectors need not expect from Bovet, however, is a minute repeater. “I do not see the logic in blocking 50% of our capacity to produce just 12 minute repeaters per year,” says Mr Raffy. “I prefer to concentrate on tourbillons and chronographs – this is the spirit of Bovet.”