Note that the giant semi-dial at 7 o’clock, with an interior 0-30 scale and outer 30-60 scale. It might have been a normal retrograde minutes hand which jumps back to the start – but no, we have noticed that before. Therefore, upon reaching the end of the lower scale at 30, the seconds hand juts forward to extend into the upper scale and begins its sweep slowly back into the opposite direction. At 60, of course, it retracts back to zero. The movie can help you know better than my description.It’s actually just a novel way of displaying the moments, but let us face it, mechanical watches are extremely similar to miniature Rube Goldberg machines, anyway: exceptionally complex but mesmerizing methods of attaining comparatively basic functions, such as suggesting the time. And in the end of horology, around DeWitt’s neighborhood, where small expense concerning time or money is spared, it gets even more complicated – and – mesmerizing.While we do not have any caseback pictures of this watch, we can pretty clearly see what happening in the movement in the dial side of the DeWitt Academia Skeleton. The energy book of over 100 hours has been displayed up around 2:30 – and we like power reserve indicators, particularly on manually wound motions like this DW1105S. But next to this, at around 10:30, you may see the large double barrel that’s open to also show you precisely how closely the mainspring is wound. Along with the balance wheel can be seen twitching off at 3Hz (21,600bph) around 4:30, providing even more eye-candy animation.On top of all that and the contemporary skeletonized motion, the improved gold palms seem to do a pretty good job of being legible and contrasting with the mainly brushed “black gold” (not petroleum) surfaces. The rose gold hands suit the DeWitt Academia Skeleton’s rose gold case that is 42.5mm wide and 10.25mm thick – which guarantees some wrist existence, but also to be quite wearable. On the case sides, black rubber forms what the firm calls “Dewitt royal columns” The DeWitt Academia Skeleton case is water resistant to 30m, no surprise there, and the lug width is a less common 21mm – so you might have a little more trouble locating a nato strap to match it.
Thursday was a nice day in San Francisco, and I was excited about being invited to meet with Mr. Pierre Halimi Lachorlotte at Shapur here in San Francisco. Pierre is the General Manager of DeWitt watches here in America, which is a humble title for President of North American Operations. Another reason I was excited was the opportunity to see Shapur’s new and larger retail location, which just happened to be across the street from its previous location. I recall walking by the high-end watch shop often, gazing longingly into the windows, and always being encountered by a friendly associate upon entering – regardless of my attire.
Shapur’s new space is divided between two floors, and they have now added more brands to their showroom. Adding more soon as I understand. I would suggest that Shapur’s major competitor in San Francisco is Shreve & Co., a fight Shapur is winning in my opinion based upon selection, atmosphere, and employee amicability (though they do carry different brands).
As I walked upstairs that day I was immediately greeted by Pierre. I am not at the point where I can afford a DeWitt watch (in fact I might never be at that point), but that didn’t stop them from treating me like a valued client. My enthusiasm for talking about watches was enough, and for that I was genuinely touched. My typical experience with high end watch dealers consists of them briefly acknowledging me, and faster still dismissing me as a non-sale for the observable future. That day was different, and I wanted to make the most of it.
Shapur and DeWitt treated me fondly, as an colleague almost. My time there was precious, and a major reason for my visit was the DeWitt WX-1 Concept watch. The $650,000 timepiece creation that materialized a few months ago. The watch deserves a full length article alone, which you can view here. Suffice to say, I had my time with novel watch, and there is much to say about it. The majority of its charm and intrigue exist on a far deeper level than its Jules Verne inspired spaceship looks.
It may seem odd how I place emphasis on my treatment by the watch retailer and company, but it is important to place it in perspective. We are talking about timepieces which on the low end are roughly $20,000. On the high end… well I already mentioned the price of the WX-1 watch. Compare that with how you are treated at an expensive car dealer. Are you given the time of day? DeWitt has watches that cost an equal amount to a brand new Lamborghini or Ferrari, and not merely the “entry-level” models. It would be no surprise, even expected, for DeWitt to treat any non-potential customer, as so many other pretentious companies do. Though this was not the case as I have mentioned, and this attitude is not the status quo for the industry. I cannot commend them enough for their maturity, and foresight that true public relations is with the entire interest public, and not merely an ultra limited demographic.
I have precious few minutes to spend at the meeting at Shapur due to an appointment back at the office, so I wanted to make the most of it. While Mr. Halimi attended to other guests, I took notice of the other DeWitt watches presented. Chronographs, perpetual calendars, and tourbillons (or combinations thereof), where among the offerings. Also on display were the new DeWitt Tourbillon Force Constant and Night Chronograph in Rose Gold (wonderful for its “propeller” seconds subdial). The 15 or so watches represented a significant portion of the DeWitt watches that come to America each year. The brand typically produces about 1000 examples of its watches annually, most of which are not US bound. This was a rare opportunity to become acquainted with the brand by sampling so much of it.
No other watch brand I know of resembles the unique looks of DeWitt. Frankly, it is hard to copy them, though I am sure many have tried. The construction and time involved in making their watches is intense. As I admire a perpetual calendar model I notice the moon on the moonphase indicator looks like a pearl, underneath a darker pearl layer, set against a lustrous painting meant to resemble stars. The effect is nice, classy, and very difficult to reproduce. Materials on these watches blend well, and the squared alternating material pattern on the bezels (an iconic DeWitt look) is set together so well. Having handled enough watches, I can tell the quality of these watches is more than just the raw materials put into them. A deep sense of craftsman-like affection is apparent in the perfect fit and finish of each watch. Perhaps it is a shame that one must invest this kind of money to get a item that is put together so well, but I am relieved that in this world of mass production and disposable goods, such things still exist that are put together by hand, with skill and knowledge accumulated in over two centuries of practice.
The young associate at Shapur enthusiastically discusses the DeWitt watches, and how they sell. He mentions the fact that many younger buyers are drawn to the DeWitt pieces. This fact does not surprise me, save for the reality that DeWitt watches are hard to come by, and you have to actively look for them. What I means is that most DeWitt buyers learn about them through investigation and discovery. You’d have to be looking at a dedicated watch magazine to know about DeWitt, or be lucky enough to visit one of the rare locations that carry them. Otherwise, the uninitiated consider something like Rolex, when the opportunity presents itself to buy a nice watch. Mr. Halimi of DeWitt is particularly proud of the fact that DeWitt buyers are watch lovers, learning about the brand, and making a conscious decision to acquire a DeWitt after considering the alternatives (at least from a price perspective). This is certainly not how an average business person would respond, and I am comforted by the fact that DeWitt, is not an average business. For it if was, my impression is that the watches would unfortunately not be the same (because quality and profitability are typically not in accord); another reason I am so drawn to the watch industry.
I will go back to Shapur – more often now most likely at their enhanced location. Their new shop is a nice place to look at nice watches, and they are a friendly conglomeration of family and dedicated employees. I am sure I will make an excellent customer once I am able to make the occasional investment in their goods.
You can find DeWitt, among other beautiful watch brands at:
272 Post St.
San Francisco, CA 94108