Evolution of Maison Perrelet

Since its foundation, Perrelet has constantly innovated in the field of watchmaking, demonstrating a boldness firmly rooted in its DNA and values. The inventor of the automatic winding watch almost 250 years ago, Perrelet has faithfully cultivated its pioneering and avant-garde spirit, as well as its impressive mastery of watch developments. Key values such as rigorous technical standards and extreme precision are put at the service of a vision: to perpetuate the watchmaking legacy of the legendary founder of the brand, Abraham-Louis Perrelet, as well as his successors like Louis Frédéric Perrelet.

The Beginning of a Dynasty

The Swiss watch industry rapidly expanded in the 17th and 18th centuries, distinguishing itself from its French and English competitors with more elegant, innovative, and higher-quality watches. Most workshops were established in major cities such as Geneva, Neuchâtel, La Chaux-de-Fonds, and Le Locle, among others. These areas housed small studios where watchmakers specialized in the production of high-resistance watches and developed advanced watchmaking techniques, revolutionizing the industry that was just beginning to expand.

By the early 18th century, a solid foundation for watchmaking had already been established in Switzerland, with major industry players in the area. At that time, it was common for many young Swiss individuals to become watchmakers following in the footsteps of their parents and grandparents, gaining their knowledge from generation to generation. However, the story of Abraham-Louis Perrelet is exceptional.

Abraham-Louis Perrelet was born around 1729 in Switzerland, in Le Locle, in the canton of Neuchâtel, into a family of watchmakers. From a young age, Perrelet learned the art of watchmaking by working in his father's and grandfather's workshop, and he stood out for his innate talent to visualize the intricate ballet of pieces that compose the heart of a watch, and the patience required to bring those visions to reality, improving the designs of the delicate mechanisms that animated the watches of the time.


His early achievements earned him a job at the age of 24 in the most renowned watchmaking workshop of the time: the workshop of Abraham-Louis Breguet. Thus, young Perrelet traveled to Paris with the aim of perfecting his skills with the famous watchmaker, who soon discovered the unique talent of that young watchmaker. For over a decade, Perrelet trained in the difficult craft of producing the most precise and beautiful watches while working on the design of innovative chronometric mechanisms for Breguet.

The Automatic Mechanism

After his years of apprenticeship at the Breguet workshop, Perrelet returned to Switzerland and aspired to create his own masterpieces. One of the biggest inconveniences of watches at the time was the need to wind them every day with a small key to energize their intricate mechanism. Perrelet set out to free watch owners from the daily routine of winding, devising an automatic system that would be powered by the natural kinetic energy of the moving human body and stored in the same winding mechanism. Perrelet conceived a rotor that would capture the kinetic energy of human movement, the quintessence of passing days, and convert it into the energy that would perpetually drive that mechanism.

After years of sketches and failed experiments, in 1777 Perrelet finally brought to life the first automatic winding watch in the history of watchmaking. The metallic rotor he had devised spun freely in both directions, propelled by the movements the watch made as its owner walked, and transmitting its circular dance to the delicate gear that wound the spring of the mechanism. Perrelet's genius lay in having conceived that concept and translating it into a mechanism capable of transforming the incessant flow of life into the energy that would keep the machinery of his new creation in perpetual motion. A surprisingly simple yet enormously effective system, which has survived to this day.


This Perrelet invention, the automatic winding mechanism, once again demonstrated his extraordinary talent for solving complex problems with innovative mechanical solutions. With its contribution, Perrelet was instrumental in making watches much more practical and reliable, freeing their owners from the routine task of having to power their watches. His first masterpiece changed the way the world measured the passage of time.

After that, Perrelet continued working in his workshop in Le Locle as an independent watchmaker, perfecting his automatic winding mechanism until his death in 1826 at the age of 97. His visionary mind not only represented a disruption in the watchmaking industry but also reminded us of the fleetingness of each moment by making time a quantifiable measure of life's wonderful dance.

Perrelet's Inventions

In 1780, Abraham-Louis Perrelet developed the first pedometer, capable of counting the steps taken by the user while walking or running. Those movements that he managed to transform into the energy source of his watches were now also measured and reported to the owners of his watches, giving it an unheard-of functionality for the time, beyond the already complex indication of time.

