The brand is seldom accounted for on the horologic forums, it simply doesn’t generate enough buzz
With its polished look, traditional appearance from a distance, discreet in terms of communication, nobody really talks about De Witt .
Unlike the work of some of the competitors on this market, the finishing is always perfect, while the « limited editions » are truly produced in small quantities : it is difficult to critisize De Witt on the quality of its production. As for the overall styling, when compared to the very « mechanical-cyberpunk » touch of Richard Milles’ watches, it is more iconoclastic and includes architectural influences such as Art Deco to a visual identity which is sometimes baroque. Trying to identify the De Witt brand universe to a single concept is challenging, proof is the indefinable WX-1.
Notice the « Regulator A.S.W Horizons », regulator tourbillon, Automatic Sequential Winding(ASW) Twenty-8-Eight, unveiled in 2010. The usage of the word « regulator » can be surprising, but here is used in its literal meaning. Certainly, this terminology usually applies to non-coaxial watches, but it may suit well the « constant barrel winding force » system, which ensures a great regularity of escapement.
The winding mechanism is designed to stop at 96% of the main spring’s maximum torque, and to restart at 92%, thus maintaining an optimum power-supply to the barrel during active periods (wearing the watch through a long weekend could probably lessen this percentage).
Surprisingly enough, it seems that none of the « great » watchmakers has sought to address the starting/stopping of the rotor, in order to optimize the winding cycles. At any rate, it is a fascinating domain to explore, in the pursuit of simplicity common to life and technology : « address the cause rather than the consequence », in the spirit of simplicity used by Henri Kneuss when he conceived the « Omega calibre 30mm ».
The imposing tourbillon mechanism (37x6mm, not far from the dimensions of a rotating tourbillon) is set at a rate of 18000v/H, a low frequency common in conventional chronometry ; Thus the presence of the A.S.W system makes even more sense. Going further into the traditionalism, a dead-beat second mechanism sits atop of the tourbillon. With a diameter of 46mm, the watch is rather virile...
The design borrows a lot from the Art Deco period, as it seems to come from the project drawings of the Chrysler tower and of the Empire State Building :
With regards to the « Twenty-8-Eight Tourbillon», if it is also set at 18,000v/h with a 72 h power reserve, the Precision Engineering hairspring is replaced by a Breguet hairspring, whereas the case loses 3mm in diameter and the mechanism is 4mm smaller.
Then comes my favorite, the « Academia Chronostream », a great achievement in terms of design, with its rose gold&Tantalum case, its beautifully crafted sun-ray patterned dial, and its two counters inspired by a car speedometer. Speaking for myself, it reminds me of the Space-Operas from the 80’s, such as Flash Gordon or Star Wars. It feels like a spaceship just jumped into hyperspace. As for the mechanism, we’re still in the 70’s, with a modified 7753.
Still in the ChronoStream line, the « QP Sport » : in spite of its family resemblance and the stylistic stamp of De Witt, and unlike the ChronoStream, its design relates to the world of anticipation (one could think about the « neo-McCathyist » universes of Judge Dread or The Sha by Mills/Ledroit). Whereas the watch basically refers to the world of automotive, the styling imprinted by De Witt sends it into a larger visual universe.
Mechanically, it is an ETA2892 fitted with a perpetual calendar Bi-Retrograde by Agenhor ; Here, we leave traditionalism to jump into Science Fiction.
Agenhor on the WBlog: http://blog.watchonista.com/blog/agenhor-search-consistency-part-12
Finally, a woman’s line, the « Golden Afternoon », in which storytelling is wisely inspired by the work of Julia Margaret Cameron, photographer from British India who revolutionized the portrait photography during the 1850’s. The portrait : a very « hot » subject if you think of the success met by social networks…
The Golden Afternoon series draws its inspiration from moments in a woman’s life, the theme of the Sphinx enigma, morning, noon and evening…
Although the storytelling is concrete, with a strong artistic bias and well studied declinations, I find the final result a little too conservative. Indeed, what I like in De Witt is the kind of stylistic radicalism, of uncompromising flair that I wish had applied to this line through more daring aesthetic choices.
To stay within the metaphor and the imagery of a woman’s lifetime, this line is still a teenager, the maturity already perceived. With such a strong and trendy theme, let’s bet the next generation of Golden Afternoon will be more in line with the storytelling.
The 28-92 ETA embarks a 39mm case ; The mother-of-pearl dial is decorated with a floral pattern, and set with a variable number of diamonds (depending on the declination). The nearly nonexistent lugs make it fitted to any woman’s wrist (Nathalie Veysset is the wrist model), and the watch is ridden with well thought-out details, for example the superb leaf-shaped hands or the numbers written in full letters.
In terms of communication, the brand has launched its own blog, http://blog.dewitt.ch/blog, choosing a contemporary format, as well as an Owners Club reserved for the customers. This architecture was reinforced by the hiring of a Community Manager, Florence Darnon, whose mission it is to foster the visibility of the brand online as well as offline.
In light of the restructuring, huge efforts have been made to streamline and regroup the manufacturing processes, resulting in the simplification of logistics. Nathalie Veysset, the CEO since late 2008, led the brand towards this modernization thanks to wise strategic decisions and management practices acquired during her career in the banking industry. This success translates to the other departments, from distribution to the print advertising campaigns, in particular this excellent print ad, which reappropriates classical paintings in a far more audacious way than the usual « horological way of communication ».