Gallet watch History Time Line
Humbertus Gallet, living and working in Geneva, becomes a citizen of the republic on the 18th of April. Historical references point to his profession as a horloger or clock maker.
Due to the abolishment by French King Louis XIV of the tolerance agreement of Nantes, additional members of the Bourg-en-Bresse Gallet family, whose professions are documented as goldsmiths and watchmakers, join their relatives in Geneva to live and practice their trade.
Philippe Gallet ((1679–1739), son of Jacques Gallet (1649–1700) and Marie Bouvier Gallet, is included in the Geneva Registry of Jewelers and Watchmakers.
Pierre Gallet (1712–1768) marries noblewoman Jeanne Renée de Rabours. The marriage contract records Pierre Gallet’s profession as master goldsmith. This document also lists the occupation of Pierre’s father, Philippe Gallet (1679–1739), as goldsmith and watchmaker.
Jeanne Renee gives birth to a son, Jacques, who follows in his father’s occupation as jeweler and watchmaker.
Jacques Gallet (1745–1806) fathers a son, Jean-Louis Gallet (1774–1809).
Napoleon annexes Geneva, naming it the Lemanique Republic. Jean Louis Gallet becomes a French citizen and continues his father’s jewelry and watch making company until his pre-mature death in 1809 at age 35.
Julien Gallet (1806–1849), son of Jean Louis, relocates the family watch making business to La Chaux-de-Fonds, a major center for pocket watch production. At this time, the company is officially registered as Gallet & Cie (Gallet & Company), a break from the tradition of naming the business after the family patriarch.
Julien Gallet dies at 43, after which, the company is run by his widow Louise, and
sons Leon and Lucien.
Léon Gallet (1832–1899) becomes the patriarchal figure of the rapidly growing Gallet & Cie. He expedites the expansion of the company and the need for more workshop space by acquiring Grumbach & Co., which produces watches with the brand name Electa. Gallet & Cie. is renamed Electa Gallet & Cie. and produces watches under both the Gallet and Electa brand names.
Léon Gallet’s brother Lucien Gallet establishes the company’s first US location in Chicago, with a New York City office following soon after. Together with Jules Racine, a cousin of the Gallet brothers living in the US, the company expands its distribution to the American market.
In response to competition for sales of timepieces in Europe by large American watch manufacturer’s, Léon Gallet, together with Louis and Jules Courvoisier, Ernest Francillon of Longines, and Constant Girard-Gallet of Girard-Perregaux, found the “Intercantonal Company for Industrial Development of the Jura Industries”. Benefiting from the unified strength of combined Swiss manufacturing resources, the group is able to maintain its sales dominance in Europe. Marketing for the syndicate is primarily European based with an emphasis on sales to England.
Henriette Gallet (1860-1939), daughter of Léon Gallet, is wed to Émile Courvoisier (1858-1937), son of Louis Courvoisier (1825-1885), at which time the working relationship between these two important La Chaux-de-Fonds watch manufacturers becomes familial.
Léon L. Gallet commissions and trademarks the Gallet Lyre Mark. The Lyre Mark is stamped on watch cases and movements manufactured in the La Chaux-de-Fonds workshop.
A strategic partnership is formed with Jules Jeanneret & Fils, to supply mechanisms for Gallet’s professional use line of hand-held timers and pocket chronographs.
Léon hands over management of the Gallet company to his older son Julien (1862–1934), but continues to remain involved until his 1899 death in New York. The JG initials are added to the Gallet Lyre Mark and the company name is temporarily changed to Julien Gallet & Cie to reflect the older son’s control of the business. Georges Gallet (1865–1946), Léon’s younger son, assists his brother with the management of the company while working part-time at Courvoisier & Frères. By this time, the Gallet Company is producing more than 100,000 watches annually.
Berthe Courvoisier (1868-1936), daughter of Louis Philippe Courvoisier and an heir to the family watch company, is wed to Georges Gallet, son of Léon. Berthe Courvoisier and her brother Émile, together with Georges Gallet and his sister Henriette, continue to manage the Courvoisier Frères watch company. Georges Gallet assumes the role as co-director of the company.
