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History

From Édouard Bovet to Pascal Raffy, the success the Fleurier Company has enjoyed with collectors can be attributed to watchmaking imbued with vision and tradition.

While Bovet was one of the pioneers of international trade setting out to conquer and seduce a China which had, until that time, been closed off to the outside, Raffy succeeded in anticipating changes in the watchmaking industry, adopting a vertical approach to his business at precisely the right time. Two centuries apart, both men fuelled a shared passion for mechanical excellence which met with a showcasing of craftsmanship.

This is how at Bovet, watchmakers, technicians and engineers worked alongside craftsmen who had become masters in miniature painting or hand engraving. The company's historic heritage combined with Bovet's innovative philosophy formed the cornerstone of timepieces manufactured to stand the test of time, owing not least to the attention paid to each and every technical and aesthetic detail.



Key dates

Édouard Bovet is born in Fleurier. He is the son of Jean-Frédéric Bovet, himself a master watchmaker in Fleurier, Val-de-Travers, a valley nestled in the heart of the Swiss Jura mountains.

Édouard Bovet completes his watchmaking apprenticeship and sets off from Fleurier with his brothers Alphonse and Frédéric for London, a major manufacturing centre, but more importantly a hub for the watchmaking trade in Europe.

Édouard Bovet leaves London on 20 April on board the Orwell, a Dutch East India company ship. He arrives in Canton on 16 August, where he rapidly sells four watches to the value of 10,000 francs, the equivalent of a million dollars at the time.

Édouard Bovet, residing in Canton, establishes with his brothers Alphonse and Frédéric, who had remained in London, and his third brother Gustave, a watchmaker in Fleurier, a general partnership with its sights set on the watch trade with China. This first agreement of the Bovet Company drafted in London is dated 1 May. Experiencing rapid business growth, the company transfers its manufacturing centre to Fleurier.

Bovet starts to produce watches in pairs, in other words, identical watches. This is a very popular gift with the Chinese owing to the strong symbolism of twinship in Chinese culture. The enamels, reproduced in exactly the same way, appear as a mirror image of one another.

On his return from China, Édouard Bovet begins construction on his house in Fleurier, commonly called "The Chinese Palace". In 1905, it would become the Town Hall, which would also house the Fleurier Quality Foundation of which Bovet is one of the founding members.

The Château de Môtiers, built in the 14th century and overlooking Fleurier and le Val-de-Travers, is sold to Henri-François Dubois-Bovet. In 1957, his great-grandchildren would donate it to the Neuchâtel State.

Édouard Bovet dies in Fleurier at 52 years of age. At that time, the "Fleurier watch" is highly prized in China, where the name Bovet is synonymous with watches. The company's timepieces would even constitute a bartering system in the country. (The Chinese Watch; A.Chapuis)

At the first Universal Exhibition held in Paris, Bovet is awarded the gold medal in the "Luxury" category for a pair of enamelled watches commissioned by the Emperor of China.Bovet was to dedicate most of its production to the Chinese market until 1900. Thereafter, Bovet's position in China wavers. The brand is rivalled by watches produced in Besançon and the United States as well as a number of counterfeit pieces.

Fritz Bovet, Alphonse's eldest son, files a patent for a single push-piece chronograph equipped with a seconds hand, minute-counter and hour-counter allowing time to be measured up to 24 hours. This ingenious mechanism offers the possibility of using the chronograph as a second time zone.

At the same time, Bovet files a patent for the Easel watch, which allows for the use of a pocket watch as a table clock, and a patent for the Mono Split Second chronograph which today  remains highly sought-after by collectors.

Revival of Bovet in Fleurier. From this time on, the company produces timepieces in only very small quantities, less than 2,000 pieces per year. More than a third of them are unique pieces crafted to order.Bovet wristwatches are distinctive in that they are inserted in pocket watch cases with a crown and pivotal bow positioned at 12 o'clock. This design, similar to that of serpentine hands, draws inspiration directly from the watches designed for the Chinese market in the 19th century.

Pascal Raffy, the owner of Bovet and sole shareholder since 2001, acquires the Dimier 1738 Manufacture. Bovet becomes independent in terms of the supply of manufactured movements.Pascal Raffy buys back the Château de Môtiers, classed as a historic monument, from the Neuchâtel State. He sets up Bovet workshops there.

A partnership agreement with the iconic Pininfarina Company is entered into for the joint production of a collection.

Launch of the convertible Amadeo® case, allowing the timepiece to be transformed into a reversible wristwatch, table clock and pocket watch (or pendant) without the use of tools.

The company receives a "Best Achievement in Design" Award from Revolution magazine for its  Ottanta® tourbillon.

Launch of the Virtuoso II calibre, the first movement not regulated by a tourbillon to have been fully developed and manufactured by Bovet. Récital 12 Monsieur Dimier receives the Middle East Watch of the Year Award in the "Best Classical Watch" category. Récital 9 Miss Alexandra wins the 0024 European Watch of the Year Award in the "Ladies Watch" category.

Unveiling of Braveheart®, a timepiece with six patents from the 19Thirty Bovet collection of watches with manufactured movements.Récital 17 wins the Middle East Watch of the Year Award in the "Best Multi-Time Zone Watch" category.

Launch of Récital 18 Shooting Star® and Ottantasei, holding two and three patents respectively. Bovet celebrates the 10th anniversary of its Dimier 1738 Manufacture and extends the warranty on its timepieces to five years.Récital 18 wins the Luxembourg Watch Fair Award in the "Watch Complications" category.

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