“A LOVE OF CRAFTSMANSHIP IN THE FINEST SWISS TRADITION COULD WELL BE LOUIS ERARD’S MOTTO. OR PERHAPS, QUITE SIMPLY, EXCELLENCE.”
In 1900, more than half of the world’s watch production was based in La Chaux-de-Fonds and Le Locle, Louis Erard was already passionate about watchmaking. After working in several workshops in his city, in 1929 he founded a watchmaking school where he taught, then established the Louis Erard company, specialising in casing. At this time, watch components were generally produced by a number of independent artisans, all of whom would sell the parts to an “assembler”, such as Louis Erard. The assembler’s speciality was creating a timepiece from these components, building and adjusting the finished watch ready for sale.
Louis Erard was born into a family of watchmakers on 16 February 1893 in La Chaux‑de‑Fonds, Switzerland. During this period, three of the region’s other world-renowned figures were also born: Louis-Joseph Chevrolet, founder of the eponymous car brand, the architect Le Corbusier, under his real name, Charles-Edouard Jeanneret, and the writer Blaise Cendrars.
In 1931, Louis Erard took started to produce and sell watches under his own name. The brand Louis Erard was born and success soon followed. Six years later, Louis Erard employed more than 60 people, developing the brand and continuing to work with third parties. For example, the company actively contributed to the development of the legendary Valjoux 72 chronograph, launched in 1938 and used by Rolex and Patek Philippe.
In 1945, René and Jean-Louis, Louis Erard’s two sons, joined the company. At this time, watch production in the region was still very fragmented, divided between numerous companies and subcontractors. As a result, all brands, no matter how prestigious, relied on this network of specialised artisans. As an integral part of this network, Louis Erard, renowned for technical expertise and accuracy, was still primarily occupied with casing for prestigious watch brands.
1956 was a significant year for Louis Erard, as this was when the company obtained authorisation to move from making finished watches to producing watch movements. This status, reserved for the crème de la crème of watchmaking, was essential to be able to purchase movement-blanks. From then on, the company began developing movements, some of which were produced under their own name.
In 1969, Louis Erard’s grandson Paul joined the family business. As a business school graduate, Paul modernised the company and provided opportunities for growth. With the 1970s came the so-called ‘quartz crisis’, hindering the development of Swiss brands as quartz watches largely replaced mechanical timepieces. Since 1978 however, the company has continued to strengthen and develop this family brand.
In the 1980s, the company added key functions to the famous Peseux 7001 movement, launched in 1971. In particular, they developed a power-reserve indicator and a regulator. Today, this updated movement remains exclusive to the brand.
In 1992, the Louis Erard brand changed hands due to family reasons and relocated to Le Noirmont, within the heart of the Watch Valley in the Franches-Montagnes district. For the next decade the company quietly continued its work.
In 2003, the brand was purchased by a group of investors headed by Alain Spinedi, who was convinced of its potential, particularly due to the company’s enduring reputation for quality. With over 30 years’ experience in the watchmaking industry, the entrepreneur focused all of his efforts on relaunching the Louis Erard brand. In order to establish the company in the mid-range sector of Swiss watchmaking, Alain Spinedi broke new ground by introducing an unmatched price point for a Swiss Made mechanical watch, which was well-received by both the media and the general public. Success was within the company’s reach and the independent brand continued to grow. The regulator, which was to become the brand’s signature product with its distinctive display, received widespread interest.
Focusing on the company’s strong traditions and history, the present-day custodians of Louis Erard have highlighted the brand’s heritage since 2003. Combining affordable luxury with timeless elegance, the brand offers a collection, primarily automatic, that highlights mechanical attraction: models with small seconds display, calendar, moon phase, chronograph and, in particular, regulators, the brand’s signature product. Each Louis Erard timepiece, equipped with a Swiss movement and featuring the Swiss Made label, is produced with exceptional care, at every stage of its creation, from initial design to quality control, piece by piece. These are the values that make the brand famous, in the finest Swiss tradition.
The brand is known and recognised for its line of regulators. Having become part of the Louis Erard DNA over the years, these products are highly valued by purists seeking an instrument watch with striking appeal. With offset hours and seconds, they make a dramatic visual statement that is guaranteed to attract attention. Regulators have strengthened the brand’s style identity and watchmaking expertise. Produced by Louis Erard in manual- and automatic-winding mechanical versions, regulators provided the company with an opportunity to establish a unique position within the industry and became the brand’s signature product. By challenging the status quo, the independent brand Louis Erard has established its industry position and differentiated itself from other watchmaking brands since its relaunch in 2003. It has established a prominent position among 21st century Swiss watchmakers.
Today, Louis Erard is writing the next chapter of its story. Loyal to its values, this company continues to set itself apart from mass-market brands. Inspired by high-end watchmaking, Louis Erard draws on its codes to enhance its mechanical timepieces with complications.