LORNET is a young, premium watch brand based in Besançon, the watchmaking capital of France. LORNET’s aim is to manufacture high quality, contemporary mechanical timepieces completely designed, built, and assembled in France.
Co-founded by Anthony Simao, Mikael Bourgeois, and Benoît Monnet, the brand combines passion with transparency, modernity, elegance, simplicity, and innovation. LORNET fully intends to restore the reputation of French watchmaking worldwide. The first creation from the company is LA-01.
History of LORNET Watches
In 2014, watchmaker Anthony Simao set out on a quest for a truly French watch with a contemporary design that highlighted the mechanics and beauty of its movement. The quest proved fruitless for three reasons.
Firstly, at that time, there was no modern watch that was genuinely Made in France, i.e. developed, manufactured, and assembled in France. Secondly, the vast majority of watches available in market use the same, generic, foreign-made movements. Lastly, the steadily rising prices of these pieces in recent years are not mirrored by any corresponding improvement in quality.
It did not take long for the idea of developing a genuinely 100% French watchmaking project to emerge. Keen to join forces with others who were experts in their field, Anthony Simao put together a network of partners, each of whom has contributed in their own way to the success of the company, which Simao christened LORNET – his mother’s maiden name.
Simao, with his watchmaking expertise, was joined by Benoit Monnet for commercial strategy, marketing, and communication aspects, along with Mikael Bourgeois to look after design. Together, they set themselves the goal of creating a timepiece that addressed the three shortcomings Simao had observed: a watch designed, manufactured, and assembled in France, with its own movement, available at a fair price.
The LA-01’s caliber features innovative ‘multilevel’ architecture, drawing the observer’s gaze down through the different levels to the very heart of the movement. The layout is visible through two sapphire crystals that reveal the movement’s entire structure and sculpture, as well as showing off all of its high-quality finishes, not one of which escapes the eye.
On 03 Nov 2016, after two years of work, LORNET presented its first model: a high-quality watch in terms of both materials and finishes – fully designed, developed, and manufactured in France:
- An uncluttered, reserved, contemporary design
- A movement featuring a unique architecture, developed and manufactured in France
- A fair price, with an approach differing from existing brands’ practices and pricing factors
With its unique caliber – developed, manufactured, and assembled in France – the brand and its LA-01 model have created quite a stir in the watchmaking world.
Thanks to its unique design, in-house movement, and fair price, together with a brand philosophy that focuses on transparency and the quest for perfection, LORNET has become the first French watchmaking brand to be able to lay claim to the Origine France Garantie label.
Anthony Simao – Founding Watchmaker
Anthony Simao is both a watchmaker and an entrepreneur. Born in Besançon in 1991, he became involved in the world of watchmaking from a very early age thanks to his uncle, Fernand Simao, an independent watchmaker who encouraged him in the direction of watchmaking studies.
He studied in Morteau at the renowned Edgar Faure School, followed by a 2-year apprenticeship in After Sales at Breitling, in Besançon. He then continued his training at the Renaud & Papi manufacture (Audemars Piguet) in Le Locle. All of this experience gave him the necessary skills in everything from complications to after sales. He was awarded one of the best grades ever at the Brevet des Métiers d’Art watchmaking exam.
After his studies, Anthony was hired by Chronode in Le Locle, where he contributed to the first HYT (the H1), as well as to the development of several tourbillons for the biggest names in watchmaking.
In 2013, he set up his first company, ARTIME SA, subcontracting for leading watchmaking brands such as Richard Mille, Audemars Piguet, and HYT, to name but a few. The firm carries out production, assembly, after sales, and prototyping for all types of movements, as well as the decoration of parts of all kinds.
By creating his own brand with its own in-house movement, Anthony Simao has opened up a new chapter in watchmaking in France and in his home city of Besançon, the French watchmaking capital, with LORNET.
Benoît Monnet – Customer Relations & Marketing
Benoit Monnet was born in Dijon, and completed the first part of his studies in his home city. He studied Mechanical Engineering and Production Automation, later followed by Business Studies.
In 2014, he decided to do a vocational bachelor’s degree. He did his work experience as a technical salesman with an aerospace subcontractor in Tours. Benoît finished his studies with brilliant results, thereby qualifying in both technical and sales specialisations.
It was during this period that he discovered a passion for mechanics, taking an interest in microtechnology and watchmaking. Benoît first joined a company working in industrial fluids. Fascinated by technology, he put his skills and advice to good use serving industrial customers in Franche-Comté, whilst also working on his own time to help set up LORNET.
In September 2016, when his skills became vital for the project to move forward, he decided to leave his day job and devote himself fully to LORNET. As the only member of the team without a background in watchmaking, he brings complementary technical and commercial skills to the business.
Mikael Bourgeois – Watch Designer
Mikael Bourgeois was born in Besançon in 1977. He attended the Edgar Faure School in Morteau, where most Besançon-based watchmakers are trained, graduating with a BTS vocational qualification in microtechnology. In 1999, at the age of 22, he co-founded and co-managed the NovoDess consultancy, becoming managing director in 2005.
For nearly 20 years, Mikael Bourgeois has been a leading figure in watchmaking design, sought out by some of the biggest names on the international watchmaking scene: Zenith, Parmigiani Fleurier, Bell & Ross, Girard Perregaux, Renaud Papi, Chanel – Les Maitres du Temps, Pequignet, Romain Jérome, La montre Hermès, and many more undisclosed names. In total, Mikael Bourgeois has contributed to the creation of over 450 models.
Today, NovoDess’ skills focus on three areas of expertise:
• Design studies
• Technical studies for exterior features (case, strap, dial, hands, etc.):
– Full 3D design as per the style brief
– Detailed production drawings
– Overseeing small production runs
• Technical movement design:
– Construction consultancy
– Detailed production drawings
2009 saw the creation of the eponymous Mikael Bourgeois brand, also known as MB Watches, dedicated to the creation of bespoke timepieces, producing just two or three each year. MB Watches also produced eight Limited-Edition “Thunderbird” watches in 2011; these were so successful that a second edition comprising 50 more pieces was announced in 2016.
LORNET Watch Collections
Presently, the brand offers three flagship models: LA-01, LA-02 and LA-03.
17F rue Alain Savary