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Imagine the lofty, isolated plateaux of the Neuchâtel countryside, reaching heights of up to 1000 metres. At this period, the only means of descent from this elevated land to the rest of the world was by foot or in horse-drawn carts. The climate is harsh, with severe winters. Bear, wolf and boar are hunted here. The conditions in which people have to exist are difficult, and human values take over: mutual support, generosity to others, these values allowed the first inhabitants to build their communities.
At this time, the town of Le Locle formed part of the Principality of Neuchâtel, possession of the Kings of Prussia, Frederick I, then Frederick-William II.


During the 17th century, watch and clock-making was mainly a French, German and English trade, but at the beginning of the 18th century it flowered rapidly in Switzerland. As soon as this new activity was established in Geneva, during the 1700s, it also took root in the Neuchâtel mountains. A blacksmith, Daniel Jean Richard (1665-1741) is acknowledged as the founding father of Swiss watchmaking.
It was he who introduced the trade first to La Sagne in 1705, then to Le Locle.
Watchmaking was now well-established and definitively recognised as a Swiss occupation. It provided the mountain dwellers and peasants to glimpse a better way of life.


Watchmaking as a profession had been established in Le Locle for 30 years, when Abraham-Louis Perrelet was born there on 9 January 1729.
His father, Daniel Perrelet, was both a farmer and a carpenter. During the long winters in the Neuchâtel mountains, he made tools, some of which, for the watchmakers, were extremely fine. Like any deprived child of the period, Abraham-Louis made himself useful, helping his parents in the fields and in the workshop. At the age of 20, seeing that watchmaking was increasing in scale in the Neuchâtel mountains, he gave up his humble work to commit himself fully to this fascinating new craft.
The first problem he encountered was the lack of proper tools. He set himself to overcome this deficiency by designing and producing a number of tools himself, such as the planter or the rounding tool. He invented, developed and refined a series of new combinations to improve the performance of timepieces.
He was, for example, the first person in Le Locle, to make watches with cylinder and duplex escapements, date and equation. Despite his youth, he built himself a solid reputation, and he was widely consulted as an expert.
He could answer questions put to him by his colleagues when they were faced with the difficulties involved in watch complications. He could see at a glance the faults that prevented his fellow-watchmakers from achieving their aims, and help them to improve their precious time-keepers.
He spent his whole life firmly rooted to his family home. He died in Le Locle in 1826 after working for almost 80 years to perfect his art, the art of the watchmaker.


For many years, he devoted most of his time to developing a reliable and strong automatic winding mechanism (around 1760). He certainly cherished utopian ideas of perpetual motion in this, but above all, he had the very practical aim of eliminating the tedious task of rewinding pocket watches with a key. Around 1770 Abraham-Louis Perrelet had already developed and fitted several movements, with a socalled «hammer» oscillating weight, using an initial version of the automatic winding movement called the «jerking movement»
A few years later – and after many resistance-related problems associated with the shocks suffered by the movement when the «hammer» weight reaches the end of its travel – he finally developed an oscillating weight system, fixed onto the central shaft of the movement, and now usually known as the «rotor».


For many years, he was one of the master watchmakers in the Neuchâtel mountains. He remained active until the very end of his life, very skilful, with extraordinary sureness of touch. The International Watchmaking Museum in La Chaux-de-Fonds (MIH) has on display what is certainly one of Abraham-Louis Perrelet’s last pieces, made when he was 96 years old. Abraham-Louis Perrelet had many pupils, some of which were a credit to him. These include in particular Jacques-Frédéric Houriet, granted the title of «father of Swiss chronometry» who was for two years his apprentice before leaving to work with Julien Leroy in Paris. He also worked closely with Abraham-Louis Breguet and Louis Berthoud. One of his most outstanding pupils was undoubtedly his grandson, Louis- Frédéric Perrelet.


Abraham-Louis handed on the torch of the spirit of watchmaking to his grandson, Louis-Frédéric Perrelet, born near Le Locle on 14 May 1781. From his earliest years he showed a great interest in mechanics and mathematics. Having learned his skills thoroughly as a craftsman in his grandfather’s workshop, Louis- Frédéric left Le Locle for Paris to complete his studies. Abraham-Louis Breguet, the famous watchmaker, took him on in his own workshops, and trained him in manufacturing complicated timepieces. The start of his independent working life was marked by his invention of an astronomical pendulum, which he conceived in 1815. This pendulum was shown to great acclaim at the 1823 Exhibition. It won a silver medal, and was presented to King Louis XVIII.
He went from one success to another after this, and became watchmaker to three kings of France: Louis XVIII, Charles X and Louis-Philippe. Among his inventions, in the areas of marine watches with measuring instruments, he patented a split second precision stop watch, in 1827. The timepieces he made for the 1834 exhibition won him a supreme honour: he was made a Chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur, as a reward for his talent and perseverance in his profession. Louis-Frédéric was also involved in training young
He intended to publish a treatise on horology, for young students, but unfortunately his health prevented him from completing this project. He died in January 1854.
Many items in museums and private collections bearing the Perrelet signature are from the hand of Louis-Frédéric; these unique watches are living examples of the dazzling skills and knowledge of this period.

Today, all Perrelet watches are fitted with automatic winding movements. The brand makes no exception to this rule.
After promoting this system with the creation of the first double rotor rewinding system in 1995 (Perrelet P- 181 Calibre) which shows a rotor on the dial side, and hence reveals the self-winding mechanism, the brand now re-interprets its famous invention.
For this, the rotor has undergone a complete visual and technical facelift so that you can admire the finish of the movement via a glass pane fixed to the rotor. Most of the movements of Perrelet’s new collection launched in 2005 are decorated with the exclusive, «Perrelet tapestry» design, which can be admired through the glass cover of its unique rotor. Today’s contemporary interpretation of the Perrelet history is the way of paying tribute to one of the greatest watchmakers of his period. In this way, everyone who owns a Perrelet time-piece becomes one of the guardians of the period and of the history.



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