3.10 – Clockmaking in Switzerland

Last Update: 07-25-2022 @ 12:00

Preliminary notes on Swiss Watchmaking

The alphabetical ranking below focuses mainly on the most prominent trademarks and the surnames of manufacturers, if any, which often serve as a trademark. It is always the oldest name that appears on the line of each brand, followed by the different denominations over the years. A trademark may remain beyond the mark that replaces it. It is that the registrations often included renewal dates and expiry dates. Some administrators allowed the records to run in time or even renewed them to legally rest their property because there were still stocks to be disposed of from an old mark.

Finally, here is handy terminology more specific to watches. Ebauche means a set of pieces of a watch movement to be assembled and sold. A numbered Ebauche is called a Calibre (caliber). The calibers may be categorized into a family corresponding to the platinum used. A Platinum is the base plate on which the different parts of an ebauche or caliber are installed. Finally, for Swiss watch enthusiasts, I suggest the INVENIT AND FECIT website, which contains many illustrations of watches and advertisements of vintage watches with historical comments. In closing, the names of the types of companies mentioned below mean SA – Anonymous Company; SARL – Limited Liability Company; KG – Kommanditgesellschaft (Limited Partnership Company); AG – Aktiengesellschaft (Anonymous Company); GmbH – Gesellschaft mit beschrunter Haftung (Limited Liability Company).

3.10.1 – The Highlights of Swiss Watchmaking

The history of Swiss watchmaking is closely linked to that of the watch, which is the specialty. Here are some main milestones in this history through leading Swiss watchmakers and manufacturers. To mark the importance of large luxury groups in history in the 20th and 21st centuries, we gave them a color code: LVMH, Richemont, and SWATCH. Finally, note that the only atmospheric clock on the market is still manufactured in Switzerland by Jaeger-LeCoultre, a company established in 1833 in the Canton of Vaud. Switzerland is also famous for its Neuchâtel clocks.

3.10.2 – Famous Watchmakers

BERTHOUD, Ferdinand (1727-1807)

Ferdinand Berthoud was born in Placemont-sur Couvet in the Principality of Neuchâtel. He spent most of his watchmaking career in Paris from 1745. He died in Groslay in the Val d’Oise in France, a few kilometers from Paris. He apprenticed in watchmaking with his brother Jean-Henry, a watchmaker in Switzerland, while pursuing studies in science. In 1741, he obtained his certificate as an apprentice in watchmaking. At the age of 18, he left for Paris in 1745 to complete his training as a watchmaker. In 1753, he received the title of Master Watchmaker on the orders of the Royal French Council and by the King’s special favor. He was only 26 years old. He wrote articles on watchmaking in Diderot and Alembert’s Encyclopedia. The King sent him to England to inspect John Harrison’s sea chronometers in the company of a mathematician and an astronomer. He did not see Harrison’s latest productions. Still, his journey allowed him to enter the circles of English watchmaking to become a foreign associate member of the Royal Society of London. See Wikipedia for the rest of the story of this Swiss watchmaker specializing in marine timekeeping.

BRUNNER, Kaspar (?-1561)

A mechanic before becoming a watchmaker, locksmith, blacksmith, and gunsmith, Kaspar Brunner was the type of self-taught engineer of the time. He was recruited in 1526 as zitgloggenrichter, the keeper of the time of the Zytglogge. He checked the clock’s time and proper functioning of this tower built in Bern in the 13th century. It served as a prison, a watchtower, and a clock tower. It was the center of urban life and a gathering place. But the clock failed, and in 1527 Brunner was promised 1,000 guldens by the City Council to build a new one. The mechanic he built for this astronomical clock was so robust that it still works today. It’s the only clock he made. For more details: Wikipedia.

BÜRGI, Jost (1552-1632)

Mathematician, astronomer, and watchmaker Jost Boergi was born in Lichtensteig, Toggenburg, a territory then attached to St. Gallen Abbey, now the Township of St. Gallen. Although he completed his primary education as a young child, there was nothing in his village to acquire the knowledge and skills required to develop complex clocks. He had not even been introduced to Latin, the scientific language of the time. One can see in the illustrations below the complexity of the clocks he built, which suggests that he had to move away from his village to acquire the knowledge required in mathematics, astronomy, and watchmaking. Indeed, it seems he was in Strasbourg when Konrad Dasypodius was teaching mathematics at the university, and the Habrecht brothers built the cathedral clock. He would then have bathed in an atmosphere conducive to self-learning these subjects without enrolling in university. Besides, the Landgraf (Prince) of Hesse-Kassel in the Germanic Empire at the time, Wilhelm IV, was a mathematician and astronomer trained at the University of Strasbourg with which he had maintained links, was aware of the talents of Bürgi as a mechanic of scientific instruments. Thus, in 1579, he offered him the title of court watchmaker in Kassel to develop instruments to help him observe the celestial vault in the Observatory he had created. He built a celestial globe in Kassel in 1594, which is on display at the Schweizerisches Landesmuseum (Swiss National Museum) in Zurich. He also built the Vienna Planetary Clock (1605) (below left) and the Crystal Clock of Vienna (1622-1627) (below right), which, for the first time, is a representation of the heliocentric planetary system as proposed by Copernicus. He also developed other complex clocks and scientific instruments, such as an instrument to help draw perspective (1604). He invented logarithmic tables during his stay in Prague, where Roman Emperor Rudolph II invited him as Kepler’s assistant. During this period, he built several of his complex clocks in the workshop at Prague Castle. In 1631 he returned to Kassel, where he died in January the following year.

Horloge planétaire de Vienne de Bürgi (Image libre de droit)
Horloge crystal de Vienne de Bürgi (Image libre de droit)

CUSIN, Charles (16th c.)

Son of Noel Cusin, a French Burgundy watchmaker, Charles Cusin was born in Geneva on an indeterminate date in the 16th century. Fleeing a charge of theft, he left France for Switzerland in 1574. He is recognized as the first watchmaker in Geneva. He went to Italy around 1590 with an advance received for repairing the Molard clock, a repair he never completed. Nevertheless, a street in Geneva bears his name. He died somewhere between 1590 and 1612.

DASYPODIUS, Conrad (1532-1600)

Conrad Dasypodius was born in Frauenfeld, Thurgau, Switzerland. He eventually found himself in Strasbourg, Alsace, as a mathematics teacher. He is reputed to have drawn the astronomical clock of Strasbourg Cathedral, a synthesis of all the time knowledge in mathematics, astronomy, and physics. The Habrecht brothers built the movement of the clock.

DE DUILLIER, Nicolas Fatio (1664-1753)

Mathematician, astronomer, inventor, and philosopher de Duillier was born in Basel to an Italian family who emigrated to Switzerland after the Protestant Reformation. He was educated in Geneva until the age of 18. He then moved to Paris, where he worked with Giovanni Domenico Cassini, an astronomer of the Paris Observatory. In 1686 he traveled to Holland and the following year to England, where he met some of the great philosophers of the time, such as John Wallis, John Locke, and Richard Hampden. He was interested in the Royal Society’s work and attended Oxford University. At only 24 years old, he was made a fellow of the Royal Society. There he met Newton in 1689, with whom he befriended. In 1690 he returned to The Hague in Holland as the tutor to two of Hampden’s nephews. He then worked with Christian Huygens. Subsequently, he will travel back and forth between Holland and England. In 1690, he managed to drill a small hole in ruby with a diamond-tipped spin. We know the importance of rubies in watchmaking, especially for watches. He tried unsuccessfully to interest a French watchmaker in his discovery. He then proposed it to brothers Peter and Jacob De Beaufré, English watchmakers, with whom he obtained a patent valid for 14 years for an exclusive application in England of his technique. He tried to extend it later to all watches and clocks, but to no avail. His method, an English specialty, will be adopted by the rest of Europe. The Frenchman Ferdinand Berthoud used it as early as 1768. It’s still in use today. For more details on de Duillier, see Wikipedia.

DITISHEIM, Paul (1868-1945)

Ditisheim, born in Paris in 1868, established a chronometer factory in La Chaux-de-Fonds and produces precision watches. He is interested in alloys such as invar and elivar to control temperature problems that hinder accuracy. It also successfully applies the principle of lever escapement to the marine chronometer. He experienced financial problems in the 1920s and left for Paris in 1921. He died in 1845.

GUILLAUME, Charles-Édouard (1861-1936)

The son of a watchmaker, Charles-Édouard Guillaume was a Swiss physicist born in Fleurier. A member of the International Bureau of Weights and Measures from 1883, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1920, he was the inventor of the alloys invar (1896) and elivar (1912-1920), metals whose size remains constant at different temperatures, thus allowing greater precision. Guillaume will apply these metals to marine chronometers. He has several publications to his credit, including an 1896 article entitled La Température de l’espace (The Temperature of Space). He died in Sèvres, France, in 1938.

HABRECHT, Joachim and his two sons

Joachim Habrecht built an astronomical clock in Schaffhausen and another in Solothurn. Joachim had two sons, Isaac (1544-1620) and Josiah (1552-1575). Both were born in Schaffhausen and were trained in watchmaking by their father. They were the ones who were called upon to manufacture the clock mechanic for the second astronomical clock of the Strasbourg Cathedral, the design of which is attributed to Christian Herlin. He had begun the work in 1547, but he was interrupted by the cathedral transfer to the Roman Catholic Church. Construction was resumed in 1571, thanks to Conrad Dasypodius, who took over the work of his master Herlin and the Habrecht brothers who built the movement. Tobias Stimmer has been in charge of decorating the clock. This second clock would run until 1788. Elements of it and the rooster, the eldest automaton preserved in the West, of the first clock of the cathedral, then called The Three Kings (1352-1354), are on display at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Strasbourg. Jean-Baptiste Schwilgué was charged with building the third clock of the Cathedral between 1837 and 1842.

HIPP, Matthaüs (1813-1893)

Watchmaker born in Germany in 1813, Matthaüs Hipp emigrated to Switzerland in 1852. He has to his Swiss credit: the telegraph transmission back and forth on the same line in 1854; the electric loom in 1855; a system of visual electrical signals in 1862 as well as the installation of a master-receiver clock system in Geneva. In 1863, he obtained a French patent for a “Pendule ou horloge électro-magnétique à appel direct d’électricité” (Pendule or electro-magnetic clock with the direct call of electricity).” For more details, see Wikipedia.

HOURIET, Jacques-Frédéric (1743-1830)

Jacques-Frédéric Houriet is an apprentice watchmaker with his uncle Abraham Gagnebin. He then continued his training with Abraham Louis Perret-Jeanneret, a master watchmaker at Le Locle. He left Switzerland for Paris in 1759. He was only 16 years old. After a nine-year stay in France, where he worked with the most remarkable French watchmakers, Frédéric Houriet returned to Switzerland in 1768. He then teamed up with David Courvoisier, married his sister, and founded Courvoisier et Houriet, who succeeded Courvoisier et fils. At 27, he founded a giant Swiss watch and parts company capable of producing 10,000 watches annually, selling both in Switzerland and internationally. He produces watches for other watchmakers. For example, he manufactures watches for Robert Roskell’s English company in every way similar to those produced in Roskell’s factory. He also produces complex watches for famous watchmakers, such as Le Roy and Berthoud equation watches.

The beginning of the 19th century brought its share of problems for the Courvoiser et Houriet establishments: Napoleon’s campaigns, blockade of exports to other European countries, especially England. He retired from the company in great financial difficulties and decided to work alone. In 1804 he opened a company in Le Locle with his youngest son, Jules, devoted to precision watches, especially chronometers and chronographs. He produced them mainly for great French watchmakers he had befriended during his stay in France, particularly Breguet. In 1818, Houriet retired entirely from the business but continued developing stopwatches and experimenting with balances. He invented the gold spherical spiral to combat magnetism’s effects on stopwatches. Historians consider Houriet to be the father of Swiss chronometry. He is a member of the Geneva Society of the Arts and an associate member of the Paris Academy of Sciences.

JACQUET-DROZ, Pierre (1721-1790)

Born in La Chaux-de-Fonds and died in Bienne, Pierre Jaquet-Droz, young, had a talent for precision mechanics and quickly trained in watchmaking. From 1738 to 1747, he built increasingly sophisticated parquet clocks that interested a wealthy clientele. He takes pleasure in adding chimes and flute tunes. He also built an astronomical clock and a pendulum that did not need to be raised. He married in the early 1750s and had a daughter and a son. Mother and daughter died prematurely in 1755. He devoted the rest of his life to watchmaking. He then met the Governor of Neuchâtel, who encouraged him to make his clocks known abroad, especially in Spain, where he had his entrances to the court. With the help of his father-in-law and a young worker, he built a cart capable of carrying up to six parquet clocks. After a 49-day journey in 1758, they arrived in Spain and presented the clocks to King Ferdinand VI, who bought them on the spot, happy to see the hours ring without intervention. Back in Switzerland, he devoted himself to the development of automatons with the money from the sale, with the help of his son Henri-Louis and a neighbor, Jean-Frédéric Leschot, whom he welcomed at home when his mother died. He built the first of these complex automatons, the Writer (6000 pieces), capable of drawing a signature thanks to a set of tabulators comprising 40 cams and a feather that traces the letters stored in the tabulators. Two others were built by Henri-Louis Jaquet-Droz and Jean-Frédéric Leschot. Note that Pierre Jaquet-Droz gave his son the Writer’s authorship in 1786, claiming that the latter had made multiple improvements to him. Pierre Jaquet-Droz died in Bienne at the age of 69. For more details, see Wikipedia.

JAQUET-DROZ, Henri-Louis (1752-1791)

Henri-Louis Jaquet-Droz studied mathematics, physics, and drawing in Nancy, eastern France, with the abbot of Servan from 1767 to 1769. He returned to Switzerland in 1769, working with his father and a great friend, Frédéric Leschot (1746-1824). All three have worked to develop other automatons based on The Writer, such as The Artist and The Musician. In the latter case, they even composed the music played. The three completed automatons will be presented from 1773 to the greats of this world, the King of Spain, Louis XVI, and Marie Antoinette at Versailles, Covent Garden in London, Holland, Flanders, Russia, and as far as China. Henri-Paul was appointed head of a branch of the family business in London in 1774. He died at the age of 39 after a long illness.

LÉCHAUD, Antoine (1812-1875)

In 1835, Antoine Léchaud made watches in series with the escapement of Georges-Auguste Léchaud. And in 1840, he perfected this escapement to adapt it to industrial production while maintaining the precision of movements and lowering production costs to cope with foreign competition, mainly American.

LE COULTRE, Antoine (1803-1881)

He invented the Millionometer, the world’s first instrument capable of measuring the micron, presented at the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1900. Two years after Jean Adrien Philippe, he also improved the keyless watch.

LESCHOT, Jean-Frédéric (1746-1824)

Jean-Frédéric Leschot learned watchmaking as an apprentice of Pierre Jaquet-Droz, who had taken him home following the death of his mother, who lived alone with Jean-Frédéric. He became a great friend of Pierre Jaquet Droz’s son, Henri-Louis. All three built the famous automatons The Writer, The Artist, The Musician (1768-1774), and many others. On the death of the two Jaquet-Droz, Jean-Frédéric Leschot took over the estate of the Fabrique d’Horlogerie Jaquet-Droz (Jaquet-Droz Watchmaking Factory).

LESCHOT, Georges-Auguste (1800-1884)

Georges-Auguste Leschot, son of the watchmaker Jean-Frédéric Leschot (1746-1824), was born in Geneva. He is essentially an inventor watchmaker. Among his inventions was the semi-circular anchor escapement for watches (1830); the pantograph (1839), an instrument that reproduces the drawings of the parts of a watch, which allows for the interchange of the standardized parts of the same caliber, an invention made while he was a workshop manager at Vacheron and Constantine; a hydraulically trained black diamond rotary drill (1862) used in the mines, which in 1876 won the Gold Medal of the Geneva Society of the Arts.

LIECHTI FAMILY (15th to 18th c.)

This large clockmaker family worked for over 300 years in the same city, Winterthur, and made all types of clocks and watches. In the 1510s, Laurentius (c. 1489-1545), the oldest member of the family, built on order an iron turret clock for the Fraunenkirche (Church of our Dear Lady) in Munich. His son, Laurentius II (?-?), was a locksmith and turret clock builder. His brother, Erhard (c. 1530-1591), made gothic style highly finely decorated domestic clocks that he began to sign with initials and dates. His two sons, Ulrich (?-1627) and Andreas (1562-1621), continued the tradition of their father in building signed domestic clocks, while Andreas also made turret clocks. Joachim (1582-1638), son of Ulrich, was also a builder of turrets and domestic clocks. Another Andreas Liechti (1582-1650) and his three sons, Tobias (1614-1673), Heinrich (1634-1704), and Hans (1636-1707), were also clockmakers. After traveling to escape the Thirty-Years War, Hans Ulrich Liechti (1643-1719) returned to Winterthur and made turret clocks and watches. Hans Ulrich had two sons clockmakers, Tobias (1670-1711) and Hans Jakob (1680-1741). Tobias helped his father to build pendulum turret clocks. Hans started to make all brass case baroque clocks because the gothic style was less popular at the beginning of the 18th century. Another Hans (1699-1770) made “turret” clocks, and another Hans Heinrich (1733-1810) was a clockmaker as well as a locksmith.

