The Background

Magrette Timepieces was founded by Dion Wynyard McAsey (1967) who is living with his family in Auckland, New Zealand. 

His passion for watches was ignited by a gift for his seventh birthday from his mother: a beautiful mechanical watch with automatic movement, a white face and white rubber strap. He thought it was magnificent, a piece of art! He was not the only one fond of watches in his family: his younger brother had a huge collection of clocks and kept drawers full with watches, ensuring the whole house could enjoy the ticking and chiming noises of his hobby.

Dion's collection really took off after he started working. In the early days it consisted mostly of fashion watches and brand names. In the 1990s he formed a passion for 1940s military style watches & 1970s dive watches. He believes that that is where most of his influences have come from with regards to the MAGRETTE brand.

How it started

The Magrette story began when Dion was working as Managing Director of a Creative Agency. He was working on designs for a French-Canadian watch company when he got the idea to actually start building his own watch brand.

He formulated the basic principles of his brand-to-be. The words that captured his vision best were:

Mysterious, Alluring, Old World, Strong

By coincidence he glimpsed a name that would become the brand name: MAGRETTE (to be pronounced as Mah-gret-tee).

Next had to come the New Zealand connection. As a fan of classic yachts he knew the brand had to associate itself with yachting. That`s when the package was finally coming together.

The first steps

His first watch was dedicated to his brother Marcus McAsey (1969 - 1990): the Marcus Chronograph Manual Wind. Even with a very limited web site he sold all watches produced and then knew there was a market for his ideas.

He had a more professional website created and continued building the company with a relatively small outlay, but with his mind set on success.

He then moved on to the Vintage Series model and simplified. This watch has an uncomplicated movement and has been a great seller as well. Dion decided the case on this model should become the signature case for his new models as well. With that in mind, his next design was the Bacchus. He reinvested all his profit back into the business by stocking up on components and movements.

Challenges, a "flat" world and flexibility

At first it appeared difficult to find suppliers that would take him seriously with such small runs of components. He also had to search long and hard for a case manufacture who could produce a small run. The first few companies he tried just laughed at him, but in the end he found one that was willing and able to create the cases he needed. 

Luckily, the world is getting more virtual and hence more "flat" each day. The Vintage Style leather roll case is made to a very high quality here in Auckland while all the watch components are sourced from overseas. Currently he has straps made by a specialist in Canada, graphic design work done by a kiwi in Taiwan & dials supplied from Germany!

Dion's vision of Magrette from the start has always been long term. It is a business he wants to work in till a ripe old age. Flexibility is important. The business is set up so he can work with all key people remotely. These include the case maker, movement supplier, dial maker, metal band supplier, leather strap maker, buckle maker, vintage style roll case maker, photographer, copy writer, graphic designer & technical advisor. This is how MAGRETTE will continue to grow into the future.

The Magrette Logo

The Magrette logo promotes the design philosophy and heritage. The logo combines the strength and protection offered by the shield with the strong symbolism of the koru. Magrette cases have to be strong and bold in their design to protect the complicated automatic movements that are used in all timepieces. The koru complements this synergy beautifully with its suggestion of perpetual movement carried in the unfurling of a fern frond - a symbolism unique to traditional New Zealand culture. The koru reaches towards the light, striving for perfection, encouraging new positive beginnings...

If you want to visit the New Zealand web site, please visit

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