Alf Lie Luxury Watches – A Dream That Can Only Be Hand Delivered
March 26, 2018
Alf Lie is a luxury watch brand in the upper-class segment. The brand was founded in 1836 and has been producing watches ever since. The watches are made in Geneva, are hand crafted and include high complications in the finest material.
The founder Michel Paulsen started his watch business 1836 in Christiania (Oslo today) and quickly gained a reputation as a very skilled watchmaker. Many of his masterpieces are still in use in Oslo. In 1853, Paulsen donated a clock to the University of Oslo and it is still on display for the benefit of Oslo’s population.
The famous Norwegian writer Henrik Ibsen is a prime example. After his regular daily writing chores, he always took a walk down to the venerable Grand Café to read the day’s newspapers. On the way there, he would pass by Arbeinsgate to set the time of his pocket watch by the University Clock – provided and maintained by watchmaker Alf Lie.
In addition to the University Clock, Alf Lie delivered and has been responsible for the time-keeping of several clocks at police stations and churches in Oslo, the Norwegian Bank and Akershus Fortress – to name just a few. He also provided the accurate time signal to the Norwegian National Broadcasting Service (NRK) that allowed it to broadcast the exact time to the Norwegian People.
In 1903, Alf Lie went to the US to spend several years learning the fine art of watch making by the prestigious manufacturers at the time. Lie was one of Tiffany’s special watchmakers in New York, as well as working on personal orders for Henry Ford, Vanderbilt family and other famous Americans at Black, Star & Frost. When he returned to Norway in 1913, he took over the family business since 1836 and gave it the name it has today. The experience he had gained abroad provided him with an expertise far beyond that of the typical Norwegian watchmaker.
In 1918, the company, under the leadership of Alf Lie, expanded to become one of the largest watchmaker shops in Oslo, with four apprentices, 11 watchmakers in the workshop and six store employees. The store had a well-known name and its designs were well integrated into the everyday lives of many Norwegians. Alf Lie has delivered to the Norwegian Royal Castle for 70 years and had their clocks and watches regularly adjusted by Alf Lie.
Alf Lie has cobranded with many of the famous Swiss watch brands, including Patek Philippe, Ulysse Nardin, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Vacheron Constantin and Movado. Alf Lie has some of these watches in the Vintage Collection in Geneva, and they are highly sought-after. Besides these, Alf Lie also possesses a number of telegrams and greeting from celebrities like, among others, the Norwegian king and the board of directors of Patek Philippe Geneva.
Many brands claim to be very old even though some of them have not been working with watches all the time. Either they might have used the name of a company doing something completely different, or they were producing watches a long time ago and then stopped the production for decades. This is not the case with Alf Lie, that has been producing watches every year since 1836. To document this, Alf Lie has a card index of all the sales, repairs and all other activities done in the name of Alf Lie since the start. This card index is currently being digitalized to be used as a database. It is just a few brands in the world that have a similar historical documentation.
Alf Lie watches belong in the high-end segment because of the very high quality. They are produced in the Alf Lie workshop in the center of Geneva by very skilled watchmakers. Watchmaking in Geneva is a fine art and it requires training and practice during many years. The Alf Lie watches are made of the finest materials, like gold, rose gold, white gold, titanium and diamonds of the best cut. No watches are gold-plated, all are 100% pure gold, which you can tell by the weight when you hold the watch in your hand.
The basic movement of a watch serves to indicate the hours, minutes and seconds, whether it is a manual winding or automatic watch. A “complication” thus refers to any mechanism which is added to the movement to either provide information or a specific function in addition to giving the time. Complications can be combined with each other. They can range from very simple to ultra-complicated works of high horology that combine numerous functions and can take years to develop. Examples of complications are the tourbillon, calendar indication, annual or perpetual calendar, alarm, striking mechanism, multiple time zones indication, universal hours, power reserve indicator and chronograph, many of which Alf Lie watches offer.
The Minute Repeater Tourbillon is considered to be the queen of complications and is prized by watch collectors and lovers. The first mechanisms to precisely indicate the number of minutes elapsed appeared in the early years of the 18th century (1700-1710). They originated before widespread artificial illumination, to allow the time to be determined in the dark, and were also used by visually impaired.
Thanks to this grand complication, the watch chimes the time on demand by activating a push- or slide-piece. The Minute Repeater will strike the number of hours, the number of quarters since the last hour and the number of minutes since the last quarter-hour. This requires three different sounds to distinguish hours, quarters and minutes. Like a musical instrument, the repeater requires great skills and know-how to be properly assembled and set. Alf Lie is proud to have several watchmakers in-house that have this knowledge. The Alf Lie Minute Repeater is made in only 4 pieces, with makes the owner of one of them quite unique.
