EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE HISTORY OF FRENCH WATCHES

The Swiss may have won the accolade of being the best watchmakers in the world but there is a small piece of history that needs to be remembered.

Swiss watching making is renowned. For sure, they are designers of some of the finest watchmaking technology that has ever existed, but several watchmakers deserved more recognition than they are credited with. And they are all French.

Rewind to Paris in the 1770s. At the western tip of the Île de la Cité is the Place Dauphine. This area of little more than a city block contained some of the finest French watchmakers in history: Ferdinand Berthoud, Jean-Antoine Lépine, and a young Abraham-Louis Breguet.

These French watchmakers manufactured stunning technologies that paved the way for contemporary French watch brands.

Ferdinand Berthoud was not only an incredible French watchmaker but also a scientist. His legacy includes a large body of work, commissioned by the French Navy and the King himself. He is known for his technological advances in longitude clockmaking, marine chronometers which made it possible to ‘keep time’ during long sea voyages.

Jean-Antonie Lépine was another watchmaker appointed by Louis XV. Around 1764-5, he developed technology to manufacturer a pocket watch that could be thinner. His radical new technology paved the way to further miniaturization. The modern pocket watch was born.

So Abraham-Louis Breguet was not technically French. He was born in Neuchâtel, Prussia in 1775. But it was in the city of Paris at a young age that he showed his prowess for watchmaking. Aged 15 he was sent to apprentice for the Versailles master watchmaker, and his talent meant that he was soon introduced to Louis XVI, leading to commissions by the King for innovation and designs in watchmaking. Under these commissions, he created the perpetuelle a self-winding watch, the tourbillon, an automatic winding mechanism and later, commissioned by Caroline Bonaparte, Queen of Naples, the very first wristwatch.

The interest of both King Louis XV and King Louis XVI secured a foothold for luxury French watchmaking, laying the foundations for innovative French watch brands to come.

Now, despite our lack of Royal status, we are lucky to enough to enjoy an extensive list of luxury French watch brands. But there are only a few who are able to hold the status of a brand that manufactures luxury, sustainable ecological watches.

Here at AWAKE, we bring together the innovative history of luxury French watch brands, alongside we are committed to inventing the new patterns of responsible consumption. Our watches all run off solar power, and we employ new technologies that allow us to make watches out of recycled plastic fishing nets or recycled steel.

We are completely inspired by the personal history of luxury French watch brands, but as the Earth hurtles towards a future of increasing temperatures we believe that our luxury watches should be sustainable and ecological - in short, they should not be damaging the environment.

Wearing an AWAKE watch is a good start to tick the boxes.