Georges Perrenoud

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Georges-Alfred Perrenoud (1885-1952) was born on September 22, 1885, in La Sagne, Switzerland. After taking over his family's assortiments business in Le Locle, Perrenoud rose to become one of the most important industrialists of the town. He is best remembered as the owner of Dixi machine tools, though he also initiated the creation of FAR and owned Zénith for a time.

Early Career

Perrenoud is often listed as coming from La Sagne, Les Ponts-de-Martel, and Le Brévine early in life, though later reports typically list his origin as being Le Locle.

Georges Perrenoud was associated with the manufacture of assortiments in Le Locle as early as 1908, when he is listed as vice-president and treasurer of Association Syndicale des Fabricants d'Assortiments à Ancres, serving alongside Albert Schumacher, Louis Huguenin (La Concorde), Louis Jeanneret-Wespy, Emile Huot, Alfred von Weissenfluh, and César Scholl. This experience no doubt connected the young man (just 23 years old) to the entire watch industry.

In March 1908, Georges Perrenoud Fils was officially registered in Le Locle by Georges-Alfred Perrenoud. The business was focused on construction of anchor assortiments and was located at Rue du Marais 19.

Georges Perrenoud Fils was merged into a new company called Perrenoud Frères on November 1, 1913. The company was owned by Georges-Alfred and his brother Charles-Eugène Perrenoud (1890-1918) and was located at Rue du Marais 19 and 21. Charles-Eugène died of the flu while serving in the military on December 3 1918, forcing Georges to liquidate the firm.

On June 7, 1919, a new Société Anonyme called Assortiments Georges Perrenoud was created to take over the work of Perrenoud Frères. The company was capitalized with 400,000 francs and was located at Rue du Marais 21. The board consisted of Georges-Alfred Perrenoud alone. Paul-Auguste Davoine and Charles-Ferdinand Perret were made managers of the company.

Consolidation: FAR and ASUAG

In May 1920, Perrenoud merged his firm with a local rival, Pierrehumbert Frères, and purchased a factory to become Saida SA. The new company was valued at 100,000 francs, split between Albert Schumacher, Charles Huguenin and Louis Huguenin (La Concorde), and Henri-André Delvecchio, owner of the building. Louis Huguenin became president, with Schumacher as vice president, Perrenoud as secretary and treasurer, and Bernard Pierrehumbert as a shareholder.

Assortiments Georges Perrenoud continued in operation, however, and in September 1928 was reorganized with share capital of 1 million francs. With Perrenoud as sole board member, the company dominated the manufacture of anchor escapements. He was assisted by his management team of Paul-Auguste Davoine and Charles-Ferdinand Perret along with Georges Chabloz.

He spun part of the company off to become Chatons SA in 1928. This firm, worth 500,000 francs, paid Perrenoud 700,000 francs for this business, including 300,000 francs of shares. The board consisted of Perrenoud (managing director) and Gustave Leroy, and Charles Cart was appointed as manager of the factory at Joux-Pélichet 3.

Finally, in 1932, Perrenoud agreed to the creation of a holding company for Swiss assortiment makers under ASUAG. The Fabriques d'Assortiments Réunies included Perrenoud's own firms (Saida and G. Perrenoud) as well as former rivals Stella and La Concorde in Le Locle, Meier & Giroud and A. von Weissenfluh of Bienne, Gallay of Le Sentier, and Egger & Girod of Reconvilier. As a managing director of FAR, Perrenoud joined the boards of many of these companies. He also joined the board of Fabriques de Balanciers Réunies.

When ASUAG became concerned about Reinhard Straumann's work to produce Nivarox with the German company Hess, Perrenoud took over as president of W. Ruch & Cie in Saint-Imier and convinced Straumann to relocate production there. He served on the board with founder Werner Ruch and (in 1937) Reinhard Straumann himself. When Nivarox SA was officially formed in June 1937, Perrenoud served as the first chairman of the board, a position he held until his death. He was assisted on that board by Ernest Dubois, Louis Huguenin, Paul Renggli, and Reinhard Straumann.

Finally, in 1940, following the deaths of Emile Hindenlang and Louis Huguenin and departure of Bernhard Hammer, Georges Perrenoud ascended to the board of ASUAG along with Léo Meyer and Charles Türler. He specifically replaced the recently-deceased Louis Huguenin, who represented FAR. Perrenoud also replaced Huguenin as vice president of FAR in 1941. This earned him a seat on the board of FIDHOR in 1942.

Other Businesses

Perrenoud was already looking beyond his family firm, joining the board of Sonceboz Watch Factory in 1921, Elida in Fleurier in 1922, and Télévox (a maker of telegraphy equipment) in 1925. The latter firm also included luminaries Hermann Obrecht and Fritz L'Eplattenier, with whom Perrenoud would work in other businesses.

Perrenoud also became involved in real estate, purchasing troubled local firm Fourmi in 1927. In 1930 he joined Albert Schumacher (heir of the Stella factory in Le Locle), Jacques Nardin, and Marguerite Gallay (heiress of the Gallay assortment factory in Le Sentier) to purchase the lake-front estates of Eugène Delafontaine in Blonay known as "Au Marest soit au Vernex" and "Vers chez Cottier" under the name of Narcisse SA, which the group sold in 1936. He then joined another real estate firm, Labor SA, in 1939.

