Independent Watch Brand
The idea for the Cabestan watch, with a vertically arranged movement, a tourbillon, a fusee, and an unusual winding and time-setting system using a capstan (hence the name of the watch and the brand), came from Jean-François Ruchonnet, founder of the virtual imaging company DMC Group and a renowned designer and inventor.
The design of the watch, developed in 2003–2005, was inspired by a yacht theme, and the capstan (winch), a technical device used on ships to tension ropes, gave the brand its name in the old French spelling of that term. The attractive features of the watch concept were the combination of the historic fusee and chain mechanism, which has been around since the dawn of mechanical watchmaking; the tourbillon, which is installed vertically along with all the functional parts of a caliber; and the charm inherent in watches made by an independent watchmaker. This was expressed here in an unusual shape of the caliber and case - both extremely difficult to manufacture, obviously fine craftsmanship and fine hand finishing of all caliber parts.
Ruchonnet’s initial partner was Andreas Stricker, a banker. To realize Cabestan and various other creative watchmaking projects, they formed Crealux, a 2006 reorganization of Formula I-ncentives, their former joint venture. Ruchonnet entrusted the technical development of the project to the famous independent watchmaker Vianney Halter. The first prototype of the Winch Tourbillon Vertical was unveiled in 2007. However, Vianney Halter abandoned the production of the watch. In 2008, Eric Coudray, a former Jaeger-LeCoultre watchmaker who became known as the master of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Gyrotourbillon spherical biaxial tourbillon wristwatch, joined the project as head of the production team. Eric Coudray and his team were based in the Valle de Joux to produce limited editions for Cabestan. The first Winch Tourbillon Vertical examples are said to have appeared the same year.
However, difficulties in developing this project forced Jean-François Ruchonnet to sell the company in 2009 to a new owner, Timothy Bovard, who transformed the company into Cabestan Watches. Under Bovard’s leadership, the company continued to produce the original Winch Tourbillon Vertical and also began new developments. In 2010, the Cabestan Nostromo was introduced, a modernized version of the Winch Tourbillon Vertical with a trapezoidal case that allowed for the installation of sapphire crystals. On the original Winch Tourbillon Vertical, the U-shaped crystals were made of plastic. In addition, the original ‘winch’ winding and time setting system was replaced by two crowns, while the vertical arrangement of the caliber, the fusee and chain transmission, the vertical tourbillon and the display on drums were retained.
Most likely, the Cabestan Nostromo was never produced or at least sold, since there was no evidence of the appearance of real watches, even on the secondary market. Shortly after the announcement of the Cabestan Nostromo, the company introduced the Scuderia Ferrari One by Cabestan in a limited edition of 60 pieces, for which a titanium case was developed with a new aerodynamic design that also used carbon parts. At the end of 2011, the Trapezium watch was introduced with an updated design and two sapphire crystals instead of one, as in the Nostromo and Scuderia Ferrari One by Cabestan models.
In 2013, a new team took over the company with a new CEO and owner, Lionel Betoux, at the helm, who expanded the collection with the new Luna Nera, developed by Eric Coudray. The Luna Nera was launched in 2013 and appears to have been developed under the direction of the previous owner. The watch features a large 3D moonphase display integrated into the Cabestan caliber. Then in 2015, the Triple Axis Tourbillon was introduced. The launch of this watch by Cabestan is logical thanks to the participation of Eric Coudray, the well-known master of technical development of spherical tourbillons. Probably, this watch remains the only triple axis tourbillon in the world with a fusee and a chain transmission. In 2020, the company seems to have ceased its activity, which makes the watches of this brand even more attractive to collect.