1536The Claude Bernard Story
In the mid-16th century, the 27-year-old Frenchman John Calvin broke with the Roman Catholic Church and fled to Geneva, Switzerland. Numerous French Huguenots followed him. As a result of religious policies Calvin banned all jewellery, such as beads, bracelets, gold and gemstones, because they had no place in the worship of God. Consequently, goldsmiths and jewellers were forced to turn to a new craft - watchmaking. It was the perfect thing to do for these highly skilled fabricators.
1540Les Genevez, the place where everything started
Many of these highly skilled mecaniciens moved north and master mechanic Claude Bernard was one of them. He discovered the gorgeous, almost divine, high-plateau in the midst of the Jura headlands, a secluded mountain-range along the French border. As a tribute to his hometown Geneva (French Genève) he called this charming hideout “Les Genevez”.
1540Farming in summer – watch making during harsh winter month
The mechanics and skillful builders started to reinvent the innards of all kinds of timepieces. Most of the year Claude Bernard, like most of his companions, farmed to feed himself and his family. But during the long and harsh winter months, when the landscapes vanished under heavy snow and the brooks were covered with ice, Claude and his fellow craftsmen created watch masterpieces.
1550Mid 16th Century – The original atelier still exists
The original 16th century house and atelier where Claude Bernard and other skilled artisans used to gather and share their tools and ideas still exists. It has been carefully restored and today serves as a public museum. Swiss watch manufacturer Claude Bernard is honoured to be a patron of the more than 450-year-old institution, which is so closely related to their own history.
1560Mid 16th Century
Brave innovators with ground-braking ideas were the reason why “Les Genevez in the Jura” was labeled the “birthplace of Swiss watchmaking in the northeast of Switzerland” and a pioneer of highly acclaimed Swiss quality and ingenuity.
Les Genevez home of Claude Bernard Watch factory at the beginning of the 20th century.
1915Jurassic watchmaking at the beginning of the 20th century
Jurassic watchmaking at the beginning of the 20th century.
1973It started with a vision
For many years, the idea of owning or buying a top-quality Swiss watch could only be entertained by a predominantly wealthy section of the population. In the homely village Les Genevez in the Swiss Jura, a time-served watchmaker had a vision at the start of the 1970s. This vision was to build and make a precision-manufactured Swiss watch for people who wanted quality but were unwilling to spend a small fortune to obtain it. The watches should be made of stainless steel or gold and built by qualified Swiss-based watchmakers using traditional craftsmanship.
This vision saw the birth of the Claude Bernard brand. The joint efforts of a small but motivated team of engineers and watchmakers made it possible to put together a range of watches boasting precision Swiss movement at extremely attractive prices. The Claude Bernard brand was officially registered in 1973 and given copyright protection worldwide.
1973Continuation - A commitment to 'Swiss-made'
It became part of the company strategy that all Claude Bernard watches must feature a Swiss-made movement and be built by qualified, Swiss-based watchmakers using traditional craftsmanship.
2013The official patron of the watch making museum “Musee Rural” in Les Genevez
Claude Bernard has been nominated after almost 500 years of watchmaking in Les Genevez as the official patron of the historical museum “Musée Rural” in Les Genevez – The place where Jurassic watchmaking started.
2013A world presence in over 60 countries
Today, the professional watchmakers working for Claude Bernard, the Swiss watch factory in “Les Genevez - Le centre du Jura”, are still filled with pride of their heritage and eager to make the best wristwatches money can buy. Every single Claude Bernard timepiece is hand-made, honouring a centuries-old tradition.