PERRELET, Abraham-Louis (1729-1826)

At a young age, Abraham-Louis Perrelet, a carpenter in his first trade, helped his farming parents. But at the age of 20, he decided to learn watchmaking. After a failed 15-day apprenticeship with a watchmaker in Le Locle, he resolved to learn the trade himself. He certainly had a lot of talent because he is credited with the invention of the self-winding watch. Indeed, he invented in 1777 an automatic winding mechanism with a weight oscillating inside the watch that moved up and down. A 15-minute walk could wind the watch for eight days. The following year, this watch sold well. It prompted other watchmakers to imitate and perfect the mechanism. Hubert Sarton, a Liégois, used a central rotor instead of a weight that rotated alongside the movement. Sarton is also credited with the invention of the self-winding watch.

Perrelet didn’t stop there. He invented the first pedometer in 1780. He was also the first to build watches with a cylinder escapement, a duplex, and an equation. Abraham-Louis Perrelet had a watchmaking grandson whom he trained, Louis-Frédéric Perrelet (1781-1852). The latter will complete his apprenticeship at Breguet in Paris. He invented marine watches with complications and a precision chronograph. The company he founded, Perrelet, still exists. It’s headquartered in Bienne. It’s been part of the Fertina group in Barcelona, Spain, since 2004.

REUTTER, Jean-Léon (1899-1971)

Jean-Léon Reutter, a young Swiss engineer, born in Neuchâtel, dreamed of making a clock that would not need to be raised mechanically or by electricity. Thus in 1928, he obtained a French patent (No. 1397) for a ‘Perpetual Pendule,’ ancestor of what will be called the atmospheric clock, after the license sale to Le Coultre. Before that, he obtained his first patent in 1928 (No. 331,764) on the differential expansion of a liquid separated by a mercury column. In 1930, he obtained another patent (No. 356-216) for a twisting pendulum. This type of clock was manufactured by Jaeger-Le-Coultre in Switzerland and distributed in England in 1834 by D. E. Trevars Ltd of London, who manufactured the cases. Reutter died in 1971.

ROMILLY, Jean (1714-1796)

Born in France to a Huguenot family who had to flee to Switzerland after the Edict of Fontainebleau, Jean Romilly was a watchmaker, a journalist, and an encyclopaedist. When it comes to watchmaking, he will develop a watch that can run for a year without winding up. Ferdinand Berthoud will add the required precision to the watch. He also wrote several articles on theoretical watchmaking for Diderot and Alembert’s Encyclopedia.

ROSKOPF, Georges-Frédéric (1813-1889)

Georges-Frédéric Roskopf was born in Mülheim in the Black Forest, Germany. As a teenager, he immigrated to Switzerland to learn French and watchmaking. He apprenticed with Mairet and Sandoz. At 22, he opened a workshop and made movements that he sold in Switzerland and exported to Germany, Belgium, and North America. The aim was to make cheap quality watches, much to the chagrin of Swiss watchmakers who fear competition. His productions will be so popular that they will be called “Roskopf watches,” and contractors will dedicate factories or unique production lines to make them. However, he did not care to patent his invention, so there were many imitators of what has been called “the poor man’s watch.”

ROUSSEAU, Jean (1606-1684)

Jean Rousseau from Geneva has created complex pocket watches.

SERMAND, Jacques (1595-1651)

Jacques Sermand of Geneva built clocks of different shapes in the first half of the 17th century, especially crucifix clocks.

STADLIN, Franz Ludwig (1658-1740)

Franz Ludwig Stadlin, a Jesuit born and trained in Switzerland, was probably a missionary in China, where he was appointed Royal watchmaker of the Court of China.

3.10.3 – Major Clock and Watch Manufacturers

ADM’S SARL (1938) -▶ ADMES SARL (1949) -▶ ADMES S. A.(1951) -▶ ADM’S SA (1962) -▶ ADMES SARL AG (1971)

Adm’s SARL is a watch manufacturing company registered in Geneva on August 19, 1938. The company was later called Admes SARL, still in Geneva, because it registered the brand of Ares watches on September 15, 1949. On May 28, 1950, the name Indimatic, an automatic watch technology, was registered in Switzerland and the United States on March 26, 1951. The company became Admes S. A. because it registered the brand Solita Geneva on 29 September 1951. In Geneva, the name Adm’s S. A. was later found on 23 March 1962 when the Trainmaster brand was registered. Then on May 12, 1971, Admes SARL AG was registered. Finally, it appears that the German company Paul Raff GmbH – Co. KG, then of Pforzheim, registered the brand Adm’s in 1973 and Admes in 1978. It is also suspected that Adm’s S. A. of Geneva had links to the American company Ball Watch of the State of Ohio, a pioneer in railway watches and chronographs, in existence since 1891, since it had registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademarks Office the brand Indimatic on February 28, 1951, one year after the U.S. registration of Admes SARL. Also, the Ball Watch still has the Trainmaster brand in its watch catalog in 2020.

AEGLER S. A. (1878) -▶ AEGLER S. A., ROLEX & GRUEN WATCH MANUFACTURER, GA (1905) -▶ ROLEX WATCH MANUFACTURER, AEGLER, LTD (1955) -▶ AEGLER, INC. -▶ AEGLER (2004 – ROLEX)

Jean Aegler founded in 1878 Aegler, a company specializing in manufacturing small watch movements, in Bienne, in the Bern Canton. His son Hermann began working with the Wisdorf and Davis in London and, in 1905, provided Wisdorf with several movements. It also manufactured movements for the Gruen Watch Manufacturing Company, when the name changed to Aegler, S.A., Rolex & Gruen Watch Manufacturer. GA. When Wisdorf created the Rolex brand, he asked Aegler to devote all its movement production to his company. He invested in Aegler, which became the Rolex Watch Manufacturer, Aegler, Ltd. in 1955. Aegler also produced the so-called “Perpetual movement” developed by one of its employees, Emile Borer, who eventually became the company owner that became Aegler, Inc. and sold it at a high price to Rolex in 2004.

AGON UHRENFABRIK ROBERT TRIEBOLD S. A. (1930) -▶ AGON – ECONOMIC SWISS TIME HOLDING (ESTH – 1967) -▶ AGON (SSIH – 1970)

Robert Triebold founded the Agon Uhrenfabrik Robert Triebold AG in 1930. AGON is his trademark. This firm manufactured watch movements from 1930 to 1970. It has, among other things, provided the Smiths of England with the movements of its watches. In 1967, Agon was one of the founders of economic Swiss Time Holding (ESTH), a group of manufacturers of cheap Roskopf watches. With the arrival of quartz and cheap Japanese watches in the 1970s, ESTH was sold to SSIH. The Agon company no longer seems to be active anywhere.

ALEXORA: PICARD & HERMANN FRÈRES (1876) -▶ HERMANN PICARD & FILS (1911) -▶ ALEXORA WATCH MANUFACTORY (1915) -▶ HERMANN & CO. (1931) -▶ ALEXORA GmbH (2009) -▶ SWISSEXPERIENCE GmbH (2009)

Picard and Hermann founded their firm in 1876 in the Joux Valley in La-Chaux-de-Fonds. They made watches and movements under the Alexora brand. This mark was first registered in Switzerland on June 23, 1911, by the firm that became Hermann Picard et Fils. In November 1915, the firm created and registered the manufacture of small watches, cases, dials, and movements of La Chaux-de-Fonds under the Alexora Watch Manufactory. In 1924, the Alexora brand was registered in the United States, and in 1927, the company Picard Hermann & son. In 1931, the Alexora brand was again registered in Switzerland by the same firm, Hermann and Co. In 2009, the firm Alexora GmbH was headquartered in Zurich and launched its famous triangular watch in a collection called “Power of Love,” manufactured in its factory in La Chaux-de-Fonds. Alexora GmbH, according to Swiss registration records, changed its name to Swissexperience GmbH in October 2009 and is owned by Martin Heller.

ALPINA: CORPORATION D’HORLOGERIE SUISSE (1883) -▶ ALPINA UNION HORLOGÈRE S. A. (1908-1972) -▶ ALPINA (2002 – GROUPE FRÉDÉRIQUE CONSTANT) -▶ GROUPE FRÉDÉRIQUE CONSTANT (2016 – CITIZEN JAPON)

  • SCHWEIZERISHE URCHMACHER GENOSSENSCHAFT (SUG) – The Swiss Watchmaking Cooperative brings together manufacturers of watches, parts, and movements to combine purchases of parts and sales mainly of watches but also of clocks. Its origin dates back to 1866 (Kochmann, 2007).
  • ALPINA – GRUEN GILDE UHREN AKTIEN GESELLSCHAFT – This Gruen Gilde Watch Shareholder Corporation, founded in 1883, is an offshoot of the SUG cooperative. It will also be known as:
    • CORPORATION D’HORLOGERIE SUISSE ALPINA – The Swiss watchmaking corporation Alpina had its headquarters and warehouse in Bienne, Switzerland, in 1890. Gottlieb Hauser was its managing director in 1899, while Emil Rothmann was the cooperative’s general manager in Berlin, Germany. Its members include Aegler, Rolex, Certina, Gruen (Switzerland), Gruen (USA), Huguenin (Switzerland), Hamilton (USA), and Straub (Switzerland).
      • VEREINIGTE SCHWEIZER UHRENFRABRIKANTEN – In 1905, the cooperative had a division in Germany, the Vereinigte Schweizer Uhrenfabrikanten, of which some twenty companies were members.
    • ALPINA UNION HORLOGÈRE – In 1906, the cooperative was now called Alpina Union Horlogère. It is present in Glashutte in Germany, Biel, and Geneva in Switzerland. It also opens a new Alpina factory.
  • ALPINA UNION HORLOGÈRE S. A. – In 1916, the corporation became an anonymous company with shareholders, Alpina, Union Horlogère, S.A. It was dissolved in Switzerland in 1972, and the Alpina brand was acquired much later (2002) by Groupe Frédérique Constant, a Swiss holding. At the end of May 2016, the Japanese watchmaking group Citizen bought Groupe Frédérique-Constant with the brand Alpina and Ateliers de Monaco.
  • ALPINA WATCHES INTERNATIONAL S.A. – The Alpina brand is still alive. The company is called Alpina Watches International, S.A. Its website presents all its watch models. Its head office is in Geneva. It is a part of the Frédérique-Constant Holding S. A. of Citizen.

ALTUS: HANS TROESCH S. A. (1920-1921) -▶ ALTUS S. A. (1925) -▶ ALTUS WATCHES S. A. (1940) -▶ GLYCINE & ALTUS S. A. (1953 OR 1963) -▶ ALTUS WATCHES S. A. (2011) -▶ ALTUS UHREN HOLDING AG (2017) & ALTUS DISTRIBUTION AG (2019)

Altus is the trademark of Hans Troesch S. A., a manufacturer of ébauches and watches parts registered in Biel and Geneva in 1920 and 1921 with two different graphics (Microlisk). The Altus trademark was also registered in the United States on February 9, 1924. In 1925, there was a new registration as Altus S. A. but without the mention of Troesch. Between 1925 and 1940, Charles Hertig, a watch manufacturer & exporter from Biel, bought the company. He also bought Glycine in the 1940s. Both companies are mentioned in Microlisk, with registration in 1940. We also know that both companies had the same address, and they officially merged in 1953 (or 1963) as Glycine & Altus S. A. In 2011, Altus Uhren Holding AG from Germany (no links with Altus Watch) took over Glycine Watch S. A., founded in 1914. In 2019, a watch distribution company, Altus Distribution AG, was created.

AMIDA S. A. (1921 – C. 1979)

The Amida brand was first registered in Montreux and Grenchen on July 19, 1921, jointly by Joseph Zwahlen, Zwahlen-Braun, Kastels Watch Manufacturer and Amida S. A., companies involved in watches, movements, and watch parts. Subsequently, Braun, Zwahlen & Co., and Amida S.A. recorded on July 25, 1924, the brand Amida, The Universal Watch, with a graphic mark consisting of a rectangle with a planet with a ring surrounded by stars and the word Amida. In 1941, Amida S. A. from Grenchen registered the Cycling brand, and in 1946 Amida S. A. de Montreux and Grenchen registered Amida, The Universal Watch. The Amida trademark was registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademarks Office on April 6, 1953, and a graphic mark on April 1, 1955. Little is known about Amida‘s history except that it continued to make watches and probably also watch parts until the late 1970s.

ANGELUS – STOLZ FRÈRES S. A. (1891) -▶ ANGELUS (2011 – MANUFACTURE JOUX-PERRET, S. A.)

Gustav and Albert Stolz, students of Henri Sandoz, who ran the Tavanes Watch Company, founded a watch factory in Le Locle, Neuchâtel, in 1891. In 1898, another brother, Charles, joined them. The watch factory was called ANGELUS and was registered in Switzerland in 1922. In 1902, the brothers won awards for excellence in international exhibitions in Paris and Lille. In 1904, they decided to make the movements of their watches themselves. Over the years, in addition to watches, the company made chronographs, small office clocks, and alarm clocks. In 2011, Manufacture Joux-Perret, S. A. bought the company.

APPELLA: EBOSA S. A. (1920) -▶ MANUFACTURE DE MONTRES APPELLA, S. A . (1963-1994)

Paul Leo Glocker of Basel created around 1920 in Granchen (Granges), Canton of Solothurn, a factory of Roskopf watches, wristwatches, and travel alarm clocks, called Ebosa S. A. Then, in 1963, Glocker founded the Apella S. A. Watch Manufacture in Grenchen. He continued to use the Appella and Appell brands, to which he added the Apollo brand in 1983. He used the Appella (1943) brand named after the mathematician Paul Emile Appell. The Appella trademark, registered in Switzerland in 1943, is registered in more than 70 countries. From 1945 to 1953, Walter Kocher & Co. was the American distributor of Ebosa‘s products. Paul Leo Glocker died in 1989. The companies were in financial difficulty and closed in 1994.

ARDATH WATCH CO. (1934) -▶ DREYFUSS & CO. (1943-1993)

Edmond Dreyfuss founded the Ardath Watch Co. in Geneva in 1934, specializing in marketing Roskopf consumer watches. In 1943, the company took the name Dreyfuss and Co. The Ardath trademark was also registered in the United States in 1945. But in 1950, Dreyfuss turned to the luxury market with Swiss-lever watches. When he died in 1954, water-proof watches and small watches were introduced. The company had several brands in its portfolio in the 1960s: Ardent, Ardaco, Alverna, Denis-Diver, Long-Distance, Plurifaces, Razor-Edge, Reefguard, Remember-Dazzling-Star, Versatil, and Wisdom. In the 1970s, some watches sported Ardath and Paul Ardent names and others only Paul Ardent. In the 1980s, the Pytaghore, Alverna, and Halo models appeared. The company closed in 1993.

AUDEMARS PIGUET & CIE S. A. (1875)

Jules Louis Audemars (1851-1918) and Edward Auguste Piguet (1853-1919) founded their company at Le Brassus in the Vallée de Joux in 1875 under the name Audemars Piguet & Co. They first made movements for watch companies in Geneva. Then they produced complex watches, ringtone and astronomy mechanisms, chronometers, and chronographs. From 1882 to 1892, they made more than 1500 watches, 80% of which were watches with complex mechanics. All the watches made were unique. It was not until 1951 that the concept of the model appeared, but it only gave rise to small series of watches. It is the oldest Swiss watch manufacturer still in the hands of a family. The fourth generation of Audemars runs it, and its watches are still manufactured at Le Brassus. A Museum-Atelier testifies its history.

AUREOLE: PH. WOLF (1868) -▶ COMPAGNIE DES MONTRES AUREOLE, M. CHOFFAT ET CIE (1950- C. 1990)

Philidor Wolf founded a firm in La Chaux-de-Fonds in 1868, specializing in fine watches and chronographs. In 1932, he introduced wristwatches. After a few changes of ownership, Marcel Choffat took over. He recorded it in Switzerland in 1950 under the name Compagnie Des Montres Aureole, M. Choffat and Co., and in the United States. The company probably closed early 1990s or earlier because its registration had expired.

AURORE: ALBERT DIDISHEIM & FRÈRES (1889) -▶ FABRIQUE D’ÉBAUCHES BERNOISES S. A., ÉTABLISSEMENT AURORE VILLERET (1927 – ÉBAUCHES, S. A.)

Albert Didisheim & Brothers registered the watch brand Aurore in 1889. Villeret is a small town in the Canton of Bern that has seen the blossoming of a watch manufacturing industry based on a set of small manufacturing workshops that have grown over time. In 1927, the Fabrique d’ébauches bernoises S. A. joined the company Ébauches S. A.

