Aurèle Maire

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Aurèle Maire-Deléglise was a Swiss watchmaker who became technical director for Longines in the 1970s.

Aurèle Maire was born in 1923 to watchmaker Aurèle Maire-Pellaton (1895-1977). His father married Marie-Madeline Pellaton (1896-1983), daughter of Georges Pellaton-Steudler, founder of the Martel Watch Co. His brother, Robert-Maurice, was born four years later and would become technical director of Martel and would replace Aurèle as technical director of Zenith.

The Maire family lived in Ponts-de-Martel, a small town near Le Locle famous for talented makers of complicated watches. Aurèle trained as a pilot during World War II while also attending the Technicum in Neuchâtel. He was a talented watchmaker, winning second prize for marine chronometers at the 1946 Concours de Chronomètres at the Neuchâtel Observatory. He graduated with a diploma as a technician-watchmaker "with congratulations from the jury." He won the same prize again in 1951, again placing second to respected firm of Ulysse Nardin.

Aurèle Maire opened a movement finishing workshop in Les Ponts-de-Martel under his own name on May 14, 1954, continuing in this business through 1962. The firm legally remained in operation until September, 1976.

He presented a scientific paper on the fatigue of watch springs to the Swiss Society of Chronometry in 1956 and wrote at length about the benefit of ultrasonic cleaning of watches by companies like Gruen in the 1950s. It is likely that he worked at Gruen at this time under Henri Gustave Thiébaud, alongside whom he would have a long career. He became a director of the Frey watch company of Bienne in September, 1960 and remained with that firm through its bankruptcy in September 1974.

On December 30, 1961, Aurèle Maire was appointed central technical director of Zenith, replacing Henri Robert, who moved to manufacturing inspector. Henri Thiébaud joined the firm as director on the same day.

On December 6, 1967, Aurèle Maire gave up his position as technical director for Zenith. He was replaced by his brother Robert Maire, former technical director of Martel.

Aurèle Maire was appointed technical director of Longines on January 24, 1968, with Pierre-André Maire of La Sagne serving as assistant director. He worked on the revolutionary Longines Ultra-Quartz, the first commercial quartz watch to be announced.

He is credited with the creation of "Caliber E", a remarkable automatic mechanical movement. One of the first double barrel movements, it linked two mainsprings in series to provide long running time without sacrificing isochronism. The design of the springs, based on his previous work, caused the barrels to move more rapidly under lower torque, reducing the wear on the movement. It debuted as a project in May 1975. The derivative Cal. 990 appeared in 1977, measuring just 2.95 mm thick, developed by Michel Thomi.

Aurèle Maire is noted as managing director of Uhrenfabrik Frey (under Henri Thiébaud who served with him at Martel and Zenith) in 1969. He appears to have remained through the liquidation of the firm in 1974.

In the 1980s, Aurèle Maire was more involved in the development of quartz electronic movements. Seeking greater power reserve, he directed Longines to develop a practical lithium battery which allowed his Cal. 270 to run for 12 years. He helped with the celebration of Longines' 150th anniversary by introducing the advanced quartz Cal. 970 family.

Maire was named second vice president of the Association Suisse des Manufactures d'Horlogerie of Bienne in 1979 and became chairman in 1987. He also became a director of Terbival SA in 1981. Maire was a director of Salon international de l'assemblage, de la miniaturisation et de l'automatisation in April 1984 and became secretary in 1987. He became president of the Swiss Society of Chronometry in 1984, replacing Max Forrer.

Aurèle Maire died in La Chaux-de-Fonds on November 16, 1988 at the age of 65.

Maire Family

Aurèle Maire married Yvette Deléglise and had the following children:

  • Nicolas Maire married Deborah
  • Raphaèl Maire
  • Veronique Maire

The family lived in La Chaux-de-Fonds later in life

  • Henri-Maurice Maire (-1974)
    • Maurice Maire, Fabrique Lucina, Ponts-de-Martel
  • Marie-Madeline Pellaton (1896-1983) married Aurèle Maire-Pellaton (1895-1977) by 1927
    • Robert-Maurice Maire-Giroud (1927-) married Colette Giroud
    • Aurèle Maire-Deléglise (1923-1988) technical director of Longines married Yvette Deléglise ()
  • Emile-André Maire-Weick married Bluette-Antoinette Gretillat OR Georges-Edouard Maire-Pfeiffer
    • ? Maire married Blaise Duvanel
    • Pierre-André Maire married Marinette Brandt
    • Véronique Maire (1967-)
    • Françoise Maire married Michel Oesch