Raidillon celebrates its 22nd anniversary!By Shana Devleschoudere
A little history...
The Belgian watch brand Raidillon refers to the mythical bend of the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, considered by many to be the most beautiful circuit in the world. This iconic and particularly steep bend, known to all motorsport enthusiasts, is used by Formula 1 drivers at an impressive speed of over 300 km/h.
In 2001, Bernard Julémont decided to create a new watch brand in homage to this famous bend, which he had fallen in love with a few years earlier by taking it like the Gentleman Driver that he is. Years passed, Bernard retired from the company more than 10 years ago, and a new shareholder decided to invest in the company.
In July 2021, Patrick Gelder joins the main shareholder Frédéric Dawans, and is appointed CEO of Raidillon in the same time. Patrick Gelder has a great experience in the world of watchmaking as founder of the company Gtime, distributor of several well-known brands on the Benelux and French market for 25 years.
We are now witnessing a revival of the Raidillon brand: change in the distribution mode, now only through jewelers, expansion of the collection (including the new Miles case), attractive price (from 1.495€) and the abandonment of quartz models to focus on automatic movements.
A unique concept: 55 limited pieces
The number 55, symbol of the brand, was not chosen by chance.
Historically, it represents the maximum number of cars allowed to participate in a car race on the Spa-Francorchamps circuit. Raidillon has therefore borrowed this emblematic number from the world of motor racing to create its exclusive watches in a limited series of 55 pieces. Each watch is engraved with a unique serial number. Only the number 13/55 does not exist. Why not? By superstition: as in racing, it is out of the game. It is replaced by the number 00/55 to keep 55 pieces.
Swiss Made and automatic
All the watches produced are Swiss Made and always equipped with a Sellita automatic movement (SW200 and SW500). Previously, some models were also equipped with a Swiss ETA movement. This movement has an oscillating weight reworked especially for Raidillon, in the shape of a car wheel.
The production is now moved to a small Swiss village above Neuchâtel: Le Noirmont. The workshops of Hermès, Paul Picot and Louis Erard are also located there.
All production is under the responsibility of the Production Manager, based in Neuchâtel: Marc Calmonte. Marc has more than 30 years of experience in the watchmaking sector. Thanks to him, Raidillon has been able to raise its quality standards and significantly increase the finish of its models. The application of a numbered plate rather than a simple engraving on the side of the case is one example among others.
All models are imagined and drawn in Belgium by designer Adrien Van Mullem. Belgian, 27 years old, he studied at the Institut Supérieur du Design in France and has been working for Raidillon since 2018.
Even the bracelets, so specifically Rallye (with their holes) and recognizable from afar, are made in Belgium at LIC in Oostende.
A new family: the Miles
In December 2022, a new Raidillon family was introduced to the market: the Miles. It is a "cushion" shaped model with a 41 mm diameter. This format is new for Raidillon but corresponds perfectly to the values of the Gentleman Driver thanks to its vintage reference.
Available in chronograph and 3-hand versions, still automatic, the Miles offers an affordable first price of 1,490€. The watch comes with a vintage bracelet with a multitude of small holes.
22 years anniversary
"In 2023, Raidillon will celebrate its 22nd anniversary. As we like double numbers and doing things differently, we decided to celebrate this atypical anniversary by creating 6 new Speed models in black PVD, in 22 copies each, of course..."
Three models in chronograph version and 3 hands. With the three national colors: black, yellow and red to mark our anchoring. The numbering plate 00/22 takes up the color of the dial. Each watch is sold in a specific box with a matching key ring in black PVD.
Some pictures of Raidillon's birthday...