La Concorde

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La Concorde was the name used in the early 20th century for the Le Locle-based assortiment factory established in 1850 by the Huguenin brothers that became the foundation for Nivarox-FAR.

Charles-Louis Huguenin-Virchaux and Quartier du Progrès

In the 1850s, Le Locle sought to add affordable worker housing to the east along the road towards La Chaux-de-Fonds. This new area was called "Quartier-Neuf" ("the new district") or simply "Progrès", after the central road built there. The densely-packed housing was pleasant and affordable and attracted industry to this side of town. The streets in this quarter reflect this optimistic viewpoint, including Rue du Progrès, Rue de l'Industrie, Rue de la Concorde, Rue de l'Union, and Rue de la Paix.

It was here that the brothers Williams and Charles-Louis Huguenin-Virchaux built their watchmaking workshop in 1850. The duo came from La Brévine to settle in Le Locle to produce assortiments for watches, a growing industry in the town. Their address was Quartier du Progrès 59, which suggests a home-based workshop in one of the new houses there. Their earliest products included the anchor and escape wheel needed to produce watches.

After his death, Charles-Louis Huguenin's widow Sophie took over managing the workshop in 1885 until her sons were old enough. Williams left around this time, forming his own company called W. Huguenin and soon expanding with a second workshop in nearby La Chaux-de-Fonds.

Charles & Louis Huguenin and La Concorde

Charles-Louis Huguenin (1869-1940) and his brother Charles-Adolphe Huguenin-Perrenoud took over the family business in 1892. Officially called "Chs et Ls Huguenin," it was commonly called Fabrique d'Assortiments pour Echappements à Ancres. At this time it was still located at the family home at 59 and 60 Quartier-Neuf. Under their leadership, the company acquired a reputation for quality and became the largest such factory in Le Locle.

Charles & Louis Huguenin's products were widely recognized, winning silver medals in Paris in 1889 and Geneva in 1896 and five other medals and diplomas by this time. The company boasted of interchangeability (though their products were still produced by hand) and produced artistic levers suitable for the fashionable open heart watches of the time. They also produced escapements for chronometers and Glashütte style movements.

Along the southern axis of the Progrès district is Rue de la Concorde, which connects the district with the center of town. It was here that Charles and Lewis Huguenin hired architect Albert Theile to construct their new factory for the production of assortiments. La Concorde 29 was a landmark in this section of town, and was completed in 1897. It includes both offices and workshops, with limestone masonry, and cement for the former and cast iron posts for the latter. The office was raised in 1899 to add more workshop space, and a 2-story wing was added to the west in 1904. The factory was updated in 1919 with the installation of a hipped roof, and it was further modernized in following decades.

The factory became known as "La Concorde" like the street and remains a landmark in eastern Le Locle to this day, occupied by Metalem. In 1902, Charles-Adolphe Huguenin hired Albert Theile to construct a villa just up the hill from the factory at Chemin de la Combe-Sandoz 4, and this remains much as it was.

Louis Huguenin's contributions to the watchmaking industry extended beyond his own company, and he replaced Jules Huguenin on the board of Fabriques de Spiraux Réunies in 1897 following his death. He would press for greater consolidation following the establishment of FSR and was a driving force behind the setting up of watchmaking organizations. As part of FSR he was active in the conclusion of agreements and the constitution of ASUAG, where he was part of the management committee. He pressed for the creation of the Fabriques d'Assortiments Réunies, which took over his family firm and others in the 1930s, culminating with a monopoly on production of assortiments in 1945.

Louis Huguenin and FAR

In 1917, Louis Huguenin brought his sons Louis-Edouard (1894-1973) and Charles-William into ownership of the business. Louis-Edouard (called Louis Huguenin like his father) in particular took to the business, having worked with his father since 1914.

On February 20, 1928, the family firm (officially called "Chs et Ls Huguenin") was reorganized as a Société Anonyme called La Concorde SA. This new company was capitalized with 250,000 francs, 187,000 going directly to Louis Huguenin senior along with 179 "profit-sharing certificates" totaling a 412,000 franc payout for the former owner. The new company was administered by a board composed of Louis Huguenin senior, Louis Huguenin junior, and Charles-William Huguenin.

The factory was integrated into FAR in 1933 as "Branch B, Le Locle" though operation remained the same. It was managed by Louis Huguenin, Sr. along with his sons, Louis Huguenin, Jr. and William. Louis Huguenin became especially involved in the industry and took over the firm in 1940 following his father's death. The younger Louis Huguenin also joined the management of FAR, where his father had been vice-chairman of the board.

When Nivarox SA was formed in 1937, Louis Huguenin (junior) was named secretary of the board, a position he retained until 1972.

The next generation, also named Charles-Louis Huguenin, continued the family work through the consolidation of all spring factories as Nivarox SA in 1976 and the consolidation of this with FAR and FBR as Nivarox-FAR in 1984.

