Ferdinand Berthoud was born in 1727 in Switzerland’s Val-de-Travers. As soon as he could, he left his birthplace to go and live in Paris, where he completed his training as a clockmaker. His superlative skills very quickly earned him recognition, and in 1753 he was awarded the title of Master Horologer by special decree of King Louis XV.
From that time on, Ferdinand Berthoud would devote his life to perfecting the art of horology and developing precision clocks. It was a time when the courts of Europe were vying to be the first to master the measurement of longitude. He was sent to London by the King to examine Harrison’s H1 and H4 marine chronometers, and earned the unusual distinction of being elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.
On his return, he designed two marine chronometers, the No. 6 and the No. 8, which in 1768 accompanied a navy vessel on a 12-month voyage. The results were exceptionally accurate for the time, and Ferdinand Berthoud was rewarded with the title “Horologist-Mechanic by Appointment to the King and the Navy”.
With his reputation and future assured, Ferdinand Berthoud was able to entrust his Parisian workshop to his nephews Henry and Louis Berthoud, who supplied the courts of Europe while Ferdinand concentrated on perfecting his clock mechanisms and writing a number of reference works, which helped to disseminate his knowledge of clockmaking and marine chronometers.
Ferdinand Berthoud, a gifted inventor and clockmaker, and the first in a line of clockmakers, was honoured with the title of Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur by Napoleon in 1804, and died three years later at the age of eighty.
In 2006 Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, president of Chopard, acquired the rights to the name and created Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud, of which he is also president. His aim was to pay tribute to an exceptionally gifted clockmaker, his impressive body of work and the values of perfection, precision and innovation with which his name is associated.