Welcome back to an original aBlogtoWatch feature, “My First Grail Watch.” In this series, we ask prominent people in the watch industry about the first timepiece that they lusted after. Today, we’re speaking with Elie Bernheim, the third-generation leader at the helm of Raymond Weil. We think you’ll find it interesting to hear from someone who quite literally grew up in the industry.
aBlogtoWatch (ABTW): Who are you, and what is your relationship to the watch industry?
Elie Bernheim: I’m the grandson of the eponymous founder of the independent watch brand, Raymond Weil. I’m also the third generation to lead the family Company, succeeding my father, Olivier Bernheim, who headed the Company for 18 years.
ABTW: When did your fascination with watches start?
Elie Bernheim: I grew up in the watchmaking industry. It has always been part of my childhood, my life, and thus a long-standing passion! It was evident for me to join the family business and continue the work that my grandfather started in 1976.
ABTW: What was your first grail watch?
Elie Bernheim: The first watch I received was a Raymond Weil W1. They had been produced to attract a young and trendy generation. It was the first Raymond Weil watch featuring carbon fiber.
ABTW: What drew you to this particular watch?
Elie Bernheim: It was a gift. Nevertheless, I wasn’t conscious at that time, but technical materials are still present in my conception of product development. As we have our own R&D department integrated in-house, design has a major part in our vision of creativity, and so do technical materials such as carbon fiber, titanium or ceramic.
ABTW: Do you still have it? Or have you moved on to something else?
Elie Bernheim: I still have it, of course, but the piece I wear most of the time is a maestro Phase de Lune Semainier which is a combination of sophistication, technical watchmaking know-how, classicism and elegance.
This watch is all about details, from the pattern on the dial, to the four correcting push buttons set in the polished steel case. It demonstrates creativity and it is one of our iconic models. Most of all, maestro is one of my first contribution to the brand-story, specifically in product development.
ABTW: What watch do you wear currently and what significance does that have for you?
Elie Bernheim: I’m currently wearing the exclusive limited edition we’ve created to honor my grandfather, the Tribute to Mr Raymond Weil timepiece. It is very important for me to wear this watch as it has been designed to pay tribute to the man and his legacy.
It has both a symbolic and emotional dimension. The watch is a 44mm COSC certified chronometer in 18K rose gold. It is a limited edition of 100 pieces and I’m the proud owner of #1! What makes this watch special for me, and it certainly will for all Raymond Weil lovers, is Raymond Weil’s hand written signature on the dial.
It is the authentic hand-writing of my late grandfather, and it provides the piece with a unique and inimitable stamp – we will never again propose a watch with this particular detail, it is a one-of-a-kind.