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Wasa (also called Vasa) was an ebauche manufacturer in Pieterlen near Bienne in the 1920s and 1930s. It is best known for small, oval, and baguette movements and for being part of the chablonnage scandal of the 1930s. Wasa was absorbed into Ebauches SA in 1932 and went bankrupt in 1935.


The people of Perles/Pieterlen subsidized the construction of an ebauche factory on land owned by Johann Kunz-Schmid. It was initially used by A. Benoit-Nicolet of Evilard, who moved his operation from Bienne to Pieterlen by 1918. Also known as Ito Watch, this company closed its doors on August 5, 1923. It also briefly operated as Fabrique d'Ebauches de Perles SA starting in 1921. The factory building had three levels, each with its own electric motor providing power to the workbenches through belts on the ceiling.

Wasa was founded on January 10, 1925 by Fritz Baumgartner (a manufacturer in Grenchen) and Ernst Baumgartner (a "calibrist"), both from Trub, Hans Sieber of Oberdorf (a merchant in Solothurn), Ernst Schwab-Kaiser of Arsch (a "visiteur"), and Robert Neuhaus of Lützelflüh (a "techniker"). Fritz Baumgartner had worked with Georges Schiff of France producing jewelry in Plainpalais in 1919 and set up his own business in Geneva in 1924, which he would incorporate in 1931.

The company's early products included 8.75 and 10.5 ligne anchor ebauches advertised as having very good quality. The company also provided finishing services for others. By 1928 Wasa had added extra-thin movements, movements in the style of Patek Philippe, and a 6.5 ligne oval movement.

On May 29, 1926, Hans Sieber left the company. Ernest Schwab-Kaiser left the company's management on October 3, 1928, replaced by Hans Baumgartner of Grenchen, likely a brother of the others. Baumgartner would become a manager for Roskopf Clocks Limited, also of Pieterlen, in 1930, and would go on to found Rodania in Grenchen after World War II.

Wasa had grown by 1929 and was offering quality, prompt delivery, and acceptable prices. The company promised "a new baguette calibre which will be a real surprise to you" in 1931, announcing the "marvelous" 4.25 ligne Cal. 220 shortly after.

Ebauches SA

The machines and tooling of "Benoit et Nicolet" of Pieterlen was purchased by Ebauches SA in 1929. Perhaps this machinery had remained in the Perles factory after the establishment of Wasa.

Wasa itself came under control of Ebauches SA in 1932, with Robert Neuhaus and Ernest and Fritz Baumgartner departing from management on May 4. Hans Baumgartner remained in charge, along with Sydney de Coulon and Virgile Juillerat representing Ebauches SA. Neuhaus of Lützelflüh would become involved with Felsa in 1935.

Wasa became implicated in the chablonnage scandals of the 1930s when it was revealed that the company had attempted to evade Fidhor control and ship movements abroad through a French company. When this was discovered Ebauches SA was forced to pay 8,000 francs to clear up the matter. But the financial situation was too much, and Wasa was bankrupt in 1935. On March 28 it was announced that Wasa would be liquidated. The company was removed from the books on December 23.

It appears that the Wasa name and mark were later used by Felsa, perhaps thanks to Robert Neuhaus' involvement in both firms.


  • Pieterlen Post, February 2010
  • Pieterlen Post, March 2013