A man hears red

A man of colours, a family man, a man of watchmaking:
“I can’t do more than 50 things at once”, Daniel Dreifuss apologises, and then goes on in the next sentence to briefly mention 12 of the things he is currently preoccupied with. No, no one pushes him to be this way. Only his innate curiosity, which he devotes himself to with great passion, guides him through his life and work. When he was still a banker in New York, his life was much more fast-paced. For over 25 years now, the man from the East of Switzerland has been back in the New York of Switzerland, Zurich, and he enjoys the slower paced lifestyle while designing, producing and selling mechanical watches throughout the world.

During the week, you only see Daniel in striped shirts when he is in his atelier in the Tödistraße, or when he brings his mother breakfast, or when he personally delivers a new watch to a customer in Zurich. It’s posted on the atelier door for all to read. One encounters Maurice de Mauriac always and everywhere as a personable, human and warm family business. In addition to Dreifuss one might very well meet one or both of his sons, who have since assumed important roles in the atelier. His wife, Claudia Ginocchio, a painter, inspires just two doors down in her atelier. Masha, his daughter, the youngest member of the family, doesn’t yet have a specific task, nevertheless stimulates his thoughts with her unpretentious and unadulterated adolescent perspective.

Enjoying an espresso, a bottle of water, a slice of olive bread or some other indulgence, Daniel Dreifuss sits at his “table university” and feels, smells, contemplates various material and distribution samples, comes up with new watches, not to mention the hundreds of ideas running through his head. Again and again, he picks up his iPhone and fosters the contact to his customers, suppliers, service providers and the brand family. All in all, that’s almost 50,000 family members via the various social media channels. Yes, he takes these contacts very seriously; no one other than Daniel and his sons have the privilege of cultivating them. Dreifuss is namely a collector of personalities. They feed his curiosity and represent a not insignificant source of inspiration. Not because he wants to do what they want him to. No, he wants to feel what his extended family dreams about, what drives them, what moves them, what they know so that he can distil ideas for new watches or new details for existing models. He loves to take the pulse of his digital family and to have stepped to the same beat.

Dreifuss is a man surrounded by colour. He thinks in colours, he structures colours, feels colours and even hears them. Where others just see something red, Dreifuss also hears and feels it. In the time it takes him to find the perfect colour of a leather for a watch strap, or until the colour of the watch hand is just right, others might have developed a new large complication for a movement. He’s a holistic maker of watches and not just a watchmaker. One can see it in his creations—one can feel the love of detail, too. One mustn’t understand why Dreifuss only really feels striped shirts during the week and checked ones on the weekend. The well-known producer of chocolates Sprüngli also doesn’t go around giving away all of its secrets.

If you ask Daniel Dreifuss why he is the way he is and why he takes on so many things, the answer might come as quite a surprise. He does it for his family. For his wife, so that he can give back to her what she gives to him; for his children, to enable them the greatest possible freedom and wealth of knowledge. “I don’t want to always be saying that one should do this and shouldn’t do that. My family is very closely tied to the Maurice de Mauriac brand, and we all learn what is good for us and what is bad. The learning process cannot be any more intense than that. In life, one cannot impart anything more to a person.”

In the evening, the three little robotic vacuum cleaners buzz around Dreifuss’ feet. He makes one last espresso for the road. The creative chaos dominating the scene remains untouched as an aesthetic element of the atelier. Then he sees off a customer who didn’t believe all the stories he had heard about Dreifuss. His newest creation is fastened to his wrist with a special watchstrap that accompanies him through life. A peaceful mood descends on the Tödigasse. Dreifuss believes in fortune.