Gallet introduces the first wrist-worn watches for mass consumption by men and women to the American market. These first “wristwatches” are immediately rejected due to public perception as being too unusual for women and too feminine for men. All unsold examples are soon returned to Switzerland for disassembly. In spite of initial resistance to this groundbreaking innovation, wristwatches are issued during WWI as a more useful way for soldiers to tell time in combat situations. As a result, this new concept gains acceptance, and is soon added to the offerings of numerous other watch companies.
Rail road pocket watches with chronometer grade movements with patented regulators are created by Gallet under the Interocean brand name and distributed by Timothy Eaton (T. Eaton Department Store) for railway use.
Gallet wins a silver medal at the Swiss National Exhibition in Geneva.
Upon his death, Léon Gallet bequeaths a sum of 43,000 Swiss Francs (today equivalent to approx. 1,000,000 US dollars) to the town of La Chaux-de-Fonds, of which 25,000 Swiss Francs is used for the construction of the Musée international d’horlogerie (International Museum of Watch Making). To assist the museum in building its initial collection of timepieces, Georges Gallet donates over 100 highly complex and valuable Gallet, Electa, and Courvoisier watches. Georges Gallet serves as director of the museum for the next twenty years.
Shortly after Léon Gallet’s death, the company name is changed back to Gallet & Cie (Gallet & Co.).
Gallet wins a Diploma of Honor at the Liege Exhibition.
The company name “Gallet & Cie, Fabrique d’horlogerie Electa” is registered to reinforce Gallet’s ownership and control of the Electa brand. Under the Electa name, Gallet produces its highest quality timepieces.
Henri Jeanneret-Brehm, a member of the esteemed Jeanneret family of St. Imier watchmakers, purchases the Magnenat-Lecoultre factory with financial assistance from the Gallet company.
Gallet creates the first wristwatch for mass distribution to include a full-sized constant seconds hand originating from the center of the dial (face). This innovation proved useful for timing tasks that emphasized seconds over minutes and hours, including the measuring of the human heart rate. Gallet’s new “sweep second” wristwatches were issued to military nurses and medics during World War I.
Gallet wins the Grand Prize in the Chronometer category at the Swiss National Exhibition in Berne.
Gallet supplies hand held and cockpit mounted timers to the British Air Force during WW I. Movements are produced in Gallet’s Electa workshop and marked with the Electa name.
Gallet supplies wrist-worn timers to the British armed forces during World War I. This early chronograph wristwatch was an obvious transitional timepiece. While technically refined and reduced in size from a traditional hand-held timer, it still retains the three-piece case, porcelain enamel dial, and center button crown of its larger predecessor.
Gallet wins the 1st place award for chronometer accuracy at the Canton Observatory in Neuchâtel.
Jeanneret-Brehm begins manufacturing under the company name Excelsior Park. Deriving the name from Jenneret-Brehm’s previously registered “Excelsior” trademark, the English variation of the French word for “park” is utilized at the prompting of Gallet to support the collaborative efforts of the two companies in their marketing focus on the American consumer. The cooperative relationship of Excelsior Park and Gallet leads to the development of a number of time recording mechanisms, including the calibre 40. These new chronograph movements are utilized almost exclusively in Gallet and Excelsior Park wristwatches, with a small number supplied to the Girard Perregaux and Zenith companies when production capabilities allowed.
Gallet introduces the “Regulator” and “Duo Dial” wristwatches for the medical and technical professions. The large-sized lower subsidiary seconds dial of the rectangular Duo-Dial and the predominant resetting sweep-second hand of the Regulator simplify the task of calculating a person’s per-minute heart rate.
While Gallet develops viable markets for its new wristwatch innovations, the company is able to survive the Great Depression by supplying professional use “tool watches” to its military and industrial clients.
As World War II becomes imminent, Gallet begins production of wristwatches, boat clocks with 8-day movements, and military stopwatches for Great Britain, Canada, and the U.S.A. At the start of World War II, production again surpasses 100,000 watches annually.
