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Lemania (originally called Lugrin) was a historic Swiss ebauche movement and complicated watch manufacturer. It is now called Manufacture Breguet and is part of Breguet in the Swatch Group.

Foundation by Alfred Lugrin

This 1886 announcement was the first mention of Alfred Lugrin's firm
See Also: Alfred Lugrin

Alfred Lugrin (1858-1920) established a workshop to manufacture "mécanismes en tous genres", specifically "répétitions, chronographs, compteurs, quantièmes, rattrapantes, arréts de secondes, etc." in l'Orient-de-l'Orbe in February 1885. Lugrin was son of Jules Lugrin, Bourgeois of Lieu and had previously worked at Jaeger-LeCoultre in nearby Le Sentier. He found quick success based on his inventiveness (as reflected by dozens of patents), access to talented watchmakers in the Vallée de Joux, and location between Geneva and the Jura triangle. Lugrin advertised heavily through the 1890s, gaining many clients throughout Switzerland and becoming a viable competitor for the nearby Le Brassus workshop of Louis-Elisée Piguet. Lugrin and Piguet remain leaders in the field of complicated movements to the present day as Manufacture Breguet and Manufacture Blancpain, respectively.

Lugrin was among the first to submit a patent application, completing the drawings for his "Nouveau système d'accrochement et de décrochement pour montres à répétition" on December 20, 1888, just over a month after the Swiss patent office opened. This application was granted as CH225 on February 11, 1889. His next patent was for "Perfectionnements apportés à la construction des chronographes-compteurs" and was granted as CH359 on March 18, 1889. This was licensed on January 7, 1890 to Jules-Frédéric Jeanneret who soon began production of chronographs in Saint-Imier based on Lugrin's ideas. A third patent that year, "Mécanisme de montre à répétition à minutes, système simplifié et perfectionné", was granted as CH782 on April 5.

The company also collaborated with Ferdinand Bourquin of Saint-Imier, who licensed his minute counter patent, CH4900, to Lugrin. Bourquin registered the Leonidas brand after the turn of the century and was later taken over by Jeanneret's son Constant Jeanneret-Droz. Another famous customer of Lugrin's workshop was C.H. Meylan, who used his quarter-hour repeater movements around the turn of the century.

By 1893, Lugrin had built a true factory with hydraulic power, enabling him to produce ebauches and invest in modern lathes and other machines. Lugrin's movements were marked with his initials "A.L." along with a star and anchor positioned in a cross or heart.

In 1890 Lugrin began construction of a larger factory with hydraulic power, enabling him to produce ebauches and invest in modern lathes and other machines. He added production of chronograph and repeater modules which were available to other companies, fueling the explosion of complicated watches hitting the market by the turn of the century. Lugrin's movements were marked with his initials "A.L." along with a star and anchor positioned in a cross (since 1890) or heart (1893).

By 1908 Lugrin was using the Lemania name for complicated watches

The factory was producing high-quality finished watches for customers by 1900. It had been modernized with electric lighting powered by a turbine fed by a spring on the mountain. Lugrin's repetition and chronograph complications earned him a gold medal in Milan in 1906 and Berne in 1914. Many Lugrin movements also included advanced calendar functions, including windowed day and month and moon phase. His chronographs often included rattrapante functions.

Lugrin impressed the crowd at the Paris Exposition of 1890 with a complete collection of 500 assortments and other components for complicated watches, demonstrating the stages of finishing from the cutter to shipment. This included 18 complicated watch movements from simple chronographs to models with minute counters, quarter repeaters, five-minute repeaters, minute repeaters with chronograph, and even a 37 ligne chronograph movement with six days power reserve. He also showed smaller movements, from 7 lignes, some with quarter repeater, chronograph, triple calendar, and moon phases. He was awarded a bronze medal for his efforts. The company won gold medals at Milan in 1906 and Bern in 1914.

The company was known as A. Lugrin & Cie. following a May 1905 reorganization that saw Auguste Jacques invest 10,000 francs in its expansion. This was apparently paid back in March 1908 as Jacques signing authority was revoked. Henri Golay joined management in October of that year with a 1,000 franc investment. The firm's office is noted as being Rue du Commerce 17a in 1913.

The firm now produced electric clocks and electricity meters as well as complicated watches and opened a new office in La Chaux-de-Fonds in the Montbrillant Watch Manufactory. The new company registered the "Lemania" name in March 1906 alongside the brands Oberon, Rejane, Boudha, Orpheon, Phenix, Superius, Regata, Neron, Sultana, Velocitas, though it is unclear if the firm sold watches using any of these brands. More brands were added in 1909, including Edison Watch, La Vaudoise, and Osram.

