Switzerland’s little known, second-oldest watch brand and its fascinating history that intersects with Bovet, Jaeger-LeCoultre, and others
Favre-Leuba: An Introduction
The history of the watch industry is littered with defunct brands, many of which met their demise during the quartz crisis of the 1970s. Others were gobbled up by large conglomerates during this time. And finally, some companies transformed into just a skeleton of the fine watch manufacturers they had been for years, sometimes centuries prior. That’s what has happened to Favre-Leuba. It’s a Swiss watch manufacturer still in existence to this day, headquartered in Zug, Switzerland (separately referred to as the “Crypto Valley” by some Ethereum nerds, more on that in a minute).
Favre-Leuba traces its roots back to 1737, making it the second-oldest watch brand in Switzerland, after Blancpain (1735). It was founded by Abraham Favre in Le Locle, Switzerland, who was eventually appointed the “master watchmaker” of Le Locle, a position that every city should have.
In 1792, Abraham’s son, Abraham Favre, Jr., with his sons, started a watch company, A. Favre. & Fils. As the story goes, Abraham Jr. was obsessed with improving the technology in his watches (an ethos Favre-Leuba continued to draw on into the 20th Century), and the company quickly expanded its reach across the globe. By 1815, the Favre clan joined forces with Auguste Leuba, a guy from a watchmaking family in its own right, to form Favre-Leuba. In the early 1800s, the Favres and Leubas, led by Fritz Favre, travelled around the world together, taking their pocket watches to national and international exhibitions, including the Universal Exhibition in London (1851), the New York Fair (1853), racking up awards and accolades along the way.
Around this time, growth in the European market began to slow, and Fritz Favre’s children (the sixth generation of Favres in the watch business at this point) worked to spread Favre-Leuba throughout Asia, especially India. 1896 saw the brand move its headquarters from Le Locle to Geneva. The brand continued to see global success and growth throughout the early part of the 20th Century.
After Longines produced what is likely the first wristwatch chronograph, in 1913, Favre-Leuba jumped in, creating its first monopusher chronographs by 1925 (all chronographs were monopushers until Breitling introduced the two-button system in 1934), in addition to its time-only and other timepieces. Favre-Leuba continued to produce chronographs with ebauche movements through the 1960s, typically using Valjoux movements (and sometimes Landeron, more below).
In 1948, Favre-Leuba purchased the name and production facilities of Bovet. Favre-Leuba soon gave up the Bovet brand in 1950 and began using Bovet’s former plants to exclusively produce Favre-Leuba branded watches. Favre-Leuba eventually sold Bovet’s manufacturing in Fleurier in 1966, and Parmigiani Fleurier later purchased the Bovet name in 1989, which led to the real re-birth of the Bovet brand into its current ultra-luxury status. But for two years, from 1948 to 1950, Favre-Leuba produced Favre-Leuba Bovet watches, and mostly chronographs. The two-year period is a commercial anomaly for Bovet, which throughout its history has been known as a limited-production, high-end brand. During the time it owned the brand, Favre-Leuba was cranking out co-branded Favre-Leuba Bovet watches in relatively large numbers.
These chronographs featured ebauche movements from Valjoux (the caliber 77 or 84) or Landeron (the caliber 47, 48, 51, 57, 59, 80, and 81). As you might imagine, even though they were produced en masse, few of these Favre-Leuba Bovet chronographs exist in original condition today, and even fewer with a Valjoux movement — Landerons were a bit cheaper to produce at the time. When Favre-Leuba first purchased Bovet and began using the name, the stylized Bovet logo was replaed with a simple “Bovet” in normal type, but they later transitioned back to using the stylized Bovet. Just before the Favre-Leuba watches no longer used the Bovet brand, watches assembled at the Bovet facility bore the name of both Favre-Leuba and Bovet.
