The Royal Jewellers S04 ep6 : Delaneau [Geneva]

Interview with David Gouten & Brigitte Morina

In 1949, DeLaneau was founded in Biel by the couple Rolf and Yolanda Tschudin. Our creations were as visionary as their two founders. We became renown for creating exceptional jewellery timepieces for private clients and elite collectors. Prestigious jewellers of Geneva and Place Vendôme, Paris, counted on our outstanding craftsmanship. Our distinctive, colourful and exclusive creations simply stood out in the world of jewellery watchmaking. During the 1970s, DeLaneau took the decision to reach for the sky and ignore the watchmaking conventions of its day. The use of rare metals and precious gems became a goal in itself. Searching for new modes of expression, DeLaneau created eclectic, colourful and mesmerizing creations. Engaging the world’s expert gem setters and goldsmiths earned DeLaneau the title “The jeweller of watches”. Outstanding craftsmanship was combined with priceless materials to form highly exclusive jewellery designs.


We are Delaneau Atelier. And I’m David Gouten CEO of Delaneau. And I ‘m Bridgette Morina the chief creative officer.

Delaneau means to me outstanding craftsmanship. So dedication, passion, love for art, love for real, true artwork.

It means history and it means freedom. Freedom in creation which you will not find in any other company.

First, I was the black sheep of the family because I started my career in the car business. And then I was so proud of my father
that I wanted to follow his path or get closer to him. So I moved to Switzerland and I entered the watch business. And I always
say that, because I am humble, I entered the watch business through the small door. I was the head of a strap company. So I got to know all the big names from being a supplier.

Leather strap company. Then a small independent watch company. Then [Harry]Winston as a challenge when it was nowhere. There were 25 of us. 1 ½ years before that the watch division of Winston was nearly bankrupt.

I worked with Bulgari. There was an old guy Mr. Schspa , who was handling purchase. And one day he said, “Come to my office.”
There was a big box, he said, “okay, this is our collection, you design it for us with the strap.” I opened the box and there was
tourbillons, minute repeaters. There was a tourbillon. And the guy, not even the paper was signed. And I took it back to La Chaux au Fonds. At first time I had so many crazy watches. And this is Switzerland, this is the old style of doing business, you
shake hands and you trust people.

Delaneau jewelled enamelled watch

My purpose, I was at the time in sales. I saw this Delaneau watch. I loved it. It was an enamel butterfly. Immediately
showed my client and told them they have to come and see this. This is just something else. The Tsudins [original owners] were really known as the so-called jeweller of watches. And we still jewellery the watch with other elements than just jewellery.

There were looking for somebody who was a CEO. Why, I think because when you are so creative with so much freedom, you
need a frame. You need a commercial direction, you need a strategy, you need to try to improve production ratios. Not
controlling the freedom of creativity, but at least discuss with suppliers and organize things. That’s the role, so it’s a good

Ten years ago everybody needed, wanted a tourbillon, even the cheapest brand. To say I’m credible, I am watch makeup, I have
a tourbillon. Now you see in this world, all the big brands, the big name, they want enamel work. They want Michida. We’ve
been in it for 10 years. It seems that they fear that they don’t have it. So they need to go in fields where they don’t belong. And
when you are a big brand with thousands of watches, how can you explain to your clients look I’m doing unique pieces. Enamel
is unique pieces, it cannot be replaced. I’m sorry I won’t give names, but people who claim (and they are well know on michida),
their dials are stamped. You call it cold enamel. Cold enamel does not exist, that’s lacquer. It’s got nothing to do with what we
do. High fire enamel where the boss is not a man, it’s not a lady, it’s not an enamellist. It’s the oven. You missed it, your dial is
gone, your color is gone. End consumers don’t see this yet. Once they will do it, it will be exactly like Louis Vuitton in China. It’s a
luxury brand but it’s a mass luxury brand. Now people are turning to Chanel to Hermes because they see this is a more pure
luxury. It will be same, but it will take time. So for a brand like Delaneau, we have to resist, we have to be strong. But if the spirit
is there we can survive.

Delaneau jewelled enamelled watch

First of all, it’s a high fire enamel. And it’s Tufondent [06:07].

Tufondent [06:07] means once the dials are finished. Our artists they brush it, they polish it with the diamond paper. So it’s a
quite risky operation. Any small bubble or anything the dial is gone. Then they will apply on it translucent enamel and re-cook it
again, and then it will give a lot depth to the colors. The heart of the company is our enamel knowledge and know-how. If we
lose it, we want to be like the others, then there is no point. There’s no point. We have to be different.

I love impressionists. I love Monet. I love poppy flowers. And I was driving and I saw this huge field of poppy flowers. It was so
beautiful . Like Monet used to paint. And I came really enthusiastic about the idea and saw the girls and Ahhh
what if you would do that? That came back to me and the show was it something like that you were thinking of…can we try?

First time was..,for her she came really she was very unhappy that it’s really not getting there.. Sometimes I
think I got it. And now it’s like taking small grains and bigger grains of enamel and firing it in different temperatures which gives
that look.

Delaneau jewelled enamelled watch

It’s their work. As we said they go from A to Z. From the design (the idea) to the finished product. Between 25 to 100 hours per
dial. Depending on the complexity. Yes without the research. Just painting.
Yes, the emphasis is on the dial and we have classical cases. Sometimes Bridgette would say no, with this dye want ruby baguets, emeralds and we go a bit more crazy on the colors. This year we have developed a module on the movement. So complication, where we can set the hour and minute wherever we want and be just as creative as we want.

What we are doing here is the same. We are creating stories with our enamellists, with diamond setters, with engravers.
Because we want hype. It’s not all done in-house, we are using the best outside. Because they have to respect the enamel. If you
want to set diamonds, the diamonds are set after, the engraving is done after. If they damage what the girls have done. So they
have to respect each other and they would choose the best. And that’s just the key partnership.

There was one client and she said “I like frogs”. We never did frogs. So we have been drawing and made about 50 sketches,
sending back and forth and she said “that’s the direction I want”. And then we create her own inaudible [09:47] frog watch.
Doing a frog with volume but set, so we have changed our usual technique of enameling. But the result together became really,
really funny.

Delaneau jewelled enamelled watch

It was not outrageous, but the animal itself was not something we had in our collection. The fact that she chose a volume piece,
made us do the opposite. Enamel was not in the center, not focused. So I can tell you even here emotionally we are not in the
center. Diamond setting is in the center…grrrr. So you know what, under the frog where the frog was coming, she even painted
it, nobody will ever see it, but she painted it just as it looked. I will be a purist; I will do inaudible [10:28]. But for us it was also a
challenge technically to be able to do in volumes such a thing. So we used stones that we never used. We set it, the frog was set
in white gold, but the mouth of the frog was pink gold. It was so little details that foreign language[10:45]. So this is how happy
she is. She said that she would live to get another one in a different color. Okay a new challenge ahead.