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Xavier Dietlin is renowned the world over for inventing and producing the most innovative, cutting-edge display cases.

Xavier Dietlin

Following a serious injury that brought his footballing career to an end (3 official selections with the Swiss national team under Roy Hodgson), Xavier Dietlin joined the family business in the metal construction industry. In just 10 years, he had shifted the company’s focus towards display cases, with a strong emphasis on innovation. The company made its key breakthrough in 2005 on behalf of Hublot, with the Raptor display case with no glass that is nevertheless secure: through the use of sensors, the object on show is retracted into the base of the case in only a few tenths of a second as soon as a foreign body comes near.

The watchmaking industry began to entrust him with a number of hugely complex projects around the world, closely followed by jewelers, prestigious museums (MoMA) and multinationals including Mercedes Benz, Huawei and Philip Morris.

Today, the company is renowned the world over for inventing and producing the most innovative, cutting-edge display cases. (Excerpt from PME Magazine)

Dietlin : exceptional showcases and display windows

Article published in the magazine Fivestars Made In Switzerland in 2016
Text: Camille Viennet
Photo : Benny Tache

An ability to go with the flow, innovate, find new perspectives, follow one’s gut instinct and one’s passions in life. That’s exactly what former professional footballer Xavier Dietlin does brilliantly. Having been forced to renounce his football career due to injury, his competitive instinct took him down a new path.

#xavierdietlin #dietlin #xdietlin #fivestars #excellence #madeinswitzerland #dietlinartisan #raptor #innovativedisplay #vitrineinnovante #showcase #vitrine #baselworld #schaukasten

He went to work at Dietlin, his dad’s metal factory. Not something that really floated his boat to start off with but it ended up open- ing up a new window of opportunity for him. A competition for a prestigious brand made him fall hard for the watchmaking world. It didn’t matter a jot to him that he trailed in last place as this wonderful experience propelled him to start making watch windows for a liv- ing. Since then he has gradually pulled away from the metal workshop environment to focus fully on his new passion. Hublot, Omega and plenty of other top Swiss brands now call on him for their windows. Because there is no mistaking that his windows knock the com- petition straight out of the ballpark. His are so random, so leftfield, that their interactive nature inspires reverie. Holograms, videos, unexpected movements, we are not surprised that he got involved in this line of work. As a former top level athlete, standing out from the crowd is par for the course for Mr Dietlin. And he is on a constant quest to find new ideas to dazzle and surprise. The shining star in his col- lection of creations is the Raptor display con- cept. It came about in answer to a question that reflects his mindset to a tee. Question: what’s never been done before when it comes to dis- play cases ? Answer ? Removing the glass, of course !

An exposed watch that’s tantalisingly within reach but as soon as your hand comes close, the retractable system inside springs into action ! Queue eyes on stalks ! Xavier Dietlin has really put the cat among the pigeons in the traditional world of watchmaking, bringing a breath of fresh air and mystery to the table to delight young and old ! New York, Las Vegas, Berlin ... the sky is the limit, and he is always ready to face new challenges. This dynamic individual with his infectious optimism and enthusiasm invites us into a very surprising world. And being astounded like this makes you feel so alive. We are all looking for wonder in the
world. This is something he
understands only too well
by offering an interactive
and entertaining concept
to revolutionise the watch-
making world. A product
that is 100% made in Swit-
zerland, something very
important to him. And it’s
top quality all the way for
a concept that goes above
and beyond the norm in
watchmaking and can be
extended to other products. A technological marvel. And that’s how artisan metalworkers Dietlin became big in the display window world; a unique workshop where every upscale product can find the right fit.#xavierdietlin #dietlin #xdietlin #fivestars #excellence #madeinswitzerland #dietlinartisan #raptor #innovativedisplay #vitrineinnovante #showcase #vitrine #baselworld #schaukasten

Everything inspires me !

Article published in the magazine 'Montres Passion' in 2013

Text: Bernadette Richard
Photos: Christophe Lauffenburger, Cédric Widmer and Sébastien Agnetti.

