The Artisanal Odyssey of Nicolas Delaloye in Swiss Watchmaking

The Artisanal Odyssey of Nicolas Delaloye in Swiss Watchmaking

In the heart of Geneva, a city synonymous with watchmaking excellence, Nicolas Delaloye's story unfolds - a tale woven from the threads of time and tradition. Born in 1970, Delaloye's destiny was seemingly preordained, his life's path charted by the rhythmic heartbeat of precision timepieces.

Ecole d'Horlogerie de Genève 

Educated at the Ecole d'Horlogerie de Genève, the oldest watchmaking school in this illustrious city, Delaloye embarked on his journey in 1987. Here, amidst the hallowed halls where horology's greats once trod, he absorbed the wisdom of the ages, graduating in 1991, not just with a diploma, but with a legacy to uphold.

Delaloye's early career was a pilgrimage through the sacred temples of Swiss watchmaking. At Patek Philippe (1991-1994), he delved into the realms of chronographs, perpetual calendars, and split-seconds chronographs, with a particular focus on the QP 27-70 complication. This tenure was more than an employment; it was an apprenticeship with time itself.

In the years 1994 to 1995, Delaloye became the beacon of Gevril's watchmaking department, guiding it with a mix of innovation and respect for time-honoured traditions. Then, at Roger Dubuis (1995-1996), he ascended to the role of workshop manager, a testament to his expertise in orchestrating the assembly of both simple and complex movements, coupled with the rigorous implementation of quality control protocols.

The year 1996 heralded a collaboration with François-Paul Journe, a partnership that allowed Delaloye to contribute to the development of the grande sonnerie movement, showcasing his versatility and technical prowess.

Returning to Patek Philippe from 1997 to 2000, Delaloye embraced the role of a restorer, breathing new life into both modern and vintage wristwatches and pocket watches, a role that married his deep respect for the past with his masterful skill.

The dawn of the new millennium marked a period of prolific creativity and achievement for Delaloye. 


Before introducing his watch collection, let’s have a last glimpse of his career history in working for other watchmakers. Starting from 2000, this precious flower has completely blossomed.


His repertoire expanded to include aftersales service (SAV)  for various prestigious brands, for instance, Grande Sonnerie clocks by Renaud & Papi, Grande Sonnerie wristwatch by Gérald Genta, music boxes by Reuge, and both simple and complicated pocket watches. He also assembled quite a lot of movement and watches during that time period: the Ulysse Nardin minute repeater automata, the three-axis tourbillons by Vianney Halter, Christophe Claret minute repeater and tourbillon movements, Concepto split-seconds tourbillon chronograph and the DeWitt tourbillons after him becoming the workshop manager of the brand, where he trained watchmakers himself for the first time. Other than founding and being the director of the Garde- temps SA, notably, he became an elected member of the AHCI Academy, a testament to his standing in the watchmaking community.

In 2003, driven by a lifelong passion and an unwavering dedication to horological art, Delaloye founded his own brand, aptly named "Delaloye." This endeavour was marked by the creation of his house calibre "ND 01" and the launch of his first watch series "Le Garde-Temps" in 2005. His philosophy, deeply rooted in respect for tradition and the pursuit of perfection, was evident in every timepiece, each a unique masterpiece, a celebration of Geneva's rich watchmaking heritage.


Ref:ND01.S.R, No.33/50 (Courtesy of Bonhams, sold at 1st October 2008)

By briefly dividing Delaloye’s works, there are 2 collections, men’s and women’s. However, in detail, there are 4 separate collections from it, and mostly operates based on his inaugural masterpiece, the house calibre ND01.

movement ND01 (engraved)

The centrepiece of our narrative is the Le Garde Temps collection from the men's collection, a testament to Nicolas Delaloye's exceptional artistry in the realm of watchmaking. This collection is not just an assortment of timepieces but a showcase of pinnacle craftsmanship and design. Presented in two distinct sizes, 37mm and 41mm, these watches are embodiments of sophistication, available in a luxurious selection of materials: the refined elegance of grey gold, the rich warmth of rose gold, and the exclusive, occasional piece in yellow gold. The series is exquisitely limited, with only 50 pieces crafted in both grey and rose gold, ensuring rarity and uniqueness for each owner.

movement ND01 b

Delaloye's dedication to excellence and detail is evident in the diverse dial variations offered within the collection. The sector dial, a hallmark of the brand's aesthetic, is complemented by a Mother of Pearl sub-dial, adding a layer of intricate beauty and refinement. Among these masterpieces, a standout piece features the acanthus leaf-style engraving, drawing inspiration from classical Roman art. This particular design not only enhances the watch's visual appeal but also connects the wearer to the historical depths of artistic expression, seamlessly blending horological innovation with timeless artistry.

