Watch The Safe : Döttling luxury safes

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Döttling luxury safes create one-of-a-kind vaults for exclusive watch collectors

By Dara Silverstein


With customers that hail from Russia to Rodeo Drive, it’s no wonder that perfection is the only acceptable standard.

When Ernst Döttling set up shop in the small town of Sindelfingen, Germany, he definitely had no idea that almost a century later his specialized production of safes would become an international success story. What started as a locksmith’s workshop in 1919 evolved over the years into a multi-million dollar company that not only produces safes, but also takes antique safes and restores them into modern-day vaults that can retail for more than $100,000. And you thought you had a high-end security system?

If you’re searching for a place to house that extensive collection of Jaeger LeCoultre, Patek Philippe and Rolex watches you’ve acquired over the years, then Döttling Luxury Safes has the perfect masterpiece for you. The great-grandson of the company’s founder, Markus Döttling, has teamed up with the Austrian-based Buben & Zorweg (the worlds’ largest watch winder company) to create unique watch displays that not only protect the timepieces but also keep them automatically wound.

“These safes are the most prestigious way of storing and presenting the treasures of watch collectors,” said the fourth-generation owner. “They unite the safety aspect with high class presentation.”

The Story of the Safe

For Döttling, presentation is key. No two safes are completely alike since they come from all corners of the world and all different time periods. “To find antique safes is a really hard but also a really exciting job,” he says. “It’s truly a pleasure for me to travel around the globe in search of those witnesses of the past.” And witnesses they truly are, with some of the safes arriving locked-without keys and in poor condition. “It’s always an exciting moment when a safe door opens for the first time after a long time.”

Once a client has decided on a safe, the real fun can begin. Each vault is customized to the client’s own personal taste. From the type of wood (anything from mahogany to Chinese maple) to the kind of leather (ostrich or ray leather anyone?) to the gold-leafed hardware, no detail is overlooked … no request is too outrageous. Clients can also request how many watch winders to include based on the size of their collection. And with customers that hail from Russia to Rodeo Drive, it’s no wonder that perfection is the only acceptable standard.

“I’ve seen the toughest businessmen dance around like little children under a Christmas tree,” said Döttling, who delivers each safe with a certificate of authenticity. “They have received something that is absolutely unique and they were involved in the process.”

The process, which from beginning to end can take at least 1,000 hours of work by master carpenters and artisans, is an investment that will last generations. Why deny youself? Check one of your many watches; there’s no better time then now.

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