The firm also registered an early tachymeter scale dial in May 1907. By 1913 Lugrin offered a 13 ligne wrist chronograph based on a pocket watch calibre with the crown on the left.

SA de la Fabrique d'Horlogerie Lugrin and Lemania

This 1923 ad shows the Lugrin factory in l'Orient

In 1912 Alfred Lugrin hired Marius Meylan, a graduate of the local watchmaking school and son of watchmaker Alfred Meylan. Five years later Meylan married Lugrin's daughter Jane, becoming a protege of the factory founder. He would ultimately take over the firm.

On January 26, 1918, the Société Anonyme de la Fabrique d'Horlogerie Lugrin was established. Initially capitalized at 150,000 francs, this share company absorbed the assets of A. Lugrin & Cie, which was deleted from the register in 1919. Lugrin remained in charge but he was joined in management by his son, also called Alfred Lugrin, and by his son-in-law, Marius Meylan-Lugrin. Alfred Lugrin died on December 27, 1920, leaving the firm to his son and son in law.

Lugrin had registered the Lemania brand on March 14, 1906, and used it specifically for repeater watches in the pre-war era. Chronographs without repetition were specifically not branded using the Lemania name. Lemania refers to the French name for Lake Geneva, Lac Léman, though the company rarely used the acute mark above the e in official advertisements or publications. But the Lemania brand name was also used by Louis Mermin of Geneva in later years. Mermin registered his firm in 1915 and originally used the Astoria brand, renaming the company Fabrique Lemania in 1918. He specialized in wristwatches and pendant watches in the latest styles for export. Lugrin published a notice in 1923 that it intended to enforce its ownership of the name. Before action could be taken, Mermin's company failed and was deleted from the commercial register in August 1924. One month before this, on July 30, Meylan re-registered his family firm as Fabrique d'Horlogerie Lemania Lugrin S.A. (Lemania Watch Co. Lugrin Limited).

Alfred Lugrin, son of the founder, was removed from management in April 1927, replaced by accountant Justin Redard. This left the firm in the hands of Marius Meylan-Lugrin, the founder's son-in-law, and it would pass down to his children.

The La Chaux-de-Fonds branch was closed in 1932, with Lemania Lugrin focused in the Vallée de Joux from that point on. The Lugrin name gradually disappeared from use and was gone from advertisements starting in the 1940s.

Merger with Tissot and Omega

The SSIH was formed by Omega and Tissot in 1930, with Lemania joining shortly afterward

In 1930 Omega, and Tissot joined to form the SSIH group. Lemania was added to the group in 1932, with Meylan contributing a large sum of money to the organization. Meylan soon welcomed Paul Tissot and Gustave Brandt from his partner companies as administrators of Lemania Lugrin on December 12, 1934.

In close collaboration with Omega great chronograph calibres were created. Perhaps the first of these were the various watches used to time the 1936 Olympic Games. Although they bore the Omega name, all were powered by Lemania movements. During World War II Lemania produced respected chronograph movements as well as simple watch movements used by Omega and others. These allowed Omega to capitalize during the chronograph boom immediately after the war.

One important product was Cal. 1270, an early and successful cam switching chronograph movement. Introduced by 1952, Cal. 1270 competed with the groundbreaking Cal. 48 from rival Landeron and Cal. 188 from Venus. Lemania was producing a 12 ligne full rotor automatic movement, Cal. 3600, by 1954 and introduced a 10.5 ligne movement, Cal. 4650, by 1957.

The Lemania Calibre 1873 (Omega Calibre 861) became particularly famous with the Omega Speedmaster, which in 1962 was selected by NASA for manned space flights and on 21 July 1969 accompanied Neil Armstrong's first steps on the moon. Lemania then worked with Omega to develop a high-quality cam switching automatic chronograph, launching their Cal. 1340 in 1972. This was followed by the 1974 introduction of Cal. 5100.

Nouvelle Lemania

The Lemania factory in 1982

With the advent of electronic watches in the 1970s the sales of mechanical watches by the SSIH group fell massively. In 1980 the creditor banks gave Nicolas Hayek the mandate to restructure the group. By the end of that year production had ceased and the prospects for the former Lugrin factory looked bleak.

