Jer?me de Witt understands luxury. As a descendant of the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, being surrounded by it all his life has given him an uncompromising thirst for the best. That is the philosophy the 'accidental' watchmaker tries to inject into his exclusive novelties of quiet opulence. 'When you are surrounded by beauty all your life, you can accept nothing less,' de Witt says. It explains why DeWitt Timepieces has made fast strides in the horological field. In just a decade, it can boast three complicated in-house calibres and has the Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix in the Innovation category (for the Academia Tourbillon Differentiel in 2005) and four patents. It's an amazing achievement for someone who, unlike the Swiss industry's other notable watchmakers, was never formally trained and who fell into the business when another watchmaker he was financing ran off and left him with a mountain of debts and only two other workers. De Witt knew from the outset what was inside his watches would be his most important attribute. 'The approach was simple,' he says. 'It's like buying a Mercedes-Benz and one has an engine tuned by [the high-performance car division of Mercedes Benz) AMG and one does not. You will choose the AMG because you know it will be much better. When I started DeWitt, I knew I only wanted the best in quality.' The first thing he did was to assemble the best watchmakers and provide them with sufficient resources. He also kept a keen eye on new movements out on the market. 'I bought them, opened them and tuned them and put my own quality on it,' he says. 'Then I wanted finesse.' Unlike many other manufactures which start off with a base movement and then build on it for more complicated movements, DeWitt went to the other extreme. The brand still does not have a base movement, de Witt says with the slightest tinge of regret. 'It will come. To do that, we need to produce a lot to make sure it works,' he says. 'I don't want to sell something that doesn't. But I will do it.' From the start, de Witt insisted there would be 'one watchmaker, one watch'. Until now, all DeWitt watches are numbered and come with the watchmaker's signature stamped on them. It has meant that the novelties are very niche; the brand produces about 1,000 watches a year, 'maybe 2,000 if they are less complicated'. This year, 25 of the 1,000 will be the spectacular X-Watch. The third concept watch from DeWitt was initially produced for the Only Watch 2011 Charity Auction last September. The 49mm X-Watch continues DeWitt's exploration of the reversible concept first featured in The Antipode (concept watch No 2) and houses the Calibre DW8046. A single reversible movement displays bi-retrograde hours and minutes on each side and features an automatic Tourbillon, a Chronograph and a patented Automatic Sequential Winding device driven by a peripheral oscillating rotor. The upper side of the dial shows the tourbillon in a skeletal aperture and a 120-degree power reserve indicator at 12 o'clock. The hour indicator is set west while the minutes sit in the east. The watch is locked in position by an X-shaped bonnet which is released by pressing on the four push-plates at its corners. Flipping the watch 180 degrees reveals the flying chronograph. 'The vision was very simple for this,' de Witt explains. 'It's about protecting the children and how do you protect a child? You have the 'arms' folded around it.' DeWitt has expanded its Twenty-8-Eight family this year with three new models: the tourbillon, the automatic and the skeleton tourbillon. Both tourbillons are powered by the manually wound DW8028. The highlight for the basic tourbillon is the innovative blend of rose gold and Grade 5 neo titanium, a light and robust material often used in aerospace and for medical surgeries. Like the Twenty-8-Eight Tourbillon, the automatic version also comes with a mix of rose gold and neo titanium. The dial is divided into two guilloche zones with a light flame pattern on the centrepiece. All the Twenty-8-Eight novelties come in 43mm. Some novelties such as the Lady Golden Afternoon for ladies introduced last year has have gone back to the drawing board because de Witt was not satisfied with the development. 'We tried it in 34mm,' he says. 'On paper it looked nice, but when we produced it ...' he says with a shrug. 'I don't want to just accept something. Otherwise you will start accepting other things and then it will be a downward slide. There are things the customer may not see, but you will always know.' 'What's true luxury? It's what you feel inside because you know that people know even though they can't see it.'