Dragging, sliding, and now, toboggan-shaped: the creative hours of the DeWitt Manufacture are showcased on a new model, the highly original and playful Academia Slide. Directly inspired by Jérôme De Witt’s passion for cars, it bears witness to the creative vitality of what remains one of the very last manufactures in Geneva to be 100% independent and family-run.
Observation, inspiration, a new timepiece: continuing its creative journey, the DeWitt manufacture presents an
original, unusual, playful new creation: the Academia Slide.
Its story began with Jérôme De Witt’s desire to display the time differently. While the manufacture has fully demonstrated its skill with traditional high-end timepieces, the Academia collection also lends itself to particularly bold creative exercises. The Slide is the latest illustration of this approach. Made entirely from titanium, this 49 mm piece was originally inspired by children’s toboggans. It presents a progressive, effortless slide from top to bottom thanks to an intuitive use of gravity.
The Academia Slide applies this basic physical principle to watchmaking in a ground-breaking way. Every hour is
inscribed on a brass plate that slides along a track, guiding it to a horizontal position. It is this horizontal display
alone that shows the current hour. Next, the two central hands indicate the minutes and seconds.
This simple, intuitive design is also highly energy efficient. The hour plates slide in a natural, fluid manner. They are all interconnected: as soon as an hour arrives at the flat position, its plate begins its return to a vertical position and the next plate begins its descent. This continuous progression of the hours, which never freeze even for a second, symbolises the elusive, ephemeral nature of time.
The unusual star-shaped dial is a direct result of Jérôme DeWitt’s passion for mechanics. The creative soul of the
manufacture and passionate collector of historic automotive developments was inspired here by the legendary rotary engines central to vintage cars and aeroplanes from the early 20th century.
These engines ran extremely smoothly thanks to their considerable inertia, a property that is fully exploited in the Academia Slide. They were also more compact and lightweight than other systems. Again, the Academia Slide takes full advantage of this, offering a simpler (and therefore more reliable) watch construction of just 276 components, scarcely more than a traditional three-hand manufacture movement.
Reference – DW 0101
Movement – Automatic
Diameter – 39.6 mm
Functions – 3D Hours/minutes/seconds
Power reserve – 42 hours
Vibrations – 28,800 vph
Balance – Annular
Spiral – Flat
Escapement – Swiss Lever
Jewelling – 22
Number of components – 276
Case – Academia S
Material – Titanium
Diameter – 49.2 mm
Total thickness – 15.3 mm
Crown – Titanium
Case back – Titanium
Distance between lugs – 23 mm
Dial – Circular-grained flat faces/Polished angle/Transferred graduated minutes scale
Wristband – Titanium
Buckle – Folding
Water-resistance – 30 metres
Interviewed by Pascal Grenacher
Jérôme de Witt the descendant of King Jerome of Westphalia, the brother of the Emperor Napoleon 1st has been the designer of the company’s unique destiny since 2003.
In 2005, DeWitt wins the Prize for Innovation at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève thanks to its favourite piece, the Academia Force Constante. Sales take off and the turnover reaches after a couple of years CHF 36 million.
However, in 2009, all independent brands are facing hard times. Consequently, the Haute Horlogerie undertakes some changes, particularly in the area of distribution.
Driven by his boundless passion for mechanics, his amazing imagination and through his exploration of mechanics from the big to the infinitely small, Jérôme de Witt, (who also restores vintage cars), continues to invent new horological creations collaborating with his engineers.
2012 though marks a new twist in the destiny of the company with the founder’s wife Viviane de Witt taking over the reins of the company and being appointed CEO. She skilfully gives new momentum to the micro Manufacture based on a full transparent approach. Viviane de Witt claims: “It is above all a human journey. I am constantly working on preserving the exceptional know-how of our Master watchmakers and dial makers, along with their priceless craftsmanship.”
After three years of difficult economic circumstances, DeWitt intends to go back to its roots. As of 2018, the brand will reduce its watch collections, cut down its references to one third and highlight its key models such as the very distinctive design of the famous imperial columns on the side of the watchcase.
In addition comes a new baseline “Mechanical Machine Inventions”, which takes inspiration from the brand’s DNA and its founder’s passion. DeWitt’s first participation to the SIHH in January 2018 will be the perfect launching ramp for the brand’s fresh start.
Interviewed by Alberic Virchaux