AUTORIST S. A. LTD

Autorist was a manufacturer of self-winding wristwatches, watches, and chronometers in the 1930s in Freiburg. The trademark Autorist was registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademarks Office on 20 May 1931.

AZURA SARL

The company was founded by Marcel Konrad, a precision clockmaker, in Moutier, Neuchâtel, in 1914. His daughter, Jacqueline Roth-Konrad, took over the manufacturing of clocks, mostly of French style and neuchâteloises. Azura SARL makes the movements. The Azura trademark was registered in Switzerland in 1946 by Celestin Konrad, probably the son of Marcel and successor. The Azura brand was re-registered by Jacqueline Wyss from Chez-le-Bart, Neuchâtel in 1986.

BALMAIN: MONTRES PIERRE BALMAIN (FRANCE, 1945) -▶ DIVISION DE MONTRES LONGINES FRANCILLON (SAINT-IMIER, 1995 – SWATCH GROUP)

Balmain was founded in France by fashion designer Pierre Balmain in 1945. In 1995, Swatch Group purchased the brand and moved the head office and factory to Saint-Imier, Switzerland. Within the Swatch Group, Pierre Balmain Watches is a division of Longines Watches, and Francillon S. A. Balmain Watches is part of the Swatch Group‘s mid-range products.

BAUMANN AG (1950- c. 1980)

Baumann AG manufactured reproductions of 14th century “bracket” or flying pendulum clocks with wooden movements for export to the United States from 1950 to 1980.

BAUMGARTNER (1899) -▶ BAUMGARTNER FRÈRES -▶ BAUMGARTNER FRÈRES, S. A. (1916)-▶ ÉBAUCHES, S. A. (1926)

Baumgartner, active from 1942 to 1961, was founded by Arnold Baumgartner (1865-1950) in 1899 in Grenchen, Solothurn. With the arrival of his two brothers, Ernest and Emil, the company will be called Baumgartner and Brothers. In 1916, it became an S. A. (Anonymous Company) company. In 1926, the company joined Ébauches, S. A.

BAUME ET MERCIER: FRÈRES BAUME ( Les Bois : 1830) -▶ BAUME ET CIE (1880) -▶ BAUME ET MERCIER, GENÈVE (1920) -▶ BAUME ET MERCIER (1964 -PIAGET) -▶ BAUME ET MERCIER (1988 – RICHEMEONT)

The Baume brothers, Louis Victor and Pierre Joseph Célestin created a watch counter in Les Bois in the Swiss Jura, Frères Baume, where they made quality watches. Until 1840, their watches had an escapement wheel. But that year, they introduced a cylinder escapement, the Lepine caliber. Celestin wanted to settle in a large European city and chose London to establish Baume Brothers there in 1851. In 1880, the second generation of Baume took over. Louis Victor’s son, Alcide Eugene, ran the Swiss company, and Arthur Joseph, the London company. In 1920, William Baume managed the company with a new partner, Paul Mercier (real name Paul Chereditchenko, whom he changed when he adopted Swiss citizenship in 1912). In 1947, Baume et Mercier took a majority stake in the C. H. Meylan company, founded in Brassus in 1888. During the 1950s and 1960s, Baume and Mercier adopted a logo made with the Greek letter Phi. The firm was acquired by Piaget in 1964 and retained the brand. In 1988, Piaget and Baume & Mercier joined the Richemont Group of Geneva, whose official name is Richemont Financial Company S. A.

BENRUS WATCH CO. (1923-?)

Created by Benjamin Lazarus in 1923, Benrus Watch Co. from La Chaux-de-Fonds manufactured medium-quality watches with dials, round, square, or rectangular, as well as chronometers. It also produced clocks for Chrysler Corporation automobiles in the 1950s, all registered on February 3, 1954, with the U.S. Patent and Trademarks Office: Chryslermatic, Desotomatic, Dodgematic, Moparmatic, Plymouthmatic. The second version of these Chrysler car watches was adapted for the Volkswagens of the 1960s. The company is no longer active.

BEYER: THEODORE BEYER CHRONOMÉTRIE, A. G. (1760….)

It is the oldest watch company in Switzerland. In 1760, Beyer founded the company in Donaueschingen, Germany. His grandson Stephan Beyer transferred it to Feuerthalen in Switzerland in 1822. The latter’s son opened his first store in Niederdorf. In 1877, the company moved to the heart of Zurich. Although S.A. since 1948, the company has remained in the Beyer family, and it is the eighth generation that runs it. It sells jewelry and watches, including watches from its brand.

BLANCPAIN: JEAN-JACQUES BLANPAIN HORLOGER À VILLERET (1735) -▶ FABRIQUE D’HORLOGERIE ÉMILE BLANCPAIN (1830) -▶ SSIH (1961) -▶ FRÉDÉRIC PIGUET (1982) -▶ SMH (1992) -▶ BLANCPAIN LTD (2002 – SWATCH GROUP)

In 1735, Jehan-Jacques Blancpain was registered as a watchmaker and creator of the Blancpain watch brand, which remained in the family for 200 years in Villeret. In 1815, Frédéric-Louis Blancpain, grandson of Jehan-Jacques, created an ultra-thin watch design where a cylinder escapement replaced the crown wheel escapement. In 1830, Frédéric-Louis’ son, Frédéric-Émile, renamed the company Emile Blancpain, and started the construction of a large factory. In 1859, Louis-Élysée Piguet set up a watchmaking workshop in Brasus and supplied large Swiss watch companies with movements. In 1865, a new factory was built near the Suze River, which provided the hydraulic energy needed to operate the machine tools. In 1961, Blancpain joined the Swiss Society for the Watch Industry (SSIH) alongside Omega, Tissot, and Lemania. In 1982, Jacques Piguet, a descendant of the Piguet family, bought Blancpain and linked it to the Frédéric Piguet movement factory, which became a subsidiary until its merger in 2010 while Piguet was integrated with Blancpain as part of the Swatch Group. Meanwhile, Piguet and Blancpain were sold to the Swiss Society of Microelectronics and Watchmaking (SMH) in 1992, which ended up in the Swatch Group in 2002, while Marc A. Hayek, grandson of Nicolas G. Hayek, president of the Swatch Group, was appointed CEO of Blancpain.

BLOCH & DRAGA -▶ DRAGA WATCH CO. (1903)

Bloch & Draga is a wholesale and retail manufacturer of watches and watches parts at the beginning of the 20th century in La Chaux-de-Fonds. They registered the brand in 1903 in Austria, a kind of seal with the following inscription all around what looks like a farmer’s character: “Der Voelker Reichtum ruht im Ackerbau” (Voelker’s wealth rests on agriculture).

BOREL: JULES BOREL (1856) -▶ BOREL & COURVOISIER (1880) -▶ ERNEST BOREL ET CIE (1898) -▶ ERNEST BOREL & CIE S. A. (1924) -▶ ERNEST BOREL (FAR EAST) CO., LTD (2014 – HONG KONG)

In 1856, Jules Borel set up a watchmaking workshop in Neuchâtel. In 1856, with a partner, Paul Courvoisier, he created the firm Borel & Courvoisier, which was not registered until 1880. As early as 1860, they exported watches abroad, especially to Uruguay. They receive awards for their watches at various exhibitions in Europe and America. In 1878, they invented a rod push watch that instituted a new way of adjusting the time and reassembling a watch. In 1894, his son Ernest succeeded him. In 1898, the name of the firm became Ernest Borel & Co. In 1903, Borel opened a market in China with the sale of nearly 400 watches. In 1927, Ernest Borel’s son, Jean-Louis, joined the company, where he took over in 1936. In addition to watches, Borel will market watches with a certified chronometer. Over the years, Borel will develop the foreign market so that his company will grow its network in China by more than 1000 outlets and will enter the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2014 under the name Ernest Borel (Far East) Co., Ltd.

BREGUET: BREGUET ET CIE (1775) -▶ BREGUET ET FILS (1820) -▶ BREGUET NEVEU ET CIE (1840) -▶ L. BREGUET ET FILS (1853) -▶ CHAUMET FRÈRES (1970) -▶ INVESTCORP (1987) -▶ MONTRES BREGUET S. A. (1999 – SWATCH GROUP)

Abraham-Louis Breguet (1747-1823) was born in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. At 18, he left Switzerland for Versailles and Paris, where he apprenticed as a watchmaker. He opened a workshop in 1775 in Paris. Around 1793, he had to leave France during the Revolution to join Switzerland with his son Antoine-Louis (1776-1858), who arrived from England, where he was Arnold’s apprentice. He returned to Paris in 1795. And he joined forces with his son in 1820 under the name Breguet et Fils à Le Locle. On the death of Louis Breguet in 1823, his son Antoine-Louis took over the business. In 1840, he joined forces with a nephew under Breguet Neveu et Co. In 1853, he sold to his son Louis-Clément-François (-1804-1883), and the name became L. Breguet and Son. Over the years, the company diversified into electricity and aviation, so in 1870, it divested itself of its watchmaking division in favor of its workshop manager Edward Brown. The latter’s family will continue to develop the company over the years. The Breguet has won several awards and patents. But in 1970, the Chaumet brothers bought the company. In 1987, it was sold to Investcorp, which transferred watch production to the Vallée de Joux in Switzerland, and opened up new markets in Asia and North America. In 1999, Swatch Group bought the company, and the Breguet brand is still alive today. It is part of the Prestige and Luxe range of the group. It has outlets in Paris, Zurich, and Shanghai, which are all museums of Breguet’s works.

BREITLING S. A. (1884) -▶ BREITLING S. A. (1979 – ERNEST SCHNEIDER) -▶ BREITLING AG (2017 – CVC CAPITAL PARTNERS)

In 1884, Léon Breitling (1860-1914) opened a time-micrometer factory in Saint-Imiez, Canton du Jura. In 1889, Breitling obtained a patent for a simplified chronograph that was easy to produce and maintain. In 1892, the factory moved to La Chaux-de-Fonds. Breitling died in 1914. Under the leadership of his son Gaston (1914-1927) and later on, his grandson Willy (1932-1979), the company specialized in manufacturing aviation chronographs. In 1936, Breitling became the official supplier of the Royal Air Force (RAF). The 1950s and 1960s will see new developments, such as the Navitimer wristwatch, which will become the flagship product. In 1979, Willy was about to retire, he died soon after, and as his sons were too young to take over, he decided to sell the company to Ernest Schneider, a pilot, watch manufacturer, and microelectronics specialist. The latter transfers the head office to Granges, where watches for aircraft pilots are manufactured. Breitling bought the Kelek S. A. watch manufacturer in La Chaux-de-Fonds in 1997. Although Breitling has since specialized in chronometers with its subsidiary Breitling Chronometry, founded in 2002 in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Breitling also manufactures highly prized luxury watches. Arnest’s son, Theodore Schneider, owned the company at that time

BREVINEX, S. A., KURT DUBACH (c. 1960)

Geneva-owned company for the manufacture of watches, chronometers, chronographs, and active horology parts registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademarks Office in 1957 and 1960, with the Doulematic and MuDu brands registered in 1960. The MuDu movements were manufactured by Grunchen’s Felsa S. A. and predate 1960.

BUCHERER (1888) + CARL F. BUCHERER TECHNOLOGIES (2007)

Carl Friedrich Bucherer opened a jewelry and watch shop in Lucerne in 1888. In 1919, he presented his collection of sophisticated watches. He was probably the first to offer a bracelet for a ladies’ watch in 1919 when he produced an art-deco collection. In 1948, the company specialized in chronographs that displayed the date. When he died in 1933, his sons continued their father’s work. In 1968, the company became one of Switzerland’s three most prominent manufacturers of chronographs. In 1969, Bucherer became a consortium member for developing and producing the first quartz movement for wristwatches, the Beta 21. In 1976, Bucherer’s third generation, J.G. Bucherer, took over the management of the family business. In 2001, he repositioned it and launched the Patravi watch collection. In 2007, he bought the company Techniques Horlogères Appliquées from Sainte-Croix. He integrated it into the company under Carl F. Bucherer Technologies, which would simultaneously become the research and development division as it produced its movements and modules. Today the company is one of the oldest Swiss family watch companies. It still produces and sells watches around the world today. Its head office is in Lucerne.

BULER: MONTRES BULER S. A. (1945 – BULER SWISS WATCH) -▶ ONSA & ARCHIPEL WATCH (1991)-▶ RENLEY WATCH S. A. (1994)

Charles and Albert Buhler founded a watchmaking workshop in Oelestrasse in 1945 for all budgets. In 1954, they retired, and Walter Rufli took over. Oelestrasse’s workshop is already too small, with 15 employees, to meet a growing market. The firm moved in 1956 to Lengnau in Canton Solothern and, in 1960, added a wing to the factory. In 1960, Buler Watches became a member of the Roskopf Association and produced cheap pin lever watches, office clocks, and a variety of pendants and rings. In 1967, Montres Buler was one of the Economic Swiss Time Holding (ESTH) founders alongside the Agon, Basis, and Ferex brands, which merged with SSIH in 1971. A change of direction resulted in Buler being taken over in 1991 by a private contractor, Onsa & Archipel Watch, then sold to Renley Watch Manufacturing of Hong Kong in 1994, and moved to La Chaux-de-Fonds under the name Renley Watch S. A. The company has developed international markets, particularly in China. Renley Watch became Hong Kong’s Free Town Watch Products, a watch distributor, retailer, and exporter that no longer looks active. Buler still has a website in operation, but it doesn’t seem to evolve since 2017.

BULOVA WATCH CO., INC., NEW YORK SUCCURSALE DE BIENNE (1912-1983)

Bulova is an American company founded in 1875 by Bohemian immigrant Joseph Bulova in New York, where he opened his first jewelry store. In 1912, he opened a watch factory in Bienne in the Canton of Bern, where he introduced a standardized mass manufacturing system. He was the first to do it. The watch factory in Bienne was closed in 1983.

BÜREN (1842) -▶ F. SUTER AND CO. (1873) -▶ BÜREN WATCH COMPANY, S. A. (1916) -▶ UHRENFABRIK BÜREN AG (1929) -▶ BÜREN (1966 – HAMILTON WATCH CO.) -▶ BÜREN (1971-1972 – SSIH)

The first company was founded in 1842 in a medieval village on the banks of the Aare River in Switzerland. The firm made watch parts. In 1873, Fritz Suter-Antenen took over when it began producing its watches, mainly pocket watches at the time, cylinder escapement, and later, from 1885, anchor escapement. These watches came up with a key. In 1898, H. Williamson bought the brand and the company. In 1916, he expanded in Switzerland to Beren and turned the company into an international division. From 1916, he used the name Büren Watch Co. But the 1929 crisis forced him to sell to local investors led by Roland Gsell, a Swiss-American financier. The company was then called Uhrenfabrik Buren AG. It then developed many watches and wristwatches made on site. In 1966, the American Hamilton Watch Company bought it and transferred the production to Büren in 1969. In 1971, SSIH took over. However, the market shrank considerably, and the factory was liquidated in 1972. However, the brand now belongs to the Schweizer Uhren Editionen (Swiss Watches Editions) in Hamburg, Germany, which manufactures watches with old movements and ETA movements.

BUSER FRÈRES ET CIE S. A. (1892- ?)

Buser Frères is a manufacturer of timepieces created in 1892 by Buser in Neiderdorf, Canton of Basel: ébauches, cylinder and lever movements, chronometer movements, etc. The Buser movements are recognized for their trademark B inside a triangle. It is found in its watch brands (Nidor, Frenca, Esta, Tiptop, Buwat, etc.) and watches from other companies such as Gruen. It was not until 1916 that Buser created his watches. Buser has not been in business for an unspecified date.

(HENRY) CAPT (1802-1893)

Around 1802 and for about ten years, Henry Daniel Capt and Daniel Piguet were associated in the manufacture of watches, chronometers, musical watches, etc. In 1837, Capt teamed up with Adolphe Nicole and opened an office in London, England, which he passed on to his son Jules Capt, who in turn passed it on to his son in 1844. Henry Capt, as early as 1819, had a workshop in Paris. In 1883, he founded an individual company with Louis Gallopin in charge. Finally, in 1893, Henry Capt sold it to L. Gallopin and Co., who left watchmaking to devote himself to jewelry in 1900.

