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Feature: Maurice de Mauriac Customized Swiss Timepieces

March 28, 2010

maurice-de-mauriac-watches-333.jpg Maurice de Mauriac Storefront in Zurich Financial District

During my annual trip to Switzerland, to attend the Baselworld show, I like to visit some of the important Swiss 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 actually setup two separate watchmaker trips, one to another famous Vallée de Joux manufacture, Jaeger-LeCoultre, in La Sentier (photos coming soon). The other, to Zurich's only watchmaker - Maurice de Mauriac.

Maurice-de-Mauriac-Zurich.jpg Close-up 45 mm PVD Modern case

Basel-2010-Maurice-de-Mauriac.jpg Daniel assisting a female client, back to further customize her Maurice de Mauriac timepeice

maurice-de-mauriac-zurich-16.jpg A selection of various watch cases and dials to choose from

Upon my arrival in Switzerland, I took a train to Zurich to meet the energetic founder of Maurice de Mauriac, Daniel Dreifuss. Once there, we went right into a discussion of watches and business strategy. Daniel founded Maurice de Mauriace 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, up front (the storefront). This is where customers can pick from thousands of samples and literally design the perfect Swiss made watch.

Maurice-de-Mauriac-Zurich-4.jpg Sapphire caseback on DLC watch, movement 7750

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.

Maurice-de-Mauriac-Zurich-777.jpg Brushed titanium case with grey dial close-up

Want a 42mm or 45mm case? Ok. Want a polished black DLC case or brushed stainless steel? Ok. Want a black dial with white numbers or a white dial with black numbers? Ok. Want a brown leather strap or black kevlar? Ok. Want a different color bezel than the color of the case material? Ok. Want a single piece solid gold 22K rotor, instead of a two piece stainless steel rotor? Ok. 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? Ok. Whatever it is you desire, wherever you are in the world, Maurice de Mauriac can custom tailor a timepiece to your preferred specifications.

Maurice-de-Mauriac-Zurich-6.jpg Tray of watchcase and dial samples

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.

Maurice-de-Mauriac-Zurich-7.jpg Daniel Dreifuss hard at work

Surely there are other companies that can provide customized watches. But none offer such a high quality, for such a low 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.

Maurice-de-Mauriac-Zurich-8.jpg View when you walk in the door, to right is ramp up to workshop

Speaking on 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.

Maurice-de-Mauriac-Zurich-10.jpg Another tray of cases, dials and movements

After interviewing 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 watches that are being continuously improved. 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-Zurich-3.jpg Close-up brushed stainless steel case

maurice-de-mauriac-zurich-13.jpg Close-up PVD watch

maurice-de-mauriac-zurich-15.jpg Stainless coin edge bezel, screws right into case with special tool, so you can change bezels easily

maurice-de-mauriac-zurich-17.jpg New dials feature applied numbers, versus painted

maurice-de-mauriac-zurich-18.jpg Window front display

maurice-de-mauriac-22.jpg Black Diamond Like Carbon (DLC) case

maurice-baselworld-2010-watches.jpg 45 mm PVD case with Kevlar strap

maurice-de-mauriac-23.jpg Storefront watchmaking bench

maurice-de-mauriac-24.jpg Window display of different watch straps

maurice-de-mauriac-25.jpg Tray of watch samples

mauric-ebaselworld-201.jpg PVD Case with Kevlar Strap

Maurice-de-Mauriac-Zurich-333.jpg Tray of watch cases and dials

Maurice-de-Mauriac-Zurich-444.jpg Storefront watchmaking bench

Maurice-de-Mauriac-Zurich-555.jpg Sapphire crystal caseback, visible Valjoux 7750

Maurice-de-Mauriac-Zurich-666.jpg Maurice de Mauriac watch with NATO straps

Baselwrold-Maurice-de-Mauriac.jpg PVD watchcase sitting on alligator straps

Maurice-de-Mauriac-Zurich-888.jpg Tray of watch case and strap samples

Maurice-de-Mauriac-Zurich-222.jpg Chronometer testing machine

Maurice de Mauriac utilizes advanced watchmaking materials, finishes and processes, combined with ultra reliable swiss calibers, resulting in some of the best Swiss made chronographs in the category. (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.

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