SECRET WEEKS - DIETLIN SWISS SHOWCASES throughout the month of September 2019
Celebrating the 165th Anniversary Romanel-sur-Lausanne
DIETLIN: 165 years of continuous activity in French-speaking Switzerland.
In 1854, the head of the first generation, also called Xavier Dietlin, establishes a metalworking workshop in Porrentruy in the Swiss Jura. Soon recognized for its artisanship in ornamental ironwork, Dietlin’s company is called to Paris to participate in the construction of the staircase at the Gare d'Orsay, a Paris landmark to this day.
More recently, Xavier Dietlin's father had specialized in construction and metal fabrication. In particular, he worked with the architect Pedro Ramírez Vázquez on the Olympic Museum in Lausanne from 1991 until its inauguration in 1993.
Today, Dietlin is in its 5th generation. Xavier Dietlin officially took the helm in 2002, initiating the transformation process from metal fabrications to revolutionary showcases for the luxury sector.
The team at Dietlin Swiss Showcases is just 15-strong. The plan is to keep it that way. And that’s the secret of this special mindset. The company is not set on growth. Not in terms of sales, or volume.
"There are other growth factors than money," says Xavier Dietlin. Keep your innovative edge sharp, be open to risks, stay unpredictable. Ambition is measured differently. Be inventing all the time, be first, be different, and set the standard for quality.
Production is limited and, as a result, the display cases are not for everyone. That's what luxury is all about. When demand is greater than supply...
A different mindset.
To remain visionary, and anticipate the next step before everyone else – these are the growth factors applied by Xavier Dietlin, his brother and his sister, as well as by the entire team at the company.
This mindset has enabled Dietlin to achieve an enviable position: to be unique. Longstanding clients take priority. Each call for tender is unique, because each product is always different, without any equivalent elsewhere. No other company in this sector has the same degree of specialization in innovative display cases.
Xavier Dietlin entered into the world of watchmaking at a particular juncture, at a time when big players and strong personalities emerged – Nicolas Hayek, Jean-Claude Biver, Günter Blümlein, Luigi Macaluso, Franck Muller, François-Paul Journe... all of whom colored the media landscape that took shape around watchmaking, and to whom we owe a certain idea of today's Swiss watch industry.
Dietlin has many anecdotes to share from those early days. He soon defined his guiding principle which still holds true today: “First, you choose to work for people, personalities.”
Curiosity and confidentiality – two essential qualities.
Working for more than 25 of the most prestigious brands in the world of luxury gives Dietlin an unparalleled perspective. Discreet, always mindful of total confidentiality with products and launches, Dietlin understands that it is at heart of the business. It is essential.
The connection to the theme of the anniversary event in September is clear:
“Can you keep a secret?”
Words that well illustrate the notion of total trust.
Keeping a secret.
No bond is stronger.
And this touches on the care of the client. To know each one personally, to create for each one their future showcase, the perfect setting for their creations, to deliver unique and ever-changing creativity. That is the showcase of the future, to the future. You have to accept two things: Know how to evolve with the times; and dare to be critical enough about yourself – to be disruptive and bring in the new.
The question that comes up most often for Xavier Dietlin? Where does he get his ideas? He visits museums, exhibitions, is curious about everything, takes in plays at the theatre, finds inspiration, likes working with different industries. Always a notebook for jotting down ideas in his pocket.
Working with 25 brands* comes above all from inspiring a different style, established over the years. DIETLIN Swiss Showcases regularly communicates on all its projects and customers. No taboos, a contrasts to the world of subcontractors, who are often used to having to remain in the shadows.
*Audemars Piguet, Bulgari, Blancpain, Breguet, Cartier, Chanel, FP Journe, Greubel Forsey, Hermès, Hublot, IWC, Jacquet Droz, MB&F, Omega, Panerai, Patek Philippe, Roger Dubuis, Tag Heuer, Ulysse Nardin, Urwerk, Zenith... as well as exhibitions such as the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, the Swiss Watchmaking Federation, Only Watch… And museums, too: the new Omega Museum in Biel, the Archaeological Museum of Athens and the MoMA with the French artist Philippe Parreno. But also Mercedes-Benz, Sicpa, Nestlé and Philip Morris.
Discovering a watch must be gratifying in itself.
Here are just a few milestones. Each showcase comes with its anecdote, as Xavier is happy to recall.
- In 2003, François-Paul Journe gave him one of his very first contracts for a showcase. It was to be called Archangel, and it still remains ultra-modern today. Timeless and stunning, even 16 years after its creation.
