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Chaumet is a Parisian jeweler and watchmaker founded in 1780 and continuing today as part of LVMH

Early History

Chaumet was founded in Paris in 1780 by Marie-Etienne Nitot. He served the Parisian nobility, including Napoleon and his wives, Joséphine de Beauharnais and Marie Louise, including producing the coronation jewels for the future Emperor.

After Marie-Étienne Nitot died in 1809, his son François Regnault Nitot took over the family firm. He would take the firm to new heights, influencing the nobility of Europe as he traveled with the French aristocrats. In about 1811, Nitot produced a set of bracelets for Joséphine de Beauharnais to give to her daughter in law, Princess Augusta of Bavaria. One featured a manual calendar while the other had a small functional watch. This is widely considered to be the world's first wristwatch, and became a trend with ladies across Europe in the 19th century.

After Napoleon's defeat, Nitot turned the firm over to his shop foreman, Jean Baptiste Fossin. Along with his son, Jules, Fossin continued the tradition until the establishment of the Second Republic, when his former chef d’atelier, Jean-Valentin Morel, took over. The business, now focused on the UK market, passed to Morel's heirs.

House of Chaumet

Joseph Chaumet married Marie Morel in 1885 and renamed the firm in his family name. He established a fashionable showroom at Place Vendôme in Paris in 1907, which remains the firm's home to this day. The business passed to Marcel Chaumet in 1928 but was shut down in 1934 during the Great Depression.

Chaumet reopened after World War II and the next generation began to take control. In 1958, Jacques and Pierre Chaumet took over as executive directors. The brothers took the firm to new heights in the 1970s, acting as diplomats as well as jewelers and expanding to international markets.

By 1978 a line of watches using the Chaumet name were launched by DeLaneau of Bienne. Designed for women, they featured yellow gold cases, many with inset diamonds. The cases were soft hexagons or octagons or ovals, with bracelets, straps, and link bracelets offered.

An unrelated French brand of watches, Alain Chaumet, was produced by the Société Le Comptoir des Horlogers of Besançon in the 1970s. Chaumet sued the firm and won a judgment against them in 1979, enforcing their trademark.

Chaumet was instrumental in restarting the Breguet brand. The Chaumet brothers acquired the name in the early 1970s, re-launching the company and releasing new watches late in the decade. The watch brand was officially re-launched in 1983.

In the 1980s, the Chaumet brothers focused on diamond investments, which lead the firm to ruin after the 1982 bubble in commodities prices bust. They were arrested in 1987 for fraud and were convicted in 1991.

In 1987, Chaumet and Breguet were acquired by investment group Investcorp. Chaumet was divested to LVMH in 1999 along with Ebel for $460 million. Breguet would go to Swatch Group that same year.

By 1992 Chaumet had introduced "the Ring", a watch with an easily changeable bracelet and a simple circular case. Chaumet's first official appearance at BaselWorld came in 1993 as the company continued to push into watchmaking. The company's exhibits included a minute repeater noted to be entirely handmade with a "sapphire ice" back showing the movement. The company also launched a jumping hour watch for ladies with an "invisible" crystal and the Odysseus split-second chronograph with perpetual calendar and moon phase.

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