Gallet introduces the first water resistant cases for protecting the delicate mechanism of chronograph wristwatches from the damaging effects of humidity. This new innovation become standard on many models in Gallet’s “MultiChron” line of professional use timepieces, as well as the upcoming Flight Officer military issue pilot’s watch.
Commissioned by Senator Harry S Truman staff for the pilots of the U.S. Army Air Forces, Gallet creates the Flight Officer chronograph. This wristwatch provides a combination of new innovations. Besides the ability to accurately record events ranging from 1/5th second to 30 minutes in duration, the rotating 12-hour bezel and dial (face) printed with the major cities gives pilots the ability to calculate changes in the time as lines of longitude are crossed. Truman wears a Gallet Flying Officer during his two terms as US president.
Gallet produces the Multichron Petite. The Petite is one of the first wrist chronographs engineered exclusively for enlisted women assigned to technical and scientific tasks during WWII. Powered by the 10 ligne Valjoux 69 movement, and measuring only 26.6mm in diameter, the MultiChron Petite becomes the smallest mechanical chronograph manufactured to date.
With the end of World War II, and the death of his father Georges, Léon Gallet assumes management of the Gallet Company. Only minor changes are needed to transform the appearance of Gallet’s military style watches into trendy chronographs for sportsmen and civilian pilots.
Gallet introduces the Excel-O-Graph. This pilot’s wristwatch features a rotating bezel with integrated slide rule for making navigational calculations during flight.
Asian manufacturers begin releasing electronic quartz regulated timepieces onto the world markets. By continuing to build mechanical timepieces for a clientele not influenced by changing fads and convention, Gallet survives the so called “quartz crisis”.
Upon the death of Léon Gallet, sons Pierre and Bernard assume management of the company. They acquire the Racine Company, which has been struggling as a result of devaluation of the U.S. dollar.
Excelsior Park closes its factory on 6 April due to the lack of family successors and a sizable decrease in orders of mechanical movements from its Gallet partner during the difficult “quartz crisis”. To continue to support owners of Excelsior Park powered watches, Gallet acquires the balance of the company’s remaining inventory and assets. An attempt in 1984 by the Flume Company of Germany to revitalize Excelsior Park name proves unsuccessful.
Wein Brothers, a Canadian distributor of timing instruments, contracts with the Gallet Company to manufacture rugged wristwatches for distribution to the US Government. To facilitate the initial transactions, the watch dials (faces) of these military specification watches are marked Marathon, a previously held Gallet trademark. Wein Brothers continues to distribute military timepieces and related products under the Marathon brand to the present day.
Gallet supplies 30,000 “Navigator” wristwatches to the Marathon Company for distribution to the U.S. military. Prior to Marathon’s fulfillment of the contract, prototypes are arduously tested by the US Government to withstand the most adverse of circumstances. All examples exceed the military’s strict requirements for sustaining accuracy and functionality during combat conditions.
Pierre Gallet retires from the company due to ill health. His brother Bernard assumes control of the company, which continues to focus on the manufacture of professional-use timepieces.
To facilitate expansion, Bernard Gallet enters into a partnership with B. Neresheimer Ltd., a company with over a hundred years experience in the manufacture and distribution of fine silver wares and high-end luxury goods.
The Gallet factory is relocated from La Chaux-de-Fonds to Grandson, a canton of Vaud approximately one hour from Geneva. Walter Hediger, a member of the Neresheimer family, takes the reins of Gallet as its CEO.
Company activity becomes concentrated near Zurich. Bernard Gallet remains active with the company until his death in 2006.
Gallet & Co co-sponsors “Time in Office” at the National Watch and Clock Museum, an exhibition of timepieces worn by America’s presidents extending back to the pocket watches of George Washington. One of the featured items in the exhibit is the Gallet Flight Officer chronograph worn by Harry S Truman during his years in office as the 33rd president of the US.
Gallet & Co co-sponsors “Time & Exploration” at the National Watch and Clock Museum, an exhibit highlighting the importance of time and timekeeping in the fields of exploration and navigation.
From Gallet & Co Website.