The Naked Watchmaker: Xavier Dietlin - Display Cabinet Maker
Xavier Dietlin realised his dream of becoming a professional footballer, only to find it wasn’t for him. An injury meant he returned to the family construction business, which he then transformed into a company that provides some of the most ingenious presentation cabinets in the watch industry.
1. Describe briefly your childhood.
My dream has always been to become a footballer. I had the posters of my idols in my room and my life was punctuated by this dream.
2. As a child did you have any driving ambition?
My dream disappointed me. Life is more complex than kicking a ball all day. I think I wanted to become someone who was more of an actor than a spectator. I wanted to play on the field and not be in the stands. I wanted to be on the dance floor and not at the bar. And I think that today I respond to this desire.
3. What is your first significant memory as a child?
I remember my grandmother who raised me and who was a very educated woman. She said to me: Never stop, like an eternal child curious about everything, to question you. I remember her, I was sitting on those knees and she was talking to me about theatre, poetry, religion. These were such precious moments and I miss them very much.
4. Have you ever had another profession?
The profession doesn't matter. What is important for me is to have a creative profession. The creative spirit is the fuel of life. What you create doesn't matter.
5. What made you decide to go in the direction you are currently in?
It is not really a profession that I chose. My father had a construction business. I took over the business and since I didn't like it, I redirected the activity with the creative spirit I need. My interest in watchmaking helped me.
6. What’s the worst job you’ve had to do?
Playing football has been my dream. I became a professional footballer and played in the Swiss national team in front of tens of thousands of people applauding. In competitive sport, you have to eat, read, think sport. It was the worst job of my life! Fortunately, an injury saved my life.
7. What’s been the hardest moment in your life so far, and how did you overcome it?
I lost my stepfather in a train accident that happened before the eyes of my children. After that, my wife suffered from depression for several years with several hospitalizations. I had to take care of my two boys alone and it deeply affected me. Life is like a child’s hanging mobile in balance. If a piece moves, the gauge breaks and it will take a long time to regain balance without that piece. "Enjoy life, it is much later than you think." -Claude Lelouch
8. Who has had the strongest influence on you?
Music has always had a special place for me. It's one of the few things that can take you back in time, even remembering the state of mind you were in. It is absolutely magical. At 18 years old, I listened to Jaques Brel, Georges Brassens, Barbara. Most of the music you listen to is linked to important moments in your life. Today I can tell you on which music I created this or that showcase.
9. What are you most proud of?
I chose to remain passionate about my work (life) and I missed out on major financial affairs. Today, I am very proud of this choice. Money is not the goal, money is the fuel.
10. What advice would you give to a 20 something someone thinking of taking a similar path as you?
It is sensitivity that makes us passionate. If you are not sensitive, you are never sublime. -Voltaire-
11. Name three things on your bucket list.
Have dinner with Tori Amos. Blessed are the cracked because they will let the light pass - Michel Audiard Cycling around the world with my two boys without knowing the route for the next day. Spend time with me, without needing others.
12. Where do you think the watch industry is going to be in 10 years time?
Smaller but better. Fewer products on the market but exceptional products, intended for customers who think “Time is not measured by clocks but by moments”.
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