The watchmaking industry's original and eye-catching product displays are a source of envy in many other areas. For Xavier Dietlin, the search for new ways of showcasing timepieces is a constant challenge. Xavier Dietlin comes across as a very down-to-earth person. He is relaxed, pleasant, smiling… and very talkative. Although a constant whirlwind of activity, he is still able to recount the adventure of this family business without constantly checking his watch. Watches are his great passion: "I'm not at all materialistic, I don't even have a television and have no taste for luxury," he says, getting out of a very unassuming car. "But then there are watches…"

#xavierdietlin #dietlin #xdietlin #montrespassion #lhebdo #dietlinartisan #raptor #innovativedisplay #vitrineinnovante #showcase #vitirne #baselworld #schaukasten

That's lucky. At the start of the new millennium, he raised the idea of branching into new areas, including the watchmaking industry, with his father, whom he works with - along with his brother and sister in this united family undertaking. Established in 1854 in the Swiss city of Porrentruy, the Dietlin metalworking company has been passed down from father to son.In 1969, his father took the business to work on sites in Geneva and then Lausanne, with artistic ironwork gradually being overtaken by metal constructions, doors and windows, etc. Serving customers including several banks and the Olympic Museum, the company's business grew rapidly. Xavier did not join the family company immediately. He may have obtained his qualification as a locksmith, but he cherished another dream. One shared by millions of young boys all over the world: he wanted to become a footballer! A nice dream!

#xavierdietlin #dietlin #xdietlin #montrespassion #lhebdo #dietlinartisan #raptor #innovativedisplay #vitrineinnovante #showcase #vitirne #baselworld #schaukasten

You just have to want something hard enough…

Fortune smiled on Xavier Dietlin and his dream came true. He joined Servette Football Club in its glory days: "I played with top level players, under the management of Roy Hodgson, with whom I took part in three selections for the Swiss national team. What do I think about football? It takes a huge amount of discipline, you think, live and eat football. Your whole life revolves around it, and worrying about whether you will be playing at the weekend or whether you're next on the transfer list. Football grinds you down, and it broke me. This way of life wasn't for me. I used to dream about getting injured, because you can't suddenly stop on a whim. You have a price on your head, you're worth a transfer fee." He wanted nothing more than to return to real life when, at the age of 22, very badly torn ligaments allowed him to make a dignified exit from his childhood dream. He often looks back on this experience today, to remind himself of the strength of willpower, for example.

He joined the family business and very soon – Xavier never hangs around – suggested a change in the company's activities. "I watched my father resolve some very complex problems. With never as much as a word of thanks. But as soon as anything threatened to go off track, the architects turned against him. We needed to diversify. And the display cases used to present items at exhibitions, in shops or public places are little buildings! Everything is the same, but on a much tinier scale."

Xavier Dietlin had qualified as an industrial designer in the meantime. But above all, he is driven by an insatiable curiosity, always searching for clues which his constantly active brain then analyses, modifies, adapts and reinterprets.

#xavierdietlin #dietlin #xdietlin #montrespassion #lhebdo #dietlinartisan #raptor #innovativedisplay #vitrineinnovante #showcase #vitirne #baselworld #schaukasten
Family business : Xavier, Nicolas and Emilie Dietlin.

Intrigue, appeal, amuse, irritate

In response to all his customers in search of the latest technological innovation to display their watches, Xavier Dietlin asks: "What story do you want to tell?" He believes that showcasing a watch, or a collection, or any object, generally involves telling its story, setting a scene that illustrates the mysteries of its present reality. "Take the Antikythera mechanism at the Museum of Athens that gave Hublot the clever idea for its own collections. I was given the task of creating a showcase for it, a kind of fortress! The specifications were impossible to achieve. An anti-seismic showcase, with purified air, strict hydrography, light and heat regulation and more were required to present the fragments of this creation of Archimedes that had so astounded scientists. The Greeks thought they were the best. But in the end they purchased my transparent bunker! For this very important mechanism, its history affected ours, I designed an exceptional setting, as was fitting for an exceptional object. The same applies for the famous Marie-Antoinette watch that inspired Breguet."

This creator of surprises uses every tactic in the book to attract attention:intrigue, appeal, amuse, irritate.As long as it causes the customer to stop and desire the object reposing in its case. "People like movement," he observes, " the Raptor case by Dietlin Artisans Métalliers is pure magic: it has no protective glass. The timepiece is just sitting there, the ultimate temptation… But if you get a little too close, it disappears!It's been a great success. It is currently being used in more than 200 Hublot points of sale all over the world."

Or perhaps the client would like to set its product alight, without actually reducing it to ashes? Xavier Dietlin uses a hologram system to set fire to your priceless timepieces. Where is the watch? Where is the fire? Is it a fire? Is the watch real? The observer simply can't work it out, and for the seller this means more customers!

