Why Bovet is the brand that won 2023 Why Bovet is the brand that won 2023

Why Bovet is the brand that won 2023

Fergus Nash

If your metric for winning 2023 is garnering huge hype, billion-dollar profits and an outpouring of adoration from the masses, then I’ll already concede defeat. Even if it was just a matter of who consistently released great new watches, I’d probably admit Bovet weren’t the best. But, having personally never heard of Bovet prior to this year, they’ve quickly become a brand whose watches I dream of owning. With their embrace of super-luxury, extravagant design and creative complications, 2023 has been Bovet’s year of global re-establishment.

Exhibit A: Impressive growth under Pascal Raffy

Bovet Melbourne Boutique

Although CEO Pascal Raffy became the majority shareholder of the Bovet brand in 2001, it wasn’t until the end of 2022 that he acquired sole ownership of the company. If the past two decades have been anything to go by, then we can keep expecting great things from his leadership. Prior to Raffy, Bovet had largely been forgotten, producing only a handful of watches under many different owners between 1864 and 1989. Now, they’re well and truly on their way to reliving their former glory, when Bovet was an an interchangeable word for luxury watch in China. The expansion in 2023 alone is incredibly impressive for a company who produce less than 2,000 watches per year, having opened prime-location new boutiques in Hanoi, Vietnam and Melbourne, Australia for the first time.

Exhibit B: The Bovet Virtuoso XI

Bovet Collection Virtuoso XI 1

Given how much style is injected into every Bovet release, you could be forgiven for assuming that they’re style over substance. That’s certainly not the case, as proven by the Bovet Virtuoso XI released earlier this year. It’s Bovet’s first fully skeletonised watch, and they’ve taken it to the extreme. Not only is every bridge of the movement artfully placed, swooping down and arranged like feathers on a wing, but almost every component is hand-engraved on both sides regardless of its visibility. This kind of dedication to craftsmanship is pretty much the closest you can get to the ultimate romantic ideals of Swiss watchmaking, with a small team of artisans passionately working away in their historic chateau in the hills of Môtiers. The engraving follows the spiralling feather motif of the movement’s design, and it’s almost enough to distract you from the double-sided flying tourbillon at 6 o’clock.

Exhibit C: The Bovet 19Thirty Blue Meteorite

Bovet Collection 19Thirty Blue Meteorite 1

There are some who would see Bovet’s love of antiquity and declare that they’re outdated, but the ornate Fleurier case with its pocket-watch styling does in fact have its place in modern collections. The Bovet 19Thirty was announced back in May 2023, and it does a brilliant job of blending their old-world aesthetic with modern trends. The case, with its signature bow and 12 o’clock crown, is made from lightweight titanium which almost every contemporary sports watch has adopted. The dial is made from a slice of the Gibeon meteorite which fell to Namibia in prehistoric times, etched with nitric acid and tinted blue to bring out the extremities of its crystalline structure. The off-centre dial with its small seconds split also allows for a power reserve indicator towards the right, further offsetting the classical elements of the printed numerals and hands.

Summary Judgement

I understand that Bovet definitely aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but there really aren’t many other companies doing what they’re doing. Others either lack the historical pedigree or the absolute dedication to the extremes of gaudiness, and I’m nothing if not a sucker for extreme designs. It’s an attitude that’s uncaring of conventions while simultaneously honouring tradition, and that stands out in a modern world of bandwagons. If 2023 was enough to win me over, I can’t wait to see what more they’ll do in the future.