Those who innovate

Purtec’s watchmaking dream team

June 2024

Purtec's watchmaking dream team

Arnaud Faivre founded TEC Ebauches in 2008, rapidly developed its offerings, diversified its business and on that basis launched the TEC Group in 2018. Today, the TEC Group is made up of eleven companies, boasts some 200 employees and offers its customers an impressive degree of vertical integration ranging from component production to decoration, electroplating, precision mechanics and the creation of highly complicated movements through its subsidiary, Purtec, the most recent newcomer to the Group, founded in 2022.


rnaud Faivre is a man in a hurry with rare energy, who succeeded in building up his group in the space of ten years. Having set up his factory, TEC Ebauches, in 2008, he rapidly developed his brass production business, then steel; by 2009-10 he was producing ébauches and decorated parts and created the Manufacture Royale brand in 2010. He then built up his group by acquiring a whole series of companies. These mutually complementary businesses have put him at the head of a genuine, largely integrated, manufacture of movements and parts (except balance springs, gems, mainsprings and LIGA parts) divided between the Joux Valley, Vallorbe and Yverdon:

• TEC Ebauches has the cutting-edge industrial equipment to produce prototypes as well as large series with the Swiss Label guarantee.

• MISSIMI-BERNEY is active in the field of subcontracting for the watch industry and also manufactures special machines for the watch industry, carbide tool makers, and sapphire and ruby manufacturers.

• Watch Déco et Prodécor produce and decorate watches from start to finish using ancestral watchmaking know-how.

• Decobar Swiss specialises in the complex turning of high-precision parts, cutting and roller burnishing for top-of-the-range and one-off components.

• TEC Arts HD has perfected an innovative technological process for hydrographic printing on most materials suitable for immersion in water. This process can be used in watches and on larger media.

• LD Roulage specialises in roller burnishing of high-end horology parts.

• Roud’hor specialises in mobile part production for prestiogious brands (axles, wheels, pinions).

Purtec, the icing on the cake

This build-as-you-go vertical integration enabled the group to gradually grow its movement production business to the point where everything could be handled in-house. From 2012, the already complex movements made for Manufacture Royale, then for independent watchmakers such as Louis Moinet, were produced in-house by TEC Ebauches. With its fleet of machines and know-how, it was capable of dealing with both limited series and large volumes while doing all the design, development, construction, production, decoration and assembly or even producing ready-for-assembly kits.

The MB&F Legacy Machine Thunderdome, jointly signed by Eric Coudray and Kari Voutilainen. Rising above a sea of blue guillochage is a rotating spherical mass of gears, pinions and cages. The proprietary “TriAx” mechanism features 3 axles revolving at different speeds and on different planes, in 8, 12 and 20' seconds.
The MB&F Legacy Machine Thunderdome, jointly signed by Eric Coudray and Kari Voutilainen. Rising above a sea of blue guillochage is a rotating spherical mass of gears, pinions and cages. The proprietary “TriAx” mechanism features 3 axles revolving at different speeds and on different planes, in 8, 12 and 20’ seconds.

The growing demand for exceptional movements led to a gradual separation of high-volume production – by TEC Ebauches – from exceptional pieces, rarer by definition, produced by the more recent entity, Purtec.

Arnaud Faivre, who has recently taken direct control of the Purtec movements division, explains that Purtec turns out between 300 and 400 special pieces a year. “Very complicated” watches, he points out, “the original concepts for which come either from one of our proposals, or meet specifications drawn up by the customer. That’s enabled us to build up a kind of working capital in innovation. But we don’t do the casing, just the movement. Our strength? I’d say the diversity of our in-house skills. And also very fast decision-making, in direct contact with Arnaud Faivre.” Customers include Louis Moinet, with the Sideralis and Keppler, MB&F and its Thunderbolt, HYT, and Purnell, for whom Purtec produces all the movements.

Two Prix Gaïa laureates

Working side by side with Purtec staff, are two laureates of the Prix Gaïa (regarded as the “Nobel Prize” of watchmaking), Paul Clementi, who received it in 2018 in the Artisanat-Création category, and Eric Coudray, the 2012 recipient in the same category.

Both started out at watchmaking schools in Besançon, both did a stint in restoration, both worked for major watch brands: Parmigiani Fleurier in Clementi’s case and Jaeger-LeCoultre for Coudray. They complement one another perfectly, because one, Clementi, is known for his comprehensive knowledge of history, maths, physics and art, while the other, Coudray, is regarded by all as an engineering genius capable of making anything you like spin in any direction. This the Prix Gaïa jury summed up in acknowledging “in the work of the laureate, total and innovative mastery of watch architecture, turning the improbable into an engineering success”.