At the core of each timepiece lies the in-house Cal. ND 01 movement, encapsulating Delaloye's commitment to horological supremacy. This movement is more than a mechanism; it is a declaration of the brand’s ethos, representing a confluence of tradition and avant-garde innovation. The inclusion of this calibre reaffirms the Le Garde Temps collection’s status as a monumental achievement in watchmaking, solidifying its legacy as an emblem of the highest echelon of craftsmanship.  

Front of Perpetual Calendar Ref. ND 41QP.rBack of Perpetual Calendar Ref. ND 41QP.r

In the Perpetual Calendar collection, there are mainly two models, Ref. ND 41QP.r and Ref. ND41QP.g. .

Ref. ND410 QP.r. is a testament to Swiss watchmaking tradition. The 41-mm red gold case and blue guilloche dial complement each other in a dance of elegance and sophistication. Its perpetual calendar, day, month, and leap year indicators are not just functional complications; they are a celebration of time's eternal cycle.The manual rewind movement, 3-day power reserve, and the alligator leather strap with a red gold buckle, all contribute to a design that's both classic and contemporary. This exquisite timepiece, limited to just 10 pieces, is a rare jewel in the crown of Swiss watchmaking.

Perpetual Calendar Ref.ND41QP.g. 41mm in red goldPerpetual Calendar Ref.ND41QP.g. 41mm in white gold

The ND41QP.g. stands out with its bold black and red colour scheme. The 41-mm case of red gold and the black carbon dial create a striking contrast, punctuated by bright red numeric indexes. This model, too, features the exclusive ND 01 calibre and a 3-day power reserve.

The sapphire crystal case back, water resistance of 30 metres, and the natural leather strap with a red gold buckle, all underscore Delaloye's commitment to excellence. The Côtes de Genève pattern adds a final touch of sophistication to this elegant timekeeper.

Front view of Chronograph ND 41 c.r.External view of hinged caseback of Chronograph ND 41 c.r.

One of the marvels of Delaloye’s craftsmanship is the Chronograph ND 41 c.r.. Encased in a 41-mm frame of 18-carat red gold, it exudes a timeless elegance. The dial, a masterpiece of silver circular finishing, harmonises with the intricate guilloche tracery in red gold at its heart. Arabic numerals in plated red gold and nacre metres are situated at the “3”, “6” and “9” positions and accentuate its classic appeal. 

Internal view of hinged caseback of Chronograph ND 41 c.r.

At its core lies the Valjoux 71 movement, a manual rewind mechanism with a column wheel and 19 jewels. The 40-hour power reserve, a hinged red gold case back, and the natural alligator leather strap with a red gold buckle, all speak to the unparalleled quality and attention to detail that Delaloye dedicates to his creations. 

Beyond merely crafting a standard chronograph, he engineered a remarkable, one-of-a-kind split-second chronograph. This exceptional piece boasts a sleek black dial paired with a sub-dial crafted from mother-of-pearl (MOP) material. Encased in elegant grey gold, it features an officer's case back with a hinged opening, allowing onlookers to admire the movement's exquisite beauty. Notably, the mechanism is based on the esteemed Venus 179 movement, enhancing its allure and technical sophistication.

model of Ladies’s collection “Les Pléiades”, No.1/50 (Courtesy of Bonhams, sold at 26th July 2008)

Last but not least, for the Delaloye’s women’s collection, “Les Pléiades”, it is an ode to femininity and elegance. With a smaller 32mm case and the Cal. Felsa 22 movement, it differs significantly from the men's collections. The MOP dial exudes a delicate beauty, capturing the essence of elegance and femininity in every aspect of its design.


In 2016, Delaloye returned to Patek Philippe, a brand that has played a significant role throughout his career, up till present. As a Restorer at the Patek Philippe Museum, he applies his extensive knowledge and skill to the restoration of pocket and wristwatches, spanning centuries. His work is not just technical but also educational, as he organises display cases and presents watchmaking activities to the public, bridging the gap between historical craftsmanship and contemporary appreciation.

An intriguing detail in Delaloye's creations is the phrase “respect des traditions” inscribed in the interior of the watchbox. This is more than a mere inscription; it is a credo, embodying his commitment to the Swiss watchmaking culture and its storied history.

Nicolas Delaloye's career is a rich tapestry of skill, tradition, and innovation. His journey, from a young watch enthusiast in Geneva to a revered figure in the Swiss watchmaking industry, is a narrative of relentless pursuit of perfection and a deep respect for the art of timekeeping. His work not only preserves the legacy of watchmaking but also pushes its boundaries, ensuring that the tick of a mechanical watch remains not just a measure of time, but a heartbeat of history and art.

Internal view of Chronographe rattrapante Venus 179 with hinged caseback
“Garde temps” model in 41mm white gold case with case engraved

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