BACKGROUND TO BOVET

Kindly provided by Alan Downing and Thierry Oulevay.

1797 Edouard Bovet born in Fleurier, Switzerland, son of a local master-watchmaker, Jean-Frédéric Bovet. Edouard had four brothers, Frédéric, Alphonse, Gustave, Charles-Henri, and a sister, Caroline.

1814 Edouard Bovet is against Neuchâtel's return to Prussian rule after the fall of Napoleon. After his apprenticeship, he leaves Fleurier with Alphonse and Frédéric to work as a watchmaker in London -then the centre of Europe's watch trade and manufacture.

1818 Edouard Bovet's employer, the Magniac company, sends him to Canton, the only Chinese port open to Western trade. He leaves England on the East India merchantman, Orwell, on April 20, arriving in Canton via the Cape of Good Hope on August 16.

1822 Edouard Bovet, now living in Canton, founds a partnership company for the China watch trade with his two brothers in London, Alphonse and Frédéric, and his third brother Gustave, watchmaker in Fleurier. The charter of the company is drawn up in London on May 1. Business booms, and the company quickly transfers production to Fleurier.

1824 Edouard's fourth and youngest brother, Charles-Henri Bovet, becomes a partner in the family company and joins Edouard in Macao.

1830 Edouard Bovet returns to Fleurier in triumph with his "Chinese" son, Edouard-Georges, born in Macao in 1826.

1831 Edouard Bovet takes part in December's abortive Republican revolt against the king of Prussia for independence as a full Swiss canton. Fleeing the king's troops as they occupy the Val-de-Travers, he goes to Besançon in France, where he continues Fleurier watch production with other exiled watchmakers.

1836 Louis Bovet, son of Gustave, takes over the management of the business and then joins his uncle Charles-Henri in Canton.

1840 Frédéric Bovet returns from London to Fleurier and manages the watchmaking workshops. The business now employs nearly 175 people and, on November 15, the Bovet brothers re-establish their trading company, Bovet Frères et Cie, in Fleurier, bringing the registered capital to a million francs. Charles-Henri Bovet, back from China, faces jail for his Republican views and has to leave the country.

1842 The British impose the treaty of Nankin on China, removing trade control from Han merchants. The treaty boosts trade with the East.

1843 Alphonse Bovet returns to Fleurier to help Frédéric and their sister Caroline manage the business.

1845 Fritz Bovet, Alphonse's eldest son, goes to China. As a musician (known for playing his violin with the enthusiasm of a Paganini) he studies Chinese music and transcribes tunes for music boxes made in Sainte-Croix, Geneva and the Vallée de Joux for the Chinese market. He later became the French vice-consul.

1849 Edouard Bovet dies in Fleurier.

1855 Bovet Frères et Cie win a gold medal in the luxury-watches category at the Paris International Exhibition.

1856 Charles Bovet, youngest son of Alphonse, takes up the management of the business.

1864 The Bovet family sells the BOVET watch production to their manufacturing inspectors in Fleurier, Jules Jéquier and Ernest Bobillier, who are soon joined by Ami Leuba. The articles of association dated June 10 maintain the Bovet group of companies: Maison Bovet and Bovet Bros. in London, F. and A. Bovet in Canton, and Bovet Frères et Cie in Fleurier.

1865 Charles Bovet quits watchmaking in Fleurier and settles in London. The Bovets no longer trade exclusively in watches but also deal in Chinese silks and tea.

1888 Bovet Frères is founded by Alexis Landry who has done his apprenticeship at Fritz Bovet^Òs watchmaking workshop in Fleurier. Ebauches for Chinese watches and silver cases are produced. Then Alexis Landry forms a partnership with Albert and Jean Bovet, both outstanding watchmakers. The company specializes in complicated watches and chronographs.

1901 The Bovets abandon watchmaking altogether and the trademark is acquired at auction in Paris for 100,000 francs by César and Charles Leuba, sons of Ami Leuba.

1918 Jacques Ullmann & Co. of la Chaux-de-Fonds buy the BOVET brand from Leuba Brothers.

1932 Jacques Ullmann & Co. closes down.

1936 The Bovet brothers register several patents, in particular for « la montre chevalet and the very successful « chronographe mono-ratrappante.

1948 The Favre-Leuba watchmaking company takes over the company from Albert (1878-1959) and Jean Bovet (1880-1973) and acquires its first production plant.

1950 Favre-Leuba gives up the Bovet and Bovet Frères brands in about 1950 and the Fleurier plant specializes exclusively in high precision and complicated Favre Leuba watches.

1966 Favre-Leuba sells the plant in Fleurier to a watchmaking coop and stops producing in Fleurier.

1989 Parmigiani, watchmaker and restorer of timepieces at Fleurier, acquires all rights to the BOVET name, available for the past half century, and registers it for "all watchmaking products, mechanical watches and clocks and naval instruments, of Swiss origin."

1990 A limited company registered as BOVET FLEURIER S.A. is formed, and acquires the BOVET trade-mark from Michel Parmigiani. The purpose of the company is the "development, manufacture, trade, import and export of all high-grade watchmaking products and of other luxury products and jewellery as well as the registration and sale of such intellectual property as patents, brands, designs and models."

1994 On December 28, Roger Guye and Thierry Oulevay buy BOVET FLEURIER S.A. and open a branch in Geneva. The company remains registered in Fleurier.

For your information, you will find quite interesting articles on Bovet in the following magazines: * Swiss Quality Timing, summer 1997 * Arts of Asia, Sept./ Oct. 1997 * Leaders, Oct. 1997 (not out yet)

Email
hbv@tsoft.com
addresses
Vince's Homepage / Vince Ho / hbv@tsoft.com
Return to the Chinese Market Watch webpage