Brand | Philosophy
279 years. Characterized by a constant pioneering spirit and a willingness to break new ground. By the unswerving pursuit of the exceptional. By brilliant creativity and technical excellence. Highly functional and highly reliable timepieces for those who conquer frontiers, whether in altitude or depth, in heat or freezing cold, north or south of the equator.
What began in 1737 with a small watchmaker’s workshop in Le Locle is now an icon in the world of time measurement. Courage, authenticity and ingenuity – these values have always been and remain, at the heart of the Favre-Leuba brand. The new watches will be technically and aesthetically reminiscent of their legendary predecessors and likewise highly innovative as well as of great practical use. They are intended for those who are not held back by seemingly insurmountable tasks and won’t be deterred from achieving their goals.
Brand | History
Abraham Favre (1702-1790), who laid the foundation for the brand Favre-Leuba, began his watchmaker apprenticeship.
On 13th March, 1737, in an official document, Abraham Favre was first mentioned as an independent watchmaker in Le Locle.
Around 1749, Abraham Favre was appointed ‘Maître horloger du Locle’ (master watchmaker of Le Locle).
On 1st October, Abraham Favre (1740-1823), the company founder’s son, together with his sons Frédéric and Henry-Louis, founded the company ‘A. Favre & Fils’.
Henry Auguste (1796-1865), Frédéric Favre’s son and thereby the fourth generation of the watchmaker family, joined forces with Auguste Leuba from Buttes in Val-de-Travers.
Henry-August Favre traveled around the world – from Germany to Russia, through Cuba to New York, from Brazil to Chile – to establish their own workshop’s finely-made pocket watches in remote markets.
Favre-Leuba pocket watches received numerous awards at national and international exhibitions – in London (1851), New York (1853), Paris (1855), Bern (1857), and Porto (1865), among others.
Fritz Favre (1828-1877) proved himself to be a worthy successor to his father and successfully pursued his expansion strategy in Europe, America and Asia.
In 1865 and 1867, Fritz Favre traveled to India and launched his brand in the subcontinent, which was to quickly develop into an important market for Favre-Leuba.
The company headquarters were relocated from Le Locle to Geneva.
Henri Favre-Leuba (1865-1961) assumed leadership of the family business in 1908 and continued to steadily grow the brand. He remained president of the board of directors until his death in 1961.
Favre-Leuba launched the first monopusher chronographs, just when wristwatches started to supersede pocket watches.
After the Second World War, Favre-Leuba was able to count on a stable position in India thanks to their own office in Bombay. Step by step, the family company won back its position and relevance in other watch markets – first in Switzerland, then in Europe, and later in America and Africa. Branches in, among others, Hamburg, London, Rangoon, Karachi, Singapore and New York secured well-functioning distribution as well as a first-class customer service.
After 1946, Favre-Leuba regularly exhibited at the Basel Watch Show, and after 1953, at the “Salon Montres et Bijoux” (Trade Show for Watches and Jewelry) in Geneva as well.
Favre-Leuba assembled precision watches such as chronometers, the outstanding accuracy of which was awarded with multiple 1st prizes by the observatory of the canton of Neuchâtel.
Favre-Leuba introduced the manufacture caliber FL101, which was used in the Sea Chief, Sea King, and Sea Raider watch models.
The brand introduced the FL102 caliber with calendar used in its Datic models. It was followed by the automatic movements FL103 and FL104, which were equipped without or with a calendar indication.
The very first divers watch, Water Deep, was introduced by the brand. It was the stepping stone for the success it garnered in this category.
Favre-Leuba developed the legendary Bivouac, the world’s first mechanical wristwatch with aneroid barometer, for altimetry and air pressure measurement. It ranked soon among the indispensable equipment of those who overcame seemingly defined limits. The Bivouac achieved one of its first missions on the wrists of the Swiss national parachuting team during the 1962 World Cup in the United States. The Italian mountaineer Walter Bonatti wore a Bivouac in 1964 when he and the Genevan Michel Vaucher successfully ascended the north face of Pointe Whymper (4,196 m) in the Grandes Jorasses for the first time and when he conquered the north face of the Matterhorn on the most direct route. The young Walliser Michel Darbelley undertook his first solo ascent of the Eiger in 1963 with his watch from the workshops of Favre-Leuba, which reliably showed him what altitude he had already scaled and whether a change in weather was imminent. The famous French polar explorer Paul-Emile Victor relied on his Bivouac on numerous expeditions to the endless ice.
The patented FL251 caliber of 1962, with 11.5”’ and a height of only 2.95 mm, revolutionized thanks to the use of two barrels, series production of extra flat movements with centered second hand.
Three years after the presentation of the first diver watch from the in-house atelier, the brand launched the Deep Blue, waterproof up to 200m.
Favre-Leuba reincorporated production of their own ébauches in the newly established company headquartered in Petit-Lancy near Geneva. The company was consequently named, as at the end of the 19th century, ‘Manufacture d’Horlogerie Favre-Leuba S.A.’.
The Fédération Horlogère Suisse (Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry) awarded first place to Favre-Leuba in the “Chronographs and Sport Watches” category at the World’s Fair in Montréal.
In 1968, the brand introduced the Bathy – the world’s first mechanical wristwatch, which not only displayed dive time, but also current diving depth.
Favre-Leuba added an automatic winding to its groundbreaking double-barrel calibers – making it one of the first brands to use this combination in series production. The new movements were available with or without calendar function.
Several models marked the transition into the 1970s, perfectly matching the fashion of the time with their distinctive pillowy design. Inside the Sea Raider with day and calendar indication ticked the automatic caliber FL1164 with 36,000 a/h, while the Memo Raider delighted the global clientele with an automatic alarm.
The Sea Sky and Sea Sky GMT models, which were introduced at the same time, combine the functionality of a diver’s watch with that of a chronograph and a 24-hour hand.
The introduction of cheap quartz movements plunged the Swiss watch industry into a serious crisis, which did not stop at the gates of Favre-Leuba’s workshops. The family was subsequently compelled to sell the brand in the 1980s. After that, the company changed ownership multiple times.
On November 16th, 2011, the Tata Group acquired the traditional brand Favre-Leuba and transferred its company headquarters to Zug.
After extensive research into the history of Favre-Leuba and its legendary timepieces, the new team begins to develop a sustainable and long-term strategy that builds on the strength of Favre-Leuba and ties in with the brand values carefully nurtured over decades. The result is a collection of highly functional watches based on Favre-Leuba’s technical and aesthetic achievements, brought up to date with proprietary technologies and a strong, confident design, as well as a contemporary, innovative market presence.
Favre-Leuba launches its ultimate diving watch, Raider Harpoon, which features a unique way of time reading. With its innovative functionality and by simplifying the complexity, it fits perfectly into a long line of legendary timepieces this watch brand has always been designing.