Since 1655, the name of Badollet has been inextricably entwined with the history of watchmaking in Geneva. Successive generations of this watchmaking dynasty were active since the 17th century, keeping constant and unbroken step with the evolution of this time-honoured art –from the clock through to the wristwatch.
The first figure in the branch of the family that was to devote the most longstanding efforts to this infinitely varied art is remembered by historians as far more than just a watchmaker. Endowed with a curious nature that led him to take an interest in all forms of knowledge, and fascinated by horology as soon as he began practising it at the age of 20, the multi-talented Jean Badollet (1635-1718) was also a pastor and a school headmaster.
In 1689, he published a work entitled L’Excellence de l’horlogerie ou Petit Traité où l’on fait voir son Antiquité, ses Fondements, sa Nécessité et ses Curiosités. This learned book featured a blend of historical research, astronomical theories and technical accounts, along with explanatory drawings of various types of clocks, movements, dials and cylinders, as well as other “curious watches”. This authentic scholar thus eloquently sang the praises of the beauty and nobility of fine horology.
Jean Badollet passed on his passion for watchmaking to his six sons, at a time when Geneva was undergoing a serious economic crisis. The Badollet family made a noteworthy and definitive entrance into the Fabrique in Geneva, the prestigious local institution encompassing all the watch and jewellery-making professions.
At the end of the 18th century, one of the founder’s direct descendants, Jean-Jacques Badollet (1756-1843), regularly supplied movement blanks, gear-trains or even“commercial watches” to Abraham-Louis Breguet, who had set up his workshops in Paris.
Jean-Jacques’ son Jean-Moïse (1811-1862) established Jean- Moïse Badollet & Cie, a company name that survived well after his premature death in 1862, thanks to the efforts of his widow and his sons. Having initially settled in London in 1837, after spending time in Sicily and various trips abroad, he had undertaken to produce watches there intended for export to different countries. In 1854, he joined forces with one of his fellow countrymen Gustave Huguenin, to whom he entrusted the firm in London upon his return to his native city where he ran the family business while also playing an important role in the economic and political arena.
Twenty years later, the company created in 1854 was pursuing its activities in the sale and production of watchmaking and jewellery. The eldest son of Jean-Moïse, Jean-Jacques Badollet (1850-1908), was actively involved in the business alongside his mother. From 1872 onwards, Badollet chronometers won a string of awards in the chronometry competitions staged by the Geneva Observatory, as well as medals and honorary diplomas at the international expositions in Vienna (1873), Philadelphia (1876), Paris (1878 and 1879), Groningen (1879), Graz (1880) and Melbourne (1881).
The official catalogue of the International Machine and Tool Exhibition held in Geneva in 1880 speaks of the company’s activities in these terms: “In addition to standard mechanical production, J.-M. Badollet & Cie has earned a fine reputation for its complicated precision watchmaking: the successes achieved in the annual competitions organised by the Industrial Class of the Société des Arts testify to the superior rating of its chronometers”.
In 1881, Jean-Jacques created his own firm named J.-J. Badollet & Cie, devoted to the production, purchase and sale of watchmaking and related parts: it was to operate in parallel with the J.-M. Badollet & Cie. family business that had been located since 1862 at no. 14, Rue du Stand.
One major milestone followed shortly thereafter: after winning a competition in which sixteen Genevan watch companies had taken part, the new company was selected as official supplier of the 1887 Tir Fédéral (Swiss national shooting competition).
Even after his mother’s death in 1890, coinciding with a period of severe economic crisis, Jean-Jacques did not give up the struggle. While his brother Gustave took charge of the family store where the stocks of watches were to be sold, he personally founded (when it came time to renew his firm) the new Société Anonyme de la Fabrique d’horlogerie in 1891. He decided to meet head on the challenge from the American manufacturers, who were producing simple and inexpensive watches, with the antimagnetic “Charmilles” watches that were patented worldwide and series-produced in the modern factory in the Rue de Dôle, Geneva.
After almost three centuries of uninterrupted activity since 1655, the Badollet watch dynasty died out in 1924 upon the demise of Gustave, the last representative of a Genevan family that had found its way in style through the entire history of horology, from the clock to the wristwatch.
“INSTRUMENTS OF TIME” BY BADOLLET
Respecting the past while transcending it to offer truly innovative “Instruments of Time”: such is the fundamental principle guiding the development of all Badollet timepieces – including some very unexpected ones.
The Badollet dynasty’s contribution to horological know-how – over a period stretching unbroken from the clock to the wristwatch – places the brand’s current determination to explore new horizons and to develop all types of timepieces within its true historical perspective. Representing far more than just watches, the objects created by Badollet truly deserve to be called “Instruments of Time”.
The “Instrument”, of which the primary functions must be clearly apparent and easy to use, carries two-fold connotations of technical sophistication and reliable functionality. Badollet revisits technical aspects by highlighting the sophistication of various systems, by reinforcing the durability of the various components, and by giving top priority to consumers’ needs rather than merely to the product performance.
Functionality is not perceived as a quest for showy, ostentatious pieces, but is instead carefully thought out and designed to meet the owner’s actual needs and to ensure user-friendliness. As Badollet emphasises: “Almost all of the functions to be developed for the mechanical watch already exist. But they can and must be vastly improved in order to make them more pleasant, more interesting and more innovative from the wearer’s standpoint”.