CERTINA: CERTINA – KURTH FRÈRES, S. A. (1888) -▶ CERTINA S. A. (1939) -▶ SMH (1983) -▶ CERTINA S. A. (1999 – SWATCH GROUP)

The Kurth brothers, Adolf and Alfred, set up a watch and timepiece factory in Grenchen, 1888, in an annex of the family home. They were very successful and had to expand and hire employees. In 1906, they marketed their watch brand, the Grana, which they had been careful to register in 1898 with a logo where the word Grana is inserted into the heart of a crown of palm trees. In 1939, they registered the Certina brand, which they had used more and more since the early 1930s. In 1949, it was the only brand used. They also made clocks from 1943 to the mid-1960s. In 1959, they innovated by producing a watch that was very resistant to shocks and waterproof at 200 meters, which would be the first in a series of watches capable of resisting deep depths and high altitudes. In 1971, another innovation, the company introduced a watch capable of indicating the biometric cycles of human beings. Joined with the SMH group in 1983, Certina still exists. It has mainly manufactured and sold mid-range high-precision watches and chronographs within the Swatch Group since 1999.

CONCORD WATCH CO. S. A. (1908) -▶ NORTH WATCH COMPANY (1970-?)

In 1908, Walter E. Hughenin and Charles Bonny founded a watch and clock company in Biel, Canton de Berne, named Concord Watch Co., with the American market in mind. They created a watch that could also serve as a travel alarm and clock in the 1920s and manufactured it. Some of these 8-day clocks were made for Tiffany and Co., which sold them with its label. In 1970, Gedalio and Efraim Grinsburg of the North American Watch Company bought the company.

CYMA (1862) -▶ CYMA WATCH COMPANY S. A. (1892)

The brothers Schwob, Joseph, and Theodore created Cyma, a company of watches and chronographs in Le Locle in 1862. In 1892, they partnered with Frederic Henri Sandoz (1851-1913), who had just created a watch company in Le Locle, Henri Sandoz and Co. Under Sandoz’s leadership, the company became Cyma Watch Co. S.A., which opened a new factory in La Chaux-de-Fonds. The company is now owned by the Hong Kong holding company, Stelux International Ltd.

DEGOUMOIS ET CIE S. A. (1887)

This firm, founded by H. V. Degoumois in 1887, would have been in business at La Chaux-de-fonds first, then in Neuchâtel from 1933. It manufactured watches mainly under the Citadel brand, registered in the United States in 1957, but it also produced watch movements and office clocks.

DELBANA WATCH CO. (1933) -▶ MONTRES DELBANA, S. A. R. L. -▶ DELBANA (2002- DELMA WATCH LTD)

Manufacturer of watches and chronographs created by Goliardoardo Della Balda in 1933. Granges, Freiburg. The Delbana brand was registered in the United States in 1952. The basic movements were produced by A. Schild and Co., S.A. de la Chaux-de-Fonds. The company is still in existence, and Delma Watch Ltd. has owned the brand since 2002.

DELMA: THUYA COMPANY, 1924 -▶ DELMA WATCH LTD (1966)

A. and A. Gilomen founded the Thuya Company in Lengnau in 1924, which sold watches on the European and American markets under the names Thuya, Midland, Berios, Lexkliowar, and Crestwood. In 1952, he launched the Delma brand, and in 1966, he renamed his company Delma Watch Ltd. It’s still in existence.

DELVINA S. A. (c. 1955 – c. 1979)

Delvina was a Geneva manufacturer of watches and anchor escapements from the mid-1950s to the 1970s. The Delvina trademark was registered in the United States in 1971. The company will have two distributors in Birmingham, England. It acquired the Waltham Watch Co. in 1968 and licensed with Elgin Watch in 1973. It closed its doors at the end of the 1970s.

DITISHEIM & CIE (1858) -▶ MANUFACTURE DITISHEIM (1894) -▶ FABRIQUES VULCAIN ET VOLTA (1894) -▶ MANUFACTURES D’HORLOGERIE SUISSE RÉUNIES, S. A. (1961) -▶ VULCAIN – PRODUCTION ET MARKETING HORLOGER (1961) -▶ MANUFACTURE DES MONTRES VULCAIN S. A. (2002)

Founded by the Ditisheim brothers in 1858, they initially made pocket watches in the family’s workshop in La Chaux-de-Fonds. The company took the name of Manufacture Ditisheim, then Vulcain & Volta in 1894. In 1947, the firm introduced the first alarm clock wristwatch called Cricket because it made a shrill sound for twenty seconds at the chosen time. In 1961, a 300 meters waterproof watch with an audible alarm clock underwater, the Cricket Nautical, was created. The company was registered in the United States in 1955 and 1956. In 1961, Vulcain teamed up with the brands Revue, Buser and Phoenix to form the Manufactures d’Horlogerie Suisse Réunies, S. A. (MSR) (Swiss Watchmaking Reunited Manufactures). In 1980, the Straumann family became the majority shareholder of MSR, which abandoned the Vulcain brand in 1986. Production and Marketing Watchmaker of Le Locle bought the Vulcain brand. The product was reborn from the ashes in 2002 under Vulcan Watch Manufacture S. A., which is still in operation.

DOXA: MANUFACTURE DE MONTRES DOXA, S. A. (1889) -▶ DOXA (1968 -SYNCHRON, S. A. ) -▶ DOXA (1978 – AUBRY FRÈRES S. A.) -▶ DOXA (1997 – FAMILLE JENNY)

Founded in 1889 by Georges Ducommun, Doxa manufactures luxury watches and, from 1920, clocks for automobiles and airplanes in Le Locle, Neuchâtel. In 1968, the company became a Synchron, S. A. company. In 1978, Aubry Frères, S. A. bought it, and the Jenny Family in 1997. It’s still in operation. It manufactures and sells watches, chronographs, and marine watches for divers.

DREFFA: MONTRES DREFFA (1874) -▶ DREFFA WATCH CO. S. A. (1924) -▶ DREFFA (1985 – JACQUES MAGUIN) -▶ DREFFA (2014 – TGX HOLDINGS)

Armand Dreyfus created the Dreffa S.A. Watches in 1874 in Geneva. In 1924, the name changed to Dreffa Watch Co., S.A. to reflect that its market had expanded outside the borders of Switzerland. The Dreffa brand and logo were registered in the United States in 1946. In 1985, Jacques Maguin acquired the brand. The company changed hands in 2014 when TGX Holdings bought it. The watches will then be manufactured not only in Geneva but also in Glashütte, Germany.

ÉBAUCHES S. A. (1926) -▶ ÉBAUCHES S. A. (1931 – ASUAG) -▶ ÉBAUCHES S. A. (1982 – ETA) -▶ ASUAG-ÉBAUCHES S. A. (1983 – SSIH) -▶ SSIH-ÉBAUCHES S. A. (1985 – SMH) -▶ ÉBAUCHES S. A. (1999 – SWATCH GROUP)

Ebauches is a holding company of timepieces founded in Granges in 1926 by A. Schild S. A. (ASSA), the Fontainemelon Watch Factory (FHF), and A. Michel S. A. (AMSA). Baumgartner and Frères, and several other firms over the years, were also added. Ébauches S. A. joined ASUAG in 1931. In 1982, ETA took over the management of ébauches operations. In 1983, ASUAG-Ébauches merged with SSIH (Swiss Watch Industry Company) to become in 1985 the SMH (Society of Microelectronics and Watchmaking), which became the famous Swatch Group in 1999.

EBEL (1911) -▶ EBEL (1994 – INVESTCORP)-▶ EBEL (1999 – LVMH) -▶ EBEL (2004 – MOVADO)

EBEL = Eugene Blum Et Levy. Eugene Blum and his wife Alice founded EBEL in 1911 in La Chaux-de-Fonds, a watch factory that was very successful in the late 1920s because it was aimed at a less elitist market. In 1977, it launched a watch model for sportspeople and focused its marketing policy on sports and cultural sponsorship. It managed to pass through the 1980s and 1990s but was sold to the Investcorp Group in 1994 and to the French group LVMH in 1999. In 2004, the American group Movado bought it. It’s still in operation.

EDOX (1884) -▶ EDOX (1921 – ROBERT KAUFMAN-HUG) -▶ MONTRES EDOX et VISTA S. A. -▶ EDOX (1965 – VICTOR FLURY-LIECHTI) -▶ EDOX (1970 – AFFILIÉE DE GENERAL WATCH CO. LTD, SOUS-DIVISION DE ASUAG) -▶ MONTRES VISTA S. A. (1983…)

Christian Raefli-Flury, a master watchmaker from Bienne working for the Watches Jean Aegler, decided to offer his wife a pocket watch, which he created for his 25th birthday in 1883. She persuaded him to set up his watch company, which he named Edox, which means ‘time’ in ancient Greek. The symbol of his trademark is an hourglass, adopted in 1900. When the founder died in 1921, the brand was taken over by Robert Kaufman-Hug, who moved the company from pocket watch manufacturer to manufacturer of exclusive wristwatches. In 1955, the company moved to a new factory. He launched the Delfin collection in 1961, shock and waterproof watches, and the Hydro-Sub collection in 1963. In 1965, Victor Flury-Liechti took over the company and continued developing and marketing new watches. In 1970, the firm became an affiliate of the General Watch Company, a division of ASUAG. In 1983, the company became independent when it was purchased by Vista S. A., owned by Victor Strambini, and moved to Geneva.

ETA S. A.: FABRIQUES D’HORLOGERIE DE FONTAINEMELON (1793) + ÉBAUCHES SCHILD et GIRARD (1856) + ETA AS (1926) -▶ ETERNA S. A. + ETA S.A. (1932) -▶ ETA S. A. (1983 – SMH) -▶ ETA S.A. MANUFACTURE HORLOGÈRE SUISSE (1999 – SWATCH GROUP)

ETA was closely associated with the founding of an ébauche manufacturing factory in 1856 by Urs Schild and Dr. Girard, which became Eterna in 1896 (see Eterna) and also had its roots in the Fontainemelon Watchmaking Factory (FHF) of David Benguerel, Isaac Benguerel, François Humbert-Droz and Julien Humbert-Droz founded in 1793. Eterna will have a division for movement manufacturing called ETA AS. The first ETA movements went on the market in 1924. In 1932, ETA was split in two: Eterna was responsible for the manufacture and marketing of watches, ETA, the manufacture of drafts. The latter participated in creating the company Ébauches S. A. in 1926 with FHF. Starting in 1978, a group of ETA subsidiaries took place, including ETA Micro Crystal, the first European company to manufacture quartz watches. FHF and Ébauches S.A. were regrouped into ETA S. A. in 1983. ETA was then placed under the Swiss Microelectronics and Watch Company S.A. (SMH), which became Swatch Group in 1999. ETA is undoubtedly one of Switzerland’s largest ébauches and movement manufacturing companies. Its dominance has been challenged, and it has had to comply with certain practices and agreements until 2023.

ETERNA : ÉBAUCHES-FABRIK DR. GIRARD & SCHILD (1856) -▶ ETERNA WERKE, GEBRÜDER SCHILD & CO., SA (1906) -▶ ETERNA, SA + ETA, SA (1932) -▶ ETERNA (SMH1982) -▶ ETERNA, SA (PCW- 1984) -▶ ETERNA, SA (FERDINAND ALEXANDER PORSCHE, SARL – 1995)-▶ ETERNA WATCHES (INTERNATIONAL VOLANT, LTD – 2012 -▶ CITYCHAMP WATCH & JEWELLRY GROUP, LTD – 2014)

On November 7, 1856, Dr. Joseph Girard, a physicist, and Urs Schild, a teacher, founded a factory called Ebauches-Fabrik Dr. Girard-Schild in Granges. In 1866, Urs Schild took the reins of the company alone. He had a vision. In 1876, he made his first Eterna watches. In 1906, the company became Eterna Werke, Gebrüder Schild and Co. S. A. It is essentially a manufacturer of precision watches and ETA ébauches. In 1914, Eterna produced the world’s first alarm clock. In 1932, the company was divided into two parts: Eterna S. A., maker of high-end precision watches, and ETA S. A., maker of ébauches. The latter will eventually be part of the SMH group that will become the Swatch Group. From 1982 to 1984, Eterna was a member of the Swiss Society of Microelectronics and Watchmaking S. A. (SMH), from 1984-1995, the PCW Group (Portland-Cement-Werke), from 1995, of the Ferdinand Alexander Porsche Sàrl Group. In 2004, Eterna resumed manufacturing movements for its own needs. In 2012, Eterna was sold to International Volant Ltd, a China Haidian division named Citychamp Watch & Jewellery Group Limited, in 2014. Eterna‘s head office is still in Granges.

(LES) FABRIQUES D’ASSORTIMENTS RÉUNIES (1955 – 1967)

An escapement factory for all kinds of clock movements, registered in the United States as the Assorted Assembly Fabricators from 1955 to 1967.

(LES) FABRIQUES DE BALANCIERS RÉUNIES, S. A. (1967-1971)

Registered in the United States as manufacturers of watches, watch balance wheels, and clock movements of Bienne, Bern from 1967-1971.

FABRIQUE D’HORLOGERIE DE SAINT-BLAISE S. A. (1956-1958)

Saint-Blaise music box alarm clock manufacturer, Neuchâtel, was recorded in the United States from 1956 to 1958.

FLÜCKIGER: FABRIQUE DE CADRANS FLÜCKIGER (1860) -▶ FLÜCKIGER & Cie (1923) -▶ FLÜCKIGER & FILS S. A. (1977) -▶ CADRANS FLÜCKIGER S. A. (2004)

In 1860, Zélime Jacot founded the Fleckiger Dial Factory in Saint-Imier, Bern. In 1923, the factory came under the control of Fernand, André, and Berthe Fleckiger, who created the company, a dial-making company, and expanded the Saint-Imier factory. In 1944, the Z.J. brand was registered for enamel, metal, or silver dials for watches and floor clocks. In 1961, it expanded further, and in 1968, it moved to the former Bulova factory. In 1971, the industrial complex was built. In 1977, the company became Fleckiger & son S. A., watchmaking. In 2008, the Saint-Imier Technology Park was acquired by the Dials Fleckiger S. A., created in 2004.

GALLET & Cie (1826….)

The watchmaker Humbertus Gallet became a citizen of Geneva in 1466 and founded a company that bears his name and later the names of the family’s descendants. It mainly manufactured pocket watches. One of these descendants, Julien Gallet (1806-1849), registered the name Gallet & Co. in 1826 and moved to La Chaux-de-Fonds. In 1855, Léon Gallet (1832-1899), Julien’s son, bought the manufacturer Grumbach and Co. and thus expanded considerably by bringing together under one roof several watchmakers from the Jura region and encouraged them to register patents under their names. Gallet et Co. is one of Switzerland’s independent family-owned still in operation business.

GIRARD-PERREGAUX: JEAN-FRANÇOIS BAUTTE (1791) -▶ MOULINIÉ & BAUTTE (1793) -▶ MOULINIÉ, BAUTTE & CIE (1804) -▶ SOCIÉTÉ JEAN-FRANÇOIS BAUTTE & CIE (1837) -▶ + GIRARD ET CIE (1852) -▶ MANUFACTURE GIRARD-PERREGAUX (1856) -▶ GIRARD-PERREGAUX & CIE (1906) -▶ GIRARD-PERREGAUX (SOWIND GROUP – 1988) -▶ GIRARD-PERREGAUX (KERING – 2011)

In all the articles consulted, the origins of Girard-Perregaux in 1791 are traced back to La Chaux-des-Fonds with Jean-François Bautte (1772-1837). He is a 12-year-old orphan who bites into life. He learned, in turn, the trades of case builder, guillocheur, watchmaker, and goldsmith. He produced his first watch at the age of 19. In 1793, he and Jacques-Dauphin Moulinié created the Moulinié & Bautte, fitters. In 1804, Jean-Gabriel Moynier joined the company, becoming Moulinié, Bautte & Co., a watch jewelry sales company. Bautte brought together all the trades under the same roof and created a factory close to its sales store in Geneva. He produced jewelry, music boxes, automatons, and extra-thin watches, of which he was the first manufacturer. It was world-renowned and had stores in Paris and Florence. He even did business with Turkey, India, and China. He was known to the greats of this world, famous writers, kings, queens, duchesses, etc. When he died in 1837, his son and son-in-law founded the Jean-François Bautte Society & Co., a watch and jewelry sales company. In 1852, the watchmaker Constant Girard founded Girard et Co. In 1854, he married Marie Perregaux, and in 1856 the name became the Manufacture Girard-Perregaux from La Chaux-de-Fonds, producing movements and watches, including the Tourbillon, which won prizes at the Universal Exhibitions in Paris in 1867 and 1889. In 1906, Constant Girard’s son succeeded him, bought the Jean-François Bautte Company, and merged it with his own, Girard-Perregaux & Co. In 1988, the Sowind Group was founded and integrated Girard-Perregaux & Co. In 2008, Kering took a minority stake in Sowind, then a majority in 2011. Kering Paris is a luxury group that owns, among others, the brands Gucci, Yves Saint-Laurent, Boucheron, Balenciaga, Bottega Venata, and Alexander McQueen.

