Emile Victorin Piguet was born in the Swiss canton of Vaud on October 3rd, 1850, to parents Daniel Henry Piguet and Lousie Françoise LeCoultre.
He married Emilie Aubert in 1873. Together they had five children. Emile Victorin opened a school of watchmaking in Geneva and, in 1880, founded his own firm of Victorin Piguet et Frères. He moved the business back to his native Vallée de Joux and the village of Le Sentier in 1883.
When Emile Victorin retired in 1920, the business fell into the hands of his two capable sons, Jean Victorin and Paul. The firm was renamed Les Fils de Victorin Piguet, although Jean Victorin maintained the leadership role. The patriarch Emile Victorin died in 1937.
Jean Victorin Piguet was Emile’s first born, arriving on April 25, 1874. He eventually married Anna Lucia Piguet in July of 1901, and produced a further four children. Jean Victorin died in 1949. His only son, Henri Daniel Piguet, was born in 1904 and continued the family tradition as a horloger of merit. He passed away on December 5th, 1997.
Paul Piguet was born on March 1st, 1885. He married Mary Piguet and begat two daughters.
So much for genealogy. I’m sure we are most interested in their achievements as movement specialists. Emile Victorin Piguet was one of a handful of makers that was capable of producing top-quality repeaters, including carillon’s with four hammers. The company was involved with most of the world-famous Graves and Packard masterpieces. In fact, they produced the entire gamut from grande sonneries to chronographs, astronomical complications and alarm mechanisms.
Throughout the 1920s and 30s, Patek Philippe relied on V. Piguet to provide their split-second and monopusher chronograph ebauches, including the famous Reference 130 series.
They were also called upon by Vacheron & Constantin for small-production complications. The historic 1936 Aviator’s Degree watch, manufactured in only 3 examples, was attributed to the firm. Add the Packard Grande Complication and many chronograph, calendar and intricate astronomical complications such as sidereal time.
Victorin Piguet was involved in the competition to create the smallest possible tourbillon watch. During the 1920s, James Pellaton constructed a 10 ½ ligne movement that retained the record for 18 years. However, in 1945 Le Locle watchmaker Fritz-Robert Charrue succeeded in producing an 8 ¾ ligne tourbillon wonder following seven years development – with the technical assistance of Les Fils de Victorin Piguet!
In the 1920s, Léon Aubert produced a prototype complicated astronomical pocket watch with equation of time mechanism. Four examples were ordered, each produced by V. Piguet. These precious timepieces found their way into the inventories of Patek Philippe, Vacheron & Constantin and two for Breguet. The Patek model was sold on to J.W. Packard and eventually re-acquired for the Patek Philippe museum.
For my final compliment to Victorin Piguet, I’d like to reveal a very special 11 ligne minute repeater wrist watch circa 1930. Constructed by V. Piguet for the New York watchmaker James Schulz, this forty jewel wonder also featured moon phases, day/date/month perpetual calendar, running seconds, and a single button chronograph with 30-minute registser, all housed in a tonneau case. It is this last piece that illustrates beyond doubt the genius of the house of Victorin Piguet.
I'm sure the spirit of Victorin Piguet still permeates the town of Le Sentier, where Vacheron Constantin maintain's their Research & Development workshops .