Friday, October 14, 2011

Visit to Mr Dufour. Part 2.

It has been a phenomenal week that this has been. Again. We’ve had about 3 fullskill applications in 1 week and the applicants were all very passionate individuals. Looks like the future of classical watchmaking isn’t too dim right now.

Anyway, for the final part on our visit to Mr Dufour,  we are going to let the students and Instructors have their say. 

Henrik  ( Principal ) :

It was a wonderful visit and it was very inspirational. Mr Dufour shares my philosophy on classical watchmaking and education. I was very honored and humbled that his thoughts and feelings on watchmaking were greatly similar.

During the visit, and I personally feel that watchmaking education does not stop when I leave school, Mr Dufour was very kind to impart some of his treasured knowledge. He shared with me his knowledge in polishing jewel recesses with ebony wood and his use of diamond paste with a bow which produced finishings that were better than modern methods.  One major technical knowledge which I took away from the visit was the technique behind the production of the highest grade of handmade Geneva stripes.  He also taught me how to source for the correct wood from the Swiss mountains so that I am able to do the polishing of bevels.

I was also in agreement with Mr Dufour’s view on the decline of Swiss watchmakers who have lost interest in traditional swiss watchmaking.

Overall, I wish I had more time there ! There was so much Mr Dufour was sharing and so much I can learn myself. 

Robert ( Instructor ) :

Firstly, the visit was very educational. However, what I brought home was that Mr Dufour really drilled into me the whole idea behind quality and the philosophy of what handmade watches really are. I was very thrilled and excited to see him, and I must say, Mr Dufour comes across as a very very nice man. I was totally blown over by the sheer level of quality in his timepieces. At the end of the day, I learned that I should always aim for the best, always improve your skills and to persevere. BUT, as he so rightly emphasized, it is not easy being an Independent and that is the REAL DEAL.

Daniel ( Fullskill course ) :

Its amazing how important attention to details is. More amazingly, a simple watch can be beautiful if everything is done to a high quality by hand. I learned how to work on a screw on this visit, but most importantly, I learnt that simple watchmaking is in reality 1000x more complicated than we think it is.

Wei ( Ulysse Nardin Foundation student ) :

On this visit, I learned how to use wooden tools like the stick and wheel to do polishing. Mr Dufour taught us to always ensure that the surface is super-flat before making stripes and that we should be using wood to achieve that. This process is unlike milling.

One watchmaking philosophy which I took away from this visit was that small dials and cases were more than reasonable for most movements.

However, I think that one thing which really brought it home for me was that he emphasized to us that we should be prepared to spend the rest of our lives to do watchmaking and to forgo holidays. That was the testimony to the resounding dedication and passion which Mr Dufour has for watchmaking. 

Thomas ( Fullskill course ) :

First thing, I gleaned from Mr Dufour was the priviledge it is to have a handmade watch – the things that only humans can do that makes the craftsmanship truly exceptional.

I was also encouraged by the similarities between Mr Dufour’s youth ( school-wise ) and my own. It made me feel that I’m really doing the right thing for myself and that I have a good chance to succeed.

Finally, I realized the devotion needed to refine one’s craft to his level – how ironically, yet maybe poetically, the master watchmaker shouldn’t count time.

We left the workshop at about 5pm and we only expected to be there for about 1 -2 hours but Mr Dufour was so kind. We were there for more than 3 hours ! He was trying so hard to impart as much of his knowledge and philosophy within that timeframe. If we had pitched tents outside his workshop, it wouldn't be much of a surprise if all downloading would continue for days. It was massively helpful and inspirational for us all. Its rare to find a watchmaker of Mr Dufour's skill and status to be so humble and so concerned about the future of classical watchmaking. He is truly a Grandmaster of watchmaking whom passionately wants to see that the art of classical watchmaking is not lost.

This is Mr Dufour's car. By the way, he's not all work and no play. He's very serious about his work but he's also a very jovial guy. In a parting shot with a mischievous grin, Mr Dufour said to the photographer that he buys a Lexus because its only fair that he contributes back to the Japanese people whom have been one of his biggest fans ! :)

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