GLYCINE: FABRIQUE D’HORLOGERIE LA GLYCINE (1914) -▶ LA GLYCINE P & J (1916-1923) -▶ LA GLYCINE (ENGEL D’EGGIWIL – 1924) -▶ LA GLYCINE (ASUAG – 1942) -▶ LA GLYCINE (CHARLES HERTIG OWNER – 1942) -▶ GLYCINE & ALTUS S. A. (1953 OR 1963) -▶ GLYCINE S.A. (HANS BRECHBÜHLER – 1984) MONTRES GLYCINE S. A. (ALTUS UHREN HOLDING AG – 2011) -▶ GLYCINE WATCHS S. A. (INVICTA GROUP – 2016)

In 1914, a former student of the School of Watchmaking of La Chaux-de-Fonds (1910), Eugene Meylan (1891-1955), created in Bienne, Canton de Berne, the La Glycine watchmaking factory. The latter, very early, managed to produce tiny movements for women’s watches, which became its specialty until the mid-1930s. From 1916 to 1923, two watchmakers from Bienne, Piccola, and Jofrette, became shareholders of the company that became La Glycine P-J. In the 1920s, it became the supplier to wealthy people in England and America looking for quality watches, often made of gold or platinum, sometimes set with diamonds. Meylan registered his Glycine brand in the United States in 1923. In 1924, Meylan sold the factory to Fernand Engel of Eggiwil, who owned Pretto Watch Co.

Once La Glycine is sold, Meylan doesn’t stop there. While maintaining ties with Glycine, he created another company in 1926, the Sertissages Précis factory known as Eugène Meylan, La Chaux-de-Fonds. In 1927, Sertissages Précis signed a contract for the exclusive representation of the Bulle clock in Switzerland. But the Great Depression of the years 1929 and subsequent cut him off from his foreign markets and made his life difficult. Around 1930, however, Meylan bought the company Chronomuri S.A. He renamed it Automatic EMSA after the automatic watch he created and tried to market. To do so, he had the help of Fernand Engel. In 1931, he transferred the patent for the automatic module of his watch by Eugene Meylan, La Chaux-de-Fonds, to Automatic EMSA. In 1932, Sertissages Précis went bankrupt. In 1934, Meylan also produced chronometers capable of meeting the rigorous precision standards of the Swiss Quality Control Office. In 1935, Meylan transferred the patent of his EMSA watch to La Glycine. The following year, he restarted Sertissages Précis and resumed the representation of the Bulle clocks. After World War II, Meylan was accused of trafficking in gold during the war but was acquitted by the Council of the Swiss Federation. He came to a tragic end in Neuchâtel in 1955.

In the meantime, La Glycine participated in the Basel Fair in 1938. It also went through the Second World War, after which it marketed a collection of automatic watches. In 1942, ASUAG (Allgemeine Schweizerische Uhrenindustrie AG – Swiss Watch Industry Group) bought the Glycine ébauches factory. The group already had several brands in its portfolio. In the same year, the owner of La Glycine died, and the company changed hands. Charles Hertig d’Évilard sold Swiss watches bearing his name in the 1930s in Portugal and owned a company, Charles Hertig Watch Export S.A., Bienne. It seems he had acquired The Altus Watches in the late 1930s. He’s the new owner of Glycine. He installed the two companies under the same roof. Still, it was not until 1953 (or 1963) that he merged them under Glycine – Altus S. A. In the 1950s, Glycine created a vacuum chronometer that made it resistant to water and all kinds of adverse conditions. It also creates a watch capable of giving time to time zones, which has made it very attractive to frequent flyers. The company later perfected this type of watch. The 1970s were difficult for Swiss watchmaking, which was slow to start working quartz. It has also faced a recession, and the excessive value of the Swiss franc has made it less competitive. Swiss watchmaking lost 60 000 jobs. At that time, the movements of Glycine watches were no longer manufactured by it but rather in consolidated factories such as ETA.

Glycine was bought in 1984 by Hans Brechbihler, who had already owned Belinda Watches since 1966. He took it out of bankruptcy and developed it by reintroducing its famous renewed models of mechanical motion watches. His daughter Katherina, co-owner and co-director, became the company’s sole owner in 2005. In 2011, the German group Altus Uhren Holding AG bought Watches Glycine S.A., and a new CEO was appointed, with Katharina remaining director of the design department. In 2016, Glycine will join a Florida group, Invicta Watch Group, to take care of marketing and distribution strategy. For more information about Glycine, see the website Glycentennial.

HAMILTON: HAMILTON WATCH co. -► SSIH (1959) -► USUAG (1983) -► USUAG-SMH (1985) -► HAMILTON INTERNATIONAL LTD (1999 – SWATCH GROUP)

Hamilton Watch was founded in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the U.S.A., in 1892. The company will be there for 111 years. It produced precision watches, especially for the Railways, and then in 1918, for the air postal services. In 1957, it produced the world’s first battery-powered electric watch, the Ventura. In 1959, the brand and its name were transferred to Bienne in Switzerland after it had purchased A. Huguenin Fils S. A. It also worked closely with the Büren Watch Co., which eventually be bought by Hamilton in 1966. In 1970, it produced the first light-emitting diode (LED) watch, the Pulsar. In 1971, the SSIH Group bought both companies. And what follows is its integration into the USUAG group, then USUAG-SMH, then Swatch Group in the mid-range segment.

HUBLOT S. A. (1980) -► HUBLOT S. A. (2008 – LVMH)

In Geneva, founded in 1980 by Carlo Crocco, the Hublot company specializes, he says, in the Art of Fusion, the fusion of materials, movements with new architecture, and high-tech manufacturing. His masterstroke was to combine gold for the case and natural rubber for the bracelet. It was acquired in 2008 by LVMH.

HUGUENIN FRÈRES (1868) -► HUGUENIN FRÈRES ET CIE S. (1934) -► HUGUENIN MÉDAILLEURS S. A. (1968) -► HUGUENIN ET KRAMMER (1999) -► FAUDE & HUGUENIN S. A. (2002)

Huguenin was the creation of two brothers, one engraver, Fritz, and the other, guillocheur, Albert, who decided in 1868 to produce watch cases in a small workshop in Le Locle. Then in 1888, they also made their first medals. Their specialty is niellage, the art of “creating a black décor on silver cases,” which ensured their success worldwide, so they had to build a new factory in 1899. In the early 1900s, the Huguenin brothers’ three sons took over the company. They managed to get through the First World War and the 1929 crisis and became Huguenin & Brothers S. A. in 1934. In the following years, the company flourished in watch cases and medals. In 1968, the third generation of Huguenin took over the management of the firm and renamed it Huguenin S.A. Medals on the occasion of the company’s centenary. In 1992, they started making colored coins. It merged briefly with Paul Kramer Neuchâtel’s firm in 1999 before partnering with Faude to become Faude and Huguenin S. A. in 2002. Today, it is the only one that still produces hand medals, decorations, and cases for watchmaking, in addition to other diverse products such as trophies, plaques, badges, change, etc.

IMHOF: MANUFACTURE DE PENDULETTES ET RÉVEILS ARTHUR IMHOF, SA (1924-2000)

Founded in 1924 by Arthur Imhof in La Chaux-de-Fonds, the company made pocket watches, small dials, and high-quality alarm clocks. In 1939, it created another successful brand, Helveco. Imhof ceased operations in the early 2000s.

IWC: INTERNATIONAL WATCH CO. (1868) -► INTERNATIONAL WATCH CO. S. A. (1874) -► IWC (1880 – UHRENFABRIK VON J. VON J. RAUSCHENBACH) -►IWC (1905 – UHRENFABRIK VON J. RAUSCHENBACHS ERBEN) -► UHRENFABRIK VON ERNST HOMBERGER-RAUSCHENBACH (1929) -► IWC (1978 – VDO Adolf SCHINDLING AG) -► IWC (1991 – LMH Group) -► IWC SCHAFFHAUSEN (2000 – RICHEMONT)

International Watch Co. (IWC) is a luxury watch factory for the American market, founded in 1868 in Schaffhausen, Canton Schaffhauser, by an American engineer from Boston, Massachusetts, who moved to Switzerland, Florentine Ariosto Jones (1841-1916) who was at the time director of F. Howard Watch and Co. It was located near the Rhine falls, where Jones built a power plant to operate his machine tools. It was a failure. The bank that took over the company did not do better. The company became a limited company in 1874. After two bankruptcies, it was taken over by a manufacturer of agricultural machinery in 1880, Johannes Rauschenbach-Vogel under the name Uhrenfabrik von J. Rauschenbach. He died the following year, and his son Johannes Rauschenbach-Schenk ensured continuity. Under his leadership, he hired two employees, Urs Haenggi and Johann Vogel, who were knowledgeable in watchmaking and had grown the company’s watch industry. It was this Vogel that introduced a new numbering system for calibers. On Rauschenbach’s death in 1905, the company was sold by will to Ernst Jakob Homberger-Rauschenbach and psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung and his wife Emma Marie Rauschenbach-Jung. The company became known as Uhrenfabrik von J. Rauschenbach’s Erben. Ernest Homberger-Rauschenbach, will became its sole owner in 1929 until1955, under the name Uhrenfabrik von J. Homberger-Rauschenbach. His son, Hans Ernst Homberger, ensured continuity until 1978. It will be the last private owner of the brand. He decided to sell it because of financial difficulties. The buyer is the German VDO Adolf Schindling AG. In 1991, then IWC‘s director, Gunter Blunlein, decided to found LMH Group with its head office in Schaffhausen. He then owned 100% of IWC and 60% of Jaegler-Lecoultre, the rest owned by Audemars-Piguet. He also owns 90% of the shares of the German watch firm A. Lange and Shöne. The LMH group was acquired in 2000 by the Richemont Group, which is now the owner of IWC Schaffhausen.

JAEGER-LECOULTRE: LECOULTRE (1833) -► LECOULTRE & Cie (1866) -► LECOULTRE & CIE S. A. (1899) -► JAEGER-LECOULTRE (1937) -► JAEGER-LECOULTRE (1991 – LMH ) -► JAEGER-LECOULTRE (2000 – RICHEMONT)

Antoine Le Coultre (1803-1881) created a pinion factory in 1833 in Le Sentier, Canton de Vaud, to supply watchmakers from Geneva and Neuchâtel. In 1844, he created a micrometric screw that became the standard for Swiss watchmakers. In 1850, he made ébauches. The son of Antoine Le Coultre, Elijah Le Coultre (1842-1917) set up in 1866 in Le Sentier, Vaud County, in the Vallée de Joux, a first movement factory, Le Coultre & Co., which was largely mechanized from 1870. Le Coultre employed a man named Alfred Lugrin in 1879. He sold his business to his three sons in 1877, which became S. A. in 1899. In 1903, Edmond Jaeger of France called on Swiss companies to develop and produce the ultra-thin watch movements he had just invented. That’s when Le Coultre comes on stage. In 1907, the French manufacturer Cartier signed a contract to supply movements to Jaeger, and LeCoultre produced them. In 1936, Jaeger, who acquired the rights to the Atmos clock from its inventor, Jean-Léon Reutter, granted a license to Le Coultre for France in 1936 and Switzerland in 1937. That year, the association between Jaeger and LeCoultre was established by the Jaeger-LeCoultre union. Previously, in 1921, Jaeger France had set up a company with LeCoultre Switzerland in England to produce clocks for luxury cars, the Ed. Jaeger (London) Ltd. S. Smith and Sons (London) bought Jaeger in 1927, and in 1937 it was named British Jaeger Instruments Limited. In 1938, Jaeger-LeCoultre bought Vacheron-Constantin with the help of the investment company SAPIC. It later joined the LMH group in 1991 alongside IWC and A. Lange-Shöne, who has been part of the Richemont group since 2000.

JAQUET-DROZ (1738) -► JAQUET-DROZ ET LESCHOT (1773) -► MONTRES JAQUET-DROZ-► FABRIQUE D’HORLOGERIE JAQUET-DROZ (1960) -► MONTRES JAQUET DROZ LTD (2000 – SWATCH GROUP)

Pierre Jaquet-Droz (1721-1790) founded a workshop in La Chaux-de-Fonds in 1738, where he produced floor clocks from 1738 to 1747, some of which were sold to the King of Spain and transported to him in 1758. On his return to Switzerland in 1759, he decided to devote himself to the manufacture of watches, automatons, and clocks with his son Henri-Louis (1752-1991) and Jean-Frédéric Leschot, a neighbor. In 1773, they marketed three automatons, the Writer, the Designer, and the Musician, presented throughout Europe and made Jaquet-Droz famous. In 1774, Pierre Jaquet-Droz opened a workshop in London, of which his son became the director. This outlet will extend to Asia and the Middle East. He was the first to export watches to the Forbidden City in China; nowadays, many are part of the Imperial Palace Museum. In 1784, Pierre and his son opened the first watch factory in Geneva. It produces automatons but also luxury watches with automatons and music boxes as well as clocks. The end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century will see the end of the Jaquet-Droz society’s heyday with the Napoleonic Wars, the French Revolution, and severe financial difficulties caused in particular by poor-paying Chinese. It will survive, however. A recording can be found in Switzerland in 1960 under the name Jaquet-Droz Watch Factory. It will be bought in 2000 by the Swatch Group, reviving it in its Lux range.

JUVENIA MONTRES S. A., SAINT-IMIER ET LA CHAUX-DE-FOND (1860) : DIDISHEIM-GOLDSCHMIDT ET FILS CIE (1886) -► FABRIQUE JUVENIA (1908) + FABRIQUE JUVENIA PETIT-FILS DE DIDISHEIM-GOLDSCHMIDT -► JUVENIA HORLOEGERIE DE PRÉCISION S. A. (1986) -► JUVENIA (1988 – ASIA COMMERCIAL HOLDINGS, LTD)

Jacques Didisheim (1834-1889), an Alsacian who emigrated to Switzerland around 1850, founded Juvenia Watches, S. A. in Saint-Imier in 1860 and moved in 1882 to La Chaux-de-Fonds to produce watches and clocks as well as timepieces. Juvenia had overtime two sister companies, the Didisheim-Goldschmidt and Son Co. of 1886, Fabrique Juvenia from 1908 (recorded in the United States from 1934 to 1946), and the Juvenia Petit-fils Factory of Didisheim-Goldschmidt (registered in the United States from 1956 to 1959). In 1986, the company was called Juvenia Precision Watchmaking S. A. It was acquired in 1988 by Asia Commercial Holdings Ltd. of Hong Kong. It is still in operation and specializes in watches.

(EDUARD) KUMMER BETTLACH (1888) -► FABRIQUE D’HORLOGERIE ED. KUMMER S. A. (1906) -► FABRIQUE D’HORLOGERIE ED. KUMMER S. A. (1931 – ASUAG) -► ATLANTIC S. A. (1941) – ÉBAUCHES S. A. (1932 et 1939) ; FABRIQUE D’ÉBAUCHES BETTLACH S. A. (1937)

In 1888, Eduard Kummer created in Bettlach, Canton of Solothurn, an ébauche factory that soon became a prefabricated watch factory. In 1906, the company was renamed Ed Kummer Watch Factory S.A. It also manufactures Roskopf, cylinder, and anchor wristwatches and wristwatches. But after significant financial difficulties, in the 1920s, the company came under the yoke of ASUAG (Allgemeine Schweizerische Uhrenindustrie AG – General Company of the Swiss watch industry S. A.) in 1931. In 1932, the department of anchor and cylinder watches was taken over by Ébauches S. A. (EFB) and Roskopf Watch in 1939. The remaining material will be passed on to Bettlach Ébauches (EB) in 1937. The Ed Kummer AG will remain to produce prefabricated watches. It will eventually be named Atlantic S. A. around 1941.

LEMANIA: A. LUGRIN ET CIE (1884) -► LEMANIA-LUGRIN S. A. (1924) -► SSIH (1931) -► NOUVELLE LEMANIA S. A. (1981) -► INVESTCORP (1992) -► LEMANIA-BREGUET (1999 – SWATCH GROUP) -► BREGUET (1999 – SWATCH GROUP)

Alfred Lugrin, a self-taught watchmaker who worked for Le Coultre et Co. from 1879 to 1884, founded the firm A, which makes ébauches for watches and chronographs. He won gold medals at the Milan World’s Fair in 1906 and in Bern in 1914. During his career, Lugrin was a Vaud MP and one of the founders of the Joux Valley School of Watchmaking. When he died in 1920, his son-in-law, Marius Meylan, took over the management of the company he renamed Lemania-Lugrin S. A. in 1924. It will also manufacture Lemania-branded watches named in reference to Lake Geneva. In 1931, a collaboration with Omega and Tissot was developed, which led to the creation of the Swiss Society for the Watch Industry (SSIH). Lemania developed several outstanding calibers until 1980, when the company was sacrificed in a cost rationalization move at SSIH. In 1981, Piaget purchased the remains of the firm, renamed New Lemania, S. A. Its calibers will equip major brands, including the Heuer watches. In 1992, Investcorp of Bahrain, which already had in its portfolio Breguet, bought New Lemania. Swatch Group took over in 1999. At the same time, Breguet and the Lemania calibers will no longer be supplied to competing groups but reserved for Breguet, which eventually wholly absorbed Lemania.

