aniela Dufour was born on 6 July 2001. She grew up in Paris and was by no means predestined to go into watchmaking. “I wanted to be a ballerina or an astronaut,” she laughs, “just like any normal little girl.” Then her parents met in Paris, at the Belles Montres exhibition in the Louvre (a now defunct watch exhibition in Paris). And her love story with watchmaking began.
“We moved to Switzerland in 2007 and that’s when I started to get interested. My father spent hours, whole days, in his workshop. That whetted my curiosity. I wanted to see what he did there. I heard him being interviewed” she confides. “The question of a successor kept coming back and he never replied. That’s when the idea occurred to me. I wanted there to be a continuation of what my father was creating.”
At the age of 12, she told him she wanted to be a watchmaker. Contrary to all expectations, he was almost angry. He was madly opposed to the idea! “It’s a very difficult profession, very closed, especially for a woman,” she was told. Yet that did nothing to dampen her wish, or her determination.
At the end of her compulsory schooling, she took up the subject again and told him it was what she wanted to do more than anything. This time, he listened and encouraged her to take the entrance exams for various schools and apprenticeships. She was accepted at the École Technique de la Vallée de Joux vocational school at Le Sentier – the very same school attended by her illustrious father! She did her four years and obtained her watchmaking diploma in her own right.
But she came out with mixed feelings. “I’m a woman, and what’s more of mixed race, the youngest in the school,” she remembers, “besides which I’m my father’s daughter. Every time I did something well, it was because my father helped me, every time I made a mistake, it was because of everything else. It was tough to put up with, but it galvanised me into working even harder.”
The school taught her the basics of the watchmaker’s art – and her father the secrets of excellence. “Some aspects of watchmaking, chamfering for example, I learned from my father,” she confirms: He was always there if I had a question, to help me understand better.”
So: is such a legendary name a burden or a springboard for a young woman? “It’s an advantage, for sure,” says the young watchmaker without any hesitation. “I love what he embodies, and the fact that he gives hope to the younger generations. It also meant more than 30 years of relentless, hard work, alone. People were jealous, of course, but you prove yourself through your work.” And what work! To complete her watchmaking apprenticeship, Daniela Dufour made her Simplicity watch from A to Z and signed it at 12 o’clock with her initials, DD. “That one I’ll treasure. It stands for everything I learned from my father!”
Since 2021 she has worked with her father in his workshop, making watches from start to finish – “as befits an all-round watchmaker”, the illustrious watchmaker likes to remind her.
So how is she finding this new experience of being a member of the GPHG Academy? “For me, it’s a consecration for which I’m extremely grateful. The GPHG is a celebration of watchmaking, its hidden diversity, the innovation it stands for, the talent it reveals. Playing a part in spreading the watchmaking word is an honour. And that encourages me to surpass myself in my work. I can’t wait to find out the winners. There’s so much creativity this year.”
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.