Another of the beautiful Alf Lie watches is the Tourbillon Automatic Extra Thin with its micro-rotor. Automatic mechanical watches with a micro-rotor represent a true technical prowess, where the challenge is to provide the movement with enough energy and requires to find the efficient micro-rotor material/weight – winding system rapport. Unlike regular automatic watch rotors, the micro-rotor is fully integrated into the watch movement, thus the watch is thinner. In the case of Alf Lie, the watch was even more complex to conceive as it also has a tourbillon. Besides the complexity, it is limited to 18 pieces in the world!
All the watches are handmade, and the finishing of each part is made by hand. The average time spent on finishing by other brands is two minutes per part. The average time for each Alf Lie piece is twenty minutes. Considering that the movement in a Minute Repeater, for example, is made from 315 pieces – this makes a huge difference.
Alf Lie has two main collections; The Grand Nor and the Tribute to the Past. These two have different designs and backgrounds and attracts different clients.
The Grand Nor collection is built on the Norwegian heritage. It has a very strong DNA and is easy to recognize. Norway is a beautiful country with fjords and magical landscapes. Since the age of the Vikings, Norwegians are sailors at heart. During and before the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, sailors from Scandinavia had long voyaged across the oceans to reach the Far North and elsewhere in the Middle East. As part of its legacy, Norway has always represented this spirit, the spirit of the Grand North, which has allowed its people to live freely and independently in search for new energy resources as well as technology advances.
The beauty, authenticity, freedom, safety, strength and the pursuit of the future are among the key elements that make up the DNA of this collection. The watches have a box-shaped design with a plunging barrel, highlighting the curved silhouette on which a pair of arches called bars run along the edges of the case. These bars evoke the purity of modern architecture but also the handrails of an ultra-elegant private yacht. The collection includes different types as; gent automatic watches in steel or gold; lady watches; AL01 Chrono-tourbillon in titanium or gold; AL1000 flying tourbillon in rose gold or yellow gold. All of which are available in a variety of different dials. The series of produced watches are very small, like 1/9 or 1/18.
The Tribute to the Past collection was made for the 180-year anniversary that Alf Lie celebrated in 2016. It pays tribute to the legacy of the brand’s founders, who were illustrious watchmakers recognized by their peers, and to the strong ties that have always existed between Alf Lie and Switzerland especially through exceptional Swiss Watchmaking. Indeed, since 1920 all Alf Lie timepieces were equipped with Swiss movements.
With a classic touch, the models of this collection possess a contemporary flare and are powered by the finest movements that exist today. It completes the Grand Nor collection with a more subtle design and round dials. The collection includes; automatic watches; tourbillon automatic in steel or gold; minute repeater in rose gold or yellow gold.
Since Alf Lie is selling so exclusive products, is it important to offer the client something more. That is why Alf Lie has the Concept of Alf Lie. This means that the customer gets a whole experience, with extraordinary service and a non-traditional way of selling. For example, Alf Lie has no retailers at all. To be able to make the client feel special, Alf Lie is selling face to face instead of over a desk. There are Alf Lie-representatives all over the world, that have been trained to work according to the Alf Lie concept.
Alf Lie is arranging special events with invited VIPs where they can see the products in a safe and relaxed environment over good food and wine. On all these events, there is a watchmaker present that has the knowledge to answer all technical questions. The events can take place in different locations, like a private club in London; on a yacht in the Mediterranean; or the workshop in Geneva for example.
Another part of the concept is to give the customers service that cannot be found elsewhere. That is why all high-complication- and gold watches have lifetime warranty. It is something completely unique in the business. It means that if you give your watch the regular service that is recommended, Alf Lie will take care of any problem that can occur on the movement for as long as you live.
Alf Lie also promises hand delivery to the clients, meaning that wherever you are in the world when you buy a watch, a representative from Alf Lie will personally bring you your new timepiece. Everything to give the client an extraordinary experience.
Alf Lie also wants to take care of the existing clients, why all the buyers of a top model-watch become members of the Alf Lie Elite Club. With a special login to an exclusive website, they can see all the current accesses. Details require a membership. Besides this, all owners of an Alf Lie watch have the first chance to see all new models as soon as they are available.
Thanks to the small organization and the flexibility, Alf Lie can make custom made watches if a client would like a one-of-a-kind watch, or has any special request. To summarize the concept of Alf Lie, and the service offered: Alf Lie is ready to walk the extra mile for the customers.