Main page   Philosophy   Hand-made   Communication   Why mechanical?
Arsalogo.gif (6221 bytes)

Mechanical watches from the Swiss Jura
 

History of the Company

The history of Auguste Reymond begins in 1898, the year a young man of twenty-seven rented a small appartment in Tramelan and hired a handful of watch-makers to start manufacturing watches that would bear his name.
He soon met with success. By 1910 his modest business had grown into a huge factory that employed over one hundred people in its own premises.
Auguste Reymond himself had become one of the happy fews that were nicknamed the "watch barons" in the Jura mountains.
The movements produced by the Manufacture A. Reymond, known for their high quality and competitive prices, were also supplied to numerous other watch manufactures and have become famous word-wide under their brand name UNITAS. The ultimate survivor of the UNITAS calibers is the hand-winding pocket watch movement 6497/6498, which is still produced today by the company ETA.

The growth of the company was stopped dramatically by the stock market crash of 1929. Auguste Reymond had a transmit the financial management of his company to a group of Swiss investors, but he remained in charge as sales manager until 1934.

For many years Auguste Reymond had travelled around the world to present the newest timepieces of his collection with his everlasting enthusiasm. Eye-witnesses remember to have seen a man wearing an elegantly cut white beard drop his watch into a glass of champagne before throwing it away onto the carpets of the most fashionable dining-rooms of Europe, telling his guests that, anyway, it could no longer have functioned after its fatal plunge. But only a few seconds later the maître d'hôtel would bring back on a tray the unfortunate watch and Monsieur Reymond declare, with pretended surprise, that - believe it or not - his watch was still ticking ! This was his very effective way to convince the most sceptical of his clients that his watches were actually water-resistant and shock-proof, which, back in those days, was a true technological revolution.

Even afther Auguste Reymond had left, his company remained faithful to his pioneer spirit and kept a leading position in the field of technical and aesthetic researches. In the fifties the engineers of Auguste Reymond developed two new lines of products that ensured the fame of the brand for more than twenty years: the digital watches with "jumping hours" and the "braille" watches for the blind. Today Auguste Reymond still is the unchallanged specialist for tactile "braille" watches, which are distributed under the old brand name ARSA.
The "Jumping jive", a replica of a watch with "jumping ours" has been built in 1994. The five hundred units of the "Jumping jive" edition already delight collectors of rare timepieces.

The aging company was badly hurt by the "quartz crisis" that hit the entire Swiss watch industry at the end of the seventies. During those sombre years the confidence in the watch business had totally vanished in Switzerland and not a single investor would have betted a penny on a watch company.
Thus the Manufacture A. Reymond had to be liquidated.
Its survival, on a match smaller scale, cecame possible thanks to James Choffat, one of ists former managers, who bought back whatever could be saved from the disaster and continued to manufacture Auguste Reymond watches, mostly operated by quartz movements as competition dictated, for the last few importers that were still distributing the brand.

It is only in 1989 that Auguste Reymond genuinely celebrated its second birth. The company was then bought by Nitella SA, another watch factory loceted in Tramelan, and Thomas Loosli, a young man of twenty-seven with a degree in history of art and French literature, working as a watch designer, became the new director of Auguste Reymond SA.
Thomas Loosli's challenge was to bring back to life the "good old" mechanical watch. Within less than two years he designed an entirely new collection for Auguste Reymond, which featured exclusively mechanical watches and was positioned in the medium price range.
Following this new impulse Auguste Reymond edited spectacular watches with "complications", such as an automatic alarm wrist-watch, a pocket watch with quarter repeater, a regulator or a "doctor's watch". Old UNITAS calibers have also been restored and used for the lines "Boogie", all of them produced in strictly limited and individually numbered editions.
Within more than twenthyfive years the small company of Tramelan has taken back its rank among the major Swiss watch brands and the swinging names of Auguste Reymond's models, partly tributes to jazz music, have become references for watch connoisseurs all over the world.
achron2.jpg (14296 bytes)

1920  -  ARSA chronometer

amatic2.jpg (12050 bytes)

ARSAMATIC  -  wrist-watch with
"jumping hours", produced in the
early sixties

arsa2.jpg (19709 bytes)
areym2.jpg (27296 bytes)