Ernest Strahm

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Ernest Strahm was one of the most powerful men in the Swiss watchmaking community in the 1920s and 1930s. The director of Zénith, he is credited as the driving force for the creation of the "Superholding", which he ran from 1933.

Ernest Strahm was born in 1888 and earned a teaching certificate from the l'Ecole Normale in Porrentruy. He then attended the Commercial and Economics Section of the University of Neuchâtel. Just before the war, Strahm became editor of “Démocrate” in Delémont. He then spent three years as director of the Business School in Delémont, followed by three years at the Business School of La Chaux-de-Fonds.

Seeing opportunity in business, Strahm became commercial director of Vulcain in La Chaux-de-Fonds.

While at Vulcain in 1922, Strahm was brought in to run for the Council of State representing the P.P.N.

Rather than seeking re-election, Strahm accepted an invitation to become director of Zénith in Le Locle. He ran Zénith for 9 years before turning the leadership over to Edgar Bichsel on November 7, 1933.

He was appointed to be a delegate to the Swiss Chamber of Watchmaking, representing Neuchâtel within the Central Committee from 1926 until the end of 1930. Strahm was deeply concerned by the export of Swiss watch movements and components and advocated for consolidation and control of the industry. His work with the FH and employers' association lead to the so-called "Strahm Plan" for the establishment of the Société Générale de l'Horlogerie Suisse S.A. (ASUAG) in 1931. He sat on the Board of Directors for the cartel before becoming manager in October 1933.

Ernest Strahm died at just 50 years of age after a long illness on June 21, 1938, in Bienne.