HISTORY OF THE COMPANY
“A factory, a family, a purpose”
Founded in 1890 by Louis-Georges Bovet at 11, Chemin de Comba-Borel, in Neuchâtel, the company was taken over on 1st June 1916 by Lucien Girard, who ran it until 1936. During those twenty years Lucien Girard suffered many setbacks and the company was on the verge of bankruptcy when the Girardin family acquired it in 1936.
Tireless efforts were needed to steady the tiller: amidst the work of rebuilding tools, improving manufacturing processes and training qualified personnel, the new owner had to play the role of technician, businessman and salesman at the same time.
Having started with five workers, Aiguilla currently employs around 170 people.
We have moved on from the modest quarters of those early days at Chemin du Clos. As a result of nearly eight decades of work the firm now occupies a wonderful factory surrounded by magnificent parkland.
To allow the story to continue, substantial investments have been made to develop and modernize the company.
HISTORY OF THE WATCH HAND
The watch hand preceded the watch. As far back as Neolithic times (6000 BC-2500 BC) man measured days and years by means of the shadow cast by a raised stone. This gave an approximate indication of the time. But man's inventive mind did not remain content with this rudimentary method: he transformed the stone into a slender needle: the Egyptian obelisk, forerunner of the sundial.
Much later came the clepsydra or water-clock of the ancients, the predecessor of instruments for measuring time, which featured one of the very first "watch hands".
In the 14th century, clock towers with a single hand indicating the hour were operated by a system of weights. Much progress was made in the 15th century, which saw the advent of the spring as motive power.
Finally it was in the 16th century that the first watches were developed, albeit with only an hour hand on the watch face. In 1691, the minute hand made its appearance. In those days, the production of hands was a manual task. They were cut with a saw from a strip of metal, laminated for thickness and then filed to the desired shape. A single pair of hands required two days’ hard work. In 1812 the first watch hands factory was established, the firm of Wagnon Frères in Geneva.
At the dawn of the 19th century around sixty watch hand factories were operating. However the modernization of equipment, in addition to other factors, gradually reduced their number and today barely a dozen remain in existence.