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Louis Rossel -the history

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  • Louis Rossel -the history

    The History of Louis Rossel.
    Whilst trying to collect information on the history of Louis Rossel I have found much of which has been contradictory or inaccurate purely because there is so little reliable information out there and what there is has often been incorrectly referenced or assumptions have been made. As such I have tried to present this piece as accurately as possible by cross-referencing information from the Watch Museum in Switzerland and from specialist collector’s websites and Historical literature.

    This is a research and reference piece for the E.O.T Forum members and it supplements the huge amount of work already done by Senior members of E.O.T. and is essentially a look at what happened before Louis Rossel came along.

    Whilst it is not complete and I cannot guarantee that all information is absolutely correct and accept there will be other pieces of information still out there, I feel that this will be the most concise and historically correct overview of the beginnings of the company and its history up to Louis Rossel available at this time.

    Firstly I must thank Isis Joliat, Librarian at the Musée international d'horlogerie in Switzerland and credit the Museum for all the additional information and images that I have used to build as accurate a picture as possible. They have given permission for much of this information to be used and also confirmed several other pieces of information that I had already collected as being correct. There have been some items that I do not have permission to put in the public domain.

    The Musée international d'horlogerie can be found at:
    Rue des Musées 29 CH - 2301 La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland

    I must also thank and credit:
    The Neuchatel and Jura online Libraries ‘Bibliotheques Neuchateloises et Jurrasiennes’ for free access to the library for research purposes.

    Kathleen H. Pritchard, Authoress of Swiss Timepiece Makers 1775 – 1975. West Kennebunk, Maine, USA for excerpts from her book used to support this piece. Her excerpts will be credited within the text.

    Phil at for their license to use historical references to watchmaker’s and jeweller’s marks, and the images pertaining to them.

    David Boettcher at ‘Vintage Watch Straps’ which is much more than just watch straps! for some in-depth information around the business ventures of the founders of what was to eventually become Louis Rossel.

    Historical Clock & Watch Research for their photo of a watch made by Fritz Petitpierre taken by Sean Cole. Their image may not be used for financial gain.

    Finally I would like to thank Henry Krinkle at E.O.T for introducing me to Louis Rossel, for support during the writing of this and for providing the photos of the Louis Rossel Watches used at the end of this piece.
    ___________________________ ________________________

    Every attempt has been made to credit the authors of information and the images used and I would ask that anyone wishing to use excerpts or images to contact The Administrators of the Equation Of Time Forum (E.O.T) in the first instance for use of our images and the appropriate owners of other information and images for permission and to credit the original authors and/or providers of that information, for the use of these excerpts/photos.

    The photographs of the Louis Rossel watches at the end of this piece remain the property of E.O.T forum members Henry Krinkle and Grantag.

    Louis Rossel Images used in the other original E.O.T Louis Rossel threads all belong to the respective E.O.T members and as such remain their property and cannot be taken and should only be used for research/ personal interest purposes.
    __________________________________________________ ______

    Finding the Information

    I originally thought that the story began with Petitpierre Co (no space between Petit and pierre and a lower case ‘P’ for pierre) because that’s what the official history line tells us but it wasn’t to be quite that simple.

    There are obvious challenges with researching information in another language however things become very murky when a name like Pierre is involved and I obviously came across many examples of Pierre in the French language. Further confusion arises when more than one Watch Company uses the same Trademark as the one being researched which is very frustrating and leaves some questions unanswered re: the validity of some of the information.

    In Switzerland at the time there were hundreds of small start-up watch making ventures, often family run, who would change location, sell /buy Trademark names, go out of business, re-start a business, or a business partner would re-name the business and start alone under a different name whilst not always following the correct protocols for registering a business, or simply re-using a trademark logo and changing the name underneath it.

    Searching in Switzerland for a Swiss watchmaker who had a registered business in Switzerland wasn’t as straightforward as I had thought.

    In fact the story didn’t start in Switzerland at all
    Last edited by Watch Carefully; 01-04-2018, 10:47 AM.

  • #2
    The Beginning

    England 1875

    It all begins with a man called Anton Castelberg.

    This is the mark of Antoine Castelberg a watch dealer and importer operating in London, originally from La Chaux-de-Fonds in Switzerland.
    His full name was Johann Anton Benedict Von Castelberg. (He changed Anton to Antoine on several occasions when registering businesses and tended not to use Johan at all)
    Attached Files
    Last edited by Grantag; 01-04-2018, 09:32 AM.


