Petermann Bédat

Petermann Bédat: A Talented Duo Primed for New Heights

With each of its first two limited edition creations selling out and earning prestigious GPHG awards, the watchmaking duo behind Petermann Bédat are diligently fulfilling orders but are set to unveil new watches in 2025 and 2027.

By Henri Lee

On the night of November 9th, during the 2023 GPHG award ceremony, the reference 2941 monopusher split-seconds chronograph from Petermann Bédat clinched the top prize in the highly competitive “Chronograph” category. And with five other finalists vying for recognition (including models from such heavy hitters as Audemars Piguet and TAG Heuer), the victory was particularly sweet for Gaël Petermann and Florian Bédat.

Amazingly, this triumph follows their success three years ago when their inaugural creation under the Petermann Bédat banner, the reference 1967 with a dead-beat second mechanism, won the GHPG “Horological Revelation Prize.” Two watches, two wins – what an incredible achievement for a budding brand!

One month after their second win, we paid a visit to Gaël Petermann and Florian Bédat at their workshop in Renens, near Lausanne. However, with a move to a larger workshop nearby imminent, Watchonista Chairman & Executive Publisher Marco Gabella and I were likely among the final individuals to tour their old workshop.

The visit was delightful, filled with enlightening conversations, and we gained a deeper understanding of the factors contributing to their remarkable success thus far.

How It Began

Gaël and Florian met in 2007 while they both attended the Geneva Watchmaking School and developed a strong friendship. Following graduation, Gaël joined A. Lange & Söhne in Glashütte, Germany, while Florian joined him after a stint with Harry Winston. Then, after three years, they decided to return to their home country, Switzerland.

Initially, the duo focused on restoration work to further refine their skills, then, in 2017, a significant opportunity arose that changed their destinies: Dominique Renaud of Renaud Papi, a renowned movement maker, decided to offer the two young watchmakers some movement decoration work.  Embracing the opportunity, they established a workshop right next to Dominique. 

Under Dominique’s guidance, Gaël and Florian embarked on creating their own movement, setting their sights on the intriguing yet uncommon complication: dead-beat (a.k.a. jumping) seconds. This movement went on to power their eponymous brand’s inaugural watch, the reference 1967.

Following their GPHG win in 2020, demand for their watches surged among collectors, with the initial two models – one encased in rose gold, the other in white gold – both limited editions of 10 pieces each, quickly sold out.

How It’s Going

Apart from Gaël and Florian, the team includes four watchmakers and two individuals responsible for finishing, so when the duo showed us the machines in their workshop two weeks before their move to a larger space, we could see their humble beginnings and how far they’ve already come, as most of the machines are secondhand.

Gaël and Florian then showed us the reference 2941 they had been diligently working on before our arrival. A 10-piece limited edition, this GPHG-winning masterpiece features a highly intricate split-second chronograph movement comprising 339 parts and can take as much as six months to complete.

Considered one of the most challenging complications alongside the minute repeater and tourbillon, the split-second chronograph, also called a rattrapante chronograph, features two chronograph second hands that can be stopped independently and is a rare feat in today’s watchmaking landscape, with only a select few brands, such as Patek Philippe and A. Lange & Söhne, producing them.

Gaël demonstrated the 2941’s functionality by engaging the pusher at 10 o’clock with a wooden tool, and even in its incomplete state, the movement revealed its beautiful structure and the exquisite finishing of its components. Notably, the column wheel is unusually positioned on the dial side, at 12 o’clock.

When the conversation shifted back to their first creation, the 1967, Gaël removed a titanium-encased prototype from his wrist and allowed me to try it on, and it was truly striking!

Curious about its production, I inquired about the number of 1967s made and learned that, after its initial run, a 25-piece limited edition version, with a titanium case and a blue dial, was announced in mid-2021. Moreover, there were a few pieces crafted for collectors, bringing the total number of 1967 models to approximately 50, with a handful of fortunate clients eagerly anticipating the arrival of their watches.

Interestingly, the 1967’s dial showcased partial skeletonization between 1 and 4 o’clock. But while it gives the watch a distinctive flair, this was a departure from the duo’s initial, relatively plain design. However, ever attentive to collector feedback, Gaël and Florian opted to collaborate with an external designer to elevate the dial aesthetics.

It was a good move, as evidenced by the well-received design of the 2941, which shares design cues in its movement, dial, and case with the 1967. The brand has successfully defined its signature design elements and DNA, captivating both industry peers and collectors.

Plans for the Future

As the tour wound down, I asked Gaël and Florian about what Petermann Bédat will release next and how they plan to meet the increasing demand.

First, the brand will launch a less complicated, 3-handed watch in 2025. And in a bid to reach more collectors, this timepiece will always be available, limited only by production capability.

Next, in 2027, Petermann Bédat plans to release a chronograph derived from 2941 but not as complicated. Again, this watch will only be limited by production capability. It is truly exciting news for watch enthusiasts and collectors keen on the creations from Petermann Bédat.

An Intriguing Side Project

Right before we left, Florian shared with us a side project he was working on, a watch he plans to give his mother for her upcoming 60th birthday.

He chose an off-the-shelf movement, the FM01, from Fleury Manufacture SA because, with a movement diameter of 28mm, it’s ideal for a smaller-sized lady’s watch. Florian plans to add his engraving and finishing touches to make this a truly special timepiece. What a wonderful and thoughtful gift this watch will be for a proud mom!

Finally, as we bid farewell, I couldn’t help but notice the two golden hand trophies from the GPHG awards on our way out. Gaël and Florian, too modest to mention the trophies earlier, have undoubtedly set their sights on higher goals, and we wholeheartedly wish them the very best in their continued success.

How to Get a Petermann Bédat

Petermann Bédat timepieces are available from only three authorized dealers. So, if you already have a relationship with one of the ADs, by all means, continue working with them.

However, if you are not familiar with the authorized dealers, you can contact Petermann Bédat directly. The brand maintains a waitlist for all potential clients and provides purchasing opportunities based on the order of the list.

(Photography by the author)

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