The first collection comprises wristwatches (around ten models) and an Object of time. The wristwatches embody two forms of aesthetic inspiration: a more classic one reflecting the codes of the pocket-watch, and another more contemporary one. These new Instruments of Time are driven by impeccably finished Haute Horlogerie movements. In due course, purchasers will be able to personalise their timepiece. Future owners will indeed have the opportunity to take part in a watch project right from its creation, following the various stages in development and requesting modifications as they so wish – while respecting the spirit of the Badollet Instruments of Time.
Finally, the taste for perfect luxury would not be complete if the new brand did not consider both the product and its environment to be of equal importance. Creating an intimate setting for the Instrument of Time, enabling it to reveal its full splendour by presenting it like the rarest and most precious collector’s item: such are the conditions in which the Badollet spirit can express its very essence.
EXCLUSIVE AND PERSONALISED INSTRUMENTS OF TIME
The notions of service and personalisation are inseparably bound up with Badollet’s creative approach. The Instruments of Time bearing the signature of the Geneva-based Haute Horlogerie firm are the material embodiment of the very concept on which the company is grounded. Available exclusively in extremely limited editions, Badollet watches reflect the exceptional expertise lavished on these creations, from design to production and through to final delivery to their owner.
“You do not merely purchase a Badollet watch, you acquire your very own Instrument of Time crafted by Badollet”. A significant nuance that implies comprehensive service encompassing each stage of creation, and a level of personalisation made possible by the high-quality and deliberately ‘confidential’ production volume maintained by the House. Building on these principles, Badollet offers prestigious Instruments of Time endowed with a highly exclusive character. Above and beyond the products it presents at its own initiative, Badollet is also committed to creating and producing unique Instruments of Time reflecting the nature, the interests and the desires of their respective owners.
All Badollet timepieces offer a high level of technical sophistication entirely dedicated to functionality, to user-friendliness, and to enhancing the wearing experience. Badollet weaves these three essential notions into its entire creative process.
Respecting the past and transcending it in order to offer genuinely innovative Instruments of Time: such is the fundamental principle guiding the development of all Badollet timepieces. The Badollet product range comprises two distinct types of timepieces: Instruments of Time and Objects of Time. Instruments of Time refers to the various wristwatch lines, while Objects of Time is a category covering all the other developments, concepts and proposals relating to the measurement of time.
INSTRUMENTS OF TIME
Badollet’s determination to revisit the epic timekeeping adventure is expressed through models inspired by the past, conveying the present and resolutely oriented towards the future of watchmaking history. Some models aim to forge a link between the rich watchmaking past of the Geneva-based brand and the current expectations of Haute Horlogerie collectors and connoisseurs. These timepieces embody the aesthetic affiliation between the 19th century and the contemporary era: slender, classically-shaped round cases, echoing the gentle curves of antique pocket-watches.
Others more vividly represent the contemporary expression of Badollet and its openness towards the 21st century. The sleek cases of its first models, issued exclusively in 150 palladium-coated white gold, are designed to highlight and magnify the movements they house. The sophisticated, ethereal structure of these round or rectangular cases serves to refocus the global vision of these Instruments of Time on fundamentals. Finally, Badollet offers a service substitute watch named “Ishango” – in reference to the unique service world offered by Badollet. This model is equipped with a Manufacture-made movement and will be loaned to owners of a Badollet timepiece while their watch is being serviced or repaired.
OBJECTS OF TIME
Again with a view to transcending watchmaking history, Badollet naturally wished to pay tribute to one of its very first illustrations: Objects of Time. While the wristwatch first appeared in the early 20th century, preceded by the pocket-watch that emerged in the 17th century, the clock, a genuine Object of Time, is an integral part of the horological adventure. Imbued with powerful aesthetic values, the Objects of Time developed by Badollet evoke time by incorporating functions relating to the calculation of time and of its inexorable passing. They are intended to be both exclusive and exceptional, representing authentic collector’s items.
BADOLLET MOVEMENTS: A CONCENTRATED BLEND OF EXPERTISE AND ADDED VALUE
Firmly positioned at the very peak of the watchmaking pyramid, the Badollet Instruments of Time beat to the rhythm of exceptional mechanical movements. Whether a tourbillon minute repeater, monopusher tourbillon chronograph or meteorite tourbillon, all versions of Badollet’s mechanical calibres feature the meticulous finishes characteristic of Haute Horlogerie in the noblest sense of the term, and confer genuine added value. Blanked, cut, milled and profile-turned on state-of-the-art machinery guaranteeing exceptional precision, all movements parts are then patiently decorated – bevelled, polished, circular grained and engraved – before being hand-assembled by master-watchmakers, the only craftsmen capable of performing these extremely complex and skilled tasks.
In order to be in a position, right from the time of its launch,to offer exceptional timepieces meeting the high demands of genuine collectors and connoisseurs, Badollet has developed exceptional mechanical movements in cooperation with a team of experienced watchmakers and inventive movement design engineers. These outstanding calibres are worthy to equip the entire first generation of Instruments of Time presented by the Geneva Haute Horlogerie brand.
Official website: http://www.badollet.com