Four French physicians with a passion for fine watches put their heads together to form Doplr, a Swiss-made watch with old school medical functionality. Doplr founder Vincent Azzola shares the story.
For doctors, by doctors
We wanted a watch which was useful in terms of our job, symbolically innovative with regard to the history of medicine, while at the same time being timeless and unique. Almost all pilots own a Breitling, which at one time allowed them to navigate the air. Why don’t doctors have their own watch brand?
A storied history
There exists an historical link between medicine and watchmaking. This watch existed 310 years ago! It was the first pulsometer watch invented by Dr. John Floyer, an English physician, to measure the pulse of patients. It was designed with London watchmaker Samuel Watson. Fascinated by this invention, we decided to create our own version for 2017: Doplr (pronounced “doppler”). It took 15 months of development to create the watch, in collaboration with Swiss watchmakers and French designers.
An idea among friends
During a vacation together, I told three friends about my idea: a watch, inspired by John Floyer’s pulsometer watch, timeless, of real quality and useful on a daily basis in our jobs as physicians. My friends were immediately enthusiastic, and we launched the project in March 2016. After 15 months of work, the first prototypes were on our wrists. We then created a website, sent invitations to our friends and over social media. In 24-hours, we’d received 200 registrations. That encouraged us to carry on.
Old school medical functionality
Just like John Floyer’s first pulsometer watch, our watch is equipped with a pulsometer on the dial which can be used to measure a patient’s pulse. While not revolutionary, this accessory is as useful for a doctor as a Breitling is for a pilot. To take the pulse of the patient all that is needed is to wait for the second hand to pass the 12 o’clock hour mark, and then you count 15 pulsations. At the 15th beat, simply read the number on the scale and you get the heart rate. We have also added an asthmometer, which allows for the measurement of the respiratory rate (you can avoid having to use the stopwatch on your smartphone). As soon as the end of the second hand passes 6 o’clock, you count five breaths. On the movement of the patient’s fifth breath, simply read the number on the scale and you will have the respiratory rate. The watch is disinfectable and waterproof up to 100m, and tested in a sauna. You can wash your hands without fear. The watch movement is mechanical and winds automatically, so no need for a battery. Used by the leading Swiss brands, this watch is designed to last a lifetime. And each watch is unique. As part of this limited edition the name of the owner is engraved on the inside. There will only be 300 Pulse-Watches for the first collection.
Balancing life as a physician entrepreneur
Finding this balance was very difficult at first. All four of us are young doctors with very full medical timetables. We had to work very hard nonstop, often late into the night and on weekends to create Doplr, but it has all been worth it.
For the moment, we have financed the project with our own money, as we wanted to be 100% independent. We will not make any profits for several years, but even if this is vital for our longevity, this is not what motivates us.
A larger mission
For every Doplr we sell, we donate 25 euros, the equivalent of a medical consultation or 15 anti-cholera vaccinations, to Médecins Sans Frontières. We would like to do more in the future and create partnerships with other associations. That’s our vision for the company.
Advice for physician entrepreneurs
It takes a lot of time and energy, and you have to expect many setbacks and surprises. But at the end of the day, the simple fact of holding in your hands a beautiful object that has come from your imagination is worth all the sacrifices. If something fires your imagination, do it.
Order your unique Doplr watch at doplr-watch.com