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Sultana is a watch brand tracing its roots to 1935 and currently owned by Free Town Watch Products of Hong Kong.

Antoinette Arnould

The Sultana name was registered by Antoinette Arnould née Boillon (1876-1971) of La Chaux-de-Fonds on May 15, 1933. She was the wife of watchmaker Alphonse Arnould (1870-1956) but the couple separated their property that same month, in what appears to be a strategic move to protect the family's livelihood. Although she is legally the only one connected to Sultana, it is likely that her husband was also involved behind the scenes. The firm was located at Rue du Parc 130 in La Chaux-de-Fonds, the same address as her husband's Arnold & Fils.

Alphonse Arnould is first listed as an engraver of watch cases in La Chaux-de-Fonds in 1892, specializing in novelties for the German market. Arnould's business grew in the 1910s and he moved to Rue du Parc 128-130 by 1908. In 1900, Emile Arnould (likely Alphonse's brother) also went into the engraving business in the city, though he is no longer listed in 1908. Emile switched to watch cases later before entering the watchmaking business in 1917 as Maison Mondius.

Alphonse's son René joined the watchmaking firm in 1918, and it was renamed A. Arnould & Fils. The father and son Alson formed a maker of metal and silver dials called Arnould & Cie in 1927, located at Rue Alexis-Marie-Piaget 32. A Saint-Imier dial maker named Jules Arnould (later called Arnould Frères) might have been related. Emile Arnould was also a partner in Arnould & Cie but he left the business just one year later. In 1928 René and his father were found to be forging business records related to a 250,000 franc loan from the Cantonal bank. René was found guilty and sentenced to 4 years in prison related to this. Both A. Arnould & Fils and Arnould & Cie were bankrupt in 1930, closing in April of the following year, with their properties auctioned by the court in 1932.

But the Arnould family would recover. Antoinette Arnould founded Montres Sultana on May 15, 1933, likely because her husband was no longer able to access finances due to his legal troubles. This business was closed on November 26, 1935. This is the same day that Paul Schwarz-Etienne's company was handed over to his sons, becoming Fils de Paul Schwarz-Etienne. Just four days later, Helyette Schwarz and her brother Gaston Schwarz founded Montres Sultana, taking over Antoinette Arnould's brand. By 1938, it appears that Alphonse had started production of glass crystals for watches at the same address, a business that continued as Arnould SA through the 1960s. Antoinette Arnould opened a watch glass making business in her own name in 1937, and she took over Alphonse Arnould's watch glass company Arnould SA in 1962 following his death in 1956. Antoinette lived until the age of 95 in 1971.

Montres Sultana

Montres Sultana was registered by Helyette Schwarz on November 30, 1935, taking over the brand that Antoinette Arnould had registered in 1933. Sultana was valued at just 5000 francs, a nominal amount suggesting that it was a reseller of watches rather than a producer. She was sole owner of the company, though her brother Gaston served as administrator. The siblings were also very involved with their father's watch company, known as Schwarz-Etienne, though their brothers Herbert and Henri do not appear to have been involved with Sultana. Oddly, the Sultana trademark remained in the hands of Antoinette Arnould until 1946 when Montres Sultana took over. In the 1950s, the Sultana Watch Company later claimed to have been founded in 1935 and credited Gaston Schwarz as the founder.

Sultana took over the assets of Onésime Favret, watchmaker in Tavannes, on September 15, 1937. Onésime Favret was a merchant active since 1922 who focused on watches since 1928. Favret attempted to use the brand Favret Watch but this was nullified by the court in 1932.

In February 1939, Gaston Schwarz took over Montres Sultana from Helyette Schwarz, raising 45,000 francs of capital and paying her 20,000 francs for her shares.

Gaston Schwarz died on January 7, 1952, leaving ownership of Montres Sultana to his widow, Marguerite-Lucie Schwarz-Laubscher. The company was consolidated with the Schwarz-Etienne business and officially moved to the high-profile showroom and office at Avenue Léopold-Robert 96 in October of that year.

In 1954 Gaston's younger son Frédy Schwarz took over as administrator of the company, replacing Henri Buffat. Frédy became director of the company in April 1968. In the 1960s, Sultana also used the brand Carsic in certain markets.

Sultana and Le Phare

Gaston Schwarz took over Le Phare on December 8, 1941. The famous maker of complicated watches was established in nearby Le Locle in 1888 but struggled as mass production took hold. It owned by Jämes Favre, who also took over Zénith, in 1914 before being taken over by industrialist Georges Perrenoud, who spun out toolmaker Dixi from it in 1931 and reorganized it as Nouvelles Fabrique Le Phare in 1933. Le Phare was moved to La Chaux-de-Fonds by a new ownership group in 1939 but continued to struggle. It appears that Gaston Schwarz purchased a controlling stake in the company and took over unilaterally two years later.

Gaston turned ownership of Le Phare over to his brother Henri Schwarz on February 14, 1944. The company had been located at Léopold-Robert 9a since moving to La Chaux-de-Fonds but was relocated to Progrès 119 in 1945. Henri also took over Gaston's company Eximor in 1947. Henri turned Le Phare over to Gaston's son, also named Gaston, in 1950. Le Phare was incorporated as a Société Anonyme in 1956. Le Phare moved into the Léopold-Robert 96 office of Sultana in 1961 and the main building at number 94 in 1969.

The company is said to have merged with Le Phare in 1950, but was officially an independent company until 1973 when the firms became Le Phare-Sultana SA. Management was handled by Frédy Schwarz and his older brother Gaston at this time along with Charles-Emile Schwaar.

Both firms were based in the same town and both included members of the Schwarz family of watchmakers. Both brands operated independently for decades, but often shared a single booth at major watch fairs, with La Phare on one side and Sultana on the other.

The company was renamed Le Phare-Jean d'Eve SA in 1984, with Gaston's son Jean-Claude Schwarz joining management along with his father and uncle.

The Sultana brand was not widely used by the combined company until it was re-launched after the 1991 acquisition of La Phare-Sultana by Renley Watch Manufacturing of Hong Kong. Gaston Schwarz left the company and Frédy had died, leaving the younger Jean-Claude Schwarz in management. He left the firm in 1995. The Sultana brand continued until at least 2017, again sharing a booth at BaselWorld that year. Renley became Free Town in the 2000s.