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Jura triangle / Canton Berne
Bernese Jura / Vallon de Saint-Imier
Villeret - Cormoret - Courtelary

Cormoret is a small village located very close to Courtelary in the Saint-Imier valley of the Jura Triangle. It is best known as the home of the Gala watch factory as well as tooling makers Technos (not the watch brand) and W. Meyer Fils. Much of the watchmaking in Cormoret was initiated by the Favre and Liengme families.

A small village, the population of Cormoret was just 641 around 1900, 815 by 1920, and drifted back to 734 in 1930, 626 in 1950, and just 490 today.

Watchmaking in Cormoret

Watchmaking did not develop in Cormoret until the late 18th century, and even then the village was more focused on agriculture and their stone quarry. Mills were established along the "torrent" of the Suze River in the 17th century, and these were later also used for metalwork. The first watchmaker in Cormoret was Jean-Henry Comtesse of Sonvilier, who settled in the village late in his life.

After the Napoleonic wars, Cormoret followed other Saint-Imier valley towns into watchmaking. Around 1850, watchmaking came using Japy Frères ebauches, with Lépine and key winding watches coming later. The mill was demolished and re-developed by the Favre brothers into a watchmaking factory in 1880, and this was divided from the family's operation in La Neuveville in 1891, with eldest brother Louis-Constant Favre continuing the business in Cormoret. His Favre Frères established the Gala brand that would follow. The Liengme family was also making watches at this time, and the two family firms, Favre Frères and Liengme & Cie., developed the trade through the turn of the century.

L. & W. Favre was a new firm created in 1899 by two sons of Louis-Constant Favre to exploit an alarm movement invented by Louis-Eugène Favre. The company was absorbed into Favre Frères in 1918 following their takeover of their father's company five years earlier. A similar situation occurred with the ebauches business of Serge and Jacques Liengme, which was absorbed into Liengme & Cie. ten years later. Liengme took over Favre Frères in 1938, consolidating most watchmaking in Cormoret into a single firm and focusing on the Gala and Veto brands.

Ed. Mathey-Frey was producing rolled steel pieces for horology by 1896, and his widow would continue the business until it was purchased by Emile Schweingruber of Saint-Imier by 1918. The Walliser family established a screw cutting business by 1913 known as Technos, which would continue for most of the century and was unrelated to the Technos watch brand established by Gunzinger Frères in Rosières in 1920. The metalworking firm Meyer-Tièche also appeared in town, producing specialized machinery for dial making. Later known as W. Meyer Fils, it became Schmid Machines in 1970 and remained in operation until 2019.

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