The Les Monts SA company, which inspired the renaissance of the finest brands in the history of English watchmaking (Graham, Arnold & Son and Tompion in particular), changed its name on 21 August. Since then the company based in La Chaux-de-Fonds, which is the proprietor of six historical watchmaking brands, has chosen a new and more explicit name, i.e. The British Masters SA. The company continues to be co-directed by its founders, Eric Loth and Pierre-André Finazzi. Its head office remains at La Chaux-de-Fonds in order to safeguard the proximity to its partners who supply watch components.
The change of name coincides with the arrival of a new minority shareholder. The new partner is none other than William Asprey, a British citizen and scion of the famous London Asprey dynasty. This family has been famous for centuries for the sale and distribution of luxury watchmaking and jewellery products in the British capital. Logically enough, the new partner has been entrusted with distribution in the United Kingdom of the products designed and made by The British Masters SA, primarily through a new retail outlet in the heart of London.
The opening of the English market, whose importance to The British Masters SA is self-evident, follows the creation of strategic markets with outstanding partners in Italy, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong, Spain, Portugal and the United States. Other major markets, such as Switzerland, France and Belgium, are handled directly by The British Masters and its specialized sales network.
The timepieces designed and made by The British Masters in La Chaux-de-Fonds are inspired by the great tradition of English mechanical watchmaking and also by the innate affinity of the British with masculine luxury, supported by the expertise of the finest watchmakers in the Jura mountains.
Historians recognize the uncontested supremacy of the great British watchmakers after the 17th century.. It began with the great Thomas Tompion, the first supplier of the Royal Greenwich Observatory, who transformed the watchmaking craft by giving it new letters of nobility. “Honest” George Graham acquired his precious skills with Thomas Tompion. In 1695, Graham invented several mechanisms, which were later to become the very foundation of modern mechanical watchmaking. As the father of the cylinder escapement, the mercury pendulum and inventor of the first chronograph, Graham’s renown spread to France, where he was cited in 1763 by the King’s watchmaker Ferdinand Berthoud, in his famous horological treatise.
Another star in the British Masters firmament is the Arnold & Son dynasty founded in 1764 by John Arnold. His name was to become that of the world’s first naval chronometer maker. Adulated by King George III, John Arnold refused the honours of the court and embarked upon an intense search for precision, which was to win him the famous Prize for Longitude established by the British Parliament. Unlike his competitors of the day, Arnold focused on innovative methods, which could be reproduced in large quantities. At the end of the 18th century, the Arnold & Son dynasty became the sole supplier to the Royal Navy Captains, the East India Company and the polar explorers.
With these three great names in world watchmaking history, The British Masters SA has created and made a series of innovative timepieces, which draw upon the values of British luxury and the technical expertise of the Neuchâtel region. Thus, almost a century after the disappearance of the last great British watchmaking dynasties, the founders and directors of the British Masters Company are banking on a renewal of the values advocated by the great masters of the Victorian era by presenting several world firsts. They include the Graham Foudroyante chronograph acclaimed by the international press and now available in a steel version (photo).
October 10, 2000