Worth Watching

Maurice de Mauriac Zurich is, by rarefied Swiss standards, an upstart among quality watch makers. Founded in 1997 and headquartered in Zurich, the firm sells wristwatches made exclusively in Switzerland by the Swiss; more well-known Swiss watch makers have long turned to Asian factories to make their products, which are then only assembled in Switzerland. Many also import cheap non-local labor, similar to nineteenth century American railroad companies.

Maurice de Mauriac founder and chief designer Daniel Dreifuss turns out a limited number of pieces yearly, often to custom specifications, and so his watches tend not to follow industry fashions: customers are hard-pressed to find thick link bracelets, sporty styling, pilot watches a pilot couldn’t afford, or rotating dive bezels meant to be worn by anyone but an actual diver. Explains Mr. Dreifuss: “We have a very small controlled production and the watchmakers are highly motivated and love to work here; no chain work, no stress.”

Increasingly, collectors are taking note of the firm’s approach. Each watch is handmade by Mr. Dreifuss and his team of four watchmakers, all former International Watch Company (IWC) craftsmen. Each watch is designed in-house under Mr. Dreifuss’s supervision; avoiding “farmed-out” design keeps Maurice de Mauriac watches looking different from more established peers Rolex, Omega, Cartier, and Tag Heuer, and customers appreciate the difference. While the luxury giants sell more watches to status seekers, Mr. Dreifuss is happy to sell a smaller batch to more discerning clients, and happy also to keep the art of watchmaking just that: an art.

Daniel Dreifuss.

Daniel Dreifuss.

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