Favre-Leuba Goes In-House
In 1955, Favre-Leuba introduced its manual winding FL 101 caliber, an independent movement made only for Favre-Leuba. At the beginning, Favre-Leuba worked with its movement manufacturer Lavina, which at the time was a subsidiary of Favre-Leuba, to create the fully in-house movement. In the 1960s, Favre-Leuba built its own manufacturing site in Geneva, where it manufactured its in-house FL movements. This also included the FL 102, 103 and 104, all of which used the FL 101 as the base.
The caliber FL 102, introduced in 1957, presented a calendar function and was used in Favre-Leuba’s Datic models. The automatic FL 103 and FL 104 movements followed, which are equipped with our without a date display, respectively.
In 1962, Favre-Leuba introduced the caliber FL 251, an extra-thin, twin-barrel with a central second hand and apower reserveof 50 hours. The movement measured just 2.95mm thick, a real revolution in serially-produced extra-thin movements. It was available in different versions, with or without calendar function, and was later manufactured as an automatic version and used in a wide range of watch models.
In 1968, Favre-Leuba added anautomatic windingto its thin double-barrel calibers, making it one of the first brands to use this combination in series production. The new movements were available with or without calendar function.
Drawing on its history of innovation, in 1962, Favre-Leuba introduced the Bivouac, the first evermechanical watchwithaneroid barometer to measured altitude without using a liquid, and an air pressure measurement. Explorer Paul-Emile Victor was one of the first to wear this piece during hisAntarcticaexpedition. Additionally, a couple intrepid explorers used the watch while summiting theGrandes Jorassesin theAlps (take that Rolex Explorer).
In 1960, Favre-Leuba introduced the Water Deep, the brand’s first dive watch. It had large, luminous indices, a rotating bezel that sat under glass and rotated using only a rotator at 2 o’clock. It was a true tool watch for its time. The brand improved upon this watch in 1964, with the release of the Deep Blue, which had water resistance up to 200m.
Inspired by its successful dive watch collection as well as the success of the Bivouac, Favre-Leuba worked to combine the two technologies (water resistance and aneroid barometer) to create a dive watch that could tell the wearer its depth underwater. The result was the Bathy, first released in 1968, the first mechanical watch that indicated dive time as well as dive depth.
Favre-Leuba and the Quartz Crisis
By the 1960s, the eighth generation of the Favre family owned the company and sat on its board of directors. But, the challenges brought on by the quartz crisis after the first quartz movement was introduced in 1969 greatly increased the pressures on the 200-year-old brand.
In 1965, Favre-Leuba joined forces with Jaeger-LeCoultre under the SAPHIR Group. The SAPHIR Group had been the holding company of Jaeger-LeCoultre and Vacheron Constantin from 1937 until 1965, when Vacheron bought back its portion of the business to become an independent company. But, the quartz crisis spelled trouble for the Favre-JLC mashup, and SAHPIR changed hands multiple times over the coming decades, from VDO Automotives to Benedom and finally to LVMH.
The story gets a bit happier for Jaeger-LeCoultre from there, as its expertise as a movement manufacturer made it valuable to other watch brands, eventually becoming a part of Richemont (which, by the way, owns Vacheron Constantin, bringing the long-lost friends back under the same holding company roof).
Meanwhile, Favre-Leuba kind of just fell by the wayside, until it was purchased by Titan, part of the multi-national Indian conglomerate Tata Group. In 2016, Favre- Leuba re-launched with its Raider and Chief collections, the two collections that still make up its modern catalog. The brand would make its triumphant return to Baselworld in 2017, drawing on its most successful design cues from the 1960s and 70s. The company still prides itself on its technological prowess, just as the first Favres did back in the 1700s. The Baselworld 2017 releases included a new Biovouac (under the Raider collection) that is the only watch with the ability to measure altitude up to 9000m mechanically. The goal was to create a watch that for Mt. Everest, which measures 8848m. If that’s not kind of cool and totally unnecessary, then I don’t know what is.