"To be able to invent, present and surprise, I need emotional connections," continues this wizard of showcases and displays. "I hate pyramid schemes. Friendly connections make the impossible become possible. I don't like arrogance or pretentiousness. I am now aware of my own value and skills. Just six years ago, I felt very small.When I was invited to New York, I was impressed. Now, they roll out the red carpet in Tokyo and LA for this ordinary man from Switzerland. Wherever I am, I stay myself. And if I'm not interested in a product, I turn down the contract. That's the advantage of being in demand: people want you!" Xavier Dietlin is a pioneer, always at the cutting edge. "It's rewarding, but you never sit back and relax. I'm constantly on the lookout, and one day a detail might jump out, a new take on an idea." In the end, the most important thing is to maintain a childlike view of the world, with play as your watchword for life.

​Xavier Dietlin (with Raymond Knigge from Interinam) was nominated for EY The Entrepreneur Of The Year 2016 award.Xavier Dietlin (with Raymond Knigge from Interinam) was nominated for EY The Entrepreneur Of The Year 2016 award.

The Naked Watchmaker: Xavier Dietlin - Display Cabinet Maker

Xavier Dietlin realised his dream of becoming a professional footballer, only to find it wasn’t for him. An injury meant he returned to the family construction business, which he then transformed into a company that provides some of the most ingenious presentation cabinets in the watch industry.

The Naked Watchmaker: Xavier Dietlin - Display Cabinet Maker

1. Describe briefly your childhood.

My dream has always been to become a footballer. I had the posters of my idols in my room and my life was punctuated by this dream.

2. As a child did you have any driving ambition?

My dream disappointed me. Life is more complex than kicking a ball all day. I think I wanted to become someone who was more of an actor than a spectator. I wanted to play on the field and not be in the stands. I wanted to be on the dance floor and not at the bar. And I think that today I respond to this desire.

3. What is your first significant memory as a child?

I remember my grandmother who raised me and who was a very educated woman. She said to me: Never stop, like an eternal child curious about everything, to question you. I remember her, I was sitting on those knees and she was talking to me about theatre, poetry, religion. These were such precious moments and I miss them very much.

4. Have you ever had another profession?

The profession doesn't matter. What is important for me is to have a creative profession. The creative spirit is the fuel of life. What you create doesn't matter.

5. What made you decide to go in the direction you are currently in?

It is not really a profession that I chose. My father had a construction business. I took over the business and since I didn't like it, I redirected the activity with the creative spirit I need. My interest in watchmaking helped me.

6. What’s the worst job you’ve had to do?

Playing football has been my dream. I became a professional footballer and played in the Swiss national team in front of tens of thousands of people applauding. In competitive sport, you have to eat, read, think sport. It was the worst job of my life! Fortunately, an injury saved my life.

7. What’s been the hardest moment in your life so far, and how did you overcome it?

I lost my stepfather in a train accident that happened before the eyes of my children. After that, my wife suffered from depression for several years with several hospitalizations. I had to take care of my two boys alone and it deeply affected me. Life is like a child’s hanging mobile in balance. If a piece moves, the gauge breaks and it will take a long time to regain balance without that piece. "Enjoy life, it is much later than you think." -Claude Lelouch

8. Who has had the strongest influence on you?

Music has always had a special place for me. It's one of the few things that can take you back in time, even remembering the state of mind you were in. It is absolutely magical. At 18 years old, I listened to Jaques Brel, Georges Brassens, Barbara. Most of the music you listen to is linked to important moments in your life. Today I can tell you on which music I created this or that showcase.

9. What are you most proud of?

I chose to remain passionate about my work (life) and I missed out on major financial affairs. Today, I am very proud of this choice. Money is not the goal, money is the fuel.

10. What advice would you give to a 20 something someone thinking of taking a similar path as you?

It is sensitivity that makes us passionate. If you are not sensitive, you are never sublime. -Voltaire-

11. Name three things on your bucket list.

Have dinner with Tori Amos. Blessed are the cracked because they will let the light pass - Michel Audiard Cycling around the world with my two boys without knowing the route for the next day. Spend time with me, without needing others.

12. Where do you think the watch industry is going to be in 10 years time?

Smaller but better. Fewer products on the market but exceptional products, intended for customers who think “Time is not measured by clocks but by moments”. 


The Naked Watchmaker: Xavier Dietlin - Display Cabinet Maker