Paul Clementi and Eric Coudray
Paul Clementi and Eric Coudray

The name of Eric Coudray emerged from the shadows and into the limelight in 2004 at the presentation of the Master Gyrotourbillon 1 by Jaeger-LeCoultre, a tourbillon with a double cage that allowed the balance wheel to turn inside a rotating sphere, the calibre also featuring a perpetual calendar and an equation of time. A short time later, he improved his concept by fitting the Reverso Gyrotourbillon 2 with a cylindrical hairspring.

He designed all this in the “independent workshop” that Henry-John Belmont, then CEO of Jaeger-LeCoultre, granted him to “give free rein to his ingenuity”.

Describing his method of watchmaking as “an exercise in style”, the libertarian and refractory Coudray reclaimed his freedom, worked for Cabestan on a vertical tourbillon, collaborated with MB&F and found the means to reconcile fluidic time indication with mechanical precision for HYT. But his real obsession remains multiple-axis regulating organs.

Europa Star, 5/2021
Europa Star, 5/2021

Since 2012, Eric Coudray has expounded his ideas on multiple-axis movements, and named them according to “the trajectory followed and described by the regulating organs”. He therefore distinguishes between the classic single-axis tourbillon, which simply turns on itself around a single point, the eccentric tourbillon, which follows a cylindrical trajectory, or the inclined conical tourbillon, which follows a cone-shaped trajectory. The Sphérillon imagined by Eric Coudray is a mechanism housing at minimum two cages in which the balance’s trajectory is spherical (as in the Jaeger-LeCoultre Gyrotourbillon).

Purtec's watchmaking dream team

The Sphérillon

“At first,” Eric Coudray explained to our colleague Vincent Daveau for the magazine JSH in 2021, “the idea behind the Sphérillon was to design a new type of multi-axial regulator on paper, like you might do as a kind of exercise, actually. But Arnaud Faivre, the founder of the TEC Group, had sold the movements to the brands Purnell and MB&F. So we had to develop the idea into a finished product,” which Purtec called “Sphérillon”.

It was a tough task, “which caused us quite a few headaches,” Eric Coudray admits, “but we did it and I was wowed by what the group’s watchmakers achieved”." Since then, Sphérillon-type tourbillons and triaxial conical tourbillons, which follow a cone-shaped trajectory, have proliferated.

“Eric Coudray used both the Potter escapement (named after the 19th-century watchmaker and inventor Albert H. Potter) and the concept of the gyrotourbillon that he had created for Jaeger-LeCoultre. And that’s how he developed the Sphérillon. It’s a technique that will go down in history! If you look at the genesis of tourbillons since the first one invented by Abraham-Louis Breguet 220 years ago, the Sphérillon is the final step. Nothing more complex has been created since then. Eric Coudray is a master watchmaker whose achievements border on genius,” Maurizio Mazzocchi, CEO of Purnell, affirmed to Europa Star in 2022.

“Make radical choices if necessary”

As these few examples show, Purtec’s offering is focused on anything but ordinary projects. Numerous developments are in the pipeline – all of which can rely on the strengths of a group with a high degree of vertical integration.

But who are Purtec’s customers, apart from brands specialising in exceptional and “different” timepieces, like Purnell or HYT? “Above all, entrepreneurs and independent watchmakers wishing to move upmarket with products that stand out, that are challenging, a peculiar mixture of fun when it comes to the regulating organs and tradition when it comes to the quality of the finishes,” is the reply.

HYT 03 Infinity Sapphire watch. Conical tourbillon 2023
HYT 03 Infinity Sapphire watch. Conical tourbillon 2023

“What interests us is taking up a challenge,” our interlocutors insist. “The TEC Group proper is a medium-sized structure of 200 collaborators with an average age of 40. In-house, we inject a desire to be imaginative into our employees and teach them to be autonomous, to dare, to make radical choices if necessary.”

“Our strength as a group within TEC Ebauches,” Arnaud Faivre explained to us back in 2016 in Europa Star Première, “is that we work for brands that sell watches priced anywhere between 1,500 francs to hundreds of thousands of francs. We know how to make high complications, such as minute repeaters, but also simpler, fun complications. The arrival of Eric Coudray and Paul Clementi gives us even greater legitimacy in the domain of high complications… And we have energy to burn!”

Of that, there is not a shadow of a doubt.

The Europa Star Newsletter