Canton Solothurn

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Solothurn (called Soleure in French and Soletta in Italian) is a German-speaking canton in northern Switzerland as well as a town of the same name which serves as the capital.

Watchmaking in Solothurn

Watchmaking in the Canton of Solothurn began around 1848, when the first ebauche factory was created in Attisholz, a village located a short distance down the river Aare from Solothurn. However, this factory did not prosper, and had to be liquidated after a short time.

That same year, attempts were made to introduce watchmaking in Grenchen with broad support from the municipal authority. This effort encouraged highly-skilled work, including the manufacture of pinions and the finishing of movements. In 1853 the first ebauche factory in Grenchen was set up, under the corporate name Girard Frères et Kunz, but a financial crisis immediately after forced it to liquidate as well.

In 1856, a new ebauche factory was set up by Doctor Girard and Urs Schild. This company prospered and would become famous as Schild Frères, Eterna, and ETA. In 1862, E. Girard founded a second ebauche factory, and a third was established in 1871 under the name Société d'Horlogerie de Granges.

In 1866, E. Obrecht and E. Kully created the first integrated watchmaking company which soon grew even more successful than all the rest. Obrecht & Kully was focused on watches for the export market, mainly English-style gold and silver watches. The demand for Obrecht's watches lead to the establishment in Grenchen of workshops producing all the parts of clocks and watches and established a lasting industry there that remains today.

Other watchmaking operations in Canton Solothurn include the Greder & Brunner ebauche factory established in 1868 in Selzach and the Kottmann ebauche factory in Langendorf established in 1873. Five factories in the town of Solothurn produced clocks and watches since 1860, and this created an industry of support workshops and suppliers there to rival Grenchen. The industry there was so attractive that Müller & Schweizer moved their company from Biel to produce automatic machines and watchmaking supplies. Finally, a watch glass factory was built in Derendingen near Solothurn.