Fabrique d'Ebauches de Peseux

From Grail Watch Wiki
Revision as of 21:23, 21 March 2024 by Sfoskett (talk | contribs)
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Fabrique d'Ebauches de Peseux, S.A., commonly known as Peseux for the Neuchâtel locale in which it is located, was an ebauche maker dating to 1923. Peseux was incorporated into Ebauches SA in 1932 as part of the overall industry restructuring at that time. It remained independent within Ebauches, however, producing calibres for many watchmakers. Peseux was consolidated into Fabrique d'Horlogerie de Fontainemelon in 1979 and into the larger ETA conglomerate in 1985, with ebauche production moved to Grenchen.

Peseux and Charles Berner

The company was founded by Charles Berner (1892-1951), son of La Chaux-de-Fonds watchmaking professor Paul Berner (1858-1942). After working at Cortébert, Omega, and helping set up the Fabrique d'Ebauches de Fleurier, Charles Berner settled in Peseux in 1923, founded the ebauche factory there. The building had been built by the Sandoz family in 1919 to produce ultra-thin watches and ebauches, and that company soon set up a new factory in La Chaux-de-Fonds. This move was financed by Roland Gsell, a businessman from La Chaux-de-Fonds who distributed Swiss watches in New York through World War I.

The factory patented a compact oval "form" movement in 1923 (CH104593) and this would prove popular in ladies and jewelry watches. In 1925 Peseux registered a number of designs for compact round watch movements, with more registered in the following years. The company registered a design for a long rectangular (baguette) movement in 1929 and a number of similar movements in 1932 as the rectangular doctor's watch trend took hold. A 1932 patent (CH164256) covered a jump hour rectangular movement, a form that was popular at the time.

Charles Berner himself patented a watch design with a tonneau-shaped ebauche containing a round movement in 1927 (CH126858), but this does not seem to have been produced by Peseux or any other company.

Ebauches SA

See Also: Ebauches SA

Peseux appears on the list of Ebauches SA members in 1933, and Charles Berner's death notice says that he collaborated with the cartel starting in 1932 suggesting that the company joined late in that year. There is no reference specifically to the merger in primary source literature or business registrations, but the company is widely reported as a member starting in 1933.

The company created a line of tonneau movements in 1933 and oval movements with flat ends in 1938. These were unusual within Ebauches SA, which mainly focused on mainstream round movements in this period. These were based on patents, including the 1934 patent (CH176402), but most of Peseux' innovations were focused on improving the keyless works of their movements.

Founder Charles Berner remained administrator of the firm throughout this period and the company appears to have continued modest production of ebauches.

Charles Berner suffered a heart attack in August 1949 and was forced to retire from the factory. He was replaced by his son Francis Berner and Marc Colomb. Colomb would be removed in 1952 but Francis Berner stays with the firm for decades, taking over as administrator in 1971.

Following the death of Charles Berner on January 9, Ebauches SA president Sydney de Coulon takes over as chairman in 1951, with Philippe Jequier and Pierre-William DuBois serving as directors as well. Henri Ménétrey becomes managing director in 1958. DuBois replaces de Coulon as chairman in 1964.

One of the best-known Peseux calibres was the hand-winding chronometer movement, Peseux 260. It was used by many high-end brands and was quite capable at chronometry competitions. Another well-known product is Calibre 7001, an ultra-thin hand-wound movement introduced in 1971 and still produced today.


The company was reorganized in 1975 with André Beiner becoming chairman and other Ebauches SA managers joining as administrators. It is likely that this coincided with the creation of Fabriques d'Ebauches Réunies, which included FEF, Unitas, Valjoux, and Ebauches Tavannes.

FER was folded into FHF in 1979, ending Peseux as a separate company and finally combining it with FEF, Valjoux, Ebauches Tavannes, and Unitas. Production was soon halted, with the famous Peseux 7001 being moved to Grenchen.


This 1924 advertisement shows the Peseux factory