LEONIDAS: MAISON JULIEN BOURQUIN (1841) -▶ FERDINAND BOURQUIN, SUCCESSEUR À ST-IMIER (1901) -▶ LEONIDAS WATCH CO. (1902) -▶ LEONIDAS WATCH FACTORY CO. (1907) -▶ LEONIDAS WATCH S. A. (1936) -▶ HEUER-LEONIDAS (1964)

Julien Bourquin founded a pocket watch factory in Saint-Imier in 1841. Sometime later, Ferdinand Bourquin took over and inaugurated the Leonidas brand or his precision watches in 1902, named after the former king of Sparta. He then started making chronographs and chronometers that he sold in the United States and Japan. He developed a Leonidas Aviation Collection that he sold to governments. Ferdinand Bourquin’s firm became the Leonidas Watch Factory in 1907, first registered by Bourquin’s widow, then by Constant Jeanneret-Droz, who took it over in the 1910s. In addition to the specialty product range, the company made more consumer products. From 1929, Leonidas no longer manufactured his ébauches but called on the company Ébauches S. A. In 1936, Leonidas became a limited company under the direction of Charles Jeanneret, son of Constant. After the Second World War, its chronographs became increasingly sophisticated with the addition of calendars, lunar phases, etc., with Venus and Valijoux calibers. In the 1960s, it supplied the Italian Air Force with chronographs. Then the firm tried to diversify with alarm and automatic watches, but it failed. In early 1964, it merged with Heuer under Heuer Leonidas S. A. The Leonidas brand disappeared from the dials in the 1970s and its movements in the early 1980s.

L’ÉPÉE (1839) -► L’ÉPÉE (1975 – MANURHIN-MATRA) -► L’ÉPÉE (1986 – HOLDING S.F.P.I) -► L’ÉPÉE (1983 – GROUPE HORLOGER LAVAL) -►L’ÉPÉE (1995 – SOCIÉTÉ GEORGE MÉREAU) -► L’ÉPÉE (1996- 1995 – HOLDING S.F.P.I. FRANCE -► L’ÉPÉE 1839 (2008 – SWIZA)

Auguste L’Epée (1798-1875) and Pierre-Henri Paur founded a factory of watch products and music boxes in 1839 in France in the department of Doubs. Beginning in 1850, the factory began producing platform escapements for alarm clocks and carriage clocks, which were very popular then. It also obtained patents for its inventions related to this type of escapement. In 1889, the factory broke a production record with 200,000 platforms. It also won gold medals at Exhibitions in Vienna, England, and France. At the beginning of the 20th century, it diversified its production into mechanical movements of watches and precision instruments. From 1975, the new management, Manurhin-Matra, who bought the firm, directed it towards luxury watches. It was also involved in the Concorde supersonic aircraft project by providing wall clocks. In 1986, the Holding SFPI bought L’Epée and tried to give it a status of great luxury by associating it with Hermes and Cristalleries Baccarat.

In vain, the firm went bankrupt and was bought by the Laval Watch Group in 1983. In 1994, Laval built, like a French glass regulator, a giant regulator found in the Guinness Book of Records with its size of 2.20 m. and its weight of 1.2 tons, the movement alone weighing 120 kg. In 1995, L’Epée passed into the hands of Georges Méreau. Despite layoffs, she is bankrupt again. The Holding S.F.P.I. France took over for a year, but again it filed for bankruptcy. Its closure was hectic due to its factory workers’ occupation, making it very difficult to take over by another company. But the brand was eventually sold to England’s F. A. Gluck Ltd in 1999. But in 2008, Swiza S. A. and Matthew Norman acquired the L’Épée brand from F. A. Gluck Ltd. They founded the company L’Epée 1839 with its head office and factory in Delémont, Switzerland. In 2009, the production of brand new watches will resume, which will be made entirely in Switzerland under the brand name L’Epée 1839.

LE PHARE: BARBEZAT-BAILLOT (1888) -► NOUVELLES FABRIQUES LE PHARE S. A. (1897) -► LE PHARE S. A. (1905) -► LE PHARE-SULTANA S. A. (1950) – LE PHAREJEAN D’EVE S. A. (1984) -► RENLEY WATCH MANUFACTURING S. A. (1992)

Charles Barbezat founded the Barbezat-Baillot watch and watch parts factory in Le Locle in 1888. He calls his watches Le Phare (The Lighthouse).” In 1897, he registered his company under the name New Factory Le Phare S. A. In 1905, the company changed its name to Le Phare (The Lighthouse). In 1898, another recording mentioned only Le Phare S. A., who moved in 1939 to La Chaux-de-Fonds. The following year saw the arrival of a new owner who would specialize the company in complex watches. In 1950, Le Phare S.A. merged with Sultana S. A. Watches and became Le Phare-Sultana S. A. In 1970, the company was one of the largest manufacturers of Swiss chronographs. In 1981, the company launched the Jean d’Eve brand, and the company became Le Phare-Jean d’Eve in 1984. In 1988, the company launched the brand Samara. It claims that it is the first automatic quartz watch in the world. In 1992, Hong Kong’s Renley Watch Manufacturing acquired Le Phare-Sultana. The Jean d’Eve brand will cease to be used in 2017, and the Le Phare brand no longer seems active. Both appear to be owned by a Hong Kong watch distributor, Free Town Watch Products Ltd.

LESCHOT, S. A.

  • LESCHOT S. A. – Located in Geneva, Leschot S. A., named after Leschot watchmakers, is a company that manufactures timepiece parts, watch movements, automatics, and manuals, assembles movements, and watches.
  • LESCHOT GROUP – The Groupe Leschot is a Neuchâtel investment company that brought together various manufacturers involved in watchmaking since 2002, including:
    • LESCHOT TOURBILLON – Jaquet-Droz Leschot S. A. The Tourbillon Watch Company (1990), Leschot Tourbillon specializes in the manufacture of watches based on Abraham-Louis Breguet’s Tourbillon patented in 1801.
    • LESCHOT ENGINEERING – Leschot Engineering is an engineering company in Neuchâtel specializing in watchmaking. It manufactures, wholesales, imports, and exports watches of various styles worldwide in its Watch Division and does the same for movements in its Movements Division.
    • OMIKRON WATCH COMPANY – Omikron of Neuchâtel is part of the tradition of Gustave Homberger’s pocket watches, and its famous caliber called Omikron (1898) was used mainly by the railways.
    • K.K. COLLECTION – K.K. Collection specializes in the manufacture of enameled watch dials. Enamel is a technique first used in the 17th century.
    • CAMY SWISS WATCH – The Neuchâtel Camy Swiss is a watch brand with a metal bracelet and round, oval, hexagonal, or square dial of a rather peculiar style.

LONGINES: RAIGUEL JEUNE ET CIE (1833) -▶ AGASSIZ ET CIE (1838) -▶ ERNEST FRANCILLON ET CIE (E. F. CO. – 1862)-► LONGINES S. A. (1915) -► ASUAG-SSIH (1983) -► SMH (1985) -► LONGINES WATCH FRANCILLON LTD (1998 – SWATCH GROUP)

Auguste Agassiz (1809-1877) was first employed at Henri Raiguel’s watchmaking counter in Saint-Imier in 1832. In 1833, the two teamed up with Florian Morel and founded Raiguel Jeune et Co., a manufacturer of utility watches. In 1838, Raiguel left, and the firm became Agassiz and Co. At the time, manufacturing was mainly done at home. But Agassiz developed commercial ties worldwide to sell watches, especially in the United States, where he had contacts, especially his cousin Augustus Mayor. But Augustus had health problems and withdrew. In 1862, the company was sold to his economist nephew, Ernest Francillon (1834-1900), who perfected the manufacturing methods. The company became Ernest Francillon & Co. After buying land in Saint-Imier, at the place called Les Longines, he built a new factory in 1866 and combined the manufacture of watches. This is how the Longines brand was born. In 1870, the factory experienced significant financial difficulties, but with its employees, they managed to get through it. In 188o, Francillon registered the company in Switzerland as well as the brand and its logos, and in 1889 he registered the Longines brand with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), which became the oldest brand still protected without modifications. In 1915, the company became Longines S. A. Following several significant developments and achievements in the field of precision watches, Longines S. A. joined the ASUAG-SSIH group in 1983, which became SMH in 1985, and then Swatch Group. Their Longines watches are high-end flagship products.

(E.) MATHEY-TISSOT ET CIE, S. A. (1886) -► MATHEY-TISSOT (2013 – SWP SWISS WATCH PARTNERS, S. A.)

Edmond Mathey-Tissot founded his watch, clock, and watch manufacturing company in 1886 in Les Ponts-de-Martel. He was successful with his chronographs and won numerous awards from 1914, providing chronographs to the United States Corps of Engineers during the First World War, the British Navy, and the American armed forces in the second. The Mathey-Tissot brand has no connection to the other Tissot and has been registered since 1937 in the United States and with the World Intellectual Property Organization. It still exists and is part of the SWP Swiss watch Partners, S. A. de Genève, established in 2013 in Geneva.

(C. H.) MEYLAN (1888-1960)

Charles-Henri Meylan (1842-c. 1916), a watchmaker from a family, the Maylans, who were a true dynasty in the world of Swiss clock watchmaking, created a watch brand in Brassus in the Vallée de Joux in 1878. Then for ten years, he continued his training, traveled, imported watches, and worked in the United States, in New York and Boston, where he worked at the Waltham Watch Co. He returned to Switzerland in 1888 and founded the C. H. Meylan factory in Brassus. He later established a branch in the United States, C. H. Meylan Watch Co. October 23, 1928. He also holds three U.S. patents. He continued his collaboration with the Waltham Watch Co., which used a mechanism he developed for his repeated watches. Around 1916, his son Max, one of his seven children, took over from his father, who probably died that year. In the 1930s, the company made chronographs, but it was falling apart due to probably family conflicts. But it continued to do business in the United States, thanks to A. R. and J. E. Meylan, a company founded in 1937. In 1947 Baume and Mercier took a stake in the business, but C. H. Meylan of Brassus did not pass through the 1960s.

MIDO: MIDO G. SCHAEREN & CO. (1918) -▶ MIDO (1983 – USUAG) -▶ MIDO (1985 -SMH) -▶ MIDO AG (1998 – SWATCH GROUP)

Created in 1918 by Georges Schaeren and recorded in Solothurn and Biel, Mido, which means measure in Spanish, has made watches inspired by architecture ever since. In 1920, it marketed lady’s watches with colored cases in the spirit of the Roaring Twenties. It also invested a lot in the automotive field, offering lovers of watches the shape of the grille of the automobiles of the time, such as Buick, Bugatti, Fiat, Ford, and Hispano-Suiza. In the 1930s, Mido specialized in automatic watches, taking care to invent a crown seal called Aquadura that made watches waterproof. In 1934, it released a line of anti-magnetic, automatic and water-resistant watches that would be a great success for the next 15 years. In 1939, it introduced a small robot that would become very popular. The sequel is rich in novelty. In 1983, Mido moved to USUAG, which merged with SMH to form the Swatch Group, where Mido is part of the mid-range of products.

MINERVA: FABRIQUE D’HORLOGERIE MINERVA S. A. (1858) -▶ MINERVA (1926) -▶ MINERVA (1935 – FREY & CO. S. A.) -▶ MINERVA – (2000 – HOPA) -▶ MINERVA (2006 – RICHEMONT)

In 1858, brothers Hippolyte and Charles-Yvan Robert founded a movement-making workshop in Saint-Imier, Minerva S. A. Robert was specializing in professional watches capable of accurately measuring small intervals of time. From 1880, he also made pocket watches that could be rewound with the crown. In 1908, a chronograph movement was made, the 9CH caliber. In 1916, a push-button was introduced in a chronometer to stop time with an accuracy of 1/100th of a second. In 1926, the name of the company simply became Minerva. In 1935, the Frey-Co. S. A.‘s family acquired Minerva and participated in the Garmisch-Partenkirchen Olympic Games in Germany as the official timekeeper of alpine skiing events the following year. In 1998, its handheld mechanical counters entered the 1998 Guinness Book of Records due to records of accuracy. In 2000, an Italian investment company, Hopa, acquired Frey – Minerva and sold it to the Richemont Group in 2006.

MONTBLANC: MONTBLANC MONTRES S. A. -(1997 – RICHEMONT) + INSTITUT MINERVA DE RECHERCHE EN HAUTE HORLOGERIE (2007)

Montblanc was originally a German company founded in 1906, specializing in manufacturing writing instruments. It was not until 1997 that Montblanc bought the factory to invest in watches by creating Montblanc Watches S. A. in Le Locle. In 2007, the Richemont Group attributed Montblanc to the Minerva plant, which was acquired from Hopa. In the same year, Montblanc created the Minerva Institute for Research in Fine Watchmaking in Villeret, a development center, and a manufacturing workshop. In the same year, Montblanc introduced the first movement entirely manufactured in his workshops, the MB R100 caliber and the Nicolas Rieussec chronograph, named after the French inventor of the chronograph. In 2011, Montblanc released the Monaco Princess Grace lady’s watch collection.

(ULYSSE) NARDIN S. A., CHRONOMÉTRIE DE MARINE ET DE POCHE (1846) -▶ PAUL D. NARDIN, SUCCESSEUR D’ULYSSE NARDIN (1876) -▶ ULYSSE NARDIN LE LOCLE (c. 2000) -▶ ULYSSE NARDIN (2014 – KEURIG)

Ulysse Nardin (1823-1876) founded his company in 1846 at age 26 in Le Locle, Ulysses Nardin S. A., Marine and Pocket Timekeeper. He had apprenticed as a watchmaker with his father Leonard-Frédéric, then with two eminent watchmakers of the time Frédéric-William Dubois and Louis Jean-Richard-dit-Bressel, experts in precision watchmaking. Fascinated by the sea, Ulysses Nardin was one of the first to offer marine chronometers and navigational instruments, which made him famous among shipowners, the military navy, and scientists of all kinds. In 1862, he even won an award for pocket chronometers at the London International Exhibition 1862.
Ulysses Nardin died suddenly in 1876. His son Peter David succeeded him, and the company took the name of Paul D. Nardin, Successor of Ulysses Nardin. Peter’s sons will then come to work with him. The U.S. Navy purchased pocket chronometers in 1906 and marine chronometers from 1913 to 1942. The closure of the borders by the Nazis made life difficult for him, but the company recovered well after the war. But in the 1960s and 1970s, with the arrival of quartz, the company was almost ruined, and it was sold in 1982-1983 to Rolf W. Schnyder, who rebuilt it with the help of a watchmaker, astronomer, and historian, Ludwig Oechslin. Ulysses Nardin Le Locle is the name the company took in the 2000s. In 2014, the Kering Group acquired the company, developed it, and grew it in the luxury watch and chronometer market. In addition to its head office in Le Locle, it has three factories in La Chaux-de-Fonds, distributors, and boutiques worldwide. It is part of the select group of the Foundation of Swiss Fine Watchmaking.

NITON S. A. (1919) -▶ MANUFACTURE DES MONTRES NITON S. A. (1922) -▶ÉBAUCHES, S. A. (1941) -▶ SARCAR S. A. (1957)

Achille-Alfred Bourquin and Edouard-Henri Morel, former employees at Vacheron Constantin from 1908 to 1916, joined forces with William-Auguste Jeannet. In 1919, they created “Niton S. A., Watchmaking Manufacturers, Manufacture of artistic watches, chronographs, flat and ultra-thin watches, wristwatches with jumping hours, calendars and moon phases. ” The manufacturer at 19 rue Mont Blanc in Geneva produced both calibers and complete watches sold directly to stores such as Cartier, Gübelin, C. F. Bucherer, Van Cleef & Arpels, Garrad & Co., Tiffany & Co., etc. or other watch manufacturers, among others Breguet, A. Lange & Söhne, Patek Philippe, Watch Co. Pavilions, etc. However, the production is artisanal. On October 10, 1922, the company was registered under “Manufacture des Montres Niton S. A.” In 1924, it was relocated to 24 rue de la Servette. The company will be successful because its calibers and watches are original and of remarkably high quality. She won prizes in several competitions and was authorized in 1923 to affix the Hallmark of Geneva to her watches, attesting to their high quality. The company will expand in New York, United States, in 1929, on 607 Fifth Ave. However, the manufacturer experienced financial difficulties related to the crisis of the 1930s, then to the onslaught of the industrialization of production methods from the United States, and the crisis that would shake the Swiss watch industry.

By the end of 1933, Niton was running out of capital. Only one shareholder remained, Bourquin, the others having left the ship. In 1941, Niton had to reorient its activities and sell part of its rights to Ébauches, S. A. Under Ébauches, it would continue to manufacture timepieces for other manufacturers such as Chopard and Rolex. But, in 1957, Niton was bought by Sarcar S. A. The rest of Niton’s history is linked to Sarcar. Note, however, that the Niton brand is still active in the United States at the same place of business in New York.

