It is one of the oldest Swiss factories, yet very few, even among enthusiasts, have ever heard of it. Nevertheless, DuBois, founded in 1785, has all the credentials to make people talk about it, especially thanks to its volcanic owner, Thomas Steinemann, who took it over in 2010 and immediately pulled an innovative crowdfunding scheme out of the hat to relaunch it. “An operation that was very successful: almost 600 enthusiasts wanted to become owners of a piece of watchmaking history, and today they can buy watches from the Maison at a major discount.” And the initiatives have relentlessly followed one another since then. “We have offered funders the opportunity to rent the watch at a small monthly cost instead of buying it: it is ideal for trying out our timepieces on the wrist and only buying them later.”
But what do DuBois watches look like?
They are classic watches, produced in limited series of less than 100 pieces each, still crafted as watches used to be made, in the best établissage tradition: the best materials, the best components, the best specialized suppliers.
And the movements?
They are our secret weapon. In recent years, we have acquired an important collection of tens of thousands of old ébauches dating back to the best years of Swiss watchmaking history. These movements are disassembled, reconditioned, finished and then reassembled to create our timepieces: modern watches, but with an ancient heart.
So, after the relaunch, DuBois has combined contemporaneity and tradition. What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment, we are preparing a great novelty. We are launching a system through which people will be able to become owners of one of our historical movements thanks to a blockchain application. Anyone will be able to buy the rights to that movement, and see all the transformation stages from the movement to the finished watch. And once it is finished, they will be able to buy it under special conditions or resell it, returning on their investment.
It almost sounds like science fiction. Is there anything else to say about DuBois?
There is so much. But what I would like to say is that traditional watchmaking is changing. Young people – and there are many of them among our customers – are increasingly interested in the values behind the brand. It is no longer enough to have a highfalutin name: you have to respect your own tradition, attention to detail, to materials, to the territory where you live and work. It is not enough to say that you are “green”: you must be green indeed. With our technology, we are moving towards the complete traceability of processes and materials: in the future, we want to let those who buy our watches know how and where they were born. For us, professionalism is not an optional extra.” duboisfils.ch
Some examples of DBF003, DBF004 and DBF006, featuring the brand’s modern yet subtly retro lines.
Thomas Steinemann and the first watch that played a leading role
in the Maison’s rebirth, the DBF001.
Detail of the dial of a DBF001-03 chronograph; and a DBF006-04 equipped with one of the first automatic movements with bidirectional rotor in the history of watchmaking, the Felsa 4007N Bidynator, dating back to the early 1950s.