Anouk Danthe and Olivier Leu, both industrial designers by trade, decided to set up their own brand over four years ago. After what has sometimes been an uphill battle, Revelation is now ready to launch. They talk about this dream come true.
Anouk Danthe: As a new graduate, having taken watches as my main elective, I joined Jaeger-LeCoultre, which Henri-John Belmont and Günter Blümlein were then turning around. From there, I moved to Omega which Jean-Claude Biver was in the process of re-launching, not least with the Co-Axial escapement. Two years later, I was recruited as product manager at Audemars Piguet which also wanted to give the brand a shot of youth, in particular with a new generation of watches. However, my desire for independence was so strong that I set up my own company, doing something very different to everything I’d been involved in so far: handling communications for wineries in the Vaud!
Olivier Leu: I started out as a designer with Jorg Hysek but, like Anouk, after a few years I was eager to fly solo. So I set up my design studio, specialising in watches and their environment for different brands.
Anouk Danthe: Indeed it did! In 2005, given our respective experience, Olivier and I began to nurture a new idea: to see a watch project right through to production. At that time, it wasn’t hard to see that watchmaking in the grandest tradition had captured the market, with manufactures such as Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin, to name but three. Alongside this, a number of independent brands were breaking into the market, upping the stakes in terms of technology to produce what I would call “freaks.” We were convinced we could combine the two approaches and create a wearable, legible, attractive Fine Watch that would show the movement in perspective. Which gave us the idea for a watch with a “lid” that can be opened to admire the mechanics inside. We were, however, soon confronted with two problems: firstly sealing the case and secondly, of course, the movement.
Olivier Leu: Our options for sourcing a movement were becoming increasingly limited. Then a young company in the Vaud agreed to provide us with a calibre it was developing. At the same time, we started working on the case, and the opening and display systems with Exidel, an independent engineering consultancy. Its boss, Willy Meier, pulled out all the stops to draw up the specifications, in particular the ones we needed to file the patents.
Anouk Danthe: Which is when things started to become complicated. In January 2008, the movement developer broke the news that he couldn’t meet the specifications. Three months before Baselworld! Thankfully, we learned that Exidel, as an engineering consultancy, also specialised in the development of watch movements. Willy Meier’s thirty years of experience in designing calibres convinced us to go ahead and create our own movement with him. However, this change of strategy left us no choice than to postpone the launch of the brand by a year, to Baselworld 2009. Until, that is, an unexpected turn of events scuttled our plans. Who could have predicted that the global economy would collapse? Our “tourbillon manège” movement, as we’ve called it, was up and running, the case was ready, and we again decided to put the launch back a year. A wise move!