OMEGA: (LOUIS) BRANDT COMPTOIR D’HORLOGERIE (1848) -▶ LOUIS BRANDT & FILS (1853) -▶ LOUIS BRANDT & FRÈRES (1880) -▶ OMEGA WATCH CO. (1894) -▶ SSIH (1930) -▶ OMEGA S. A. (1998 – SWATCH GROUP)

In 1848, Louis-Brandt (1825-1879) set up a watchmaking counter in La Chaux-de-Fonds. Home artisans then made the watches. Louis Brandt had two sons, Louis-Paul (1854-1903) and Ceasar Brandt (1858-1903). They set up the watch factory near a river that would give them the power to operate the machine tools. The Brandt brothers set up a company in 1880 in Biel, Louis Brandt & Brothers. Their first product is the Labrador caliber. In 1892, the Brandt brothers developed the first repeating minute wristwatch capable of ringing hours and minutes. But it was in 1894 that they marketed their flagship product, the wristwatch called Omega, which was mass-produced and easy to repair. You could put it back together and adjust the time with the crown. Omega was registered in the United States in 1894. The success was such that the Brandt brothers changed the name of their company to Omega Watch Co. In 1900, the brand received the Grand Prix at the Universal Exhibition in Paris. By 1903, Omega had become the largest watch manufacturer in Switzerland. In 1905, chronographs were launched for the sports world. The year 1925 marked the Art Deco style. Omega was not left out and won the Grand Prix at the International Exhibition of Decorative and Industrial Modern Arts in Paris. In 1931, Omega chronometers set records for the accuracy of the Geneva Observatory. Subsequently, many developments attracted the highest honors in the sports field at the Olympic Games and space exploration. The first astronauts to land on the Moon in 1969 wore an Omega Speedmaster Professional watch, as did 1972 astronauts during the Apollo 17 mission. In addition, all Concorde SST aircraft built as of 1969 had Omega instruments to measure time. In 1983, Omega was part of the rescue of the Swiss watch industry when ASUAG and SSH merged to create the Swatch Group. Omega has continued its long tradition of presence at the Olympics and has added to its business card its presence in most James Bond films, including the most recent.

PATEK CZAPEK ET CIE (1839) -▶ PATEK ET CIE (1845) -▶ PATEK PHILIPPE ET CIE S. A. (1901) -▶ PATEK PHILIPPE S. A. (1932 – STERN)

Antoni Norbert Patek (Poland, 1812-1877, Geneva) was born in Poland in 1812, settled in France in 1832, and moved to Switzerland two years later for political reasons. He obtained Swiss nationality in 1843. In 1839, he joined forces with another exiled Polish, François Czapek (1811-?), to form Patek Czapek and Co. from Geneva. However, following disagreements, the company was dissolved with Czapek’s departure in 1845. Patek met Jean Adrien Philippe (1815-1894) at the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1844. Jean-Adrien Philippe was born in France in the Eure-et-Loire in 1815. In 1842, he invented a watch mechanism that replaced the key to rewind and set time. His invention earned him a medal at the 1844 World’s Fair. In 1845, Patek and Philippe teamed up with the French watchmaker Wincenty Gostkowski to form Patek and Co. in Geneva. In 1851, the three partners renamed Patek Philippe, and Co. Philippe died in Geneva in 1894. In 1901, the company became a limited company, Patek Philippe and Co. S. A. In 1932, brothers Jean and Charles Stern bought most of the company’s shares and became majority holders. It is still active, and Patek is synonymous with quality. In 2001, the company opened the Patek Philippe Museum dedicated to watchmaking in Geneva.

PERRET ET BERTHOUD S. A. (1898)

In 1894, Numa Emile Descombes (1863-1897) and Ulysses Georges Perret (1868-1933), two talented watchmaking students, joined forces to create a successful so-called complication watch company at Le Locle. On Descombes’ death at the age of 33 in 1897, Perret teamed up with Louis Edouard Berthoud and, in 1898, created the Perret & Berthoud S.A.

PIAGET: PIAGET (1874) -▶ PIAGET MARQUE DÉPOSÉE (1943) -▶ PIAGET (1993 – RICHEMONT)

In 1874, at 19, Georges-Édouard Piaget established a workshop on the family farm where he developed movements for watch manufacturers. Its motto is “Always do better than necessary.” Georges-Édouard’s son, Timothy, took over the company’s management in 1911 and created his first watch factory in La Côte-aux-Fées at an altitude of 1000 meters in the Swiss Jura mountains, where movements of different types are manufactured. In the 1930s, Piaget also made watches for men and women. The founder’s grandsons, Valentin and Gérard Piaget, took over the company’s management. In 1943, the Piaget brand was launched. In 1945, a new, more modern factory was born, again in La Côte-aux-Fées, from where watches were released with the Piaget brand prominently displayed on the dials. The first boutique opened in Geneva in 1959. In 1964, Piaget acquired Baume and Mercier. In 1967, another Piaget, Jean, was at the company’s helm, which had become a reference in luxury watches. In 1988, the Richemont Financial Company, founded by South African billionaire Johann Rupert, took a substantial financial stake in Piaget and finally acquired it in 1993. Under the leadership of Richemont, which became one of the largest luxury groups in the world, a second factory was set up in Plan-les-Ouates, near Geneva, in 2001. Piaget received the Geneva Watch Grand Prize in 2016. Piaget has more than 100 stores, including its largest store in Paris, and more than 350 outlets worldwide.

PRÉPARAGES JOST (1902) -► SYNTON A. G. (1962)

Alfred Jost founded Préparages Jost, a ruby company for the watch industry, in 1902 in Bienne, Canton of Berne. He founded The Synton A. G. in 1962, specializing in small pieces and watchmaking instruments.

RADO: SCHLUP & CO. (1917) -▶ RADO UHREN AG (1957) -▶ RADO (SMH – 1983) -▶ RADO WATCH CO LTD (2000 – SWATCH GROUP)

Three brothers, Fritz, Ernst, and Werner Schlup, founded the Schlup & Co. watch movement factory in 1917. In 1957, the first collection of watches appeared under the brand Rado. The company became Rado Uhren AG, a watch brand famous worldwide for the quality of the materials of its watches and their exceedingly great aesthetics, attested by more than 30 international design awards. Rado has been part of the Swatch Group since 2000 and is part of the high-end products.

RODANA COMPANY (1930) -► RODANIA S. A. (c. 1940) -► RODANIA (2007 – BV CAPITAL PARTNERS) -► RODANIA (2015 – PHILIP CRACO)

Hans Baumgartner founded the company in Grenchen, Solothurn, in 1930 under the name Rodana Company, a manufacturer of pocket watches and wristwatches that was so successful that he opened offices in New York, Montreal, Caracas, Madrid, and Brussels. Around 1940, the company was renamed Rodania S. A. In 1951, the division of Brussels was probably the largest, and Baumgartner appointed Manfred Aebi, a Swiss immigrant who suffered from polio and whose appointment was to be only temporary, but his marriage to a Belgian woman who gave him three children who would, in turn, become employees of the company, allowed him to remain in Belgium. In 1974, he acquired the company. Rodania became a major company, and a French division was also established. The need to add capital will force the family to sell to the Belgo-Dutch group BV Capital Partners in 2007, selling it to a major Belgian investor, Philip Craco, in 2015. It’s still in operation.

ROGER DUBUIS: MANUFACTURE ROGER DUBUIS (1995) -► ROGER DUBUIS (2008 – RICHEMONT)

The Richemont Group, founded in 1995, seeks to go beyond the technological boundaries of watch manufacturing. The manufacturer creates the design, manufactures all the parts of its watches, and assembles them. It uses state-of-the-art materials and makes very complex watches. It prides itself on playing in hyper horology. The first collection was launched in 1995, and in 1999, the first certified homemade movement by the prestigious Geneva Punch was designed and produced. The company opened a brand-new factory in Geneva in 2001. In 2008, Richemont became the majority shareholder of Roger Dubuis and, in 2016, acquired the rest of the shares of the firm still in operation, which manufactures exceptional watches.

ROLEX: WILSDORF AND DAVIS -► ROLEX WATCH CO. LTD (1905 – LONDON, ENGLAND) -► MONTRES ROLEX, S.A. (1920 – GENEVA) -► ROLEX, S.A. – GENEVA (1960 – HANS WILSDORF FOUNDATION)

Founded in 1905 in London, England, by Hans Wilsdorf and Alfred Davis as Wilsdorf and Davis, the Rolex brand was not registered until 1908, and the firm was known as Rolex Watch Co. Ltd in 1915. In 1920, after the First World War, Hans Wilsdorf moved his company to Geneva and renamed it Rolex S.A. Watches. Since 1960, Rolex S. A. has been under the tutelage of the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation family trust and its Tudor Watches S. A. division.

SARCAR, S. A. (1948) -► + NITON, S. A. (1957) -► SARCAR, S. A. (1971) -► SARCAR TRAMEX S. A. (1996…)

Brazilian of Italian origin, Carlo Sarzano represented several Swiss watch manufacturers in Spain and Italy before starting his own company in Switzerland in 1948 with his future wife Paulette Pellaton, Georges Ketterer, and Jean Zollinger. He used as a trademark the first three letters of his name combined with the three first letters of his first name to form Sarcar, which he registered in Geneva. His motto: “Big enough to be strong, small enough to be free.” His desire to create a luxury brand materialized thanks to the Manufacture de montres Niton, S. A.’s acquisition in 1957. The two brands, Sarcar and Niton, coexisted until 1971, when the two companies merged under the name Sarcar, S. A. The following year, in April, the Niton brand ceased to be used. When Carlo Sarzano died in 1974, his wife Paulette took over a house that launched several extensive collections of luxury watches often decorated with precious stones over time. In 1996, Sarcar merged with the company Tramex under the name Sarcar Tramex S. A. but continued to manufacture luxury watches under the Sarcar brand alone. It is still in operation today.

(A.) SCHILD S. A. (1896) -► A. MICHEL S. A. + FABRIQUE D’HORLOGERIE FONTAINEMELON + A. SCHILD CORPORATION = ÉBAUCHES S. A. (1920 -► A. SCHILD, INC. (ASUAG – 1931) -► ETA S. A. (1979)

Adolph Schild began manufacturing ebauches and watch movements around 1896 in Grenchen, Solothurn under the name ASSA (A. Schild S. A.). In the 1920s, it was one of the largest manufacturers of watch movements in Switzerland. In 1926, he teamed up with A. Michel A. S. and the Fontainemelon Watch Factory to create Ébauches, S. A. In 1931, A. Schild joined ASUAG simultaneously as Eterna. Schild’s movements were used in several high-label watches in the 1950s and 1970s. With the arrival of quartz and Japanese manufacturers of cheap watches, to survive, Ébauches S. A. was obliged to merge with ETA in 1979.

SCHWEIZERISCHE MAGNETO A. G. (1902-1944)

A Zug Manufacturer of electric clocks from 1902 to 1944.

SICURA: MONTRES SICURA S. A. (1938) -▶ BREITLING S. A. (1993)

Founded in 1938 in Grenchen, Solothurn, Theodore Sfaellos is known to have owned Sicura. Subsequently, his son-in-law, Ernest Schneider, a pilot, and microelectronics specialist, took over. The rest of Sicura‘s story is intimately linked to Breitling, for Ernest Schneider came to the rescue of the latter brand in 1979 and merged it with Sicura. But, believing that the Breitling brand had more future than Sicura, he dropped it, and Sicura S. A. became Breilting S. A. in 1993. However, in the following years, the Sicura brand was taken over. A website sells watches under this name, briefly recalling its origin and link with Breitling, probably for marketing purposes.

SULTANA: LEMANIA AND LUGRIN S. A. (1906) – MONTRES SULTANA S. A. (1937)

The Sultana watch brand was first registered on 14 March 1906 by Lemania S. A. and Lugrin S. A. of Lorient, manufacturers of watches and parts. As for the company Montres Sultana S. A., it was Paul Gaston Schwarz who founded it in 1937 in La Chaux-de-Fonds.

SCHWARZ-ETIENNE MANUFACTURE (1902) -▶ SCHWARZ ETIENNE (2007 – RAFFAELO RADICCHI)

Paul Arthur Schwarz and his wife Olga Étienne founded a watch and parts factory in La Chaux-de-Fonds in 1902, Schwartz Etienne Manufacture, which still survives today. In 1940, the sons Schwarz, Gaston, Hebert, and Henri-Louis took over the firm. The company then owned the Venus, Alpha, Astin, Sultana, and Le Phare brands. It was successful in the 1960s and had famous people among its clientele, Leonid Brezhnev and Jane Mansfield. From the 1970s until the mid-1980s, the company diversified its activities to get through the watchmaking crisis in Switzerland. In 1985, it returned to the manufacture of watches and movements under its brand. In 2007, a La Chaux-de-Fonds entrepreneur, Raffaelo Radicchi, bought the company and continued its development. Today, it is one of the few companies to manufacture all the components of its watches itself.

SOCIÉTÉ SUISSE POUR L’INDUSTRIE HORLOGÈRE S. A. – SSIH (1930) + SOCIÉTÉ GÉNÉRALE DE L’HORLOGERIE SUISSE (ASUAG EN ALLEMAND) (1931) = ASUAG-SSIH -► SOCIÉTÉ DE MICROÉLECTRONIQUE ET D’HORLOGERIE S. A. (SMH – 1986) + SWATCH S. A. (1980) = SWATCH GROUP (1998)

In the late 1920s, the watch industry was in crisis following the Great Depression, and the fact that Americans who until now were mainly interested in clocks began to think about developing watches. Some major Swiss manufacturers are beginning to join forces. This is how it was created in 1930, the Swiss Society for the Watch Industry S. A. (SSIH), which brought together the Tissot and Omega brands joined in 1932 by Lemania-Lugrin, from 1955 to 1969 by Marc Favre, Eigeldinger and Co., Blancpain, and Cortébert, Langerdof Watch and Aetos and in the 1970s by Economic Swiss Time Holding and Hamilton.
In 1931, it was the turn of several other independent companies to come together to ensure price stability, limit exports, reduce competition and help small companies unable to function independently by promoting their integration into a new society. It will be called Allgemeine Schweizerische Uhrenindustrie AG (General Society of Swiss Watchmaking Industry), better known by its acronym ASUAG. Swiss banks have agreed to invest in it at the height of nearly 40% of the shares. The firsts to join in 1931 were Ébauches S. A., A. Schild, FHF, and AMSA. Many others followed until 1983. However, the two companies created in the 1930s were in financial difficulty. That’s when Swiss banks increased their shareholding to 97.5%. At that time, they commissioned a study on the state of SSIH and ASUAG from Nicolas George Hayek’s (1928-2010) engineering firm. The report recommended merging the two societies.
It was in 1986 that SSIH and ASUAG were officially merged under the name Société de Microélectronique et d’Horlogerie S. A. (SMH) (Company of Microelectronics and Watchmaking), with headquarters in Bienne. Nicolas George Hayek becomes its President and CEO. In 1998, SMH merged with Swatch S. A., created in 1980, to develop and produce a cheap watch to prevent competition this time from Japan, which will be marketed in 1983, to form Swatch Group, which became the largest watchmaking group in the world, under the chairmanship of Nicolas Hayek. The head office is in Neuchâtel, and its administrative center is in Bienne. Upon his death in 2010, his daughter Nayla became Chairman of the Board, while her son Nick had been in charge of the group since 2003, having been director of Swatch S. A. in 1996.

SOLVIL (1892) -► FABRIQUE DES MONTRES SOLVIL ET TITUS S. A. (1917) -► SOCIÉTÉ DES GARDES-TEMPS S. A. (1968) -► SOLVIL ET TITUS (1972 – STELUX HOLDINGS)

SOLVIL is a factory of clocks, watches, chronometers, coins, and clocks founded in La Chaux-de-Fonds in 1892 by Paul Ditisheim (1868-1945), son of a great industrialist in the field of watchmaking. He apprenticed at the School of Watchmaking in La Chaux-de-Fonds and with several renowned foreign watchmakers. “Through his studies on the impact of atmospheric pressure and magnetic fields on watch movements, Paul Ditisheim is contributing to developing the new generation of the most accurate chronometers ever designed. In 1895, he participated in the Neuchâtel Observatory competitions. Then, he set up a marine chronometer workshop in his Factory. Paul Ditisheim soon acquired a prominent place with foreign observatories, obtaining in 1912 the world time record awarded by the Royal Observatory of Kew. He worked closely with the Nobel Prize in Physics Charles-Edouard Guillaume and remained considered as the father of modern chronometers.” (Le Point Montres – my translation) In 1917, his firm became Solvil Watch Factory and Titus S.A. He died in 1945 in Geneva.
In 1930, Paul Bernard Vogel, a businessman more than a watchmaker, bought the factory, moved the head office to Geneva, and in 1950, divided the company into two sections, luxury watches under the brand name Solvil and cheap watches. In 1962, he launched the Soltronic watch, entirely electronic, the most advanced in the world at the time. In 1968, Vogel took over the management of the new Société des Gardes-Temps S. A. (Time Guard Company), which included several major Swiss watch manufacturers, becoming the third largest in the world. Moreover, its international dimension allowed Switzerland to shine everywhere. He agreed with Elgin Watch in 1973 and purchased the American Waltham Watch Company. Paul Bernard Vogel also sent his son Paul to Hong Kong to develop the Asian market for his brands Solvil and Titus, so much so that after the death of his father, he inherited the company, returned to Europe, and decided to sell it to the Asians in 1972, in the person of Joseph Wong of Stelux Holdings who retained both brands, but dismantled the manufactures and European activities while ceding the production of high-end watches to Ebel. Solvil and Titus are Asians’ favorite watch brands.

