Pascal Raffy approaches watchmaking with fervour and dedication, makingevery piece by Bovet Fleurier a work of art.
by Kavita Sabharwal
PASCAL RAFFY, OWNER OF BOVET FLEURIER, has a passion for watchmaking surpassed only by his love of family. After 15 years of working for the family pharmaceutical business, he was prompted to change industries when his eight-year-old daughter noted that she didn’t see much of her father. This forced Raffy to rethink his work schedule.
“I was traveling a lot during those years,” he says. “And whatever your children tell you is the most important thing in life, because everything starts with family and everything ends with family.”
Raffy found a way to stay close to home while still doing something that he loved. “When I discovered a wrist timepiece of Bovet, I have to tell you that I fell in love. It had a true identity, and for me, true luxury, not marketing or trends, but true luxury has a clear identity.”
A family tradition
Raffy’s grandfather had a love of beautiful timepieces, introducing him to fine watch making from a young age and passing on the knowledge that helps him run the company today. But Raffy doesn’t consider people related by genetics to be his only family.
“I have 145 children,” he explains. “I have three children from my blood, and 142 children, some even older than me,” he says. “I consider that being the owner of Bovet house, all the people giving the passion in our timepieces, they’re also my family. And that passion is there because an independent house has to be patient. When you develop art based on true feelings, it’s
a really human relationship.”
Raffy treats his artisans as family by keeping the pressure off of them to mass-produce items by inflicting production timeframes. “To do my timepieces, I don’t want my people having pressure. I don’t want my people to have a timeframe. I only ask them, whenever they deliver a timepiece, to commit that it has been made respecting our standards of excellence,” says Raffy. “This is a luxury I’m offering to myself, I’m offering to my collectors and to my partners.”
A statement of originality
To Raffy, luxury defined means to be a true original. His goal for Bovet does not include having thousands of people wearing his timepieces, since he sees that as globalization rather than true luxury based on tradition, fashion and art.
Bovet Fleurier collectors are respected by the brand, due to their sensitivity to true luxury, according to Raffy. “Some of them thank us for not doing 40,000 or 100,000 timepieces. First of all, it’s impossible; I don’t want to have a house with 2,000 people. I love the human dimension of Bovet house,” he says. “What matters to me as a collector is a clear identity, handcrafted with more fine qualities. That makes you feel like you’re an important human being, you have one of 4,000 timepieces made a year. Yes, this is a club of true luxury.”
In Raffy’s opinion, to be a retailer of Bovet’s fine timepieces, quality must be at the forefront of your mind, as with his Canadian retailer EBillion in Yorkville, Toronto. “If you come to me and tell me I can sell your watches,
I’m not making watches. A watch gives you the time. Timepieces give you emotion,” he explains. “My partner, first of all has to be a beautiful human being, sharing my values. In Toronto, I’m very lucky to have a partner who’s very sensitive to art, detail, good taste, with a beautiful education and deep sense of family.”
When Raffy first took over ownership of Bovet Fleurier, it was only present in one country with a team of four people. Raffy elevated the brand to its current presence in 43 countries and a team of 142 artisans.
“This is the object of our house. I love to customize; I love requests from collectors,” he says. “I love to give myself headaches to find that beautiful harmony between technical obligations and aesthetics, as long as it’s made with sensitivity with good taste. These are the only two things that I ask.”
Raffy is no stranger to the hard work involved in creating a masterpiece. “Beauty is in the timepiece, which has soul. This is the beautiful part of my everyday life. I don’t think it’s easy. But I love it because it’s not easy.” CJ