Philippe Dufour - The Geneva Watch Auction: XIV Geneva Friday, November 5, 2021 | Phillips

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  • Manufacturer: Philippe Dufour
    Year: 1992
    Movement No: N°1
    Model Name: Grande & Petite Sonnerie
    Material: 18K yellow gold
    Calibre: Manual, inhouse, 35 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Leather
    Clasp/Buckle: 18K yellow gold pin buckle
    Dimensions: 41mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial and movement signed
    Literature: Philippe Dufour is prominently featured in Twelve Faces of Time: Horological Virtuosos by Elisabeth Doerr and Ralph Baumgarten pp. 10-25 and in Masters of Contemporary Watchmaking by Michael Clerizo pp. 72-91.

  • Catalogue Essay

    If the Grande & Petite Sonnerie pocket watch is considered the Himalaya of watchmaking and collecting, then in wristwatch format, we are probably reaching the zenith of the horological stratosphere.

    The present Grande & Petite Sonnerie wristwatch, fresh to the auction market – from the same collection as the other three Philippe Dufour timepieces we have the pleasure of offering - is stupendous in more ways than one.

    Bearing movement number n°1, this is not only the very first wristwatch ever made by Phillipe Dufour, it is also the world’s first Grande & Petite Sonnerie wristwatch ever made, increasing its collectability even further if such an occurrence is possible.

    After having worked on his unique Grande & Petite Sonnerie pocket watch, Dufour decided to tackle the challenge of miniaturizing this extraordinarily complex movement to fit inside a wristwatch.
    Research showed Dufour that such a complication did not exist in a wristwatch and to mark the launch of his brand (even though such a term is not really befitting an artisanal one man operation) he decided to woo and surprise the horological cosmos by taking up this difficult task.

    In 1992, after three years of strenuous work, calculating tolerances, designing bridges, gears and pinions, testing chimes and functionality, Philippe Dufour presented a world première: the present watch, a Grande & Petite Sonnerie wristwatch in yellow gold, bearing movement N°1. The same year Dufour joined the Académie des Horlogers et Créatures Indépendants (AHCI), a group of independent watchmakers having joined forces to promote the art of artisanal watchmaking and whose other prestigious members comprised of George Daniels and François-Paul Journe.

    Dufour made four Grande & Petite Sonnerie wristwatches with grand feu enamel dials (he also made a very small number of examples with an openwork dial), the first in yellow gold, pink and white gold as well as in platinum.

    Despite the extremely complex movement, Dufour made the watch easy to use. The crown is wound one way for the movement and the other way for the striking mechanism, the repeating is activated by depressing a button in the crown and desired sonnerie mode (Grande Sonnerie, Petite Sonnerie, Silent and Strike) is chosen by positioning the two small sliding levers in the band.

    Like its elder pocket watch sibling, the movement of the present watch is jaw dropping in its sheer beauty where every bridge, every screw, every gear tooth has been individually finished. Where many would see ‘excellent’ in a finished part, Dufour would only see ‘very good’, thus discarding the component and starting anew until the slightest angle on a screwhead would fit his exacting standards. This can explain why each Grande & Petite Sonnerie wristwatch took close to two years to complete.

    Is it even necessary to point out that the chimes of the present watch are loud, crisp, elegant and in every way in line with the sheer sophistication of this timepiece?

    The present Grande & Petite Sonnerie wristwatch N°1 is the equivalent to the first oeuvres by DaVinci, Picasso or Basquiat: game changing and genre shifting works of a genius.

  • Artist Biography

    Philippe Dufour

    Swiss • 1989

    Philippe Dufour is a modern master creating some of the most coveted timepieces available today. His watches feature clean, classic lines fitted with high-grade in-house movements and stunning finish and polish. His Simplicity model is near-perfect hand craftsmanship, produced entirely in a traditional manner without the use of modern industrial tools. Over a 12-year period he created approximately 200 examples often customized to the client's wishes. Today it is considered one of the finest mechanical time-only timepieces produced. Also highly sought-after is the Duality, a highly complicated masterpiece made in only 9 examples. Dufour worked for some of the top names in watch manufacturing including Jaeger-LeCoultre, Audemars Piguet and Gerald Genta. In 1978, he opened his own workshop creating all his own parts. He is both the man and the brand, and by keeping his production numbers limited, Dufour maintains absolute control over quality and is therefore considered one of the most important independent watchmakers today.

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A unique, incredibly well-made and historically important two-train minute repeating grande and petite sonnerie wristwatch with hinged case in yellow gold and enamel dial bearing movement number 1

41mm Diameter
Case, dial and movement signed

CHF1,000,000 - 2,000,000 

Sold for CHF4,749,000

Contact Specialist

Alexandre Ghotbi
Head of Watches, Continental Europe and the Middle East Director

The Geneva Watch Auction: XIV

Geneva Auction 5 & 7 November 2021