STRAUB AND COMPANY, A. G. ALPINA UHRENFABRIK (1941)

This company went in business in 1941 in Biel, Bern, and manufactured clocks.

SWATCH S. A. (1980) – (1998 – SWATCH GROUP)

The project of the Swiss Swatch Watch (S contraction of Switzerland with Watch), thus the Swiss Watch, dates back to the early 1980s. The supremacy of watchmaking was in jeopardy at the time with the massive arrival of Asian watches with quartz movements, mainly from Japan. It was necessary to quickly design an attractive and inexpensive product to produce and sell. It was two engineers from ETA Manufacture Horlogère, Elmar Mock and Jacques Muller. They had the task of leading the team that would develop the new watch under the direction of ETA’s General Manager, Ernst Thomke. A marketing specialist Franz Sprecher supported them to give an identity to the product. We owe him the name SWATCH. We owe the watch’s design to a Swiss firm, Schmid Muller Design. The first watches were introduced on March 1, 1983, and it was an immediate success. Subsequently, the merger with SMH in 1998 created the Swatch Group. Its watches are part of the Swatch Group‘s core range.

SWIZA (1904) -► SWIZA (2006 – HOLDING BEDONNA) + L’ÉPÉE (2009 – BEDONNA) -► SWIZA et L’ÉPÉE (2009 – HOLDING MECAP)

The Swiza watch factory was founded by Louis Schwab in 1904 in Moutier, in the Canton of Bern. Initially, this factory specialized in mechanical movements, especially alarm movements. In 1918, his Levtoi (French contraction for getting up) bell movement made his reputation. When the founder died in 1935, the three Schwab sons took over and registered the Swiza brand. In 1959, the factory launched the first mechanical eight-day movement with 15 jewels. In 1965, the head office moved to Delémont at the same time as a new factory was created. In 1976, the first quartz movements appeared in the Swiza alarm clock. In 1979, a third-generation Schwab took over the company’s reins, undergoing rapid development. In 2006, the holding company Bedonna headed the company, which in 2008 acquired the brand of clocks L’Épée 1839 from Delémont, Canton of Jura. In 2009, the Swiss holding company Mecap took over the family business, focusing on pendulums and alarm clocks with quartz only and then developing the urban watch market for the new generation of city dwellers.

TAG HEUER: EDOUARD HEUER ET CIE (1860) -► HEUER, LAMBELET & Cie. (1878) -► Ed. HEUER & Cie (1885) -► Ed. HEUER & Co, ROSE WATCH C0.  (1912, USA) -► ED. HEUER & CO (1926, USA) -► HEUER TIME CORPORATION (1959, USA) -► HEUER-LEONIDAS S. A. (1964) -► TAG-HEUER (1985) -► TAG-HEUER (1999 – LVMH SWISS MANUFACTURES S. A.)

The Heuer watch counter was founded in Saint-Imier in 1860 by Édouard Heuer. He made watches that, at the time, were wound with a key. In 1864, he moved his studio to Brügg, then to Bienne in 1867, where he developed a watch that could be wind with an autonomous crown without a key. In 1876, he opened a branch in London. In 1878, Heuer formed a partnership with Fritz Lambert’s small pocket watch manufacturing workshop, and the company was renamed Heuer, Lambelet, and Co. In 1880, Heuer was the first to mass-produce chronographs. In 1882, he filed a patent for a chronograph movement. In 1885, the partnership with Lambelet failed, and the firm took Ed. Heuer & Co. name. In 1887, Heuer’s eldest son, Jules-Édouard, joined the firm. That year saw the invention of the oscillating gable, which is at the heart of most chronographs. In 1892, Edward’s sons, Jules-Édouard and Charles-Auguste, took over from their father. In 1895, they produced the first waterproof case. In 1910, they formed a partnership with the American firm Henry Freund-Bros, responsible for distributing Heuer products in America. Freund already had the Rose brand in his portfolio and decided to merge it with Heuer to form Ed. Heuer & Co., Rose Watch Co. in 1912. In 1911, Heuer introduced a car watch to measure the time traveled, patented as Time of Trip. In 1912, Heuer released her first wristwatches, a collection for women with no apparent mark on the dial. In 1916, he created the world’s first mechanical meters capable of 1/100th of a second accuracy, the Mikrograph, Microsplit, Semikrograph, and Semicrosplit. He participated in the Olympic Games in Antwerp, Paris, and Amsterdam. During the 1920s, Heuer purchased Paul Valette’s workshop in 1922 and removed the name Rose Watch from the American company in 1926.

TAVANNES WATCH COMPANY, S. A. (1891)

Henri Frédéric Sandoz (1853-1913) founded the Tavannes Watch Company in Tavannes in the Jura Mountains, in 1891. Together with his partners, brothers Theodore and Joseph Schwob, he opened new markets in America, Russia, and the Far East. Over the years, Tavannes has won numerous awards. In 1938, it was the fourth largest watch manufacturer worldwide, with five manufacturers and 2,000 employees. By 1950, the firm had obtained more than 300 patents and manufactured movements for the most prominent Swiss watch brands, such as Patek Philippe, Hermès, Dunhill, and Zenith. In 1966, it began producing digitally controlled machine tools for watch manufacturing. In 2008, it released several new watch collections.

TISSOT: CH. F. TISSOT & FILS (1853) -► CH. ÉMILE TISSOT (1907) -► TISSOT (1983 – SSIH) -► TISSOT (1985 – SMH) -► TISSOT LTD (1998 – SWATCH GROUP)

In 1853, Charles-Félicien Tissot, a gold box assembler, teamed up with his watchmaker son Charles-Émile to create the établissage counter Ch. Félicien Tissot et Fils in Le Locle. An établissage workshop takes pieces made by home artisans and assembles them to produce watches and sell them. From 1860 to 1875, the counter sold not only watches but also parts, tools, keys, and oils, all the way across Europe to Russia. In 1880, Tissot‘s first logo was registered in Switzerland. Charles-Emile took over the company in 1901. He hired another watchmaker, Charles-Ferdinand Perret, who modernized production by opening a watch and parts factory in 1907 under the name Ch. Émile Tissot. In 1930, Tissot created the first watch that was not sensitive to magnetic fields and teamed up with Omega. This was the prelude in 1985, to the creation of the Société suisse pour l’industrie horlogère (SSIH) (Swiss Society for the Watch Industry), and the Société suisse de microélectronique et d’horlogerie (SMH) (Swiss Society of Microelectronics and Watchmaking) which became The Swatch Group in 1998. Tissot represents the mid-range of the Swatch Group.

(MONTRES) TUDOR, S. A. (1946….)

In the beginning, Montres Tudor de Genève was a trademark registered by the Widow of Philippe Huther in the name of Hans Wilsdorf, founder of Rolex S. A. In 1946, he registered Tudor Watches, S. A., as Rolex‘s sister company, to manufacture and sell watches that were more affordable than Rolex watches. Subsequently, it added watches and chronometers for divers and military personnel and supplied the French National Navy. The company still exists, and its products are distributed around the world.

(THE) UNIVERSAL ESCAPEMENT INC. (1933- c. 1965)

The company of La Chaux-de-Fonds invented the Shock-proof Incabloc watch movement in 1933 and then perfected it. The company made watch movements, parts, movements, etc. It obtained several U.S. patents until the mid-1960s.

VACHERON CONSTANTIN

Vacheron et Constantin is probably the oldest watchmaking company in the world.

  • VACHERON (1755)

Vacheron was founded in Geneva in 1755, making it the oldest watchmaking company in the world. Jean-Marc Vacheron (1731-1805), son of a master weaver from Geneva, learned the watchmaking trade and, at the age of 24, opened a workshop and hired the first apprentice. He managed to make his first watch in 1780. In 1785, his son Abraham (1760-1843) took over the company. Then from 1810, the son of Abraham Vacheron, Jacques-Barthélemy (1787-1864), whom his father trained in watchmaking, ensured the continuation and development of the company by producing complex timepieces such as watches capable of playing melodies, and especially by developing the markets of France and Italy.

  • VACHERON & CONSTANTIN (1819)

In 1819, Jacques-Barthélemy Vacheron met a Geneva contemporary like himself, a watch enthusiast, and a shrewd businessman, with whom he was to be associated, François Constantin (1788-1854), to whom the firm owes its motto: “Do better, if possible, which is always possible.” The firm became Vacheron & Constantin. It will develop the North American market incredibly open to new Swiss watch creations. In 1833, the firm hired Georges-Auguste Leschot, a talented inventor who standardized the movements of watches in calibers with numbers.

  • VACHERON & CONSTANTIN, FABRICANTS, GENÈVE (1877)

The company was in the hands of the heirs of François Constantin and Jacques-Barthélemy, who had died before. In 1877, they renamed it Vacheron & Constantin, Fabricants, Geneva.

  • VACHERON ✠ CONSTANTIN S. A. (1885)

Vacheron and Constantin introduced a maltese cross between the two names as a trademark in 1880. It became Vacheron Constantin S. A. in 1885. Then, in 1906, they opened a store in Geneva that is still in operation.

  • VACHERON ✠ CONSTANTIN S. A. (1938 – JAEGER LECOULTRE)

The mid-1930s were difficult for the company, so Jaeger-LeCoultre bought it in 1938 with the help of the investment company SAPIC, of which Georges Ketterer was one of the directors and shareholders,

  • VACHERON ✠ CONSTANTIN S. A. (1940 – GEORGE KETTERER) -► VACHERON ✠ CONSTANTIN (1970 – KETTERER)

In 1940, Georges Ketterer became the majority shareholder of Vacheron ✠ Constantin. In 1945, he marketed a rose gold watch with a vortex-shaped regulator that can be seen in action through a small round window on the back of the case. To celebrate the company’s two hundred years, he marketed the thinnest watch ever made. The company’s name lost its S.A. in 1970. In the years that followed, Vacheron ✠ Constantin with the Cross of Malta continued developing high-quality, high-value watch products.

  • VACHERON ✠ CONSTANTIN (1987 – INVESTCORP)

In 1987, the company changed hands and became an Investcorp Group of Sheik Ahmed Zaki Yamani members. Yamani was an oil tycoon from Saudi Arabia. In 2004, a new and very modern building that brought together factory and administrative offices, the work of architect Bernard Tschumi, was inaugurated in Plan-les-Ouates. The company then continued to create innovative products of incredible beauty and luxury.

  • VACHERON ✠ CONSTANTIN (1996 – RICHEMONT)

In 2006, Richemont acquired all the shares of Vacheron ✠ Constantin, which is still active. Some of their watches now sell for more than 100,000 dollars.

WERMEILLE & CO. (1914) -► SCHLUNEGGER-WERMEILLE (1943) -► LE CASTEL, PENDULERIE NEUCHÂTELOISE (1999)

Werner Wermeille created a clock case factory, Wermeille & Co. in Saint-Aubin in 1914. In 1934, his son Marcel joined the company, and in 1943 he began making weight clocks under the name SW (Schlunegger-Wermeille). In 1945, the first Neuchâteloises he made were marketed under Le Castel‘s name. Subsequently, he added to his collection 8-day mechanical clocks named R76. In 1987, an independent clock manufacturing company took over Wermeille and Co. until 1999. At that time, a descendant of Wermielle took over and founded Le Castel, a Neuchâtel pendulum. Since then, the company continued to manufacture by hand cases and movements made by artisans several models of Neuchâtel clocks.

WILKA FABRIQUE GENÈVE (1902) -► WM. KAUFMAN, WILKA FACTORY (1920) -► FABRIQUE D’HORLOGERIE WILKA (1950) -► WILKS (1985 – GOLANA WATCH CO.)

William Kaufman founded his company to manufacture watches, jewelry chronometers, etc., under Wilka Fabrique Genève in 1902. In 1920, it took the name Wm. Kaufman, Wilka Factory. In 1950, it was called Wilka Watch Factory. It closed in the mid-1980s, but the Wilka brand was taken over by the Golana Watch Co., Bienne, Canton of Bern.

ZENITH

  • FABRIQUE GEORGES FAVRE-JACOT dite “Fabrique des billodes” (1865)

In 1865, Georges Favre-Jacot (1843-1917) founded the Georges Favre-Jacot Watch Factory in Le Locle, where he brought together several watchmaking artisans. His company will increase around the idea that timepieces must be interchangeable to lower production costs. He added several buildings to his first factory so that his company became an industrial complex capable of building each of the parts that go into the composition of a watch or clock.

  • GEORGES FAVRE-JACOT ET CIE (1896)

The company’s development required a great deal of capital that the local bank of Le Locle could not offer him. So, in 1896, he had to establish himself in a limited partnership, which took the name of Georges Favre-Jacot and Co. In 1898, he developed a movement so perfect in his eyes that he compared it to the polar star and all that surrounds it. He, therefore, referred to it as Zenith.

But despite the success of this new product, Fave-Jacot faced opposition from its Supervisory Board which did not provide sufficient funds for its marketing. He had to finance the construction of new buildings to develop the Zenith, but he persisted in wanting to do so by selling the old stock of movements made before the Zenith, even if he sold it cheaply. Tensions rose between him and the Council, so much so that in 1904 he appointed his nephew, Jämes Favre, who married his daughter against his father’s wishes. Conflicts continued so much that in 1911, the Council decreed the dissolution of the limited partnership. It was the end for the founder.

  • FABRIQUE DES MONTRES ZENITH, S. A. (1911) -► ZENITH WATCH FACTORY (1915 USA)-► ZENITH WATCH FACTORY, INC. (1944)

The limited company took a new name, Zenith S.A. Watches Factory, in 1911. Jämes Favre became the only master on board. It expanded into the United States and registered the company as the Zenith Watch Factory in 1915, and in 1944, Zenith Watch Factory, Inc., then Ltd.

  • ZENITH WATCH FACTORY LTD ( 1971 – ZENITH RADIO CORP., Chicago)

The American electronics company of Chicago, Illinois, Zenith Radio Corp., which owns the Zenith brand for radios, bought the Zenith Watch Factory in 1971.

  • ZENITH WATCH (1978 – DIXI)

Paul Castella’s Dixi Swiss Group bought Zenith Watch in 1978.

  • ZENITH BRANCH OF LVMH MANUFACTURES S. A. (1999)

Zenith was purchased by luxury group LVMH in 1999. It became the Zenith Branch of LVMH Manufactures S. A. from Le Locle, dedicated to the manufacture of luxury watches and chronometers

ZENO: GODAT & CO. (1868) – ZENO-WATCH Co. (1868) -► A. EIGELDINGER & CIE S. A. (1920) -► FELIX W. HUBER: ZENO-WATCH BASEL (1966)

Jules Godat founded a company in La Chaux-de-Fonds in 1868, Godat & Co., and a workshop to make silver pocket watches under the brand name Zeno Watch Co. Godat also manufactured watch parts. Then this family business became interested in precision watches for the railways it began manufacturing. In early 1900, the workshop was electrified, allowing the production machines to operate. His son Charles Victor managed the production but died prematurely at 38. In 1920, the Godat watch production workshop was taken over by A. Eigeldinger & Co., which specialized in military, computational, and precious metal pocket watches. Eigeldinger was also involved in the Ebosa S. A. In 1922, he re-registered the Zeno brand, which had existed since 1868. In 1966, Félix W. Huber bought the company and moved it to Basel. He registered the Zeno brand in 1979. Today, Zeno-Watch Basel is a brand of connoisseur watches, especially for aviators.


SOURCES: This part’s references are multiple and gleaned mainly from Wikis, manufacturing sites, and reference books. Concerning trademarks and company name registrations, the Mikrolisk website as well as Meyers’s book (2004) on American trademarks, Kochmann’s (2007, 1992 Edition) on European trademarks, and Hodkin’s book (2015), which includes a long list of trademarks from different countries including Switzerland, have been beneficial in this compilation which is far from exhaustive. Also, we consulted the following books with complete references in the bibliography: A. Smith, Ed. (1996) and Mallory (2011).

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