Xavier Dietlin: “Take watches out of their glass prison”


October 2023

Xavier Dietlin: “Take watches out of their glass prison”

His contagious enthusiasm is matched by an incomparable sense of how to stage a watch. Meet Xavier Dietlin, the man who is shaking up the retail experience and a long-standing member of the GPHG Academy.


former professional footballer, Xavier Dietlin was selected three times for the Swiss squad under fabled manager Roy Hodgson. Injury put an end to his footballing ambitions and in 2002 he turned his contagious energy and enthusiasm to the family metalworking business. Realising it wasn’t for him, he changed directions again, this time choosing an area that already interested him: watches.

He discovered a world still clinging to ageing concepts, reluctant to evolve. A firm believer in change and accustomed to following his intuition, Xavier Dietlin took it upon himself to rethink watch retail, starting by listening to what customers wanted.

The turning point came in 2005 with the creation of the now famous Raptor for Hublot. This innovative display case hit the nail on the head: “The idea was to surprise the customer and enable them to get a real feel for, an appreciation of the product by taking it out of the glass prison where it had been locked away.”

Xavier Dietlin: “Take watches out of their glass prison”

This urge to think differently (and have a little fun) that has become Xavier Dietlin’s signature was already plain from his first watch: a 1980s Zenith Michel Platini!

Xavier Dietlin is also behind the open, sometimes gravity-defying displays for the watches in the GPHG touring exhibitions, delighting enthusiasts with this chance to view them at close quarters.

Xavier Dietlin's first watch: a Zenith Michel Platini
Xavier Dietlin’s first watch: a Zenith Michel Platini

“I like watches that strike a chord in me. I don’t intellectualise. I listen to what my heart, my emotions are telling me. I love being part of bringing these watches to the public. Watchmaking has so many stories and is such a vibrant passion, it’s really gratifying to be able to share it in any way I can. Friedrich Nietzsche said that in every real man, a child is hidden who wants to play. I go looking for that child. It’s the best way I know of conveying emotions.”

And where better to do so than in watchmaking?

Xavier Dietlin: “Take watches out of their glass prison”

About the GPHG Academy

The Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) Academywas established in 2020. Its 840-plus members are men and women who believe in the common destiny of watchmaking. Experienced and respected stakeholders in key sectors relating to the watch industry, Academy members preselect the watches that will compete in the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève and, alongside the Jury, vote for the year’s winners.

The Europa Star Newsletter