    • #3
      Castelberg's mark was first entered at the London Assay Office on 25 August 1875 with the address 90 Newgate Street London.

      1 year later on 2 August 1876 he was recorded as moving to 58 Holborn Viaduct, London.

      He registered the Trademark name ‘Mardon Geneve clocks’ at his business which was registered as:
      Anton Castleberg, Manufacturer of small and large clocks; 58 Holborn Viaduct, London, England; registered on 4.4.1876

      There is a photo of 58,Holborn Viaduct, London today below.
      Attached Files


      • #4
        Castelberg also registered the same mark at the Chester Assay Office a year later on 17 October 1877. (Chester is 200 miles North of London)

        From the mid 1870’s Castelberg acted as assay agent for Swiss manufacturers such as IWC who wanted to get Swiss made watch cases marked with English hallmarks until this practice was effectively stopped in 1888 by the British Merchandise Marks Act.

        Castleberg was, it seems, a bit of a Character and got into financial difficulties in Switzerland a year later in 1877 whilst still operating his business from London.

        The following piece is Courtesy of David Boettcher

        In December 1877 the "Castelberg affair" or "Castelberg scandal" was big news in Neuchatel, where the Feuille d'Avis de Neuchatel reported that Castelberg had sought protection from his creditors, which was granted, and offered to pay 60% of the money he owed them. There was an indignant protest against this in La Chaux-de-Fonds when two experts, Renaud and Perrenoud, reported that Castelberg had possessed "no regular accounting", indulged in "shameful operations", and owed in excess of 140,000 Swiss francs.

        Castelberg’s business in London had four partners,
        • Antoine Castelberg,
        • Fritz Petitpierre **(Interestingly Fritz Petitpierre appears in a Swiss Industrial Journal 1873 listed as a metalworker and has a second name ‘Luois Petitpierre’ under his name listed at the same company address, see more later on)
        • Jules Godat
        • Gaspard Brunner.

        After the ‘scandal’ in Switzerland Castelberg changed his company name from Anton Castleberg, Manufacturer of small and large clocks and began operating under a new name which included one of his partners Fritz Petitpierre and became:

        Castleberg, Petitpierre& Co.

        A year after the Castelberg Scandal in Switzerland In 1878 The London Gazette recorded that on 15 May a partnership between Castelberg, Petitpierre, Godat and Brunner was dissolved by mutual consent.

        Two partners, Castelberg and Brunner left and the business was re-registered under a new trading name by the two reminaing partners Petitpierre and Godat and the new company was registered as:

        Petitpierre&Co Instrument and watch manufacturers; 58 Holborn Viaduct, London, England; registered on 5.2.1880

        The following piece is Courtesy of David Boettcher

        Castelberg evidently survived his financial problems. By 1880 he was representing himself as a British watch manufacturer, and even had a stand as part of the British representation at the Sydney International Exhibition in 1880. During the trial of Morris Schott for deception at the Old Bailey on 27th March 1882, Castelberg said in his evidence that he was a watch dealer and importer at Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, and 38 Seckforde Street, Clerkenwell. Castelberg described sending orders to several watch manufacturers in Chaux-de-Fonds, and how he charged commission of 2½% of the total value of orders he took.

        38 Seckforde Street London still stands. It is a 10 minute walk from all the other addresses listed for both Antoine CastelBerg and Fritz Petit Pierre.

        Anton Castelberg’s Address in London 1882 ( Green Door)
        38 seckforde street.jpg
        Last edited by Grantag; 01-04-2018, 09:33 AM.


        • #5
          Castelberg registered many different watch Company names, sometimes using the name Anton instead of Antoine.

          His watch company names :

          A.C (likely to be Antoine Castleberg)
          Adelphi Watch Co
          Alliance Watch Co.
          Bristol Watches.
          CP&Co (Short for Castleberg and Petitpierre?)
          Carlton Watch Co.
          Dragon watch Co.
          Globe Watch Co.
          Hudson Watch Co.
          Johnson &Co
          Mardon Geneve.
          Post Office Regulator
          Royal Watch Co.
          The Conqueror
          The Telegraph
          J.Godat Geneve(He registered this company with two of his three partners Jules Godat and Gaspard Brunner)

          He uses the same logos on more than one occasion and simply changes the company name underneath it. Some are Registered in England some in Switzerland.
          Attached Files
          Last edited by Grantag; 01-04-2018, 07:20 AM.


