I was gobsmacked when a fellow recently told me in no uncertain terms that the oldest watch company was Gallet, which now claims a founding date of 1466 .
This claim did not appear in vintage advertising and if one backtracks their corporate history it would lead to the date of 1826. But in 2009 a new business plan was developed between Gallet and their movement manufacture Montres Lunesa to take advantage of the void anticipated by the Swatch Group's withdrawal as ebauche supplier.
Lunesa, which retails watches under its own name and claims a founding date of 1777, had developed some 28 new calibers. Concurrently, the brand Gallet had a new direction from CEO Walter Hediger who brought in capital from his family luxury-goods business. Like a Richemont mini-me, he saw the future in transitioning the "brand" from under $3k watches to the highly profitable $5k-$300k arena. The targets were clearly spelled out in this snip from their ambitious Action Plan:
So what stretch of logic brought them to the date of 1466, and will they next take credit for the sundial and water-wheel? A careful reading of the corporate hyperbole reveals references to the Gallet name and Gallet family, without establishing a geneological link. It appears they wish to take credit for every jeweler, watchmaker, and goldsmith ever living in Switzerland with the surname Gallet. One reason for this desperation is the need for money. Gallet wishes to join the ranks of Manufacture by merging with Montres Lunesa and this requires capital. You too can purchase a piece of the oldest watch company for as little as $10k:
This story has been repeated with many resurrected luxury watch brands since the 1990s. Many failed to gain traction for despite the now-standard glitzy marketing campaigns, they were unremarkable and just another name trying to crowd into the same life boat. Do you get a sense of desperation from this recent press release?