IN THE HISTORIC WATCHMAKING METROPOLIS OF BIENNE
By: Mr. Jan Heemskerk | Fromanteel staff-writer, Amsterdam – Netherlands (GMT+2 hrs)
In the shadows of the Jura Mountains, surrounded by a trio of breathtaking lakes, lies the Swiss city of Bienne (or Biel, if you prefer the German spelling). Despite having enough to be famous about, the city is mostly known for being a watchmaker metropolis. It is here, in the Fromanteel Swiss Atelier, that our watches earn the prestigious “Swiss Made” seal of quality.
The Generations Series.
What Does “Swiss Made” Mean?
I received my first watch on the eve of my 16th birthday. Saying I was now officially too old to be late, my mother handed me a small and slightly heavy box. I eagerly unpacked my gift and inspected every little nook and cranny until my eyes rested on the words “Swiss Made”, which were engraved on the back of the watch casing.
“Do you know what that means?” My mother smiled when she noticed the puzzled look on my face. I replied saying I assumed it meant that the timepiece was made in Switzerland. Teasingly, she winked and called me a genius before adding that there was a little more to it than that.
She explained that the words represented a promise of quality. The seal guaranteed that the watch was manufactured in Switzerland, under the supervision of experienced craftsmen, using predominantly Swiss components. Later, I would find out that at least 60% of the total worth of the timepiece had to come from those components.
After some research, I found out that the “Swiss Made” seal first appeared around 1880 and that it was originally meant to prevent the creation of counterfeit watches. Thanks to the hard work of entire generations of Swiss watchmakers, the seal now represents quality of the highest kind. But how did it get there?
At the Fromanteel Swiss Atelier.
The Swiss Rise to Dominance
Even though we now widely consider the Swiss to be the best watchmakers in the world, it wasn’t until the end of the nineteenth century and beginning of the twentieth century that they truly pulled away from their European and American adversaries.
It all started when the Swiss became the first nation capable of mass-producing watches. This development led to many revolutionary inventions at the hands of Swiss engineers, which further contributed to the ever-growing quality and craftsmanship within the industry.
These technological advancements suddenly made Switzerland attractive to entrepreneurs from all over the world. Swiss craftsmanship, combined with the business savvy spirits of American visitors for instance, made it possible for manufacturers to uphold the quality of the watches despite the high production output. This further solidified Swiss dominance on the international markets.
At the Fromanteel Swiss Atelier.
Fromanteel’s Place in History
The Fromanteel family lived in the seventeenth century, just a few hundred years before the Swiss watchmaking industry saw groundbreaking developments. Master clockmaker Ahasuerus Fromanteel and his son John, however, left their own mark on the world when they implemented an advanced pendulum mechanism for clocks.
Before the Fromanteel invention, clocks had a nasty habit of running severely behind or ahead. It wasn’t unheard of that a clock would miss the mark by a full fifteen minutes. Now, thanks to the Fromanteel pendulum mechanism, the clocks would lose a few seconds per day at most. This revolutionary development changed the world.
Had the Fromanteel family been born during the industrial revolution within the Swiss watchmaking industry, they could have picked up their Amsterdam workshop and tried their luck in Switzerland. They would have certainly been welcome. However, it wasn’t until the twenty-first century that the Fromanteel name resurfaced and took up their rightful place among the watchmaking giants.
Read more about watches here.
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A Promise of Quality and Innovation
The modern day Fromanteel Swiss Atelier doesn’t just offer the quality of Swiss Made craftsmanship; it also represents the inventive legacy of Ahasuerus Fromanteel and his family.
It is here, in Bienne, where we honor the promises that were made centuries ago. It is here where we honor the generations that came before us, and the ones that will come after us. It is here where we create quality time that you can truly own.
Welcome to our Swiss Atelier
The making of a watch.