Hands On: Philippe Dufour Simplicity Prototype No. 000 in Pink Gold

Capturing the essence of artisanal beginnings.

With “indies” all the rage now, auction catalogues usually have a generous helping of independent watchmaking. Amongst the many offerings from the genre this season, a handful stand out, including the Philippe Dufour Simplicity prototype no. 000 in Phillips’ Geneva watch auction that takes place on November 3 and 4, 2023.

This is one of three prototype watches Mr Dufour made for the 2000 Basel fair when the Simplicity made its debut. Two of them were in white gold with a silvered guilloche dial – Mr Dufour himself frequently wears one of them – and the last was this watch, which is pink gold with a white lacquered dial.

Initial thoughts

Today Philippe Dufour has grown beyond the personality and is essentially a brand, an evolution that arguably took place after the 20th anniversary Simplicity was launched 2020.

In contrast, this Simplicity prototype, along with the first 200 examples Mr Dufour made, encapsulates the artisanal beginnings of the man and his brand. At the time of the Simplicity’s launch, and for more than a decade after, Mr Dufour found neither fame nor fortune, given that he only made a handful of Simplicity watches each year and sold each for about US$40,000.

The early watches are perhaps purer creations that capture the essence of Mr Dufour’s vision, which was to pay tribute to the heyday of Vallee de Joux watchmaking. Mr Dufour, of course, managed to do it slightly better, explaining why his creations are often regarded as having the best movement decoration in modern watchmaking. The prototypes, of course, perhaps best exemplify that philosophy.


Mr Dufour retained one of the white gold prototypes, with the other going to Yoshi Isogai, the president of Shellman, which was Mr Dufour’s distributor in Japan and also the first retailer to commit to selling Philippe Dufour. The country was by far the biggest market for the Simplicity, with an estimate of half of the original 200-piece run sold to Japanese clients.

Unsurprisingly, the pink gold prototype also went to Mr Isogai and sat on display in his Ginza store alongside vintage Patek Philippe and watches by other independent watchmakers, including Svend Andersen and Jean-Daniel Nicolas. According to Phillips, the current owner of the watch convinced both Messrs Isogai and Dufour to sell the prototype in 2016, after the original 200-piece run of the Simplicity ended around 2012.

The box, certificate, and letter from Mr Isogai explaining its history. Image – Phillips

This pink gold prototype shares the same features that distinguish the white gold prototypes, making the three watches distinct from the Simplicity watches that were produced after.

The most obvious point of difference is the balance wheel. While the regular production version features a screwed balance like those found in mid-century watches that inspired the Simplicity, the prototypes are equipped with Gyromax balance wheels sporting ring-shaped regulating weights. With Gyromax being unique to Patek Philippe, it can be safely assumed Mr Dufour relied on Patek Philippe spare parts for the balance wheels of the prototypes.

The Gyromax balance wheel with its characteristic circular weights

Another difference on the solid-gold plate bearing the brand name. The standard watches feature hand-engraved plates, whereas here only the serial number is hand engraved. The other plate has the brand name and jewel count engraved with laser.

The engraving on the larger gold plate has the soft form of laser engraving

Other changes are more subtle. On the regular production watches, the bridge for the third and fourth wheel has a cutout on its outer edge to accommodate the base plate screw, but the bridge on the prototype covers the screw. Adding the cutout is actually a decorative flourish as it requires extra work to bevel its edge and corners.

And even more subtle is the screw holding the black polished escape wheel cap. Here it sits in a countersink, while in the standard model the screw is flush with the steel cap, giving it an unbroken, mirrored surface.

The screw for the steel cap sits in a countersink

Several changes can also be found on the dial. Besides the lack of “Metalem” at six o’clock (which is the name of the dial maker), the prototype dial also has a concentric pattern on the subsidiary seconds that looks out of place against the lacquered finish. This was rectified on the production models that have a uniformly lacquered finish across the whole dial.

The concentric pattern on the seconds is apparent only up close

The Simplicity prototype is accompanied by its box, certificate, and letter from Mr Isogai detailing its history. For more on the prototype, which has an estimate of CHF400,000-800,000, visit Phillips.com.

This was brought to you in partnership with Phillips.


Back to top.

You may also enjoy these.

Aventurine Complications by Bucherer and H. Moser & Cie.

Three timepieces inspired by the cosmos.

The collaboration between Bucherer and H. Moser & Cie. has given birth to a trio of timepieces: the Pioneer Tourbillon Concept Aventurine and two different takes on the Endeavour Concept Minute Repeater Tourbillon Aventurine.

Bucherer, a renowned Swiss retailer with a global presence that was recently acquired by Rolex, has made blue dials a signature feature of its collaborations. While most Bucherer exclusives sport blue-finish metal dials, this trio have dials of aventurine glass, otherwise known as goldstone. It’s essentially glass with metallic inclusions that give it a speckled, sparkly appearance that evokes the night sky.

