Last week we had the opportunity to have breakfast with Philippe Dubois the CEO of Badollet. Not only did we have an amazing conversation with him about his brand but we also talked about the watch industry and where things are heading. Philippe, thank you for sharing such a fascinating morning and afternoon with us.
Badollet is an independent brand with a strong pedigree that, because of its exclusivity and high price range, is only accessible for the ultra elite watchlifestylers. While we were already familiar with the brand before meeting with Philippe, we have never perused a Badollet timepiece before. To be quite frank, it is one thing to see stock images of these watches and something very different to see one in person, peruse it and photograph it. This will be the beginning of a series of reviews of Badollet timepieces that we will be publishing here in the upcoming weeks.
The Badollet name is part of a dynasty of watchmakers initiated by Jean Badollet (1635-1718) a watchmaker that published in 1689 a work entitled "The Excellence of Watchmaking or Small Treatise Describing its Antiquity, its Fundamentals, its Necessity and its Curiosities". Jean Badollet passed on his passion for watchmaking to his six sons. Jean-Jacques Badollet (1756-1843) worked for Abraham-Louis Breguet by supplying him with movement-blanks, gear-trains and trade watches. Jean-Moïse Badollet (1811-1862), the son of Jean-Jacques, established the firm J.M. Badollet & Cie which quickly became renowned for the excellent quality of its chronometers winning the first prize at the Observatory Timing Contest of 1872, second prize in 1873, third prize in 1875 and the first class medal at the Centennial International Exhibition of 1876 a.k.a. the Philadelphia World's Fair. After several descendants of Badollet managed the company for almost a century, in 1924 the company was sold to a third party and the long dynasty of Badollet master watchmakers came to an end. Despite this, the brand lived on and in 2006 Badollet was revived by Badollet International S.A.
Badollet timepieces —often called instruments of time by the company— are designed and developed with the buyer in mind and their production is limited to 50 timepieces a year. Their collection is composed of five lines: Crystalball Stellaire, Crystalball Bamboo, Crystalball Chronograph, Observatorie 1872 and Ivresse.
The Crystalball Bamboo is a rectangular watch fitted with a tripartite 18K white gold palladium-coated case measuring 40mm in width, 43mm in length and 14mm in thickness. The case is extremely well finished with alternating brushed and polished areas on the side of the case and even when the measurements really don't portray a large watch, this watch wears considerably larger than its actual size and sits high on the wrist with an amazing wrist presence. The attention to details is immaculate and the overall design of the watch is very masculine and quite timeless. The crown is delicately marked with Badollet's griffin. The lugs are hollow and welded into the case providing another interesting design component to this timepiece.
This timepiece features a skeletonized dial in 18K white gold with a blackened gold-coated brass base, leaf-shaped blued anodized steel hands and a mesmerizing tourbillon cage. The Crystalball Bamboo is powered by Badollet's manual-wound calibre BAD5600 with aluminum and lithium bridges entirely hand-engraved to resemble bamboo scaffolding. The plate and gears are made from blackened gold and the movement provides a power-reserve of five days when fully wound.
This movement is perhaps the most beautiful movement our eyes have ever seen. The intricate work on each of the bridges shows the love for horology and the level of detail obtained by the watchmaker when engraving the bridges is just out of this world. As a side note, Badollet offers ad-hoc personalization where the bridges or other components of the movement can be changed, engraved, replaced with ceramic, sapphire or even encrusted with jewels. All Badollet timepieces can be fully customized and even designed from scratch upon request. What a brilliant product offering for the few that can afford it.
The Crystalball Bamboo, just like all other Badollet timepieces, is fitted with a very elegant safari crocodile leather strap that is handmade, leather-lined, hand-creased, saddle-stitched and available in matte or glossy finish. The strap features an 18K white gold palladium-coated double-deployant folding clasp with a round buckle with the Badollet griffin engraved on it.
If you are ready to take that next step into collecting ultra premium 'haute horlogerie' timepieces then it's time to consider Badollet as one of your next purchases. Tradition, craftsmanship, innovation and exclusivity are some of the values that embody the essence of this manufacture from L'Orient in the Vallée de Joux.
Sticker Price $250,000 USD. For more info on Badollet click here.