          • #6
            Fritz Petitipierre

            Fritz Petitpierre now had his own business in London.

            This was the beginning of the lineage all the way up to Louis Rossel.

            These are some of his maker’s marks.
            Attached Files


            • #7
              Fritz Petitpierre's sponsor mark was first entered at Chester on 18 June 1878 with the address 58 Holborn Viaduct, London. (This was shortly after Castelberg left the partnership in May 1878.)

              Petitpierre also entered a mark in London on 22 November 1878 with the address 33 Hatton Garden,London, which is still a small street full of jewellers and pawn brokers to this day.

              At the same time he also entered a mark in Birmingham on 11 November 1882 at 33, Frederick Street in Birmingham, this property was in addition to the London address at the time( 66 Holborn Viaduct, London)

              Birmingham is 120 Miles North of London. Frederick Street in Birmingham was the part of the 'Golden Triangle'. A third of England’s jewellery /gunsmiths/precious metals were made here and it still is very much engaged in these activities to this day. It had a wealth of skilled craftsmen available which was ideal for a watchmaker of the time. There is evidence that 33, Frederick street was an address used for manufacturing watch parts which were possibly sent down to his London address to be assembled.

              The far end of Fredrick Street in Birmingham today.
              Attached Files
              Last edited by Grantag; 01-04-2018, 07:21 AM.


              • #8
                I have included a map to show the movements in sequence from #1 to #4 with one address appearing twice on different dates in the registration documentation of the time. The final address (far right) was Antoine Castelberg’s house.( Green door 1882)

                It was originally thought that Petitpierre was merely a London import agent, however information came to light that he ran a workshop where parts made by home- workers were assembled into complete watches.

                It would seem that Petitpierre already had a Swiss watchmaking or watch assembly operation however he doesn’t register this company until 1893 registering his English Company name with a French ending Petitepierre &Cie, which may be something to do with the English courts stopping foreign watches being brought into the country and stamped with English watchmakers marks around this time.

                It may also have had something to do with Fritz finding himself in the English Law Courts mixed up in a bit of trouble re: importation of low-grade Swiss made watch cases and stamping them with English watchmakers stamps (omitting the important and legally required ‘F’ stamp to represent ‘Foreign made watch’) then selling them on as English watches for significantly more money than they were worth.

                There was a trade in making movements look like English and American watch movements at the time and these watchmakers took great exception to cheaply made goods being brought in illegally and passed them off as better quality products.
                Attached Files


                • #9
                  The Move to Switzerland

                  Once in Switzerland the Company continued to change address and register in different areas as it had done in England and went through several changes in its history, selling off some of its Trademarks and registering many new Trademark names in different locations.

                  I cannot find any images or reference to any of the products made under the names below however I do have their names and some of the trademark images.

                  These are the 83 trademarks he registered in Switzerland under Petitpierre&Cie.

                  Adelphi Watch Co, Alliance Watch Co, Bristol Watch Co, CP&Co, Carlton Watch Co, Dragon Watch Co, Hudson Watch Co, Johnson&Co, K&Co, Mardon Geneve, Asto, Dax, Post Office Regulator, The Conqueror, The Telegraph, Verndor, , BW&Cie, Beaute, Brooklin Watch Co, BTALL, Champion, Clairmont, Cardinal, Contest, Conteste, , F.Holland&Cie, La Belle, La Confiance, La Grande, La, Naturale, La Premiere, La Rose, La Rose Des Alpes, La Royale, La Sonvillier, La Supreme, La Roi Solei, London Keyless Co, L’ourdaam, Mardon, Moderne, Monarque, Noble, Oma, Omnium, Orgor, P+C, P+C Natuonal Watch Co, PP&Co Swiss, P&Co Brittania, Picador, Rubi, Standard, Sunlight, The Astor, The Bouquet, The Champion, The Consultation Chronograph, The Cup, The Derby, The Elegant, The Friend, The Good Hope, The Joly, The little Swiss Stone, The Lupus Lever, The Marco Lever, The Marco Regulator, The Marquis, The Pascal Lever, The President, The Rock Bottom, The Secret, The standard, The Viceroy, Time Guard, Toreador, Triomphe, W.B, Wellington Watch Co, Societe Anonyme Petitpuerre Watch Co.( the last one is interesting ..Anoymous Society Petitpierre)

                  Some of these names were also registered by Fritz Petitpierre.