In his continuous quest to improve his products, Perrelet had to design several specific components, refining gear trains and improving pinions, gears, and more. He became the first watchmaker to make watches with cylinder and duplex escapements, with date and equation, something unique for the time. Many of his innovations have been used by countless watch brands for their most advanced products to date.

Like Abraham-Louis, his grandson Louis-Frédéric Perrelet also developed a passion for watchmaking at home. Inseparable from his grandfather, and skilled in mathematics and mechanics, he inherited a great vision and watchmaking genius that led him to further increase the prestige of the family brand. The patriarch of the family, Abraham-Louis, took him as an apprentice in his workshop, but, following his own steps, and seeing the young man's ability, the family decided to send Louis-Frédéric to Paris, to study and develop his skills in the famous Breguet workshop.

Louis-Frédéric Perrelet

After his apprenticeship in the Breguet workshop, Louis-Frédéric Perrelet's growing interest in astronomy, physics, and science led him to conceive watches called "smart". An astronomical pendulum conceived in 1815 was presented at the Universal Exhibition of Paris in 1823 and consecrated him as the mechanical watchmaker of three successive kings of France. Astronomical pendulums were the most accurate clocks available in the 19th century and were used for a variety of purposes, including navigation, astronomy, and meteorology. Although the first astronomical pendulum was invented by Christiaan Huygens in the 17th century, Perrelet's improvement made it much more precise.

In 1827, on the occasion of the French Industrial Products Exhibition, Louis-Frédéric Perrelet presented an exceptional physics and astronomy chronometer with a split-seconds mechanism. This piece, officially patented in March 1828, earned him the medal of the Academy of Sciences in 1830. This medal is an award given by the French Academy of Sciences to individuals who have made significant contributions to science. The award was first given in 1795 and has been awarded to great scientists such as Marie Curie, Albert Einstein, and Stephen Hawking. The exceptional physics and astronomy chronometer presented by Perrelet was a mechanical device that could measure time with great precision and was used for a variety of purposes, including scientific research or navigation. The French Academy of Sciences Medal is one of the most prestigious awards in French science and is a testament to Perrelet's contributions to watchmaking and science.


Present and Future of Perrelet Manufacturing

Maison Perrelet has continued its founder's mission to this day, tirelessly seeking excellence in quality and innovation. In 1995, a new innovation was introduced: the Double Rotor, a system where two rotors work together to wind the watch's automatic mechanism. It is a unique system that combines the oscillating weight that automatically winds the watch with a rotor located on the dial, marking a stage in contemporary watches.

During the late 20th and early 21st centuries, Perrelet had used movements from other manufacturers, but in 2012, with the launch of the in-house caliber P-321, it regained its independence from other manufacturers and once again became a watchmaking manufacture, where all components of the watches are produced internally. With this caliber as a foundation for evolution, numerous watch complications were developed and applied to new models, without the creative restrictions of depending on external suppliers.


The development of these complications was such that, in 2013, two iconic products were introduced: the Turbine Chrono and the Turbine Tourbillon, two of the most popular watch complications, developed in-house at Maison Perrelet's workshops. These two releases confirmed the watchmaking expertise of the house and its creative and developmental capacity of its iconic "Turbine" concept.

More about Maison Perrelet

Discover the essence of innovation at Perrelet, where our unwavering commitment to excellence is reflected in our unique vertically integrated manufacturing process. From the meticulous selection of the finest raw materials to the meticulous craftsmanship that brings each exquisite piece of haute horlogerie to life, we precision-control every step of the process.

know how Perrelet


The inheritance of technical knowledge left by the great watchmakers of the brand is combined with the character imprinted by Perrelet's almost 250 years of pursuit of watchmaking perfection.

Perrelet Bespoke lab


The craftsmanship performed by our master watchmakers, as well as our complete autonomy in watchmaking, allows us to offer watch enthusiasts unique pieces, completely exclusive and custom-designed to meet the highest demands of collectors.