Huguenin Family

Detailed Timeline

  • 1845 - "Huguenin Fréd., (assortimens à ancre), Grande rue" and "Huguenin Ulysse, (échappemens), rue des Envers"
  • 1848 - "Huguenin Justin, planteur d’échappemens à ancre, au Verger"
  • 1849 - "Huguenin Fréd., (assortimens à ancre), Grande-Rue, 71" and "Hügnenin Virchaud Ls-Paul, (assortimens à ancre), rue des Billodes, 226"
  • 1850 - "Huguenin Fréd. (assortimens à ancre), Grande-Rue, 71" and "Huguenin Girard H.-F. (échappemens à ancre), Crêt-Vaillant, 41" are listed in Indicateur Davoine
  • 1854 - "Huguenin-Thiébaud (assort, a ancre), Verger, 8" is listed in Indicateur Davoine in Le Locle
  • 1855 - "Huguenin-Tbiébaud Willams, Verger, 8" and "Huguenin Frédéric, Grande rue, 62" are listed
  • 1856 - "Huguenin Frédéric, Grande rue, 61", "Huguenin Aug., Grande rue, 70", and "Huguenin Albert, Grande rue. 70"
  • 1859 - "Huguenin, Charles-Louis, rue du Marais, 158 bis." is first listed in Indicateur Davoine under "Fabricants d'Assortiments a Ancre" in Le Locle
  • 1859 - "Huguenin-Thiébaud, Justin, au Verger, 8"
  • 1860 - "Huguenin-Thiébaud, William, au Verger, 8"
  • 1861 - "Huguenin-Thiébaud, Williams, au Verger, 8"
  • 1861 - "Huguenin, Charles-Louis (tous genres), Quartier du Progrès, 66" in Indicateur Davoine
  • 1864 - "Huguenin, Ch.-L. ancres en tous genres, Quartier-Neuf, 21" in Indicateur Davoine
  • 1864 - "Huguenin, W., Quartier-Neuf, 21" in Indicateur Davoine
  • 1865 - "Huguenin, Charles (en tous genres, spécialité anglais et américains), Quartier-Neuf, 21"
  • 1865 - "Huguenin-Thiébaud, W., Quartier-Neuf 21"
  • 1871 - "Huguenin, Ch., Progrès 59" in Indicateur Davoine
  • 1871 - "Huguenin, William, Progrès 59" in Indicateur Davoine
  • 1873 - "Huguenin, Ch.-Ls, Progrès 59" in Indicateur Davoine
  • 1873 - "Huguenin-Thiébaud, William, Progrès 59" in Indicateur Davoine
  • 1877 - "Huguenin, Chs-Ls (spécialité nouveau genre anglais, levées visibles; anc., fourch., et contrepoids d’une seule pièce; etc.), Progrès 59" in Indicateur Davoine
  • 1877 - "Huguenin-Thiébaud, W., Prog. 59" in Indicateur Davoine
  • 1879 - First advertisement for Charles-Louis Huguenin in Indicateur Davoine, specifying "Maison Fondée en 1850", etc
  • 1886 - First advertisement for W. Huguenin-Thiébaud in Indicateur Davoine, specifying "Maison Fondée en 1850", at Marais 257
  • 1888 - "Huguenin-Thiébaud, W., Hôtel-de-Ville 275"; ad specified "Locle & Chaux-de-Fonds"
  • 1890 - "Huguenin et Schumacher" is listed and advertises in Indicateur Davoine as "succ. de W. Huguenin-Thiébaud"; Hôtel-de-Ville 275
  • 1890 - "Huguenin et Schumacher, succursale du Locle" is listed in La Chaux-de-Fonds at Parc 15
  • 1894 - "Huguenin, Charles et Louis, rue J.-J. Huguenin 27" is listed in Indicateur Davoine
  • 1895 - A large new ad for "Charles & Louis Huguenin" Quartier-Neuf appears
  • 1900 - "Huguenin, Charles et Louis" are now listed at rue de la Concorde 29 and their ad now lists "Fabrique de la Concorde"
  • 1908 - "Huguenin et Schumacher" last appears in Indicateur Davoine
  • 1908 - June 11 - "Huguenin et Schumacher" is reorganized as "Al Schumacher, Fabrique Stella" by Albert-Victor Schumacher; the address is Avenue du College 10 in Le Locle
  • 1918 - The advertisement for Charles & Louis Huguenin specifically says "La Concorde" as a brand
  • 1934 - A FAR ad lists G. Perrenoud, La Concorde, Stella, Gallay, and Succursale de Bienne
  • 1970 - "La Concorde SA" is last listed as FAR Fabrique B, Rue de la Concorde 29
  • 1970 - "Stella SA & Pierrehumbert Frères SA" is last listed together as FAR Fabrique C, Avenue du College 10