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Ernest Borel

Ernest Borel - founded 1859

The watch manufacturing company Ernest Borel was founded in 1859 by Jules Borel (1832-1898) and his brother-in-law Paul Courvoisier ( -1894) as Borel & Courvoisier Company, Neuchátel, successor of the firm Henri Reynier fils. The company name was changed after the death of Courvoisier in 1894 to Borel-Courvosier AS. After the death of Jules Borel in 1898 his son Ernest Borel (1869-1951) succeeded as the owner and manager of the company, and changed the name to Ernest Borel & Cie in 1899. For some years the name Ernest Borel & Fils was also used as the company name.

Ernest Borel was the leader of the company up to 1936, when his son Jean-Louis Borel succeeded as the manager of the company. Jean-Louis Borel managed Ernest Borel up to 1975, when it was bought by the firm Aubry Frère S. A. The company was sold to a Hong Kong based company in 1989.

Mr. Adamir Debrot was responsible for Ernest Borel productions for as long as 52 years between 1923 and 1975, and thus responsible for Borel’s innovative technical solutions and original design, specially during the forties, fifties and sixties.

Well-known models: Borelelectric, Borel-Oj, Borelot, Cocktail (with a kaleidoscope dial, launched in 1953), Colomborel, Couronne, de Laurier Curling, Datoptic (with a magnifying glass on the date window), Emerson, Erbo, Erbograph, Flash (with an electrically illuminated dial), Great Society, Hermes, Incastar, Lucky Nugget (in the shape of a purse), Mallard, Sea Gem, Society, SOS, Randez-vous (with alarm function, launched in 1946), Start (a chronometre), Versailles (a travel alarm clock, in the shape of Louis XIV’s clock).

The Cocktail models are the most popular Borel watches among collectors. There are a large variety of Cocktails­ with five different patterns on the kaleidoscope discs: flower, sun, arrows, star, wheel. The are both men’s and lady’s Cocktails, wind-up and automatic movements, black/gold and white/black dials, round and square cases, stainless steel, gold filled and 18K gold, finger ring watches, pendant watches, desk clocks etc.

In 1955 Ernest Borel used movements from A. Schild, Font and ETA. When Aubry Frère SA purchased the company, it became a party within the CYMA-group (Synchron SA).

Borel’s watches and clocks have always been characterised by innovation, and the company was early awarded for it’s high quality, technical solutions and original design. The company won First Price in competitions arranged by l’Observatoire and Bulletin de marché already in the early 1870’s. Borel’s watches did also win international awards in Philadelphia (USA) and Paris in 1876 and in 1881 Borel & Courvosier was awarded "First Class Medal" for it’s watches at the Swiss National exhibition in La Chaux de Fonds, Switzerland. The same year Borel was awarded Third Prize for pocket chronometers at the Neuchatèl Chronometer Contest.

In 1937 the company was awarded Grand Price at the International Greek exhibition. Between 1945 and 1958 Ernest Borel’s watches had as many as 4 172 ratings by the Neuchatèl Cantonal Observatory. In 1958 the company won two First Price Awards by the sama observatory for two of it’s chronometers.

The company name is still exists, but Ernest Borel’s reputation of high quality and unique design has been devalued under its new management.

Lars Elinderson

We are still working on the individual histories of each manufacturer, as time permits. If you'd like to submit a manufacturer history, let us know and we will credit you as being a contributing author.

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