By Benjamin Clymer
It is hard to pin down exactly who the greatest living watchmaker is. Is is Francois-Paul Journe with his masterful and innovative complications? Is it Ludwig Oeschslin and his simplification of complications? Or maybe it’s Roger Smith, with his turn towards the hand-made? A case could be made for all three of the men above, but any discussion of such a question would certainly be incomplete without a mention of the name “Philippe Dufour.”
There isn’t much we haven’t already said about the master craftsman who, for example, was the very first person in history to put a grande sonnerie in a wristwatch. And the first person to put a double-balance wheel in a wristwatch. And while the Grand Sonnerie and Duality are the two Dufours that gave him the credibility to be mentioned among the greatest, it is the Simplicity that will surely be his true legacy.
Conceived by Dufour to be the ultimate expression of traditional Swiss watchmaking in the Vallée de Joux, a focus is given not to the complication but to the finish of the remarkable in-house caliber. It is considered one of the most finely finished watches in the world (for a special look at how it stacks up against two other high-end time-onlys from Laurent Ferrier and Seiko Credor, click here).
Dufour made just 200 of these in series from the year 2000 until about 2014. That is roughly 15 watches per year – that’s pretty incredible to think about. These watches remain the prized possessions of dozens of the most astute watch collectors in the world and one can go months, if not years, without seeing a single example for sale in the public space.
But next week, we will see the very first Simplicity hit the auction block – and in fact the second, and the third too. Over the course of two days (November 28 and 29), Christie’s will sell one example and Phillips will sell two.
Let’s take a look at each of the three.
November 28 – Simplicity No. 61, 37mm White Gold With Guilloché Dial (Christie’s)
While it is incredible to have three watches hit the block at roughly the same time, they are all completely different configurations. The first