Rueff Frères

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There were a few different watchmaking companies in La Chaux-de-Fonds around the turn of the 20th century. Most notable was Rueff Frères, made up of Maurice and Aimé Rueff, which originated the Montres Venus and Napoleon brands.

Didisheim and Rueff

Gabriel Didisheim was operating as a watchmaker at Grande Rue 2 in Saint-Imier by 1869. He relocated to Place Neuve by 1871 and the Beau-Site area (future home of Léonidas) by 1873.

By 1880 Gabriel Didisheim had partnered with Maurice Rueff of Belfort and Aimé Rueff of Epiquerez as Didisheim & Rueff Frères. The company operated a branch at Léopold-Robert 14 in nearby La Chaux-de-Fonds by 1880 while maintaining the Beau-Site workshop. The company produced pendant winding pocket watches. In 1883 after Didisheim's death his widow took over his share and the Rueff brothers relocated the company to La Chaux-de-Fonds. It was initially located at Rue du Parc 39 but quickly moved to Grenier 14.

The company was reorganized simply as Rueff Frères in 1884, remaining at Grenier 14. Arthur Didisheim of Besançon joined as a manager at this time, showing that the families remained connected, though he split off to form his own firm in 1887. Rueff grew through the 1880s, relocating to Rue du Parc 8 alongside Girard-Perregaux by 1890. Rueff registered many brands, including Telephone, Le Touriste, Lady Cora, Venus, Napoleon, The Britannic, The Baltic, and more.

Maurice Rueff

After the death of Aimé Rueff, Maurice Rueff took over the firm in his own name in 1896. The company also relocated to the newly-built area west of town, at Rue Léopold-Robert 66, on September 28, 1896. According to an 1898 ad, Maurice Rueff produced "Gold, silver, and metal key watches and winders of all kinds and for all countries" including a "complete assortment of small gold ladies' watches" in "common genres and fantasy." By 1907 Rueff was vigorously protecting a new design for a "snake-shaped" watch (complete with a snake head), patented as number 320,727. A 1912 ad shows Rueff concerned about counterfeit products using his Napoleon brand, and a 1914 ad clarifies the the perpetrator was the Napoleon Watch Co. of Bombay who officially owned the "Napole" brand.

Rueff Frères

In 1914 the firm was handed over to Gabriel Rueff and Jean Rueff (who lived in Barcelona) and became known as Rueff Frères once again. The firm re-focused on jewelry rather than watches in 1916, moving again to Léopold-Rober 58 by that year. But Rueff continued to use (and protect) the Napoleon brand of wristwatches.

Fritz Salzmann of Eggiwil joined as a manager in 1917. The Rueff Frères firm (and Gabriel Rueff's own company) failed in 1925 and Salzmann took over some of the brands. He advertised Venus, Napoléon, and Baltic brand watches in 1927, with a line of bracelet watches with anchor movements from 6.5 to 13 lignes along with cylinder watches of similar sizes. In 1930 Salzmann advertised a folding travel watch but this would not long survive: His company failed as well in 1930 and his brands, Montres Venus and Baltic, were transferred to Schwarz-Etienne, which used them for decades after.

See Also