                  There are so many occasions that Antoine Castelberg and Fritz Petitpierre cross paths, share addresses, register trademarks in the same places often interchanging trademark names that It has crossed my mind on more than one occasion that Castelberg and Petitpierre may have been one and the same person.


                  • #10
                    Petit Pierre also registered the name James Schneider along with Petitpierre&Cie (the Schneider name stayed with the company for some time) but I cannot find any reference about James Schneider other than this piece from Kathleen H. Pritchard’s book ‘ Swiss Timepiece Makers 1775 – 1975’.

                    Quote from Page 50
                    ‘James Schneider was listed as making plain and fancy gold watches for women, chatelains, enamel, mother of pearl ,wristwatches, boutonniere watches, ball watches, heart watches,plus an ad showing an half-hunter watch and saying that they produced watches and wrist watches and the brands, Home, Clairmont and Mardon the name being registered and a maker’s mark’.
                    End of quote from Kathleen H. Pritchard’s book ‘ Swiss Timepiece Makers 1775 – 1975’.

                    Petitpierre turns up again in May 1913 in a list of registered designs in La Federation Horlogere Suisse Journal. Several other jewellers, watchmakers, metal polishers etc listed their items and Fritz listed four model parts of watches. I can only assume this means differently designed working parts as there was no other information.

                    Petitpierre lists a watch Patent No. 63844. March 29th, 1913, in La Federation Horlogere Suisse Journal and he appears again in 1916 registering another watch patent.

                    The trail goes cold after that.

                    At this stage I don’t know if the company changed hands or even if Fritz Petitpierre was still alive but I cannot find anything else at the moment with reference to him beyond 1916. He could of course have retired or had a son who took over.

                    The longest running , and seemingly most prolific, Company name was the Home Watch Co which it would seem used the different Trademark names under the ‘Home Watch Company Ltd’ parent umbrella to specialise in different areas.

                    Kathleen H. Pritchard’s book ‘ Swiss Timepiece Makers 1775 – 1975’.
                    Quote from Page 51

                    Home was listed alone in 1924 and in the same year SCHNEIDER was listed alone. The Home Watch Company was listed in Bienne in 1951 with medium priced levers, one watch used an 11 ½ Ligne A.Schild 1187 movement in a chrome case, silvered dial , radium chapter and hands, centre seconds, water and shock protected, antimagnetic, 17 jewels. A second watch used a 10 ½ Ligne FONT 150 movement in a plated case with a silvered dial, raised chapter, antimagnetic, 15 jewels marked ‘Madix’
                    Home Watch Co. Ltd was listed for lever and pin lever watches in Neuchatel in 1966 it was also listed as Montre Home SA .
                    A 1966 ad was from Watch Co Ltd Louis Rossel for automatic watches for automatic watches, alarm wrist watches, miniature alarm and table clocks, and miniature electronic clocks. (Grantag Note: This is a perfect example of why it is very difficult to be exact because Louis Rossel is listed as being registered in 1977)
                    A Home Electric clock and a Louis Rossel clock were listed in 1973. An ad in the horological journal March 1978, page 38 was from the Home Watch Co. Ltd Neuchatel for its Louis Rossel Watches. The ad was for a watch signed Louis Rossel. The ad contained the monogram LR. ( I have this advert but do not have permission to post it)
                    End of quotes from Kathleen H. Pritchard’s book ‘ Swiss Timepiece Makers 1775 – 1975’. Page 51

                    The Trademark names that Home Watch Company Ltd used were:
                    • Cadencia
                    • Clairmont ( Other companies used this name as well)
                    • Cuore
                    • Madix
                    • Mardon (Other companies used this name as well)
                    • Assila
                    • Ribot
                    • Montres Home
                    • Luois Rossel ( ** re: Louis Petitpierre listed next to Fritz Petitpierre in 1873- see the Anton Castelberg piece earlier)

                    Each different Trademark name seems to have specialised in different areas of watch making.

                    For example Cadencia seemed to be aimed at keeping musical time with Metronome time keepers

                    Mardon made wrist watches and judging by the styles ranging from about 1920 to the 1970’s

                    Home Watch mainly made Carriage clocks and travel clocks although they also seem to make some quite adventurous ladies watches in the shape of flowers or with metal enamelled bows or intricate designs.

                    Louis Rossel made, carriage clocks, folding travel clocks, watch rings and wrist watches and whilst some were quite mainstream they are probably best known for their very niche watches aimed at the younger hip and happening ‘trendy set’ in the early 70’s and very early 80’s.

