During my annual trip to Switzerland, to attend the Baselworld show, I like to visit watchmakers who do not exhibit in Basel. I started doing this last year, when I toured the renowned Vallée de Joux manufacture Audemars Piguet, in Le Brassus. This year I set up two separate watchmaker trips, one to another famous Vallée de Joux manufacture: Jaeger-LeCoultre. The other, to Zurich’s only watchmaker: Maurice de Mauriac.
Upon my arrival in Switzerland, I took a train to Zurich to meet the eccentric founder of Maurice de Mauriac, Daniel Dreifuss. Once there, we went right into a discussion of watches and business strategy. Daniel founded Maurice de Maurice in 1997. Operated out of a retail location in Zurich’s financial district, the store has space for assembling watches in-house, in the back (the workshop). It also has plenty of space to meet with clients, upfront (the storefront). This is where customers can pick from thousands of samples and literally design the perfect Swiss-made watch.
For this visit, the front of the shop is what we focused on. The storefront is designed to display many customized novelties, and for clients to play with materials, cases, bezels, straps, dials and more. Everything is out on tables or in boxes, displayed so the client can touch, see and select exactly the watch they want.
Want a 42 mm or 45 mm case? Ok. Want a polished black DLC case or brushed stainless steel? Fine. Want a black dial with white numbers or a white dial with black numbers? No problem. Want a brown leather strap or black kevlar? Got it. Want a different color bezel than the color of the case material? The choice is yours. Want a single piece solid gold 22K rotor, instead of a two-piece stainless steel rotor? They can do that. Want a fully blacked out 45 mm DLC (Diamond-Like Carbon) case with a black dial, black Superluminova numbers, an orange-tipped seconds hand, a black Kevlar strap with clasp, and a robust Valjoux 7750 movement inside? Whatever it is you desire, wherever you are in the world, Maurice de Mauriac can custom tailor a timepiece to your preferred specifications.
In the end, you get a high quality, customized Swiss timepiece with a robust ETA or Valjoux movement inside. So you can be sure you are getting the best Swiss quality, and if you ever want something changed, just send it back and it can be further customized. Daniel told me how the dials always read “Maurice de Mauriac Suisse”, but recently a client asked for “Suisse” to be replaced with “Zurich” and from now on, all dials proudly read “Zurich”.
Daniel says, that some of his clients realized that he was now putting “Zurich” on the dial and have sent their watches in for the new dials. He will gladly make the change, and it only costs about $200. That is what is so cool about Maurice de Mauriac watches. If you want something changed, just send it back and Daniel or one of his three in-house watchmakers will make the change, for a very low charge.
Surely there are other companies that can provide customized watches. But none offer such a high quality, for such an accessible price. Maurice de Mauriac can put together most watches for $2,500 to $5,000 (depending on materials and options). It will obviously cost more if you want a solid gold case or diamonds. Regardless of what options you select, you will receive a quality Swiss-made product, backed by excellent service, for a reasonable price.
Speaking of quality, all timepieces assembled in the Atelier Maurice de Mauriac are tested on an in-house chronometer machine (pictured at the bottom). The watches are tested for multiple days, in multiple positions and unlike COSC testing, these are tested with movements cased and fully assembled. Honestly, this is a much better way to test. They are regulated and adjusted to COSC chronometer levels prior to delivery.
After speaking Daniel and learning about the business, it is easy to see that just because he is successful now, he is not happy without continuous improvement. He is a perfectionist, like many in the watch industry, he works all hours of the day. He works to make sure his products are first-rate, and his clients are taken care of. His watches have many quality features that would make you wonder- what more can be done? But Daniel just continues to research and find better solutions to common watchmaking problems. The result is continuous improvement. Whether it is a new strap or a new metal hardening technique (they recently started applying DLC case treatments instead of PVD).
Maurice de Mauriac utilizes advanced watchmaking materials, finishes and processes, combined with ultra-reliable Swiss calibers (all timepieces are tested and regulated to chronometer specifications.)
If you are in the market for a high-quality Swiss chronograph in the $2,500 to $5,000 price range and are interested in customizing the look and feel of your timepiece, definitely check out Maurice de Mauriac.