The oldest watch brands in the world
The fine art of watchmaking has a long history. Since the 15th century, master watchmakers have been making miniature watches. In fact, the first watches designed to be worn were actually pendants rather than wristwatches. While styles have changed over time and new watch brands have been founded, some of the former still make watches today. We have gone back in time to know the names of the oldest clocks that exist and to find out where they are now.
Although founded twenty years after the oldest registered watch brand in the world, Vacheron Constantin is the oldest watch manufacturer in existence with uninterrupted production. Many other classic mechanical watch manufacturers have had periods of downtime over time or have been forced to sell their brand due to the rise of less expensive quartz watches. Founded in 1755 in Geneva, Vacheron Constantin has been renowned ever since for the exceptional quality, craftsmanship and high prices of its watches.
Ferdinand Berthoud opened his workshop in Paris, back in 1753. But Berthoud was not a conventional watchmaker; he was also a scientist. He worked for the French navy and was one of the inventors behind the marine chronometer; a device used to determine the east-west position of a ship in the ocean.
The Berthoud family had been creating clocks and chronometers for more than a century, but in 1876 they suffered a tragedy; the death of the heir Charles-Auguste Berthoud, which led to the disappearance of the brand from the public eye. However, in 2015 Ferdinand Berthoud was relaunched with a new watch: the Chronomètre Ferdinand Berthoud FB1. With this watch, the company paid tribute to the lifelong work of its founder and helped to revive its namesake brand.
Pierre Jaquet-Droz started manufacturing in 1738 in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. An inventive and imaginative man, he created clocks and automatons: mechanical works of art that incorporated music and movement. His work was especially popular with the wealthy in Europe and China.
This popularity lasted until the Napoleonic Wars, in the early 19th century, which would end the brand's prosperity. It took until 2000 for the company to resurface, when it was acquired by the Swatch Group. Since then, a number of watches have been introduced, ushering in a new era for Jaquet Droz.
For this watch company it all started with the Favre family. In 1737 Abraham Favre registered as a watchmaker in Le Locle, Switzerland. In the decades that followed, his son and grandchildren continued to run the business on their own, until Auguste Leuba, who came from a family of merchants and watchmakers, joined the company in 1815. Thereafter, the company would become known. like Favre-Leuba.
The brand's motto was to create watches ‘for those who conquer the borders’, as they did. His classic Bivouac watch was first introduced in 1962 and was the first wristwatch to measure altitude and air pressure, making it especially popular with mountaineers and pilots. While the crisis in the Swiss watch industry in the 1980s meant that the owners had to sell the brand, Favre-Leuba has been back since 2011 and is still well regarded in the sector.
Blancpain is considered to be the oldest registered watch brand in the world. It was founded in 1735, when Jehan-Jacques Blancpain opened the company's workshop on the top floor of his home in Villeret, Switzerland.
The brand is synonymous with tradition and innovation. One of its most famous models is the Fifty Fathoms diver's watch, first introduced in 1953. It was made at the request of the French navy, which needed a reliable watch for its underwater operations. Blancpain has seen periods of inactivity, but the brand was reborn in 1983. It is now part of the Swatch Group, and is a partner and sponsor of Lamborghini.