The history of Swiss brand L’Duchen began when some passionate watch collectors found in a small antique store an old L’Duchene&Fils pocket watch with an attractive classical design, a beautifully decorated movement and the finest enamel inlay on the back cover. Inspired by this true specimen of classic watchmaking art, they decided to create their own brand, which would meet the highest standards of the modern watchmaking industry but at the same time preserve the aesthetics, elegance and sophistication of the classical Swiss watch.
L’Duchen is proud of its history and values, which is why the oak leaf was chosen as a brand logo, since it represents wisdom and longevity. The slogan of the brand “L’esprit de la Suisse” reflects its commitment to the traditions of the Swiss watchmaking art and indicates the origin of its watches.
In 2004 the first collections of mechanical models were produced, equipped with self-winding ETA movements in three classic case shapes. These watches were designed firstly for an intimate circle of collectors of classic Swiss mechanical watches. But surprisingly for the brand owners these watches were a commercial success with the mainstream audience, so it was decided to broaden the line and manufacture quartz men’s models and elegant ladies’ models inlaid with crystals in stylish small cases.
This year L’Duchen was present at BaselWorld for the first time, where it presented a new flagship collection of timepieces for men under the name Space Collection, incorporating the best practices and progressive developments of the company’s design studio. The collection includes four automatic watches based on the Soprod movement, with a hand-engraved logo, circular graining and the classic Côtes de Genève decoration on the oscillating mass.
All the new models have a transparent crystal case back that reveals the complexity of the movement and its bevelled and polished edges. The multilevel dial of the new models has a deep structure. At least 30 manual operations are required to produce the dial of most models. The new models feature specially designed ergonomic cases with a convex shape and rounded sides that visibly reduce their size. They are fitted with anti-reflective sapphire crystal and a leather strap with a folding clasp.
The Supernova and Saturn models have dials decorated with stars and feature an open balance. Furthermore, the Supernova model features an unusual spiral pattern on the dial that creates a funnel effect leading to the open balance at its centre. As L’Duchen’s chief designer and creator of the new collection, Alexander V. Pay, says, “I was inspired by the photographs of Supernovae from the Hubble Space Telescope. I thought it was exactly what I wanted to embody in watches.”
The space theme was further developed in the Saturn models, whose open-balance design prompted the designer to think about using planetary images. The multilevel dial of the Saturn watches has an additional decorative element—an applied ring that recalls the image of the ringed planet. A special circle symbolising the sun is also found on the dial, producing a miniature representation of the solar system. The watch has a complicated “sculpture” crown designed specifically for the Space collection and used on all models in the collection.
L’Duchen also presented new collections of quartz watches both for men and ladies. The gents’ models combine classic design with sports functionality in a chronograph with date based on the Ronda 530D movement. The dials feature skeletonised hands that improve the readability of the chronograph indicators and the ribbed chronograph pushers are particularly easy to operate. Presented in round cases, the models in the 172 collection come with straps with contrasting stitching that underscores their sporty nature. “While sporty models tend to be more complicated in design, we tried to create simple watches with ‘clean’ design,” says the chief designer.
The simple geometric shape of the L’Duchen 582 collection looks more sophisticated due to the play of light on the case facets. And while the horizontal structure of the dial gives the model a compositional integrity, the 191 watch collection opts for a different aesthetic. “The diagonals of the calendar aperture create compositional dynamics on the simple, traditional dial. Special elements of the case have the same shape as the date indicator. To emphasise the sporty look of the models we use Arabic numerals and hour markers with simple and strict geometric shapes. The case has both brushed and polished finishing,” says Alexander V. Pay.
The new ladies’ quartz watch collection follows the trend of combining sporty style and classics. L’Duchen stays true to the main brand values and embodies the combination of elegance and aesthetics in ladies’ watches. In addition to a balanced mix of classic elegance and slight sportiness, these new watches have additional decorative elements: both the bezel and the dial are decorated with zircons and some models combine stainless steel with trendy new yellow or pink PVD colour coatings on the bezel and crown. The vertical structure of the dial and the applied hour markers create a special “helical” look and the ergonomic leather strap is integrated into the case.
Source: Europa Star June - July 2012 Magazine Issue