Watchmaking in France

Both sides of the border


June 2024

Both sides of the border

In our latest issue (3/24), we bring you a comprehensive report on the French watchmaking industry, which has gained momentum in recent years – welcome evidence, finally, of a comeback some have been promising was just around the corner since the deindustrialisation of the 1970s.


ather than a dramatic reversal, the renaissance of French watchmaking has taken the form of a slow, steady and generally healthy progression, spurred by the emergence of a new generation of leaders who excel at international marketing, connecting with a clientele eager for unique stories, and presenting a new and innovative vision of watchmaking.

Established brands like Pequignet, Lip, Yema and Herbelin have all benefited from new shareholders or younger leaders making smart decisions. At the same time, startups such as Baltic, Reservoir and Trilobe have shown that innovation is possible by embracing their French identity and global reach, at all price points.

Of course, “Swiss” watchmaking is more than a little French at its core, from Cartier and Chanel to Hermès, Louis Vuitton and Richard Mille. This Franco-Swiss partnership – you might even call it a marriage – has been fruitful. The French influence is evident in the day-to-day operations of even the most Swiss manufactures.

But we don’t neglect the Swiss side in this issue either. We highlight Porrentruy and the Jura canton more broadly – a watchmaking hub that is often overshadowed by Geneva, La Chaux-de-Fonds and the Vallée de Joux. The Porrentruy watchmaking school has become a vital incubator for talent.

Also in our Swiss coverage, we examine the watchmaking certification landscape by visiting the COSC, which faces growing competition from alternative labels. We continue our in-depth series on movements with Concepto, Purtec and Horage. And lastly, we profile the new brand Renaud Tixier – another example of the enduring Franco-Swiss partnership in watchmaking.

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