- 2006 marks the birth of the Raptor for Hublot. It’s a revolution. It shows the whole market that you can do something different from what already exists. It’s the first showcase without protective glass, you can see the product and you want to grasp it – but you can’t touch it.
- In 2010, Breguet adopts the Pulsograph, which amplifies the natural sound of a watch by capturing the vibrations transmitted by the crown. The sound is diffused by a resonance soundboard made from 350-year-old wood extracted from the Risoud forest near Le Brassus, in the cradle of Swiss watchmaking. No enhancing technology is used, producing a sound quality of unparalleled purity and naturalness.
- 2012: Gravity for Hublot makes its first appearance at the entrance of the Hublot stand at Baselworld. The idea? A levitating watch, all on its own in space. Magic!
- 2013: Patek Philippe presents its most important movements through an interactive showcase at Baselworld. Visitors select a movement on a keyboard, and everything comes to life with explanations. A captivating and didactic discovery tour of the Grail of watchmaking.
- 2015: the Carrousel showcase developed for Dubail in Paris, Place Vendôme and on the Champs- Elysées. A principle of rotating display cases. We show less, we show it better, and never the same thing. A showcase that has also generated a small revolution, even in the United States.
- 2017: Audemars Piguet opens private spaces that go beyond the concept of a shop: La Maison AP. It’s a tête-à-tête with the exceptional and you are at the center of the experience. The Captur system displays 4 products (freely accessible, no protective glass) and you call them up one after the other with a sweep of the hand.
- 2018: the first “phygital” (physical and digital) shop. For Tag Heuer at Tokyo’s Ginza. All products are showcased out in the open, where they can be selected, reserved or purchased with a mobile phone.
- 2019-2020+ : “Nothing is permanent, except change.”
The word “Tomorrow” resonates in a very special way with Xavier Dietlin, who confides that he has rarely seen an industry be confronted with such uncertainty, so many retailers who seem to question everything. They all realize that they must evolve.
The question is not how to make a showcase but why.
For an object as small as a watch, the display case is often the first thing the customer encounters. It's a question of scale. It is the one element that sets the tone and underpins the specifics of the product. It makes it possible to find the right balance between the real value and the perceived value (the real price shows and the price imagined by the customer).
We wouldn’t make the same showcase for the US and Japan, it's a question of culture.
To present the younger generation with a product as traditional as a timepiece, it must be done in an ultra-contemporary way. Put yourself in “in the shoes” of tomorrow's customers. What do they want? THE END CUSTOMER must remain the only concern of a showcase designer.
One thing is certain: points of sale have been operating in the same way for more than half a century. They have not followed the twists and turns of a world that is constantly changing. We are probably entering a period where the most important thing will be to highlight the cultural and emotional content of a product to justify its price.
“Give me real, don’t give me fake”
If we no longer need a watch to tell us the time, then the emotional aspect becomes essential. This is where “digital” ends and “mechanical” begins...
To innovate, you must unlearn what you have learned.
“The best way to accomplish serious design... is to be totally and completely unqualified for the job,” says Paula Scher. Xavier Dietlin often begins his conferences with young audiences with these words. He comes to tell them that anything is possible.
“This anniversary allows us to look back on a family journey that we can be proud of.” Our small family business in Vaud, with only 15 totally passionate people, exports showcases all over the world, our creations are experienced by thousands of end customers everywhere, in the most prestigious locations in the world, and in some cases even in the homes of private collectors who want to showcase their watches as masterpieces.
The Romanel Valley, where Dietlin has its home, is a vibrant hotbed of exceptional know-how and creativity. Like the leading EPFL engineering school, or history-making startups… We don’t sound our horn. We just do. And everything that goes into a Dietlin creation is done within a 10 km radius.
“Secret Weeks” is a spotlight on Swiss creativity and innovation. A small country that shines very bright in these two areas, yet with the discretion and restraint that large countries do not have.
No past, no future.
“This 165th Anniversary allows us to look back on our past to better embrace the future. Question everything if that’s what it takes. It’s what we’re best at.”
See you Monday, September 2nd, at 11 a.m. to discover the showroom and LAB with Xavier Dietlin, and exchange on his vision for setting the stage for luxury products in the future.
All the products have been registered with and are protected by the Federal Intellectual Property Office (FIPO) and the European Patents Office (EPO).
All reproductions or copies are strictly forbidden. © Dietlin SA 2002-2023