MICHEL HERBELIN is an Independent, Family-Run, Traditional French Watchmaking Company that manufactures exceptional timepieces. As well as a name and a brand, Michel Herbelin is also a durable and reliable design and quality: a brand which represents 30% of the French watchmaking market within its price range.
Michel Herbelin has been established in Charquemont, in Haut-Doubs, on the Swiss border for more than 60 years. It is a small town with a strong watchmaking tradition where only 50 years ago there were no less than 30 watchmaking businesses. Today, only a few continue to uphold the watchmaking tradition. Michel Herbelin makes use of only Swiss movements in their timepieces to which they then add the luxury and the refinement of French art de vivre.
A post second world war export boom in the watchmaking industry led often to the erosion of quality. Michel Herbelin, a shopkeeper’s son, had a passion for watchmaking. He decided to embark upon further studies and to abandon his parents’ plan for taking over the family business.
After a few years spent working as a foreman for a local company, whose quality of workmanship was not up to his standards, he refused to carry on working in these conditions, aspiring to restore prestige to traditional French watchmaking. Michel Herbelin started out with vigour and enthusiasm by setting up his own, eponymous business. He wanted to build his business on strong, distinctive values which his staff could share and aspire to: creativity, high quality, humanity, stylishness, and rigorous management. Michel Herbelin soon acquired a reputation for his universally applied high standards.
By way of an anecdote, the first watches to be sold were named “impec”, the founder’s way of promoting their impeccable quality and reliability. It was the beginning of the Michel Herbelin story or of that of timepieces made in France.
It’s a great anniversary for a company that has been crowned with some great successes, and is still supported by the Herbelin family, which continues the tradition and is involved in the company’s development. This development is guided by family values and a passion for traditional watchmaking.
Michel Herbelin, has passed on his passion and the brand to his sons Pierre-Michel, the Chairman of the company, and Jean-Claude, its CEO. 65 years later, the 3rd generation is now also represented in the company, since two of Michel’s grandchildren have started working in its marketing department.
The company has produced over 10 million watches since 1947 and the brand is now available through 3,000 outlets in 50 countries. The company employs 80 people and 500 watches produced in their facilities in France every day.
The Fifties/Sixties: Michel Herbelin became known as the French specialist in mechanical watches. His name became a brand synonymous with technical prowess, high quality and precision. The first Michel Herbelin logo was created in 1965.
The Seventies: Jean-Claude Herbelin joined the company. His eye for aesthetics enabled the business to make considerable progress on the world market. The brand began to distinguish itself and to flourish, particularly with its subtly designed quartz watches. It was one of the pioneers of the dress watch. The Scandinavian range was one of the first in the category of “jewellery” creations by Jean-Claude. The following anecdote recounts one of the great successes of the company: Tommy Nilson, a young Swedish 6 novice watchmaker went to Bijorhca, in Paris, a trade fair which was normally reserved for French jewellers. His appearance did nothing to portray his talents as a businessman. He decided to establish the brand in Sweden by opening the “Tic Tac Tommy” shop in Göteborg. It was an instant success. Extremely fashionable, the models of the Scandinavian range were in great demand: the fashion-conscious all wore a Michel Herbelin watch with a solid strap. They became famous throughout the whole of Scandinavia and beyond: in Germany, in the United Kingdom and in Switzerland.
The Eighties: Jean-Claude Herbelin succeeded his father at the head of the company. Pierre-Michel, his brother, came to join him then, to be responsible for the technical aspects as well as production.
1987 – Birth of The First Newport Watch: The Herbelins’ passion for the maritime world, its seascapes and sailing ships, came to life through the creation of the Newport range. This elegant, sporty collection drew attention because of its unusual design, which is characterised by its central strap attachment. Several different variations followed: ladies’, men’s, quartz, automatic… Today it is still highly successful with customers. It has become the brand’s flagship product.
The Nineties: Constructed a hundred meters from the family home, where the first workshops were housed, the factory, built in 1977, tripled in size.
The Beginning Of The 21st Century: Launch of the Newport J-Class range. The different models proposed were equipped with automatic movements, fashioned by hand with casings and bands in stainless steel and gold. Accompanying this collection, the Newport Royale range, aimed particularly at women, with its finish in stainless steel, gold and diamonds was also launched.
2008: The brand launched the Newport Trophy Grand Sport range, solid yet elegant, designed to withstand extreme conditions.
2012: After 65 years of history, Michel Herbelin is still innovating in terms of its design and techniques, creating timeless quality models to appeal to both collectors and followers of fashion alike. In December 2012, Michel Herbelin worked together with Les Rhabilleurs and Vincent Daveau to design a new collector’s watch: the Newport Yacht Club Regatta (limited edition of 25 watches).
In 2013, the collections further developed within the brand’s flagship series (Newport Yacht Club, Interchangeable Antares and Heritage), which have contributed to the prestige of the Michel Herbelin brand and its international renown. Various inspired projects are currently in the preparation stages at the Charquemont workshops with the aim of offering quality ‘Made in France’ watch-making with ‘Swiss made’ movements.
After sales service
The after sales service, provided by the Michel Herbelin team at the French site, is one of the company’s other strong points and is considered to be one of the best in the world for reliability, price and also turnaround. In the workshops, qualified and experienced watchmakers carry out very high quality work and requests are dealt with within 8 working days. The workshops of the Michel Herbelin Company guarantee a restoration of watches, which is less than ten years old. Beyond this period, repair is done depending on parts still available.
Official website: http://www.michel-herbelin.com/