                    Louis Rossel was the last Trademark name registered.

                    Being niche and not having a big advertising budget meant that few units were sold (by comparison) and this coincided with the huge hit that the Swiss watchmakers of the time suffered from the introduction of Japanese Quartz watches. Only the biggest Swiss watchmakers who banded together and re-invented their industry and marketing strategies survived this near total catastrophe.


                    • #11
                      I will list each Trademark name, its date of registration, where it was registered, any information that I have and specific photographs of time pieces and advertising that relate to each Trademark name chronologically. Some images that I have received are not licenced for the public domain so I have described them.


                      Mardon Geneve
                      Anton Castleberg,Manufacturer of small and large clocks
                      58 Holborn Viaduct, London, England;
                      Registered on 4.4.1876

                      Castleberg,Petitpierre& Co

                      58, Holborn Viaduct,London, England
                      Registered 1876

                      58, Holborn Viaduct, London
                      Registered June 1878

                      33 Hatton Garden, London
                      Registered November 1878

                      Petitpierre&Co Instrument and watch manufacturers

                      58 Holborn Viaduct, London, England;
                      Registered on 5.2.1880

                      66 Holborn Viaduct, London
                      Registered November 1882

                      The white face, fob watch with chain, photo of a watch made by Petitpierre is credited to . Credit for the photo taken by Sean Cole , Historical Clock & Watch Research

                      Included is a Close-up of Fritz Pierre’s Stamp and some more watches made by the Petitpierre Co
                      Attached Files
                      Last edited by Grantag; 01-04-2018, 08:46 AM.


                      • #12
                        The Move to Switzerland

                        Petitpierre & Co, Uhrwerke, Gehäuse, Zifferblätter; La Chaux-de-Fonds, Schweiz;
                        Registered 17.11.1893

                        There is some confusion over Clairmont as this name was also used by another company. The watches I have found look more like 1930’s /40’s watches rather than turn of the century but I cannot say for certain that these weren’t still made by Petitepierre’s company but at a later date and no photographs are available for his earlier work.
                        Attached Files
                        Last edited by Grantag; 01-04-2018, 08:47 AM.


                        • #13

                          Petitpierre & Co
                          Uhrwerke, Gehäuse, Zifferblätter; La Chaux-de-Fonds, Schweiz;
                          Registered 28.3.1900

                          The Mardon Trademark was registered by Petitpierre but was sold off around 1920’s and the Trademark obviously carried on up to the seventies by the style of the latter watches.

                          Interestingly the Mardon Trademark design stayed with the new owners and it can be seen right at the bottom in Petitpierre’s ‘Societe Anonyme Petitpierre Watch Co Logo from 1903 included below.

                          There are some original Mardon Advertising images and some of Mardon models going up to i am guessing the seventies.

                          The advert with the ships is from the fifties and there is an image of a 'Mardon Fleet' ( Strapless watch) from around that time

                          There is a Mardon movement ( I have highlighted the mark in blue)

                          Interesting that the Mardon with the dark blue face and the date window in the bottom right is looking very LR indeed.
                          Attached Files
                          Last edited by Grantag; 01-05-2018, 04:20 AM.


                          • #14
                            James Shneider

                            Uhren, Uhrenteile; La Chaux-de-Fonds, Schweiz;
                            Registered 23.6.1900

                            Home Watch/Home Watch Co. / Jämes Schneider

                            Uhren, Uhrenteile; La Chaux-deFonds, Neuchâtel und Biel, Schweiz;
                            Registered 18.10.1909

                            James Scnheider is a bit of an enigma. The name pops up in several places but there is nothing concrete, no images, no advertising, just the piece written by Kathleen H. Pritchard and a makers mark. It doesnt really fit with any of his other brand names which seem to lean towards all things Royal or regal or Horse racing related i.e aimed at the jet-set of the day, and I did wonder if it was a nod to the Schneider trophy but it wasnt to be.
                            Attached Files
                            Last edited by Grantag; 01-04-2018, 08:48 AM.


                            • #15
                              Home Watch Co Ltd.
                              La Chaux-de-Fonds, Neuchâtel und Biel, Schweiz;
                              Registered 18.6.1928

                              Cadencia seems to have been the music time-keeping arm of the company making pocket sized metronomes and piano top metronomes. Very different from the one we all associate with a metronome and very stylish too.
                              Attached Files
                              Last edited by Grantag; 01-04-2018, 08:48 AM.