You can buy some of the modern Favre-Leuba watches on Farfetch: the chronographs generally use Valjoux movements, while the time-only pieces use ETA movements. They’re typically pretty large pieces, measuring 42mm and above, with cushion-style cases.
Oh, and if taking a look at its modern collection doesn’t just scream over engineered (I don’t use that term negatively), there’s this: Favre-Leuba’s modern watches apparently also uses blockchain technology to authenticate and protect the watches and their owners. Honestly, recording and tracking expensive timepieces (or any expensive piece of personal or real property) is one of the use cases of blockchain technology that makes the most sense. Imagine if there were a public ledger of all watch sales such that you could trace the provenance of a watch you’re buying, all the way back to the original retailer and manufacturer. Of course, this is what some brands already do with their meticulous recording of transactions in archives, but a blockchain might be an improvement on that centralized process.
The Modern A. Favre & Fils
By the way, the modern Favre-Leuba isn’t the only brand that traces its roots back to the original Abraham Favre of 1700s Le Locle, Switzerland. In January 2019, a modern A. Favre & Fils was launched by Laurent Favre, a tenth generation Favre. This A. Favre & Fils is creating the '“first Swiss handcrafted mechanical timepiece with a built-in crypto-currency cold wallet and state-of-the-art security solution.”
Before this, Laurent Favre had released three collections under the A. Favre & Fils name, but this crypto thing seems like a whole new beast alltogether — remember I said we’d get back to the “Crypto Valley”? Thanks to Laurent (and Favre-Leuba’s use of blockchain, which is at least crypto-adjacent), here we are.
Next Up: Part 2, Important References
While it’s interesting to talk about modern Favre-Leuba, it really has little in common with the Favre-Leuba of the 20th Century, which made fine, quality timepieces that competed with many of the watch brands we still know today (hell, Jaeger-LeCoultre partnered with Faevre-Leuba after ending its partnership with Vacheron, if that shows you the echelon Favre-Leuba was in at one time).
In a future post, I’ll talk about some of the most important references and models in Favre-Leuba’s long history (more in-depth than above). So stay tuned!
Around this time, growth in the European market began to slow, and Fritz Favre’s children (the sixth generation of Favres in the watch business at this point) worked to spread Favre-Leuba throughout Asia, especially India.. Left/Above: A 1960s Favre-Leuba chronograph with Valjoux 23 movements | Right/Below: A 1940s time only Favre-Leuba. Favre-Leuba soon gave up the Bovet brand in 1950 and began using Bovet’s former plants to exclusively produce Favre-Leuba branded watches.. Favre-Leuba eventually sold Bovet’s manufacturing in Fleurier in 1966, and Parmigiani Fleurier later purchased the Bovet name in 1989, which led to the real re-birth of the Bovet brand into its current ultra-luxury status.. But for two years, from 1948 to 1950, Favre-Leuba produced Favre-Leuba Bovet watches, and mostly chronographs.. During the time it owned the brand, Favre-Leuba was cranking out co-branded Favre-Leuba Bovet watches in relatively large numbers.. Just before the Favre-Leuba watches no longer used the Bovet brand, watches assembled at the Bovet facility bore the name of both Favre-Leuba and Bovet.. In 1955, Favre-Leuba introduced its manual winding FL 101 caliber, an independent movement made only for Favre-Leuba.. At the beginning, Favre-Leuba worked with its movement manufacturer Lavina, which at the time was a subsidiary of Favre-Leuba, to create the fully in-house movement.. In 1960, Favre-Leuba introduced the Water Deep, the brand’s first dive watch.. Inspired by its successful dive watch collection as well as the success of the Bivouac, Favre-Leuba worked to combine the two technologies (water resistance and aneroid barometer) to create a dive watch that could tell the wearer its depth underwater.. You can buy some of the modern Favre-Leuba watches on Farfetch : the chronographs generally use Valjoux movements, while the time-only pieces use ETA movements.. Oh, and if taking a look at its modern collection doesn’t just scream over engineered (I don’t use that term negatively), there’s this: Favre-Leuba’s modern watches apparently also uses blockchain technology to authenticate and protect the watches and their owners.. While it’s interesting to talk about modern Favre-Leuba, it really has little in common with the Favre-Leuba of the 20th Century, which made fine, quality timepieces that competed with many of the watch brands we still know today (hell, Jaeger-LeCoultre partnered with Faevre-Leuba after ending its partnership with Vacheron, if that shows you the echelon Favre-Leuba was in at one time).