On May 1, 1981, the management of the Lemania factory purchased it from the SSIH Group to re-start operations. The new company was called Nouvelle Lemania and it was operated by Claude Burkhalter, managing director, Albert Piguet, production manager, and Jean-Claude Grenier, commercial manager. The company was the only one in the world capable of making mechanical chronograph movements at that point, and since digital analog chronographs had not yet been introduced this gave Nouvelle Lemania a unique offering. The company promised a new line of mechanical watch movements. Companies like Ebel and Rolex would use new old stock Zenith El Primero movements shortly after, Zenith and ETA would re-start production of their competing movements by the end of the decade.

Lemania soon introduced the thinnest mechanical watch in the world, which was based on the Jean Lassale patented design, created by Pierre Mathys. This 9 ligne skeletonized movement was just 1.20 mm thick and was used by Piaget (until it was acquired by Cartier) and then Vacheron Constantin.

The firm caused a stir in the industry after it introduced a tourbillon movement in 1987. This capitalized on the growing interest in high-end mechanical movements but riled competitors since Lemania offered this formerly-exclusive movement to any company who wanted it. Although still quite expensive, the Lemania tourbillon was widely used through the early 1990s. By 1989 the company employed 220 people and turnover exceeded 30 million francs.

Manufacture Breguet

In 1992, Nouvelle Lemania was brought under the Groupe Horloger Breguet banner. At this time, the company re-introduced their cam-switching automatic chronograph as Cal. 1350 as well as Cal. 1874, the so-called shuttle system. Another important movement, the double-barrel Cal. 8810, was the thinnest automatic movement in the world in 1994. It was used by many manufacturers, notably Vianney Halter who used a modified version in his famous Antiqua. With rising demand, Lemania constructed a new manufacture in L’Abbaye in 1996.

Breguet was acquired by the Swatch Group in 1999. Over the next decade, the Lemania name was retired, with the company now called Manufacture Breguet. The company primarily produces calibres for Breguet, but many of its products are also used by other Swatch Group brands. Although Lemania's ownership by SSIH brought it very close to ASUAG, Ebauches SA, and SMH/Swatch Group, it was never part of this conglomerate or of ETA, their movement manufacturer.

The Lugrin Lemania factory in l'Orient remains home to Manufacture Breguet to this day, though it has been greatly expanded and modernized. And the address of the factory is Rue Alfred Lugrin.


Lemania has produced many famous movements, including the following:


  • CH225, February 11, 1889 - Nouveau système d'accrochement et de décrochement pour montres à répétition
  • CH359, March 18, 1889 - Perfectionnements apportés à la construction des chronographes-compteurs - licensed on January 7, 1890 to Jules-Frédéric Jeanneret
  • CH782, April 5, 1889 - Mécanisme de montre à répétition à minutes, système simplifié et perfectionné
  • CH3883, August 28, 1891 - Perfectionnement apporté à la construction des chronographes-compteurs
  • CH6420, March 16, 1893 - Montre „Boston« avec chronographe noyé dans la platine
  • CH12175, May 22, 1896 - Mécanisme de chronographe-compteur
  • CH12662, July 31, 1896 - Mécanisme d'accrochement et de décrochement pour montres à répétition
  • CH13803, February 3, 1897 - Mécanisme simplifié de répétition
  • CH15522, October 16, 1897 - Mécanisme modérateur du petit rouage des montres à répétition
  • CH17189, December 18, 1898 - Chronographe compteur de minutes
  • CH21123, March 26, 1900 - Noureau système de mise en marche de la sonnerie d'une montre à répetition, par un poussoir
  • CH23649, April 26, 1901 - Régulateur-modérateur de vitesse perfectionné pour mécanismes d'horlogerie
  • CH23754, April 27, 1901 - Mécanisme de répétition
  • CH23763, April 2, 1901 - Perfectionnement aux mouvements d'horlogerie à commande électrique
  • CH23765, May 27. 1902 - Lame de ressort-timbre pour montres à sonnerie - registered by P. Mercier-Mayer and Charles Glauser-Perrin and handed over to A. Lugrin on February 9, 1905
  • CH26285, July 26, 1902 - Mécanisme de répétition à trois marteaux
  • CH33812, June 26, 1905 - Mouvement de compteur de sport
  • CH34495, August 1, 1905 - Compteur horaire d'électricité
    • DE173843, July 14, 1906 - Elektrischer Schalter mit Zeitmesser
  • CH44553, October 27, 1908 - Compteur de temps pour sports
  • CH56063, March 21, 1911 - Compteur de temps pour sports


