Europa Star

deLaCour - Making it big with ‘OUTSIZE’

April 2004

In October last year I felt particularly frustrated because I read in my local newspaper of a hitherto unknown watch company, based in Geneva, that had exhibited in Basel for the first time and now had a watch entered in the Design category of the Grand Prix d’horlogerie de Genève. I was frustrated because there is nothing more exciting than to discover an innovative, unknown watch company, and I had missed them in Basel. The fact that the watch came second only to Franck Muller’s ‘Crazy Hours’ in the Grand Prix says much – and, as it happens, there is much to say.

The brand is deLaCour and although it is still in its first year as a bona fide brand name, the origins of the company date back 13 years. It is a part of Piallo, a watch and jewellery company that began life in Vienna and moved to Madrid, where there are now 90 employees. The company also maintains a workshop in Pforzheim, Germany where there are another dozen people.
“Pierre Koukjian, a very creative watch and jewellery designer, founded the company with a friend and for a dozen years developed its reputation by making prototypes, doing research work, stonesetting and creating both watches and jewellery for numerous renowned brands,” explains Alain Jugy the Commercial Director for deLaCour.
“When Pierre began designing and producing watches with some of the leading Swiss brands, he discovered that many of the workshop managers and watch specialists were of Spanish origin, so he checked the situation out in Madrid, discovered a wealth of watchmakers that were out of work due to the economic crisis in the country and set up the company there.”

Creating a brand
“Then last year it was decided that we would be better off working for our own brand instead of uniquely for other companies and we launched deLaCour, producing our first collection called Via Larga in time for BaselWorld 2003. The Collection has three basic models – the Lady which is an automatic watch, the Medium, a quartz chronograph and the Grandes Complications which have day/date/month, moon phase, small seconds, 24-hour readout and chronograph using an automatic Valjoux 7751 movement.
“With the outbreak of the war in Iraq and the travel complications caused by the SARS epidemic we couldn’t have begun our life as a brand at a more inopportune moment. However, despite all the unfavourable signs, there was a lot of interest in our collection from retailers in both Europe and the Middle East and we took several orders.”

Since then, deLaCour has progressed by leaps and bounds. With distributors already established in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, the USA and most of the Middle East countries, Alain Jugy has good reason to feel optimistic for the brand.
“We are a new name in the world of watchmaking, but we have years of experience behind us,” Jugy continues.” We had a fabulous reaction to our ‘outsize’ watches. In Spain in particular many of the stars and personalities have been clamouring to get hold of one and the trend is continuing elsewhere. Just the other day Jean Alesi was very complimentary about the Bichrono that he now proudly wears.
“We were also approached by someone from the Spanish royal court who purchased one. The amazing thing is that when these personalities wear our watches and are photographed at some event or other, the watch always seems to grab the attention of the camera and become a prominent element in the photo – which obviously helps us to bring the deLaCour brand to the attention of the public.”

The creation of a ‘World First’
The appearance of the Bichrono, the watch that was entered in the Grand Prix d’horlogerie de Genève, is also a story worth telling. Alain Jugy was in the office of Pierre Koukjian in Madrid in June of last year and he noticed a scrap of paper with a couple of lines suggesting a watchcase. The unusual shape of it caught his attention and he immediately suggested to Koukjian that they should do something with it. Within a few hours, working with the in-house team and a computer, a virtual copy was produced. The concept was to have a softened rectangular case and two independent quartz movements. A prototype was made and then discussed with the watchmakers. After a little toing and froing, the final result became the
Bichrono Double Time Zone. The case is in 18 carat red gold, the original quartz movements were dropped and instead the watch was fitted with two of the very latest ETA automatic chronograph movements with a double time zone – the tiny ETA 2094.
“In a large Swiss watch company, a product such as this would probably take anywhere from one to two years to create and produce,” Jugy states with a little pride. “In the case of deLaCour’s Bichrono the entire process from unintelligible scribble to working model took from June to October of last year. As a ‘World First’, it was decided to then enter it into the Grand Prix de Genève … and the result was that it came second in the design sector, which was a remarkable achievement whichever way you look at it.”
deLaCour’s watches are eye-catching, not only because of their large format and the bold design and originality of the models, but also because although they are à la mode and have class and a timeless appearance.
Made to last, both mechanically and creatively, deLaCour’s creations will certainly outlive many of the other watches that have appeared under the trendy heading of ‘Big is Beautiful’.

18 carat rose gold case equipped with two ETA 2094 automatic movements with time zones and two chronographs.

Lady Automatic (ETA 2681)