The History of Favre-Leuba Watches Overview:The First Step 1737-1779 Favre-Leuba was founded by Abraham Favre.. The story of this watch brand starts with an official document that can be traced back to 1737 which mentions a small watchmakers workshop within Le Locle, the birthplace of the Swiss watch industry.. This watch brand was run by eight generations of the Favre family.. Brand Expansion 1780-1899 It was during this period of time that the successful Abraham Favre passed down his business to his son, also named Abraham.. At this time the company began to grow and it was due to this expansion that Henry- Auguste, Frederics son, began to run the watchmaking business.. he travelled to India between 1865 and 1867 and launched the brand as the first Swiss watch manufacturer on the subcontinent.. The Courage to Change 1900-1945 Fritz Favre’s children, in particular Henri Favre-Leuba, assumed leadership of the family business in 1908 and remained the President of the Board of Directors until his death in 1961.. The main features of their retro-futuristic designs that are present in the collections today include the tetradecagonal bezel, the shape of the case and distinctive hands.. Into the Present Day 1980-2016 Within this period, Henry A. Favre handed over the company to his sons Florian and Eric A Favre.
Switzerland’s little known, second-oldest watch brand and its fascinating history that intersects with Bovet, Jaeger-LeCoultre, and others. It’s a Swiss watch manufacturer still in existence to this day, headquartered in Zug, Switzerland (separately referred to as the “Crypto Valley” by some Ethereum nerds, more on that in the article).. Favre-Leuba traces its roots back to 1737, making it the second-oldest watch brand in Switzerland, after Blancpain (1735).. It would go on to produce Bovet watches for two years.. In 1962, Favre-Leuba introduced the Bivouac, the first ever mechanical watch with aneroid barometer to measured altitude without using a liquid, and an air pressure measurement.. Additionally, a couple intrepid explorers used the watch while summiting the Grandes Jorasses in the Alps (take that Rolex Explorer).. In 1968, it released the Bathy, the first mechanical watch that indicated dive time as well as dive depth.. Its Baselworld 2017 releases included a new Biovouac (under the Raider collection) that is the only watch with the ability to measure altitude up to 9000m mechanically.. Tom Ford releases its first automatic watch .. For example, if you look at our list of great watches with ETA 2824 movements, you’ll find some viable options under $1,000.. 1603 Datejust for the same price as the automatic 002, and get yourself a watch that won’t depreciate in value by 75 percent the minute you strap it on your wrist.. Just four years later, the watch has supposedly increased in value from its previous CHF 315k sale to this year’s CHF 1 million to 2 million estimate.. Hodinkee goes in depth on this watch, the auction business, and what it all means for the vintage watch market.. No two vintage watches are apples-to-apples (for example, the Theo & Harris one has a period-correct strap and signed buckle, while the Menta one does not), but a 50% price disparity is too big to ignore.. Ticks and Tocks Sure, China’s and India’s economic rise is great for humanity, but is it worth it if I can’t cop a stainless Rolex sports watch anymore?
Who is Favre Leuba?. The brand saw many successful years during these pocket watch dominated times which guided them successfully until 1925 when watches moved to the wrist and they began making monopusher chronographs.. To kick the decade off the brand released a diving watch in the form of the Water Deep.. Modern-day Favre Leuba The Favre Leuba Raider Harpoon - Image Credit: WatchGecko Online Magazine. As you pull the crown out and turn the minute hand, the hour disk will also turn with the minute hand working its way through the section for the hour it is currently in.. Design touches from the two earlier models are apparent here including that unique minute hand, purposeful hour markers appealing case design and fantastic use of colour.
