Obrecht & Cie
Obrecht & Kully
E. Obrecht and E. Kully established the first watchmaking company in Grenchen in 1866. The success of the firm of Obrecht & Kully over the following decades would lead Grenchen to become a center for watchmaking, which it remains to this day. It was also an early proponent of export of Swiss watches, and mainly produced English-style watches in gold and silver cases. Because of demand from the Obrecht factory, suppliers of all sorts were established in Grenchen, notably workshops for gold and silver case production, a workshop for the assembly of cases, two workshops to manufacturers escapements, workshops for gilding, drilling jewels, piercing and placing jewels, and so on.
Obrecht et Kelly first appears in Indicateur Davoine in 1869 as a fabrique d'horlogerie. This is corrected in 1871 as Obrecht & Kully and further notes offices in London and Buenos-Ayres. The company claimed to specialize in English style watches at this time.
By the 1883 registry of businesses the firm Obrecht & Kully is listed as solely owned by "Obrecht-Kessler" (presumably Euseb Obrecht-Kessler) and being located at Alte Straße 29 in Grenchen. This is the same address given for the "watch shop" also established by him prior to that year.
Société d'Horlogerie de Granges
- See also: Société d'Horlogerie de Granges
Euseb Obrecht-Kessler also founded a dedicated ebauche factory, Société d'Horlogerie de Granges, in 1871. Along with Rudolf Zumstein-Girard of Ochlenberg, who managed the company, Obrecht grew this factory into the leading ebauche maker in Grenchen by the end of its first decade, passing both Girard Frères and Schild Frères, which were established first. This company was located in factory building (Fabrikgebäude) 154.
In June 1886, following the death of Zumstein-Girard, the firm was taken over by Euseb Obrecht alone as "E. Obrecht succ. de la Société d'Horlogerie de Granges". It was still located in the same factory building and retained the same name for many years.
Société d'Horlogerie de Granges remained in business through the first World War but suffered from the post-war boom and bust and was bankrupt by 1920.
After the registration of Obrecht & Kully expired in 1892 the previous firms were reorganized under a sole proprietorship known as E. Obrecht-Kessler. This company was bankrupt and closed in October 1899.
A huge strike hit the factory in 1887, an early sign of the worker strife that would hit all such large companies at this time. Coverage shows that the company was then run by E. Obrecht. It was resolved in 1888 but appears to have hurt the company greatly.
By 1889, Grenchen listed multiple Obrecht firms. P. Obrecht & Cie is a new name, while Eusèbe Obrecht is listed as successor to Société d'Horlogerie de Granges. In 1894 the former company is listed as P. Obrecht, Schwarzentrub, Jean, & Cie but J. Schwarzentrub and P. Obrecht are listed separately in 1896.
Strangely, E. Obrecht is specifically listed as successor to Obrecht & Kully in 1896, while Emile Obrecht-Hugi is successor to Obrecht-Schild and P. Obrecht & Cie is listed as a major producer in Grenchen. Obrecht-Huggi was previously seen in 1890 as a member of the Syndicat des Fabricants d'Horlogerie. For his part, E. Obrecht joined Syndicat des Fabriques d'Ebauches by 1891 along with Flury Frères, Hänni & Künzli, Fréne & Garraux, Charles Emonot, Société Coopérative d'Horlogerie in Pontenet, A. Blanchard & Cie, Société Industrielle in Moutier, and E. Girard in Grenchen. P. Obrecht later joined the Comptoir Général des Ebauches by 1894.
A large 1908 advertisement shows the extent of Obrecht & Cie after the turn of the century. By this point, the company had a large factory complex in Grenchen along with smaller factories in Como, Ditingen near Solothurn, and Bludenz