“As a kid, I was one of those kids who would play construction games all day. I was into Lego and Mechanics. I would spend entire weekends making stuff up.”
Here is a flange from the conversation we had with Dominique Renaud.
The idea of understanding Furlan Marri led us to question ourselves on what shaped Andrea. And, in this process, we went to meet Dominique, an important element for us as well as for Andrea.
By understanding who Dominique is and what he transmitted to Andrea, we will be better able to perceive what Furlan Marri prepares for the future.
When we asked Dominique to give us an overview of his professional experience to understand the scope of his work, he naturally told us the story of his parents.
Like Obelix from the famous French cartoon “Asterix”, he fell into watchmaking as a child, as he was the result of an encounter between two people from Vacheron Constantin. Appointed to the Centre Technique de l’Industrie Horlogère in Besançon as head of French watchmaking standardization, the couple left Switzerland to settle in France, where Dominique was born.
In this position, his father, who represents France, determines, with the great watchmaking nations of the time and in a common way, all the rules and standards applied to any technical thing. This work is done in common in order to facilitate exchanges. This requires a vast knowledge of what is already being done, but also an ability to see how these same things could be improved. This simple post alone demonstrates the technical level of his father.
And it is precisely this level of technicality that will later allow us to understand Dominique’s point of view on watchmaking.
As if predestined, it is quite natural that he entered the watchmaking school of Besançon. With parents working in the watchmaking industry and living on the Avenue de l’Observatoire, it was the only way to go.
If today they mainly make jewelry, in its time the Maty brand also made watches.
In parallel to his studies, Dominique was a decoteur, and it was to him that the movements that had a problem were sent. This assembly line work allowed him to refine his eye and his touch. By dint of habit, he instinctively felt where the breakdown came from.
With this experience, he was hired for two years in an after-sales service workshop where he worked on all watch calibers. Then he got a job as a trainer in an interprofessional training group for adults. It was a no-brainer, wasn’t it? And yet, he was only 19 years old, he happened to be the youngest, he had been given this job because, although he had only a short professional experience, it was already intense. Moreover, he had been immersed in the technical world of watchmaking since his childhood. To train, he not only uses his early experience, but above all this innate material in him. This is when you see what his parents have passed on to him.
Dominique accentuates his passion for watchmaking which becomes a playground in which he would like to express all his creativity and inventiveness. But before that, it was to Audemars Piguet.
At the end of 1979, he took over the cutting of skeleton movements, with beveling, polishing and hand finishing, at Audemars Piguet. He held this position for 3 years before being placed on the perpetual calendars.
He met Giulio Papi in the same workbench, and very quickly a friendship was forged around their common desire to create complications. Whether they are at work or outside, technical challenges and innovation occupy their conversations.
“They didn’t know it was impossible, so they did it” sums up perfectly what they achieved at that time in creating Renaud & Papi. The whole profession considered that the creation of complications was reserved only for the manufactures. These young men must have been dreaming.
Renaud & Papi was the first step for Dominique to express his creativity. Working for brands, each new day was an opportunity to create and innovate even more. In addition to having been an opportunity for expression for Dominique, Renaud & Papi has cradled and shaped many of the important players in the independent watch industry. For example, Messrs. Greubel and Forsey and the Gronfeld brothers. And the list goes on. One wonders what independent watchmaking would be like without Renaud & Papi.
The hazards of life happening, he leaves Renaud & Papi and after a period of withdrawal, he decides to create in 2013 – 2014 Dominique Renaud SA.
His brand, his playground: let the adventure begin!
The stars aligned and the encounter happened. While looking for premises, a friend told him about Andrea. A passionate young student in Bachelor, his enthusiasm and creativity were to please him.
“You could really see that he was passionate. He knew everything: the brands, the manufacturers, what was being done (…). He seemed impressed but passionate and that’s why I liked him.” With this encounter, Dominique decided to take Andrea on as an intern to help him with his Bachelor’s project. It is in this state of mind of mutual aid that their friendship was born.
With his Bachelor’s degree in hand, Andrea continued his watchmaking adventure alongside Dominique. During 4 years, he will not only be a designer because, placed between Dominique and the engineer, Andrea hears all the technical conversations.
Working on his DR01, Dominique breaks with all that was being done. Watchmaking is the playground on which his interest in science fiction can be expressed. Like an explorer, he creates new components that must be named and designed. So, it is in this atmosphere of daily exploration that Andrea was bathed.
Classic watchmaking savoir-faire is put to work for a greater cause: discovering the unknown. One cannot remain unaffected when in contact with such projects or people.
Having that in mind, we can only say that the mecha-quartz was only a first step. A first step to start a bigger adventure, a first step to realize a vision.
Like Christopher Columbus, Andrea obtained the means from the Spanish crown to discover a new way to the Indies on which he might discover “the Americas”. Time will tell.
I hope that this article has allowed you to discover a little more about what shaped Andrea, and I hope to have aroused your curiosity…
So, are you embarking with us in the “discovery of the Americas”?