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Bovet - Looking Back at 200 Years of History

Bovet Looking Back at 200 Years of History

Tracing two centuries of history during a day of discovery at Bovet's headquarters at the Chateau de Môtiers

Two hundred years is a big birthday and one that deserves to be celebrated in style. And style it was during a day full of festivities at Bovet’s facility housed in a medieval castle in Môtiers. 

Fairy Tale Watchmaking 

Travelling to Bovet is a fairy tale experience in itself. You take the highway to Saint-Croix and then head up the mountain to Fleurier, where you continue to climb, zigzagging up country lanes into the woods. Suddenly the 14th-century castle comes into view, nestled among the trees with its turrets and towers protruding majestically above the foliage as if it has been lost in time. 

Full disclosure here: I have a soft spot for Bovet as my husband works there, so I have made this trip several times, but it has the same effect on me each and every trip. For this special 200th anniversary, however, visiting the Chateau de Môtiers is even more spectacular as Bovet’s owner Pascal Raffy has transformed the ground floor of his private quarters (previously off limits to visitors) into a museum to showcase his personal collection of Bovet timepieces, past and present. 

Looking Back at 200 Years of History

Hand painted dial © Bovet

The beginning of the Bovet Story

These extraordinary timepieces tell the Bovet story right from the beginning when Edouard Bovet, the son of a watchmaker, travelled to China in 1818 with four pocket watches to sell. Immediately finding clients for his timepieces and returning to Switzerland a rich man, he saw the huge opportunity that lay in the Asian market. Together with his brothers, he founded the Bovet company in 1822, focusing on highly decorative timepieces with chronometrically advanced movements.

These pocket watches were made with the Asian consumer in mind and were adorned with a variety of métiers d’art such as cloisonné, flinqué, and champlevé enamel, as well as miniature painting, engraving and pearl settings. The movements were equally elaborate with various decorative finishes. 

In addition to the timekeepers in this temporary museum, the exhibition documents the travels of Edouard Bovet with letters that he sent home to his brothers. There is also a selection of timepieces from Raffy’s contemporary collection that show how the brand has evolved to create exceptional timepieces that appeal to today’s discerning collectors. 

Looking Back at 200 Years of History

Roméo & Juliette © Bovet


From the 14th to the 21st Century

The company may be housed in a 14th-century castle, but don’t be distracted by the medieval storytelling, this is a cutting-edge manufacture, making 95% of its components in-house. Between its workshops in Môtiers, its movement and dial manufacture in Tramelan, this comprehensive manufacturing pool makes almost everything, including the hairspring and regulating organ. 

Trying Our Luck

The 200th-century celebrations continue with three different workshops so that our small group of journalists can try their hand at tightening watchmakers’ screws (N.B. they were practically invisible to the naked eye), free-hand engraving, and enamel painting (please, don’t ask to see the results)! If the Bovet people were trying to make us realize just how difficult it is to decorate a Bovet watch, their mission was more than accomplished! 

Looking Back at 200 Years of History

Leman Lake Double © Bovet


A Day to Remember

We finish the experience with a watch presentation and a delightful lunch with Mr. Raffy, his daughter Audrey, and the Bovet team in one of the castle’s turrets. No expense was spared to nourish us intellectually, artistically, and gastronomically, making this a day that we will remember for years to come. 

Looking Back at 200 Years of History

Workshop © Bovet




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The Bovet Manufacture upholds the tradition of decorative arts applied to its delicately engraved, chased, enamelled, engine-turned or hand-painted cases, dials and movements, thus passing on the unrivalled knowhow that has been gracing the Firm’s collections and heritage since 1822.

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