History of Jaeger-LeCoultre

written by YWH team 1 January 2016
History of Jaeger-LeCoultre

History of Jaeger-LeCoultre
Founded: 1833
Founding place: Le Sentier, Switzerland
Founded by: Antoine LeCoultre
Current headquarters: Le Sentier, Switzerland
Owned by: Richmont Group
Official name: Jaeger-LeCoultre

The history of Jaeger-LeCoultre starts in the 19th century when Antoine LeCoultre (1803-1881) invented a machine to cut watch pinions from steel. In 1833 he founds a small watchmaking workshop in Le Sentier, a village that was more or less founded by his ancestors in 1612. They built a church which marked the founding of Le Sentier, a plot of land in the Vallée de Joux which was acquired by Pierre LeCoultre (circa 1530 – circa 1600). Pierre was a French Huguenot who fled to Geneva from Lisy-sur-Ourcq, France, to escape religious persecution. In Geneva he obtained the status of “inhabitant” in 1558.

It was 1844 when founder Antoine LeCoultre invents the world’s most precise measuring instrument at the time, the Millionomètre. Three years later he creates a keyless system to rewind and set watches. He is awarded a gold medal in 1851 for his work on timepiece precision and mechanization at the first Universal Exhibition in London. In 1866, Antoine and his son Elie LeCoultre (1842-1917) establish the Vallée de Joux’s first full-fledged manufacture. It is named LeCoultre & Cie. and employs around 500 people.

LeCoultre meets Jaeger

In the same year 1866 the company Rayville is established by Edmond Jaeger (1858-1922). It is specialized in producing high-quality movements and in 1903 he works for to the French Navy and invents an ultra-thin movement. Somehow he wasn’t able to produce it himself and therefor he challenges Swiss manufacturers to develop and produce that ultra-thin movement he had invented. Antoine LeCoultre’s grandson Jacques-David LeCoultre was responsible for production at LeCoultre & Cie. And he accepts Jaeger’s challenge. He develops a collection of ultra-thin pocket watches, including the thinnest one in the world in 1907.

Many years later, in 1937, the collaboration between Jaeger and LeCoultre leads to the company being officially named Jaeger-LeCoultre. But, from 1932 to approximately 1985, due to the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, their watches for the American market were sold in cases produced in North America. This was under the name LeCoultre, by the company Vacheron-LeCoultre, which was a subsidiary of Longines-Wittnauer. After 1985, the name Jaeger-LeCoultre is adopted uniformly worldwide.

The history of Jaeger-LeCoultre:

1803 – Birth of Antoine LeCoultre
1833 – Antoine LeCoultre starts a workshop in Le Sentier
1844 – Invents the Millionomètre
1847 – Creates keyless system to rewind and set watches
1851 – Receives a gold medal for his work
1866 – Establishes LeCoultre & Cie. with son Elie
1866 – Edmond Jaeger establishes Rayville
1903 – Edmond Jaeger challenges Swiss watch makers
? – Jacques-David LeCoultre accepts the challenge
1907 – Jacques-David LeCoultre creates the thinnest watch in the world
1937 – Collaboration leads to the founding of Jaeger-LeCoultre
1985 – Jaeger-LeCoultre is uniformly worldwide adapted

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