Text: Olivier Müller / Photo: Christophe Lauffenburger
Xavier Dietlin has revolutionized what it means to sell watches. His magical shop windows have seduced practically every single Swiss Made watch brand with their playful and interactive experiences. We take a look at the man behind the artist, who always enjoys a visit to Zermatt to unwind.
Any artisan work requires heart and Xavier Dietlin left his in Zermatt. This man, who’s very attached to this ski town, can look back as he approaches his 50th birthday and realize he has left his mark on the Swiss watch industry. Not as a watch designer; Swiss Made watchmaking has more than enough talent in that area. Where Xavier Dietlin excels is in bringing those designs to light, in every sense of the word. Dietlin has been tapped by Hublot, Omega, Blancpain, Audemars Piguet, Breguet, F.P. Journe, and dozens of others. His storefront windows exist in a world of their own. “When I took over my father’s business 20 years ago, I realized that everyone was fighting to do the exact same thing: dead window displays, glass cages that blocked all visual and tactile contact with the product. In my own way, I tried to change that.”
Former Pro Footballer.
His approach is elegant and decidedly modern. Xavier Dietlin specializes in using a vast array of technology (from interactive windows and video, to holograms, 3D imagery, and virtual reality) to make the glass cage disappear and let emotions take center stage. This approach applies to the artist as much as it does to the man behind the art. As a former professional footballer for Servette FC and for Sion, Dietlin is an eternal athlete who goes after the best in life with a predatory smile. Overflowing with passion he devours his work, reinventing his creations and himself all the time, wherever he goes. His time in Zermatt is no exception to this rule and he’s been coming here for the past ten years. “I feel so warmly welcomed here; it surprises me every time. There’s a profound sense of hospitality, a feeling that the village has managed to preserve its spirit and develop in harmony with its rising tourism. It’s the only place in the world where millionaires and farmers walk past each other on the street and eat at the same tables, on a daily basis. At Chez Vrony, or Chez Heini, I really feel at home.”
100% Swiss Made
If Xavier Dietlin loves Zermatt so much, it’s also because he sees it as an embodiment of Swiss quality - quality for which he has become a distinguished ambassador. “This place feels like it unifies luxury and authenticity. The materials used here are authentically local, they’re not imported everything was built on-site with local expertise. It’s the very definition of Swiss Made.” Here in Zermatt, Dietlin compliments his working regimin with his passion for skiing and hiking. In between two of the most important watch industry trade shows (SIHH in January and Baselworld in March), he and his family relocate to Zermatt to take advantage of February’s snows, and then return again late April for the end of the season. “It’s a magical time when everyone can relax and when it feels like you have the slopes all to yourself!” says Dietlin, with a twinkle in his eye.
Looking back at the Matterhorn.
In summer, this untireable wanderer enjoys a moment he describes as “completely disorienting” when the snow finally recedes and the pastures spring to life. This same sentiment is a constant source of inspiration in his work: a neverending drive to go beyond the beaten path, to tap into experiences that fall far beyond the world of watchmaking or even window decorating, as a way to constantly better himself and reinvigorate his craft. Someday soon, he’ll be off on a new adventure. Exactly which adventure remains to be seen but his direction is clear: the heart of it will always be Swiss Made, as innovative as it is authentic. Xavier Dietlin is on his way up and no matter how far into the future he may get, he understands the timeless value of remembering where one came from. “It’s like in Zermatt: every morning here, people turn back for one last look at the Matterhorn before they start skiing or hiking.” Like a majestic unchanging beacon from our past that propels us with confidence towards our future.
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