The Royal Jewellers S01 ep5 : S.T.Dupont Pens & Lighters [Paris]
Interview with William Christie
Dupont is a brand that started in 1872 mainly as a leather goods manufacturer producing very, very high quality leather goods for the most famous people in the world. For example the gift from the French Republic to Queen Elizabeth the II on her marriage was a Dupont travelling case.
ST Dupont is a luxury brand. It is a brand that started in 1872 mainly as a
leather goods manufacturer producing very, very high quality leather goods for
the most famous people in the world. For example the gift of the French
Republic to Queen Elizabeth II on her marriage was a Dupont travelling case
and we are S.T.Dupont, named after the founder Simon T. Dupont from the
Alps from Savoire.
Dupont is floated on the Paris Stock Exchange and about 44% of its capital
and the other 56% is held by a Mr. Dixon Poon, who is well known in the world
KM: Before that was it a family owned company?
It was family owned up until 1971.
KM: Why did they decide to sell it, if you don't mind me asking?
The family? Oh it was very simple. Dupont invented the first disposable lighter
and Gillette saw it as a nice addition to its distribution, and the family
understood that the investment necessary to really go world wide with this
disposable lighter was probably beyond it.
In the pen business people want to buy a product, which works, it is not
necessarily just the design. There are very few brands who master conception,
development, the technical side, have the distribution and also can ensure a
worldwide after sale service.
KM: What is the psychology of producing a luxury pen. What is it supposed to
look like, what is it supposed to feel like?
If you are talking about a fountain pen, take off the nib, have a look inside, and
look at the finishing inside. You can make a nice finish on the outside, but have
a look at the way it is actually built and finished on the inside - the tolerances.
Secondly I have a very, very good look at the nib. Inside you have a certain
number of items which are very important, which go together with the nib. It is
actually quite complicated because you have the ink, has to come nicely onto
the nib without leaking, but at a rate, which enables you to write properly. And
you also as the ink comes out you have to let air back into the reservoir but not
too much otherwise you could have leakages. Thirdly take the clip on a pen
and feel how the clip is.
Sprung how it is done, feel how it works. You can actually hear it - this is a
ballpoint - the turn of the mechanism see how it feels. Part of a good pen, it
turns nicely, the thing works, the ink flows properly, it writes nicely, its robust,
the clip is not going to fall off, it has a nice design and you know that it has
been made with top quality material.
Our pens are made from metal OK. They are not plastic. The inside of it is
Bronze. We have techniques of finishing which I believe are far superior to
anybody else. The design you have on your pen there (which is made by
machine) you have to understand, that when the machine bites into the metal,
when it creates the design, it has to be at a certain depth, certain length and it
shouldn't shiver and it should be at a same depth all the way along. Now I am
not, I know that most consumers are not going to look really in detail at it. But
if you do look in detail at it you can see a lot of brands would closer up the
shivering in the cuts, metal, and things like that. These are extremely robust
pens. The exterior here is real Chinese lacquer, it resists very well. If you
scratch it a little bit, it is a living; it is an organic element it will close up.
KM: It started with King Louis - why do you think that they are so manic about
The French think that certain things are important. Important is conviviality,
eating, discussing with people, and sharing, a bottle of wine or whatever. And I
think that they think that is important and you should take your time on it and
therefore attention to detail is fundamental. I know of one luxury goods group
that sent its senior executives to one of the best restaurants in Paris to learn to
what it meant to have attention to detail. This was told to me by the owner of
the restaurant and it was a restaurant which Jacque Jeraque dined one
evening with Bill Clinton just before he was re-elected. When it came to the
end of the meal the owner of the restaurant had produced these cigars but he
had taken off the wrappers because they were all Cubans. And Bill Clinton
said OK , I'll take a couple of cigars and he put them in his pocket and said I
think I will wait until after the elections before I smoke them.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: ST Dupont, Pens, lighters, Paris,