Childhood Passion Turned Into Watchmaking Excellence
Pascal Raffy is the owner of the House of BOVET. His tremendous energy, paired with a long-term strategy and a vision have enabled Raffy to raise BOVET 1822 to the pinnacle of the watchmaking arts.
Founded in 1822, Maison BOVET met with immediate success all over the world. The Bovet brothers brought decorative arts like miniature painting, enamelling, engraving, and gem-setting to an unprecedented level of excellence that is still unrivalled today. The presence of Bovet timepieces in the most prestigious art as well as watchmaking museum collections illustrates their veritable preeminence.
Over the past decades, Maison BOVET has also set itself apart with its numerous innovations, both technical and aesthetic. The Bovet brothers are also recognized as the first to use transparent case-backs. The generations that followed were to thank for a great many technical patents, including chronograph mechanisms that are still taught in the most prestigious watchmaking schools, and a pocket watch that holds the absolute record in power reserve with 370 days with a single barrel.
At the dawn of the 21st century, the House of Bovet needed an investor with a clear vision to restore its grandeur. This was the time when Mr Raffy was introduced to BOVET, who soon became the unique owner of it.
“During the 1990s, I withdrew from the family pharmaceutical company that I directed at the time to spend time with my family and in particular with my eldest daughter. After a few years, my banker suggested that I invest in the BOVET 1822 Manufacture. The timepieces of BOVET 1822 and the history of the Maison could not be closer to my taste for beautiful timepieces and the values according to which I define true luxury. I therefore became owner of the Brand in 2001.” – said Mr Raffy.
Mr Raffy discovered the fascinating world of Haute Horlogerie during his childhood when Sundays were spent with his grandfather, a watch connoisseur who used to show him the timepieces from his collection. He would review the specific features of each, along with their history or their influence on the technical or artistic evolution of fine watchmaking.
That was enough to ignite an ongoing passion for Haute Horlogerie and even more importantly instil the human values and awareness of authentic luxury thus passed on to Mr Raffy.
Interestingly Mr Raffy‘s, originally hailing from the French Ardennes region and a family line originally named Raffin until the 17th century, settled briefly in Switzerland before Pascal Raffy – eager for independence at the age of 18 – set off for Paris where he studied law. It was during this period that he met his wife and acquired the first timepieces in his collection. We asked Mr Raffy about his greatest motivation and he surprisingly expressed that
“Since became owner of the Brand in 2001, my greatest motivation was to pass along that leadership to the next generation one day, since each one of my three children was already enthusiastic about beautiful timepieces and in particular about BOVET 1822” – Mr Raffy.
Mr Raffy acquired the Maison as the sole owner in 2001 with the aim of protecting and sustaining this treasure trove of expertise that can be found nowhere else.
The prestigious history of the House dating back to 1822 along with its iconic timepieces, distinguished by their crown at 12 o’clock and their classic bow, immediately appealed to Pascal Raffy. When we asked him what did he see in Bovet that made him want to buy it, he replied:
“The history and heritage of the House, as well as the identity and excellence of BOVET timepieces, immediately attracted me when I was approached to become its owner. My prior knowledge as a collector had already given me a very clear vision of the direction in which I wanted the House to go, with particular focus on the very long term. Sustaining the independence of the House on a lasting basis through the vertical integration of our activities in order to improve still further the quality of our timepieces was at that time one of my major objectives. The course of events allowed me to attain that objective more quickly than envisaged.”
At the time, he already had a precise long-term plan of the destiny he envisioned for the company. Perpetuating the peerless expertise of the in-house artisans, achieving vertical integration and the return of movements made entirely in-house were the main springboards to success that Pascal Raffy wished to instate at BOVET 1822.
In record time, he brought together all the professions and procedures that go into producing timepieces, all with total respect for the traditional craftsmanship of high watchmaking. Cases, dials, hands, movements, including hairsprings are produced in-house.
2006 was a year brimming with positive developments for BOVET 1822 and Pascal Raffy. Within a few months, he successively added the Manufacture de Cadrans, DIMIER 1738 Manufacture de Haute Horlogerie Artisanale, as well as the Château de Môtiers to the House of BOVET.
These acquisitions ensured the complete independence of BOVET 1822 and positioned it to raise its quality standards even further.
Collectors, specialists and keen observers of the watch industry have ever since saluted the technical advancements introduced by BOVET, while remaining in complete harmony with the tradition of watchmaking arts that have made the House so successful for almost two centuries.
Mr Raffy established his wealth by working at the family pharmaceutical company, an entirely different field of business area. So we were curious to discover whether he had any previous background in the watchmaking world which qualified him for this investment?
“I discovered high watchmaking as a child. My grandfather possessed a magnificent collection of pocket watches that he would show me every Sunday. That is how I got my education, and that is what forged my passion for these unique, refined vectors of the noblest traditions” – smiled Raffy.
Mr Raffy’s business example perfectly proves that a successful business needs more than just education, it requires passion and persistence above all.
Alongside his rigorously organized and methodical nature, Pascal Raffy is a highly intuitive individual and this intuition undeniably guides him to the right choices – a fact that has led him to be widely considered a modern day visionary. He is the kind of man whose innate charisma immediately wins over an entire audience. Remarkably gifted speaker, he expresses himself with equal ease through each of the five languages in which he is fluent. While Pascal Raffy is undoubtedly a man skilled with words, he is also and above all else a man of his word. Endowed with the ability to get the best out of everyone and every situation, he manages to orchestrate the cohabitation of numerous paradoxes within an astonishing harmonious whole.
Thus, just as state-of-the-art technologies rub shoulders with time-honoured artisan-style gestures in its Manufactures, Mr Raffy guides the House by using modern management techniques along with the kind of paternalistic approach. His tremendous energy, paired with a long-term strategy and a vision have enabled Mr Raffy to raise BOVET 1822 to the pinnacle of the watchmaking arts.
As a true watch connoisseur Mr Raffy also shared his suggestion for choosing a unique watch:
“The ones which make you smile and bring you Emotion. Do not be a follower. Try always to become an opinion maker. Choose the Timepiece you wish but choose it to showcase your level of watchmaking, of knowledge and of education rather than your bank account or as follower of exclusive massive marketing in this globalized world.”
Currently BOVET’s movements manufacture employs 65 artisans in 43 different roles. This concentration of expertise makes it possible to produce each and every component, like the traditional hairspring that only a handful of companies around the world have mastered. The artisanal methods, in many cases dating back to the 18th or 19th century, guarantee the excellence that has marked BOVET timepieces for nearly two centuries.
Contemporary horology notably owes him the introduction of the Amadeo® system enabling the conversion of a timepiece into a table clock, a pocket watch or a reversible wristwatch – and to do so without any tools. This combination of roles is all the more legitimate for one of the most prestigious tourbillon movement manufacturers, given that the tourbillon was invented in the age of pocket watches to counter the effects of gravity when timepieces are in a vertical position.
Entirely handcrafted in Switzerland, the House of BOVET 1822 is dedicated to honoring the collectors by crafting only 800 timepieces per year. The implemented philosophies by Mr Raffy affords Maison BOVET a unique place in the watchmaking world by defining the measure of time in its finest expression, as witnessed by the 36 awards and prizes the Maison has received over the last 18 years. Moreover, ancestral, artisanal traditional watchmaking does not exclude the keen sense of innovation demonstrated by the 17 patents filed since 2006
With Pascal Raffy, the sleeping Beauty became a ravishing Lady. Lying on a prestigious history, the innovative future of BOVET 1822 has never been so bright.
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