Robert Cart

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Robert Cart was a maker of thin complicated watches in Le Locle from 1919 through 1970, when it was purchased by Dixi and merged with Paul Buhré. The eponymous founder, Robert Cart, was born in 1870 and died in 1964, turning the business over to his sons.

Robert Cart, Watchmaker

Robert Cart (1870-1964) began his career at the School of Watchmaking in La Chaux-de-Fonds, where he studied under his father. After his training as a watchmaker he took an apprenticeship in components for complicated watches and later worked in La Chaux-de-Fonds at a small company which supplied special pieces to the English court. Robert Cart graduated with a gold medal at the Paris Exposition in 1900.

Cart moved to Le Locle in 1908 and became technical director for Ulysse Nardin. He is listed in as originator of a 1909 patent for a "mécanisme de compteur instantané aux chronographes" ("instant mechanism for chronograph counters").

Robert Cart SA

In 1919, Robert Cart set up his own watchmaking business in Le Locle. It was organized as a corporation in August 1920 and as a Société Anonyme in December 1924. The company was run by businessman Charles Bonny of Chevroux in Canton Vaud, watch dealer Charles Widmaier of Schaffhausen, and Robert Cart himself. Bonny was managing director of La Generale and also served on the boards of Concord (along with Widmaier) and Cortland. Cart's sons set up their own businesses, Robert Cart Fils and André Cart, by 1928.

In the 1920s, Robert Cart S.A. already boasted of producing "qualité supérieure" complicated watches, including repeaters, chronographs, perpetual calendars, and ultra-thin watches. This put it in competition with Paul Buhré, H. Barbezat-Bole, and H. Moser & Cie. who were also located in the city. In the 1970s, all of these companies would come together under Dixi. Robert Cart was located next door to rival Paul Buhré on Rue Beau-Site, also the home of the massive Tissot factory. In the 1930s, the company moved to a nearby building at Rue des Tourelles 5.

Robert Cart patented a jump hour and rising minutes display by 1930 and used this in both pocket and wrist watches. In April 1934, Robert Cart SA was reorganized with Cart as president, and his sons Georges-Robert Cart and Maurice Cart as directors, Bonny and Widmayer removed (with capital reduced by 18,000 francs). Robert Cart founded another firm, Electrac SA, in 1936 to manufacture electric tools for watchmakers, but it was dissolved in 1942 as the war hurt production.

Robert Cart SA lasted through World War II, however, and boasted a prize at the Neuchâtel Concours in 1948. Charles-André Cart was added as a director in May 1946.

Decline and Purchase

Robert Cart left the business to his sons in December 1960, just four years prior to his death. His son Georges Cart resigned at the same time, leaving Maurice Cart and the junior Robert Cart in charge. Robert Cart senior died on April 5. 1964. In the 1960s, Robert Cart specialized in ultra-thin watches, building an inventory of movements produced by Frédéric Piguet of Le Sentier.

The consolidation of that era saw Robert Cart SA acquired by Dixi in 1970 and merged with Paul Buhré. The ultra-thin movements would be used by H. Moser & Cie. after they were also acquired by Dixi in 1974.

On October 29, 1988, Robert Cart (along with H. Moser & Cie., Jean Perret, Luxor, Paul Buhré, Terrasse, and Zodiac) was officially dissolved and integrated into Zenith. These brands were officially abandoned in 1989. Zodiac would be re-launched in 1990, Moser in 2002, and the rest would be mostly forgotten.

See Also