Ernest Borel is a Swiss watch manufacturer which produces traditionally styled Automatic and Quartz wrist watches for men and women.The company was established by watch maker Jules Borel in 1856 in Neuchatel, Switzerland.In 1859 along with his brother in law Pual Courvoisier, Borel established Borel-Courvoisier watch company.They won several awards in the late 19th century including first place in the 1866 Neuchatel observatory timing accuracy competition.In 1927 his son,Jean Louis Borel took over the responsibility of family business of making traditional watches
Ernest Borel was founded in 1859 by Jules Borel (1832-1898) and his brother-in-law Paul Courvoisier ( -1894) as Borel & Courvoisier Company,
Neuchátel, successor of the firm Henri Reynier fils.
The company exported the first batch of products to Uruguay, showing its existence in South America.
They pushed forward to Spain and sales network quickly spread.
Senior Courvoisier retired. Jules Borel’s son, Ernest Borel succeeded to his position and the company name was changed after the death of Courvoisier to Borel-Courvosier AS. After the death of Jules Borel
His son Ernest Borel (1869-1951) succeeded as the owner and manager of the company, and changed the name to Ernest Borel & Cie in 1899.
Mr. Adamir Debrot was responsible for Ernest Borel productions for as long as 52 years between 1923 and 1975, and thus responsible for Borel’s
innovative technical solutions and original design, specially during the forties, fifties and sixties.
Uean-Louis Borel, son of Ernest Borel, entered the company and took the responsibility of this arising family enterprise and re-established it as a co., ltd. in 1936, The board of directors was comprised of Chairman Ernest Borel, director Jean-Louis Borel and technical manager Adamir Debrot and this was an important milestone in the development of Ernest Borel watch. Since then, Ernest Borel had been launching various exquisite products for decades based on its fine tradition, advanced technique and more professional, modern manufacturing mechanism.
Ernest Borel was the leader of the company up to 1936, when his son Jean-Louis Borel succeeded as the manager of the company. Jean-Louis Borel managed Ernest Borel up to 1975, when it was bought by the firm Aubry Frère S. A. The company was sold to a Hong Kong based company in 1989.
The company was awarded Grand Price at the International Greek exhibition. Between 1945 and 1958 Ernest Borel’s watches had as many as 4 172 ratings by the Neuchatèl Cantonal Observatory. In 1958 the company won two First Price Awards by the sama observatory for two of it’s chronometers.
Well-known models: Borelelectric, Borel-Oj, Borelot, Cocktail (with a kaleidoscope dial, launched in 1953), Colomborel, Couronne, de Laurier Curling,
Datoptic (with a magnifying glass on the date window), Emerson, Erbo, Erbograph, Flash (with an electrically illuminated dial), Great Society, Hermes, Incastar, Lucky Nugget (in the shape of a purse), Mallard, Sea Gem, Society, SOS, Randez-vous (with alarm function, launched in 1946), Start (a chronometre), Versailles (a travel alarm clock, in the shape of Louis XIV’s clock).
The Cocktail models are the most popular Borel watches among collectors. There are a large variety of Cocktails with five different patterns on the kaleidoscope discs: flower, sun, arrows, star, wheel. The are both men’s and lady’s Cocktails, wind-up and automatic movements, black/gold and white/black dials, round and square cases, stainless steel, gold filled and 18K gold, finger ring watches, pendant watches, desk clocks etc.
Ernest Borel used movements from A. Schild, Font and ETA. When Aubry Frère SA purchased the company, it became a party within the CYMA-group (Synchron SA).
The oil crisis, the falling of European currencies, and—most importantly— the arrival of cheap quartz movements, many great watch manufacturers could not adapt and either closed their doors forever, or were absorbed by conglomerates. Such was the case for Borel; the Borel family sold the company in 1975 to Aubry Frère within the CYMA-group. I believe the brand is now owned by some company out of Hong Kong, and Borel still exists as a high-end
The Cocktail line of watches are the most collectable Borel watches, and were made from 1952 until approximately 1980. I have read that the Cocktail movements were sold on European cruise ships in the 1950’s and 1960’s. I have also read that these timepieces were never sold in America. In some ways they can be seen as early high-end souvenirs. Although rare, there were both 14k and 18k gold watch cases made, as well as fancy desk clocks, ala the 1960’s Bulova Accutron 214 Spaceview clocks. On a side note, I do not yet own a nice original stainless 1960’s Accutron Spaceview,
Borel’s watches and clocks have always been characterised by innovation, and the company was early awarded for it’s high quality, technical solutions and original design. The company won First Price in competitions arranged by l’Observatoire and Bulletin de marché already in the early 1870’s. Borel’s watches did also win international awards in Philadelphia (USA) and Paris in 1876 and in 1881 Borel & Courvosier was awarded “First Class Medal” for it’s watches at the Swiss National exhibition in La Chaux de Fonds, Switzerland. The same year Borel was awarded Third Prize for pocket chronometers at the Neuchatèl Chronometer Contest.
The company name is still exists, but Ernest Borel’s reputation of high quality and unique design has been devalued under its new management.