France has a long watchmaking tradition and its ties with Switzerland are rich and vibrant. Watchmaking really developed in Switzerland after the French Huguenot refugees brought their watch and clock-making skills to Geneva. The quartz crisis crippled the French watch industry and today watchmaking and watch production in France is almost at a standstill. Although there are still watch and watch part manufacturers, particularly in the French Jura (near Switzerland), the industrial production of movements is almost nil. However, there might be a future for movement production in France… and Pequignet is convinced of this. The brand had a first in-house movement with the Calibre Royal and now unveils the Calibre Initial, a new standard in-house with a proudly ‘Made in France’ engine.
Pequignet was founded in 1973 by Emile Pequignet, in Morteau, a French city in the mountains next to the Swiss border. Although the brand developed quickly in the 1980s and 1990s, it has gone through its fair share of ups and downs. In particular, the investment needed to transform Pequignet into a manufacture led to financial difficulties over the past years.
Pequignet decided to implement important structural changes following its management buyout in 2017. While the brand already has an in-house movement with the sophisticated Calibre Royal, available both in self-winding and hand-wound versions (see above), it now returns with even greater ambitions with the launch of its Calibre Initial. The idea is not only to broaden the brand’s ‘manufacture movement’ collections with more accessible products, but also to offer an alternative to other brands (French, but not only) who source movements from Switzerland or Japan.
Pequignet will fit this calibre into a new watch that will be an entry-level piece to the brand’s manufacture collection. Retailing for about EUR 2,000, it will be officially presented in 2021. The new automatic movement is 28.2mm in diameter and 4mm in height. Operating at a classic frequency of 4Hz or 28,800 vibrations/hour, it will have a comfortable power reserve of 65 hours. One hundred per cent of the parts are made within a 50 miles radius from the manufacture and final assembly is done in Morteau, France. A good sign for a true comeback of French watchmaking? Time will tell, but we hope so.
For more information, please visit www.pequignet.com.