Von Favre-Leuba wusste ich zum damaligen Zeitpunkt nur, dass die Marke die Quarzkrise wie viele andere nicht überlebt hatte, und kannte Biouvac und Bathy.. Der italienische Alpinist Walter Bonatti trägt die Bivouac, als ihm 1964 die Erstbesteigung der Nordwand der Pointe Whymper im Mont-Blanc-Massiv gelingt und als er die Nordwand des Matterhorns über die direkteste Route bezwingt.. 1968: 1968 stellt Favre-Leuba die Bathy vor – die weltweit erste mechanische Armbanduhr, die nicht nur die Tauchzeit, sondern auch die aktuelle Tauchtiefe anzeigt.. Die ebenfalls eingeführten Modelle Sea Sky und Sea Sky GMT verbinden die Funktionalität einer Taucheruhr mit der eines Chronographen und einer 24-Stunden-Anzeige.. 1985: Die Einführung günstiger Quarzwerke 1969 stürzt die Schweizer Uhrenindustrie und somit auch Favre-Leuba in eine schwere Krise, obwohl man als eine der ersten Manufakturen auch Quarzuhren anbot.. Geburtstag der Bathy mit der Lancierung der Raider Bathy 120 MemoDepth , die Tiefen von bis zu 120 m messen und speichern kann.. Nach der Coronakrise, so Rothen, gehe es darum, Favre-Leuba aus der Nische der Extremsportler und Abenteurer herauszuführen, sie den älteren Chronometer-Fans wieder schmackhaft zu machen und bei den jüngeren überhaupt auf den Radar zu kommen.. Bei meinem Modell handelt es sich also laut FL-Homepage um den Sports Chronograph, „f ür Menschen die ihre eigenen Grenzen ausloten und definieren wollen “ und für die deshalb ein Pulsmesser „ von besonderer Bedeutung ist “.. Auch wenn das letztendlich kein unwiderlegbarer Beweis ist, gehe ich davon aus, dass es sich bei meinem Exemplar um ein authentisches handelt; auch die Tragespuren am Gehäuse und die Patina des Blattes sprechen dafür.. Ich danke dir und du hast recht: Das "Vintage" kann man streichen... Sehr schöne Vorstellung einer hübschen Uhr, die sicherlich viele hier auch noch tragen würden, mich eingeschlossen, vielen Dank.. Wieder mal eine ganz tolle Vorstellung @Townes Vielen herzlichen Dank dafür, ebenso für die richtig klasse gemachten Fotos und vor allem für die reichhaltigen Informationen zu Favre-Leuba; einer Marke, die ich bisher nur dem Namen nach kannte, aber so gut wie nichts weiter wußte.Viel Freude mit dem Vintage-"Fitnesstracker" und allzeit gute Gangwerte!. Wieder mal eine ganz tolle Vorstellung @Townes Vielen herzlichen Dank dafür, ebenso für die richtig klasse gemachten Fotos und vor allem für die reichhaltigen Informationen zu Favre-Leuba; einer Marke, die ich bisher nur dem Namen nach kannte, aber so gut wie nichts weiter wußte.Viel Freude mit dem Vintage-"Fitnesstracker" und allzeit gute Gangwerte!
