History of Ellicott

written by YWH team 1 January 2016
History of Ellicott

History of Ellicott
Founded: 1738
Founding place: London, United Kingdom
Founded by: John Ellicott
Last known headquarters: La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland
Owned by: company was liquidated in 2021
Official (last known) name: Ellicott SA

The history of Ellicott starts in 1738 when John Ellicott (1706-1772) is elected as Fellow of the Royal Society. And it is likely that this moment is later taken to mark the start of the brand Ellicott. He is a skilled clockmaker and watchmaker and establishes himself as a prominent figure in the London horological scene during the 18th century, known for his precision and quality in watchmaking.

He creates a pocket watch with a stop second system and designs public clocks. Furthermore, he invents a compensated pendulum in 1752, and adopts the cylinder escapement invented by George Graham, and makes it more popular. Also, he is appointed to His Majesty George III which means he makes clocks and watches for the King and becomes “popular” with people surrounding the King.

Another John Ellicott (1733-1807), the son of John Ellicott mentioned above, continues the family tradition of watchmaking. He further expands the reputation of the Ellicott name for producing high-quality timepieces. This John Ellicott the Younger is particularly interested in improving the accuracy of watches and contributes to advancements in escapements.

The era of Ellicott family members in watchmaking ends

Then Edward John Dent (1790-1853), son-in-law of John Ellicott the Younger, continues the Ellicott legacy. He already works in partnership with the Ellicott family and later becomes a renowned watchmaker in his own right. Dent plays a crucial role in the production of precision timepieces, and he is perhaps best known for creating the clock for the Great Exhibition of 1851. Also, in 1830 he becomes business partner of Arnold & Son.

After Edward John Dent’s death in 1853, the business is continued by Dent’s stepson, Frederick Dent. This company operates under the name Dent & Co. and continues to produce high-quality watches and clocks. Which is the end of Ellicotts in the watch business that was set-up by the first John.

There are more Ellicotts

It’s worth noting that the Ellicott name is often associated with the broader context of British watchmaking and precision timekeeping during the 18th and 19th centuries. The Ellicott family’s contributions were significant in an era when accurate timekeeping was of great importance, especially for navigation, astronomy, and various scientific pursuits.

While specific “Ellicott watches” may refer to timepieces created by members of the Ellicott family, it’s essential to recognize the broader historical context and the contributions of various members of the family over the years. It is possible that not every Ellicott watch has a direct line with the first John.

A new Ellicott company

In 1995 Pierre-André Finazzi and Eric Loth, and later other business associates, found Les Monts S.A. Which is renamed in The British Masters S.A. in 2000. It is a company that withholds the right on the names of the historical British watch brands Graham, Arnold & Son, Thomas Tompion, Daniel Quare, Thomas Mudge, and Thomas Earnshaw. Finazzi is also the founder of Studio Finazzi Design (est. 1978). This is a “creation-design studio with extensive experience in watchmaking and iconic timepieces” according to Finazzi’s LinkedIn profile. This profile also states that his involvement in The British Masters S.A. ended in 2001. And that he was a designer at Ebel for a year in the 1970s.

In 2008 Finazzi (re)starts the brand Ellicott S.A. in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. Apart from Graham 1695 / Graham London (est. 1995), he is or was also the (co)owner of the brand Conex Watches (est. 2017) which Kickstarted the watch brand X-One (born in 2016). In 2010 his former business associates sell Arnold & Son to La Joux-Perret, that was sold to Citizen in 2012. Ellicott S.A. produces some sturdy models for men and women, a bit Graham style. Which is not coincidently of course. In 2017 Finazzi’s involvement in Ellicott S.A. ends.

It looks like Ellicott is out of business, for now

Nowadays, the last traces of a watch brand with the name Ellicott are a .ch domain name that is for sale and a “temporarily closed” status on Google. When it comes to Ellicott S.A. in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. The Swiss Official Gazette of Commerce (SOGC) shows that Ellicott S.A. was liquidated on the 7th of October 2021, a process that already started in 2019.

It is possible that others with the family name Ellicott have started or will start a watch brand. But it seems that the history of Ellicott and the new Ellicott has ended.

The history of Ellicott:

1706 – John Ellicott is born in London, United Kingdom
1733 – John Ellicott’s son John is born (John Ellicott the Younger)
1738 – (26th of October) John Ellicott becomes Fellow of the Royal Society
1752 – John Ellicott invents a compensated pendulum
1772 – John Ellicott dies and John Ellicott the Younger continues the business
1807 – John Ellicott the Younger dies and his son-in-law Edward John Dent continues the legacy of the Ellicotts
1853 – Edward John Dent dies and his stepson Frederick Dent continues the company as Dent & Co.
2008 – Pierre-André Finazzi starts Ellicott S.A. in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland
2017 – Finazzi’s involvement in Ellicott S.A. ends
2021 – (7th of October) Ellicott S.A. is liquidated

The full list of oldest watch brands in the world might interest you…