SCHWARZ ETIENNE

For more than a century, SCHWARZ ETIENNE has figured prominently among the movement makers in luxury watchmaking.

There is a place in luxury watchmaking, where the sun never sets. It is La Chaux de-Fonds, in Switzerland. Great families have been responsible for building up watchmaking and turning La Chaux–de-Fonds into the capital of prestigious timekeepers. Schwarz-Etienne is one of the most famous. Its workshops have been manufacturing movements and watches since 1902.

Founded by Paul Arthur Schwarz and his wife Olga Etienne, the company quickly established itself. True forerunners of the watch industry, Schwarz-Etienne operated several factories involved in design and assembly. Its know-how and mastery in watch design became a real benchmark. Schwarz-Etienne thus obtained the concession to continue producing movements, even when they were subject to quotas and controlled by Ebauche SA. Its complications were to be found in brands such as Venus, Levrette, Glorys, Alpha and Astin, which were all part of its customer circle.

During the Second World War, Schwarz-Etienne, then in the hands of the sons of Paul Arthur and Olga, also produced small series. Its customers were mostly French, who came with specifications that only the larger watchmakers could fulfil. Through its industrial capacity, SE was among the first to open branches abroad. In the 60s, the Schwarz-Etienne brands enjoyed a growing success. Its clients came from all over the world and its products were generally acclaimed : from the Vatican – which placed a special order for watches made in white gold – to the President of the Supreme Soviet (ex URSS), Leonid Brejnev – who wore a Venus on his wrist.

As a patron of the art world, Schwarz-Etienne created the Venus de Milo and, during a memorable evening, presented it as a gift to the American actress, Jane Mansfield. As a pioneer of watchmaking communications, the company launched the slogan : « Venus, the watch of the stars, the star of watches ». Its catalogues grew and one of its 1966/67 collections offered no less than 75 watches of tradition, elegance and precision.

Thanks to the know-how of its watchmakers, its competence acquired over the years and its impeccable after sales service, Schwarz-Etienne was able to market its creations even when, between 1974 and 1983, the quartz invasion and the petroleum crisis caused the manufacturing of watches and movements to fall by almost 65%. Furthermore, its reputation for quality also enabled it to supply movements to famous private labels such as Dunhill (for whom Schwarz-Etienne was the exclusive supplier for 25 years), Jaguar Coventry, Chanel, Mauboussin and many others.

In 1992, Schwarz-Etienne heralded a new era. The company decided to give a Schwarz Etienne body to the Schwarz-Etienne heart. What had until then been one of the most refined designers and manufacturers of movements, assumed the status of a brand. Its workshops were modernized and became computerized, a logo was created and its name was written as two separate words. New movements and complications were developed, such as the fly-back chronometer.

In 2003, the La Chaux-de-Fonds watch manufacturer C. Wilhelm & Cie SA acquired SCHWARZ ETIENNE. Its products became increasingly complicated, incorporating power reserve, GMT, Flyback and tourbillons. Its prestige collections were numbered and produced in several versions. Steel models rubbed shoulders with yellow, pink and white gold and jewelled watches embellished the catalogue. New markets opened all over the world.

Since 2008, the Brand and the Company wear again the name : SCHWARZ ETIENNE SA.

Today, SCHWARZ ETIENNE is working in its own unique way, respecting its century-old tradition and exploiting its strengths : creativity, inventiveness, competence and know-how. The brand is notable for its innovative mechanical complications, especially thanks to its amalgamation of the technical with the handcrafted. Its workbenches, where the master watchmakers go about their business, are equipped with the most powerful computers and the most advanced software. Schwarz Etienne is progressively refining each step in the manufacturing process, in order to become a manufacture in its own right.

Official website: www.schwarz-etienne.ch

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