HISTORY : 1858 - 1970

In the early 19th century Swiss watchmaking – hitherto basically a craftsman's activity – enjoyed one of its earliest industrial booms. Thanks to Edouard Bovet, one of the first watchmakers to target the Far Eastern market, the number of watchmakers in Fleurier (a village in the Val-de-Travers near Neuchâtel) more than tripled inside 30 years. Jules-Samuel Jequier, who was born in the village in 1835, chose to devote his life to watchmaking from an early age. He joined Bovet in 1856 after training as a jewel-cutter and, thanks to his enthusiasm and entrepreneurial zest, rose swiftly through the firm's ranks. Later, helped by his five sons, Jules-Samuel Jequier founded the Fleurier Watch C°, a manufacture devoted to jewel-cutting and designing watch calibres. The growth of the watchmaking industry would inspire the Jequiers to launch a number of different watchmaking brands. Arcadia was founded in 1858 and became the flagship of the Fleurier Watch Co. The classically-inspired Fleurier brand enjoyed great renown among connoisseurs of quality watches, epitomized by names like Breitling or Rolex. Arcadia watches displayed amazing creativity for the time. This avant-garde brand produced some particularly stylish collections, typified by some of its early 20th century models – symbols of Swiss ancestral tradition imbued with modern, indeed contemporary, vision. But the arrival of quartz was a disaster for Swiss watchmakers, who failed to realize the importance of the 1970s electronic revolution. Swiss mechanical watches were left behind by cheap, mass-produced, electronic watches from abroad. The resultant economic crisis lasted 15 years and threatened the entire sector, coming close to completely destroying traditional Swiss watchmaking. Many Swiss watchmaking firms were forced to close, taking with them the brands which had underpinned their success. Arcadia was no exception and, over a century after its launch by the Fleurier Watch Co, sank into oblivion.


Arcadia represents the climax to an exceptional career, and the fulfilment of a dream, for a man to whom watchmaking is far more than a job. Claude Sanz cuts a unique figure in the watchmaking world: a trained geologist and mineralogist, as well as an expert in setting and mechanical complications. Nearly forty years ago he acquired Bunter, a firm specializing in the cutting of industrial stones and rubies needed for watchmaking. Today, thanks to their mastery of invisible settings and de luxe, made-to-measure projects, Bunter are recognized by all the top Swiss watchmaking firms. For Claude Sanz, work is a passion: a passion for timepieces, for horological savoir-faire, and for watchmaking history. His work is also a dream… one he has secretly entertained for many years: to blend his skill and experience with the launch of a watchmaking brand that would write the final chapter of a story begun 35 years ago. "When you make watch components, you inevitably think about creating your own brand one day," says Sanz simply. But his ambition goes further. As a keen historian, he dreams of pursuing the mission of a Swiss watchmaking firm in the purest mechanical tradition – albeit one adapted to the contemporary era. In the 1990s Claude Sanz learnt about the incredible story of the Fleurier Watch Co and its star brand, Arcadia. He was fascinated by this forgotten watchmaking venture, and promptly decided to take over the Arcadia brand – which had fallen into the public domain – and revive its century-old traditions. "Arcadia calibres were highly innovative for the time, and the Fleurier Watch Co was considered an international ambassador of Swiss watchmaking," he explains. "Today the industry is witnessing a return to small mechanical movements, so Arcadia is perfect for the 21st century. It's the start of a whole new adventure!" The Arcadia renaissance is underway. With Bunter's structural and technical support, Claude Sanz has set about renovating each Arcadia calibre in the purest watchmaking tradition, inserting them into modern cases with sleek designs, made using the latest avant-garde technologies and materials. A combination of the richness of the past and the boldness of the future, ARCADIA aims to showcase and perpetuate an exceptional, time-honoured, craftsmanship heritage on the international scene – and restore the prestige of a watchmaking symbol that was the pride of Switzerland for over a hundred years.