Initial thoughts

The combination of red gold and deep blue dials neatly aligns with both Bucherer’s and Moser’s respective aesthetics. This collaboration continues the retailer’s tradition of unique, blue-themed exclusives that are a variants of familiar models. 

It is worth noting the three timepieces are derived from models in Moser’s existing product range, including the aventurine dials. Furthermore, the movements, namely the HMC 904 with repeater and the HMC 804 tourbillon, remain unchanged. While this reflects the collaborative effort between Bucherer and Moser, it raises the question of whether even greater imaginative potential could have been explored by both entities. 

That said, the aventurine dials are appealing, though they come at a price. For instance, the Pioneer Tourbillon Concept Aventurine costs US$71,500, compared to the US$65,900 price tag for the standard version without an aventurine dial. In the case of the Endeavour Concept Minute Repeater Tourbillon, the difference is a more modest US$9,000.

Drawing from the Cosmos

Bucherer’s introduction of the inaugural Bucherer Blue collection in 2016 was a significant move in the watch industry. At the time, the initiative involved collaborating with nine watchmakers to create timepieces exclusively in this distinctive shade, available solely at Bucherer boutiques. The recent collaboration with Moser has resulted in three models, each sharing a captivating feature – a dial crafted from midnight blue aventurine glass, which is devoid of any branding. 

With a limited run of just 18 pieces worldwide, the Pioneer Tourbillon Concept Aventurine has a case of 18k red gold and DLC-coated titanium that harmoniously complements the midnight blue dial. The visual effect of the two-metal case is similar to that of the rose gold and tantalum, but at a lower price.

The flying tourbillon, featuring skeletonised bridges at six o’clock, completes a full rotation every 60 seconds. Leaf-shaped hands with Super-LumiNova ensure easy readability, particularly against the clean dial.

In a limited run of just two pieces, the Endeavour Concept Minute Repeater Tourbillon Aventurine is an understated yet striking design.

Boasting both a minute repeater and a tourbillon, the movement exemplifies Moser’s sound watchmaking, here achieved with the help of complications specialist Manufactures Hautes Complications (MHC). The integration of the minute repeater’s mechanism into the dial aligns with the company’s minimalist philosophy, while the movement has an impressive 90 hours of power reserve.

Crowning the trilogy is the unique Endeavour Concept Minute Repeater Tourbillon Aventurine & Diamonds, distinguished by a case in 18k white gold adorned with 85 baguette-cut diamonds totalling 4.95 carats. The diamond-set crown adds an extra touch of opulence to this unique piece that houses the same HMC 904 as its counterpart above.

Key facts and price

Bucherer x H. Moser & Cie. Pioneer Tourbillon Concept Aventurine
Ref. 3804-0902 – Bucherer ref. 1398-499-1

Diameter: 42.8 mm
Height: 14 mm
Material: Red gold and DLC-coated titanium
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 120 m

Movement: Cal. HMC 804
Functions: Hours, minutes, and tourbillon
Winding: Automatic
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 72 hours

Strap: Rubber strap with pin buckle

Limited edition: 18 Pieces
Availability: Available at Bucherer Boutiques
Price: US$71,500 (excl. VAT)

Bucherer x H. Moser & Cie. Endeavour Concept Minute Repeater Tourbillon Aventurine
Ref. 1904-0402 – Bucherer ref. 1398-477-5

Diameter: 40.0 mm
Height: 13.5 mm
Material: Red gold
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 30 m

Movement: Cal. HMC 904
Functions: Hours, minutes, tourbillon, and minute repeater
Winding: Hand wound
Frequency: 21,600 beats per hour (3 Hz)
Power reserve: 90 hours

Strap: Blue Alligator Leather Strap

Limited edition: Two Pieces
Availability: Available at Bucherer Boutiques
Price: US$374,000 (excl. VAT)

Bucherer x H. Moser & Cie. Endeavour Concept Minute Repeater Tourbillon Aventurine & Diamonds
Ref. 1904-0201 – Bucherer ref. 1398-469-5

Diameter: 43 mm
Height: 14.2 mm
Material: White gold with baguette diamond-set bezel
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 30 m

Movement: Cal. HMC 904
Functions: Hours, minutes, tourbillon, and minute repeater
Winding: Hand wound
Frequency: 21,600 beats per hour (3 Hz)
Power reserve: 90 hours

Strap: Blue Alligator Leather Strap

Limited edition: Unique Piece
Availability: Available at Bucherer Boutiques
Price: US$440,000 (excl. VAT)

For more information, visit bucherer.com.

Back to top.

You may also enjoy these.

Welcome to the new Watches By SJX.

Subscribe to get the latest articles and reviews delivered to your inbox.