  • 1858, September 1 - Alfred Lugrin is born
  • 1885, February - Alfred-Jules-Fréderich Lugrin, son of the late Jules Lugrin, founds the firm of A. Lugrin in l'Orient-de-l'Orbe; the firm is focused on manufacture of watchmaking, specialty of mechanisms of all kinds and watchmaking supplies
  • 1905, May 1 - Alfred Lugrin and Auguste Jaques establish a limited partnership called A. Lugrin & Cie in l'Orient, with a branch at the Montbrillant Watch Manufactory in La Chaux-de-Fonds, taking over the business of the former firm of A. Lugrin; Auguste Jaques is given power of attorney and is a partner limited to 10,000 francs; the firm is focused on "manufacture of repeated watches, chronographs and others, electric clocks and meters"
  • 1908 - The power of attorney of Auguste Jaques is cancelled
  • 1908, March 1 - The limited partnership A. Lugrin & Cie is replaced by a new limited partnership of the same name; partners are Alfred Lugrin and Henri Golay; Golan is a limited partner of just 1000 francs and does not have power of attorney
  • 1913 - A new branch in La Chaux-de-Fonds is established at Rue du Commerce 17a
  • 1918, January 26 - A new Société Anonyme is formed called Fabrique d'Horlogerie Lugrin SA; the company is headquartered in l'Orient and maintains its branch in La Chaux-de-Fonds; the purpose of the company is "the manufacture of watchmaking and various devices by mechanical processes"; share capital is 150,000 francs, 100 shares for investors and 50 to Alfred Lugrin; the board of directors is comprised of Alfred Lugrin alone; Lugrin's son, also named Alfred Lugrin, is given power of attorney along with his son in law Marius Meylan-Lugrin; the former limited partnership is dissolved
  • 1920, December 27 - Alfred Lugrin dies
  • 1921 - At meetings on February 5 and March 5 the son Alfred Lugrin, and son-in-law Marius Meylan, are added to the board
  • 1922, March - The signature of Alfred Lugrin senior is removed
  • 1924, June 26 - The company is renamed Fabrique d'Horlogerie Lemania Lugrin SA (Lemania Watch Co. Lugrin Limited)
  • 1927 - Alfred Lugrin, son of the founder, is removed from the board; accountant Justin Redard is given power of attorney
  • 1932, June 1 - Lemania is absorbed into SSIH though the board remains the same
  • 1934, November 8 - The board of directors is re-formed: Marius Meylan is president with Paul Tissot and Gustave Brandt joining the board; Paul Tissot is appointed managing director
  • 1941, October 21 - Alfred Lugrin's shares are converted to normal shares as the overall share capital is increased to 250,000 francs by issuing 100 new shares in exchange for debt
  • 1942, October 20 - all shares are converted from bearer into registered securities
  • 1944, April 14 - Share capital is increased to 400 000 francs through the issue of 150 new shares
  • 1944, December 27 - A workers' fund is established; the committee consists of Jean-Pierre Meylan, president, Louis Golay, secretary, and Maurice Piguet, Jules-Henri Meylan, and Marius Capt
  • 1946, June 25 - Share capital is increased to 600,000 francs by issuing 200 shares
  • 1950, January - Gustave Brandt, deceased, is removed from the board and not replaced
  • 1953, July 15 - Share capital is increased to 800,000 francs by issuing 200 shares
  • 1953, September - The board of directors is composed of Marius Meylan, president, Adrien Brandt, and Edouard-Louis Tissot; Paul Tissot, deceased, is removed from the board
  • 1955, December - Adrien Brandt, deceased, is removed from the board
  • 1962, June 19 - Share capital is increased to 1 million francs by issuing 200 shares
  • 1965, March - René Meylan, Jean-Pierre Meylan, Albert Piguet, Auguste Guignard, and Jean Reiser are given power of attorney along with Justin Redard
  • 1966, July 11 - Share capital is increased to 1.5 million francs by issuing 500 shares
  • 1967, August - René Meylan and Jean-Pierre Meylan are appointed members of the board of directors
  • 1969, December - Justin Redard loses power of attorney
  • 1971, March - René Meylan, Jean Reiser, Auguste Guignard, and Albert Piguet are appointed directors; Pierre Goy is appointed deputy director; Ernest Junod is given power of attorney
  • 1972, February - Claude Burkhalter is given power of attorney

See Also