The Genevan Etablisseur of 1890

A unique characteristic of Genevan watchmaking in the 19th century was the gathering of components manufactured independently into a central point under the supervision of an établisseur, who attached his name and reputation to the final product.  Thus follows a contemporary description of all the players that had a hand (literally) in a timepiece of 1890.  Points awarded if you can guess the author!

"Formerly the individual work of a Nuremberg artificer, the watch has been transformed into the social product of an immense number of detail laborers, such as mainspring makers, dial makers, spiral spring makers, jewelled hole makers, ruby lever makers, hand makers, case makers, screw makers, gilders, with numerous sub-division, such as wheel makers (brass and steel separate), pin makers, movement makers, acheveur de pignon (fixes the wheels on the axles, polishes the facets, etc.), pivot makers, planteur de finissage (puts the wheels and springs in the works), finisseur de barillets (cuts teeth in the wheels, makes the holes of the right size, etc.), escapement makers, cylinder makers for cylinder escapements, escapement wheel makers, balance wheel makers, raquette makers (apparatus for regulating the watch), the planteur d’échappement (escapement maker proper); then the repasseur de barillet (finishes the box for the spring, etc.), steel polishers, wheel polishers, screw polishers, figure painters, dial enamellers (melt the enamel on the copper), fabricant de pendants (makes the ring by which the case is hung), finisseur de charnière (puts the brass hing in the cover, etc.), faiseur de secret (puts in the springs that open the case), graveur, ciseleur, polisseur de boite, etc., etc., and last of all the repasseur, who fits together the whole watch and hands it over in a going state."

Note, however, that Vacheron & Constantin had by then become the exception to this lengthy and risky chain of production.  By 1839, with the employment of Georges August Leschot, they were the first to engage machinery and standardize basic components, thus improving efficiency and quality at the same time!





08/27/2011 - 18:10
Doc
08/28/2011 - 15:22
After Che Guevara with a Rolex, we have now
08/27/2011 - 14:56
Karl Marx vith a VC! Besides that, this text is really interesting and lot of professions sound poetic, e.g. "faiseur de secret" (secretmaker), or funnily outdated, e.g. "planteur de finissage"
Right on!
08/27/2011 - 18:10
Marx even mentions V&C by name in the footnotes to his 1st volume of Das Kapital; noting the Manufacture as an example of modern mechanization. FWIW, the "Nuremberg artificer" referred to would be Peter Henlein who constructed the so-called Nuremberg Egg in 1524.
Anyone surprised?
08/28/2011 - 15:22
If you look at the crooks like Kadaffi et al, they all wear expensive watches. Did anyone believe that they would wear a Swatch! Swatch is probably number one to stay of wrists, which hands you wouldn't shake cool If you would sty clean wear a Swatch, like I do laugh Cheers Doc            (sometimes unclean...) smiley