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When Sons Make Watches After Their Father

by Massimo Dreifuss, photos by Alejandro Arretureta & Philippe Mueller

Photo: Ueli Christoffel

We have often talked about the moment when the sacred world of money in New York collapsed for our father, Daniel, and he turned to an even more precious commodity – time. Now we, the “Watchbros” Massimo and Leonard, want to recount the moment that changed our lives.

Daniel Dreifuss, the most restless father imaginable, mentioned almost casually a year ago that he would soon be “out”. He didn’t want to have the typical heart attack that too many people get because they didn’t quit while they were ahead. And what does it look like when someone who sells the best ‘time’ doesn’t treat themselves to it? It doesn’t look great, and our father did not want to look bad.

Even if he liked to break all the rules with his style of dress – which some find ingenious, others take some getting used to – this style is just a reflection of his uniqueness, something which nourishes us today. Extraordinary watches from an extraordinary man who led an extraordinary life.

The family loves the film The Royal Tenenbaums. The red tracksuits are a tribute to the film by Wes Anderson.

The origins of the Maurice de Mauriac brand have already been well written about, yet it is the way he tested his first watches that has received much more attention. He often used to commute by train across Switzerland, and a watch was only good if he could sell it on the train after an hour before arriving at his destination. For that, you need damn good watches and a gift for sales. Our father already had both back then, and he handed them down to us as my brother and I embarked upon a new journey: To take over and run the company.

We were sent into this world to get to know it, and we were sent into the workshop to understand and learn how to do everything that makes up a watch brand over time. Our father kept sending us home, to Zurich and to social media, to become part of the big family that he did everything for, and still does today.

The L2 is an icon of the collection and sets design standards for urban diving watches.

We are a family business, but not as dusty or overloaded as other family businesses often seem. Our understanding of family is characterised by a great love, by freedom and yet also by great intimacy. These are all important factors that make us particularly successful, as well as the trust that all this generates, both internally and externally. What family has personal contact with a digital community that encompasses several hundred thousand people around the world? Who has Zurich as a guest in the studio every day, and who in the world meets their family in the studio? First you met my father, then all of us together, and now more often than not, it is just the two of us.

As little boys, we learned how to tell the time on daddy’s clocks. Then we learned how to make new clocks, and now we make clocks ourselves. Our father has taught us everything he knows and that is a great deal. For everything else, he has brought exceptional people into the studio for us to learn from or sent us out into the world to learn from other people.

Daniel Dreifuss is considered the king of watch straps in Zurich. In the atelier, there is every strap for every watch to perfectly match its owner.

Our thanks to him was to dedicate a grandiose watch to him – the first one that we were responsible for, the Grand Cœur. It builds on his last stroke of genius. The hand-wound L3 is red with red glass, from the completed L-series. This L-series carries the DNA of the Maurice de Mauriac brand and, with the three watch models L1, L2 and L3, has created three watch icons that will stand the test of time.

The very big online stores for lifestyle and watches are open to us with this watch triptych. Not easy in an industry dominated by a few very big brands. But easy was never an option for Maurice de Mauriac. So, with a few exceptions, we still sell our watches worldwide directly without distributors.

When the doors to the workshop are locked in the evening, the last espresso has hummed out of the machine and friends and customers have left, the robot hoovers begin their whimsical dance and in the background you can hear the soft ping when another purchase comes in digitally. Because in our private time, when we need to rest, when we need to recharge our batteries, hundreds and thousands of stories about us, our watches and the people who love our watches are out in the world selling them. Not just watches, but us, our story, my father’s story, which we will now continue to tell. And that sells our watches.

Meanwhile, Daniel, the most restless father ever, has surprised everyone by being able to let go and enjoy a rest, which he is doing with his wife in Italy.

Brand Love

When brands make love

What belongs together always comes together. That’s why we never look for partnerships, but simply experience them when they find us. You have to be insensitive not to miss these magical moments. One such magical moment, was the meeting between Maurice de Mauriac and KENSINGTON. There was simply too much harmony. Precision, reliability, quality, commitment, style, internationality, family intimacy – it sounds like a marketing text, but it is a fascinating reality. And that is also what distinguishes both brands, that they make tangible what others only talk about.

Our vision is not to become the biggest but the best in the sense that we are the most lovable watch brand for people who share our values. We don’t court just anyone at any price, we look for those who fit us at the core. Otherwise, we would have to bend. The KENSINGTON brand also radiates this clarity. So it was also clear that if KENSINGTON created a watch with us, it would be the L3. It reflects all of our shared values, and more, because it has a manual winding mechanism – it needs personal commitment, something that KENSINGTON and Maurice de Mauriac also love and work hard to preserve.

An L3, also in KENSINGTON design, is so timeless and stylish that it will make an impact all over the world. And this is extremely important because both brands see and have the world as their market. Someone who has also recognised this is Swiss footballer Stephan Lichtsteiner, who has just finished an internship with us. This was the result of a magical moment when we were open and fascinated by Stephan’s will to perform. And suddenly, we find ourselves as three brands that are completely different on the surface and yet, at the core, are driven by the same values and goals – no, love the same goals and are seduced by them every day once again.