Another new company formed by Perrenoud at this time was Assortiments Cylindres SA, maker of cylinder escapements, in late 1924. The company bought out Henri Stadelmann's firm in Le Locle and was operated by Perrenoud, as managing director, Gustave Leroy, and Henri-Louis Schlunegger who was appointed manager. This firm was located at Rue des Jeannerets 11.

In 1943, Perrenoud, Reinhard Straumann, and others purchased a specialty glassware company, Verreries de Moutler.

Perrenoud and Dixi

Another major move for Perrenoud was joining the rescue of complicated watch maker Le Phare of Le Locle in 1926. The company had been taken over by Jämes Favre of neighboring factory Zénith but was on the brink of bankruptcy when a group, including Perrenoud, Georges Ducommun, Jacques and Alfred Nardin, Etienne Bersot, and Georges Rahm. Perrenoud was focused primarily on the precision tools business, which Le Phare founder Charles Barbezat-Baillot created inside the firm.

In 1928, Perrenoud spun off Machines Dixi as a new company, paying 220,000 francs to extricate the tools business from Le Phare's floundering watchmaking operation. Perrenoud brought Gustave Leroy and Armand Prêtre to manage the new company, which was located at at Côte 29 in Le Locle. Another important collaborator at Dixi was Paul Castella, who would be Perrenoud's protege and would take over the company in later years. After Perrenoud's death, Castella would purchase most of Le Locle watchmaking companies, including Zénith.

Perrenoud remained on the board of Le Phare, however, even after his former investment group left and the firm entered bankruptcy in 1932. It would be acquired and moved to La Chaux-de-Fonds in 1939 and would merge with Gaston Schwarz' company, Sultana, in 1950.

During World War II

Perrenoud moved quickly to expand production of armaments during World War II. Dixi produced many items, but their timed fuses were especially important. Perrenoud entrusted the young Paul Castella to manage this operation. These products were sold to many armies on both sides of the conflict, which caused serious issues for Perrenoud following the war.

Needing more production capacity, Perrenoud purchased a controlling stake in Zénith from Universal Genève heir Raoul Perret in 1941. He served as chairman of the board through the war. Under his leadership the company produced watches as well as many other war supplies, and these were sold regardless of nationality.

Perrenoud also acquired large quantities of hay and other fodder during the winter of 1941-1942. He was convicted and fined for war profiteering in 1943 because of this activity.

Post-War Life

In 1941, Georges Perrenoud had become chairman of the board of Zénith. But Perrenoud's wartime activities caused difficulties for Zénith. Great Britain listed the company on a blacklist for supplying the Axis powers, and Perrenoud was forced to resign (along with the rest of the board) and sell the firm to the bankers Dupasquier-de Montmollin in 1949.

But Perrenoud remained connected to most of his other businesses. He remained on the board of Dixi, Cylindre SA, Chatons SA, Les Paquerettes, and more, and was chairman of most.


Georges-Alfred Perrenoud-Perret died on January 5, 1952, after a long illness. He was 66 years old and was survived by his widow. By coincidence, Perrenoud died the same day as Werner Ruch, his collaborator at W. Ruch & Cie in the production of Nivarox, and two days before Gaston Schwarz, who purchased Le Phare from him.

Perrenoud was memorialized by many of his former firms, including Dixi, FAR, Nivarox SA, Cylindre SA, Chatons SA, and Les Paquerettes.


Perrenoud's first venture was with his family's assortiment business in Quartier-Neuf, where he quickly gave it a new impetus. He was an energetic man with an enterprising spirit and a taste for risk-taking. During periods of crisis and hardship in the watchmaking industry, he noticed that women were working in the factories while men were often left unemployed. He then set his sights on creating and adapting other industries to the mountains, leading to the construction of Dixi I and Dixi II.

Perrenoud was one of the initiators of the creation of the Fabriques d'Assortiments Réunies, a movement that helped organize the watchmaking industry. It took many years of effort to finally establish this great joint-stock company. Perrenoud also served on numerous boards of directors, where his opinions were respected. He was not afraid to challenge ideas that he felt were wrong and always thought big. Although several of his initiatives did not achieve the desired results, he cared little about it. He would rebuild new capital and move forward with other enterprises.

Perrenoud's love for the land was evident in his farming ventures. He owned a farm at Petit-Sommartel, a cheese factory at Pradières, and a vast estate in Calevaz, Nyon. He was known for his kindness and was always ready to help those who came to him.

Perrenoud's contribution to his hometown, Le Locle, was immeasurable. He loved his birthplace and had a significant hand in its development. His exceptional career was remembered with deep admiration and respect during his funeral, which took place at the French Temple. The service was attended by a large number of people, and speeches were given by various individuals, including Pastor Jacques Février, Paul Renggli, president of the board of directors of the Fabriques d'Assortiments Réunies, and René Leroy, who spoke on behalf of the Dixi factories and the other factories Perrenoud created. The service ended with a prayer by Mr. Henri Chenblo, under the watchful eyes of a mourning public.

Georges Perrenoud's legacy remains an inspiration to many entrepreneurs today. His innovative ideas, entrepreneurial spirit, and deep love for the land and his community serve as an inspiration to all who seek to make a difference in their communities. His name will be remembered for years to come, not just as a successful industrialist but also as a compassionate and generous human being who cared deeply for others.