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In conversation with Dominique Renaud at HYT

by Chester Lau on February 7, 2015

About Dominique Renaud

Dominique Renaud set up Renaud et Papi with Guilo Papi in 1986 and Renaud Papi Claret (now Manufacture Claret) in 1989. Dominique sold all his shares in Renaud et Papi in 2000 and more or less retired to the South of France. In 2013, he was still brimming with ideas on horology and started to itch to return to watchmaking. He re-established a company called Swiss Innovation Lab with a partner and began to put into projects some of the ideas he had in his 13 years of retirement. Read more about their collaboration here.

dominique-renaud2

Dominique Renaud, the man behind the IWC’s Grande Complication and the first Grand Sonnerie for Audemars Piguet.

Most of his accomplishments are well known, but what is less covered is the man himself.

The following replies by Dominique are adapted after interpretation.

C: “How or why did you choose to make watches?”

D: I come from a family well steeped in the tradition of watchmaking. My grandfather is a master craftsman who specialised in gem setting for over 60 years. At some point his skills were so rare and he was the only man for the job that the company had to plead him out of retirement. My mother too, worked as a watchmaker at Jaeger LeCoultre.

C: “Since you come from a family of traditional artisan watchmakers, do they influence your approach to watches in anyway? Were they against your approach of innovation?”

D: In fact it is quite the contrary. They are highly supportive of innovation and that is my approach to watchmaking. After 5 years at Audemars Piguet, I had learned as much as I needed about traditional watchmaking. That was when I started to have new ideas and wanted very much to develop them. That is how I started Renaud et Papi with Giulio. I was 26 then. The tagline which Audemars Piguet uses is very close to my own values. “To break the rules, you must first master them.” Innovation is the word to work towards. We need to find new ways to improve watchmaking, the sky’s the limit.

interview-inprogress

Interview in session: from left to right, myself, Ion Schiau (VP Sales&Marketing at HYT), Dominique Renaud and Luiggino Torrigiani (GM at The Watch Odyssey)

C: “So what is your main focus for HYT’s manufacture?”

D: For now, I am working on finding ways to improve the amount of power in the movement, and to create more energy. There is great potential in this brand and their ideas and values are very much aligned with mine. In fact, we have found solutions to several problems in watchmaking that will revolutionise the industry. Some of these solutions will be revealed tentatively next year, but I believe it is ‘ground breaking’.

 

The H2, is a collaboration with Audemars Piguet Renaud Papi (APRP), and features the piston arranged in a V shape, like a V engine, and and opened up dial to show more of the movement.

The H2, is a collaboration with Audemars Piguet Renaud Papi (APRP), and features the piston arranged in a V shape, like a V engine, and and opened up dial to show more of the movement. Read more about it here.

C: “How different is it to work with Chemists since liquid is a medium largely foreign to many watchmakers?”

D: Yes it is indeed different, but to have different specialists sitting down at a table to discuss new ideas, I am learning a lot. That is what I like about HYT, it is innovating and discovering new things everyday.

C: “Based on the current liquid movement line ups, is it possible to add on more complications like a chronograph or a perpetual calendar?”

D: The thing about the movements is power. The more complicated the watch is, the more power it requires to push the fluids to different displays. That is our focus for now, power. Once we create more power in new movements, it is possible to see more complications in the pipeline.

The latest HYT skull, fondly nicknamed 'Iron Man' by collectors for its striking red and gold colours.

The latest HYT skull, fondly nicknamed ‘Iron Man’ by collectors for its striking red and gold colours.

Dominique Renaud is not just a watchmaker, he is a visionary. He reminds me of a scientist with a passion for discovery. In particular he is paying close attention to new ideas in escapement, and flexible arms. With this venture with HYT watches, he sees himself coming closer to his ideal as a watchmaker of the future.

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