At this point, there are only two options.. Abraham Favre ran the business until he passed away in 1790 when it was taken over by his son, also named Abraham.. Wristwatch production superseded pocketwatch production for the first time in the early-20th century when the first monopusher chronograph was released by the brand.. For several years, the brand lay dormant.. Finally, in 2016, Favre-Leuba officially made its return with a new collection in hand.. Although it was owned by a single family for over 200 years, records changed hands as often as the company did post-Quartz Crisis.. As a longtime fan of Favre-Leuba from the outside, Morf knows that the future success of the brand lies in its past.. Morf believes that the best way to educate contemporary enthusiasts on Favre-Leuba’s history is bringing those creations from the 1960s back to life in modern interpretations.. In 2016, when he presented its new collection to potential retail partners in a closed office outside of Baselworld, the highlight was the Raider Harpoon , which improved the depth rating of the Deep Blue from 200 meters to 500 meters.. Establishing a brand is one of the hardest things to do in today’s industry.. Favre-Leuba is still Favre-Leuba.. It’s a known horological quantity that has finally returned to its rightful place within the watch industry.. So far, with the Raider Harpoon, the Bivouac 9000, and the Bathy 120 MemoDepth , the brand has focused on reliving and improving on its 1960s heyday.. You can purchase the rest of the print issue here .
While the movement is being cleaned the case will be completely broken down (case back, bezel, crystal,pushers etc.. Once the case is clean it is reassembled with new seals and gaskets, which are lubricated as required with special greases.. The watchmaker will now reset the clean movement with the dial and hands mounted into the watch case ensuring there are no hairs or dust in the case and recheck the watch regulation on the timing machine.. In respect of a partial repair we provide a 12 month warranty and in respect of a full service, a 24 month warranty.. We will decide in our absolute discretion whether provision of the warranty will be in the form of a repair or the replacement of a part of the watch.. Mr Copas Watches up to 25 years old. Case and Bracelet Refurbishment. Case and Bracelet Refurbishment. TypeRetail Inc. VATNon W/R Case£90.00Bracelet£72.00Non W/R Case + Bracelet£125.00W/R Case£180.00W/R Case + Bracelet£216.00Laser Filling + Repair (from)£72.00. According to Swiss records Abraham Favre was a watchmaker with his own workshop in 1737.
Always equipped with practical functions that are displayed in a highly legible way, Favre-Leuba timepieces are for those who need a watch, as well as want something special.. The company’s sales material at the time promoted “The Swiss Watch for All Climates” along with a range of sporty, resilient and functional instruments such as the Deep Blue, water-resistant to 200 meters, and the legendary Bivouac, with altimeter and barometer, that came in the 1960s.. Other details to note include a small central hand for the running seconds (so the diver can be sure that the watch is working), a striking minute hand tipped with an irregular hexagon and unique rectangular indexes that are coated with SuperLumiNova for utmost visibility.. Raider Sea Bird The Raider Sea Bird expertly takes the characteristic design codes from Favre-Leuba’s long and rich history and translates them into a women’s timepiece for today.. One of the most outstanding timepieces in the Favre-Leuba collection is the Bivouac 9000, a groundbreaking timepiece that has been created as a tribute to the brand’s 280-year-old history.. The Bivouac 9000 is the first mechanical wristwatch capable of measuring altitudes of up to 9000 meters above sea level, setting new standards for mechanical sports watches and pushing the boundaries of what is possible.. In 1962 the brand launched the world’s first mechanical wristwatch capable of measuring air pressure and altitudes of up to 3,000 meters above sea level, and now they have gone through the clouds literally by increasing the altitude to a spectacular 9,000 meters.. The altitude is extremely easy to read thanks to a red central hand pointing to a bidirectional rotating bezel that has a scale divided into 50-meter marks, up to an altitude of 3,000 meters.. “We chose a hand wound movement for the Bivouac 9000 because the central hand for the altimeter goes right through the movement.. Other features include a running seconds subdial at nine o’clock, so the wearer can instantly see if the watch is running, much like on the Raider Harpoon divers’ watch, and the wearer can also count down the days to his or her next adventure thanks to a practical date aperture at six o’clock.. The design of the Bivouac takes its inspiration from the brand’s legendary timepieces from its 280-year history, but translates them into a highly modern sports watch.. The Bivouac 9000 is priced at an extremely attractive 7,500 CHF and is a great timepiece to celebrate Favre-Leuba’s 280th anniversary as it provides the perfect link from the past to the present.