DeWitt: Timepieces Descended From Napoleon Himself
What do cement mixers, car radiator grilles and Napoleon Bonaparte have in common? They are, believe it or not, inspirations for DeWitt watches. If you had supreme confidence in your craft, you too would have the aptitude to draw creative ideas from the most mind-boggling sources.
Brand createur Jérôme de Witt – the imposing gentleman who founded and runs DeWitt alongside his equally head-turning wife Viviane, often seen sporting bright orange hair and red leather jacket. Mr de Witt looked to the nose of a sédan for the decorative dial elements on his Academia Tourbillon Force Constante Mecanica. The cement mixer inspired DeWitt’s X Watch, which has a movement that can be reversed depending on whether you want the pared-back black look or the slightly more flamboyant red version.
Most viscerally, and nobly it must be said, it was Mr de Witt’s own personal connection to Napoleon Bonaparte – he is a fifth-generation descendant – that led him to track down some of the emperor’s hair to place in selected Glorious Knight and Academia watches.
To say DeWitt is, as a brand, a bit out-there, is a bit like saying Napoleon was quite ambitious. However, while the designs are at the more daring end of the spectrum, the execution and horological prowess is deadly serious, undoubtedly on the “haute” rung of watchmaking. If you look through the whole collection, you’ll find nearly every complicated function represented, from chronographs and tourbillons to minute repeaters and some mind-bending concepts of its own. And what’s more, it’s all done in-house.
When de Witt set up the company in 2002, he wanted to bring together the best people working in the industry with the intention of doing every stage of production under one roof. After just three years, DeWitt’s Academia Differential Tourbillon won a coveted award at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève – commonly recognised in the industry as the Oscars of the watch world. Its patented spherical-differential winding system hasn’t been topped yet. Most brands haven’t achieved that in decades let alone three years. And DeWitt has continued to operate at the upper end of the watch industry – in terms of complexity, size and, of course price.
There are pared-back three-handers to choose from, each framed by the brand’s signature crenellated columns – as noble as the façade of L’Opéra. But the greatest joy of DeWitt is in the watches where you can see Jérôme de Witt’s brilliant and eccentric imagination writ large. Their wrist presence exudes self-confidence without shouting a status symbol. They may not be for shy or retiring types but if you do have the flair to wear a DeWitt, it will certainly get you noticed, for all the right reasons.