Borel is one of the very early watch manufacturers, being set up by Jules Borel and Paul Courvoisier way back in 1859. Back then it was called the "Borel & Courvoisier Watch Co" and from the very beginning of the company they had very high expectations. Not content with servicing their local clientele in Switzerland, they soon began exporting to overseas markets like London & the rest of Europe.
The company started by buying watch movements from other manufacturers, and of note is the fact that many of these quality movements were made by Girard Peregaux. Borel gained acceptance very early in its life and won an important award for one of its chronometers in 1866. From this point the company continued producing fine quality timepieces and won several other awards in quick succession.
Courvoisier retired from the business in 1894 and Jules died in 1898 and from this point Jules' Son, Ernest took over the running of the company. The company’s name was changed to "Ernest Borel & Co" and a new chapter in the company's history began. Ernest set about further establishing the name and branding of the Company, and created and registered many new logos and trademarks that are now associated with the company.
Ernest lasted at the helm until 1936, when his Son Jean-Louis took over. Jean-Louis continued the innovative practices adopted by his forebears, and by this time Borel was producing a wide variety of watches incorporating many different styles, types and complications.
During the Second World War, Borel was a prolific maker of fine quality chronometers, many of which are still available today for the collector at very reasonable prices. After the war, they continued their innovation and there are a few watches that the collector should keep an eye out for.
The so-called "Rendezvous" incorporated a mechanical device that extended out from the watch movement into the wrist of the wearer at the appropriate time, alerting the wearer that an appointment was imminent. The psychedelic "Cocktail" model, from 1953 was ahead of its time with a revolving disk that represented the seconds hand, and the 1958 "Flash" model which preceded electric watches by some twenty years; this one had a dial lit by a backlight.
The company was finally taken over in 1978 by Aubry Freres. For the collector, probably the early 1920 to 1940s models represent the more interesting and good looking of watches, many of which can be bought at good prices given the quality of some of the movements.
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