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The history of Tavannes Watch Co

history 1891In 1891 a young, talented master watchmaker, Henri-Frédéric Sandoz, founded the Tavannes Watch Company in a small Swiss village, Tavannes, in the Jura mountains. He and his partners, Schwob Frères, soon opened markets around the world, notably in Canada, Russia, United States, and the Far East.

history 19021902 It was during this time that watches were becoming popular. Industrialization and the expansion of the railroad system made a standardized time necessary. The United Kingdom, in 1884, set its time to Greenwich Mean Time and it really established the watch business as we know it today.


1903 At the beginning of the new century, The Tavannes Watch Company had to expand and build a new factory.


By 1905, the 750 employees produced 450’000 watches and the production grew very fast to reach 750’000 pieces made by 950 employees in 1909.


1903 At the beginning of the new century, The Tavannes Watch Company had to expand and build a new factory.


Thanks to its constant innovation, Tavannes Watch Co won the Gold Medal at the Grand Prix de Berne in 1914.


The company’s 20th-century product range naturally included wristwatches of the most diverse character for example the shock-proof models with a protective cover over the fragile crystal glasses that were issued to soldiers in 1915.


During WWI, the Tavannes Watch Co was approached by two British submarine commanders to consider the construction of a watch suitable for work on submarine decks awash in water – This watch was supposed to be water-tight, non-magnetic, and the balance wheel had to be of a material which shows a minimum of expansion and contraction with variations in temperature – The face had to be legible at all times – In 1917 was born the first waterproof wrist watch made by the Tavannes Watch Company.


1923 Henri-Frédéric Sandoz was a real entrepreneur. His visits to American manufacturers inspired him, and he was the first to create machine tools exclusively for the Swiss watch industry. Tavannes became an important Swiss watch company because of his engineering abilities.


Thanks to its constant innovation and patented new systems, Tavannes Watch Co won the Gold Medal at the Grand Prix de Barcelone in 1929.


1930 At the end of the twenties and beginning of the thirties, Tavannes Watch Co created new kind of watches like “La Captive” or the Belt-Watch, which consisted of completely new concepts at that time. These were followed by “waterproof” wristwatches, as well as wrist-chronographs equipped with Valjoux movements.


1938 In half a century, Tavannes built five factories in Switzerland, and became the fourth largest watch manufacturer in the world. At that time they employed over 2,000 skilled watchmakers and produced over 4,000 watches a day.


1940 A huge fire destroyed several buildings of the factory as well as most of the archives.


In 1943 the company launched its first automatic movement, the caliber 420, with a swinging arm winding in one direction. This movement was fitted into the square cased « Watersport » model, for example. The Tavannes Watch Co Distributor Network was based out of the whole world.


In 1946 Tavannes Watch Co used the Chronomat patent 217-012 with a Venus 175 based movement.


1950 With over 300 patents obtained for mechanical and automatic timepieces, Tavannes was producing movements for most of the famous Swiss brands. Many of these innovations are still used today.


Around 1957, the “Autorotor” self-winding caliber 485 was launched. It’s now a collector’s item.


In 1966, Tavannes Watch Co continued to sell movements to other watch brands until 1982 and then concentrated in the production of specialized numeric command machines (Tavannes machines) for the watch industry.


2008 Rebirth of the Tavannes Watch Co, which comes back with a new generation of watches, greater, more reliable and more perfect. Several collections, limited editions as well as a few rare unique pieces.


2016 Tavannes Watch Co COSC Certified collection.


2017 The Submarine Collection, the revival of the first advertised waterproof watch of Tavannes Watch Co in 1917.


2018 La Captive, the New Belt Watch is about to take shape. New design, new materials, new technology will make it possible for this timepiece to be worn as a wrist watch, golf belt watch, as well as a desk watch all inspired by the history of this timepiece.

history 2019

2019 The Submarine 1917 is the evolution of the Submarine Limited Edition.


2020 The BUGGY watch emerged from a school project and became reality with Kickstarter.

To be continued…

The return of the most innovative watchmaking brand of the 20th century


ESTD. 1891