Whenever we think about watches, Switzerland comes to mind with its incredible range of swiss watches, but France is a great country with a rich watchmaking history.
In this article, we will discuss the best French watch brands in detail, so let’s get into it.
List Of The Best French Watch Brands.
- Alain Silberstein
- Auffret Paris
- Bell & Ross
- Carzo & Lieutier
- Charlie Watch
- Cyril Brivet-Naudot
- Dodane 1857
- Duc Oger
- Jacques Bianchi
- Le Forban
- L. Leroy
- March la.B
- Mat Watches
- Michel Herbelin
- Ralf Tech
- Sartory Billard
- Semper & adhuc
Listed above are the 49 best french watch brands that we could find in France, now we’re going to go in detail of some of the best french watch brands so stay tuned.
Best French Watch Brands.
You may have heard of this company primarily because of its Tank Watch.
The Cartier Tank Watch is an iconic rectangular timepiece that has been worn by many famous women throughout history and has inspired many subsequent watches.
Cartier is best known as a watch brand, but it is actually a massive corporation that conceptualises, manufactures, and distributes luxury goods such as jewellery and, of course, watches.
Louis-François Cartier established the company in Paris in 1847. Despite being owned by the Swiss Richemont Group, the company’s headquarters remain in Paris.
Cartier was able to produce other notable timepieces throughout its long history, including the Santos, The Mystery, and Tank Americaine. Whatever Cartier watch you wear, it represents luxury, sophistication, and the history of the watchmaking industry.
Since being embraced by celebrities for decades, from Jackie Kennedy and Michelle Obama to Lady Diane and Jennifer Aniston’s watch collection, this watch has become an even more iconic symbol.
Baltic Watches is a microbrand founded by Etienne Malec, a vintage watch enthusiast. Influenced by his father’s watch collection and journal, he finally launched Baltic Watches in 2017 via a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign.
Baltic Watches are distinguished by vintage designs, particularly those seen in the 1940s. The brand also follows the traditional watchmaking process and employs mechanical movements, meeting modern high-quality standards as well. Its timepieces are made in Besançon, France, by a family of watchmakers.
Despite being a microbrand that has only recently launched, Baltic is already garnering a lot of attention for its high-quality watches that are reasonably priced.
Bell & Ross
The name Bell & Ross is derived from the names of the company’s founders, Bruno Belamich and Carlos Rosillo. The brand was founded in 1992 by two friends with the goal of producing tough and functional watches that can withstand various elements. As a result, Bell & Ross is now a well-known brand, particularly among special forces, police, pilots, and even astronauts.
Bell & Ross has been making high-end watches for many years, but it wasn’t until 2005 that the company released a model that established the brand as well-known and distinctive. It is through the BR 01 – a solid core watch that laid the groundwork for the brand’s subsequent models and timepieces – that the foundation for the brand’s succeeding models and timepieces was laid.
Its tough build, as well as the unique and simple design, make it well-known even in the international watch community. The round dial encased in a square with four functional screws on each corner stands out in particular.
B.R.M., which stands for Bernard Richards Manufacture, is a French watch brand that focuses on motorsports and is therefore heavily influenced by automotive technology. Despite the fact that it is a relatively new watch brand, having released its first timepiece only in 2003, its name is already among those big watch names.
BRM is already producing thousands of timepieces, the majority of which are sold in the northwestern part of France. Some remarkable designs incorporate a skeleton design with an industrial feel, while others combine titanium and checkered flags.
Dodane is a French brand well-known for its aviation watches that are technologically innovative.
It is a family-owned watch company founded in 1857 by Alphonse Dodane and his father-in-law, François-Xavier Joubert. Although the company had been dissolved by 1994, it was re-established in the early 2000s by Cédric Dodane, the fifth generation. Its primary customer, the NATO Air Forces, continues to rely on it for reliable and accurate timepieces.
Among its most notable timepieces is the TYPE 21, which was a popular chronograph from the 1950s to the 1980s. It is widely assumed by the general public that Type 21-like watches were also manufactured by other watch brands at the time. Dodane 1857 later produced other dependable timepieces, the Type 211 and Type 23. All of them are used by both military and civilian pilots.
Fugue, which translates to “Escape,” is a French watch brand founded in 2017 by Leopoldo Celi. It has a simple and vintage aesthetic. What distinguishes its timepieces, however, is the brand’s modular approach to watchmaking.
With Fugue timepieces, the owners or wearers may assemble their watches with the cases, dials, and straps they prefer. As a result, this modular scheme allows owners to personalise their timepieces based on their mood, personality, outfit, and so on. They could simply swap these parts for those of other designs and appear to have a collection of timepieces.
All dials have mechanical movements, and all parts are of high quality. Despite being marketed as a French watch brand due to the owner’s nationality, Fugue actually uses Swiss movements and components. The assembly is also Swiss.
Merci, unlike the other watch brands featured here, did not begin with watches. Rather, it is well-known for its home goods – men’s and women’s clothing, shoes, accessories, and so on. It is a retail store where inexperienced designers can display their work. Not only that, but the store was also intended to benefit Madagascar’s schools.
Merci later released its first watch, the LMM-01, which stands for La Montre Merci. It is a low-cost watch that is simple yet elegant. It combines and fuses the minimalism principle with a field watch.
Aside from its essentialist design, what drew attention and publicity to this watch was French President Emmanuel Macron himself, who was seen wearing LMM-01 on multiple occasions.
Michel Herbelin is a namesake brand that was founded in 1947 in Charquemont, France, where most French watch brands began in the 18th century. However, it was not until 1965 that the brand launched its logo, and as a result, it became a well-known brand.
Michel Herbelin’s son, Jean-Claude Herbelin, joined the company in 1972. His initiative resulted in the company implementing a new marketing strategy that included their high-quality watches in the mid-to-high-class range. Michel also introduced a creative boost that has been widely acknowledged in the watch industry. Michel Herbelin debuted ultra-slim watches with wire bangles.
All Michel Herbelin watches are outfitted with Swiss movements. As a result, their timepieces combine the best of both worlds – the beauty of French design and the precision of Swiss engineering. This is reflected in the brand’s motto, “Swiss Heart, French Soul.”
Michel Herbelin’s ownership is still in the family, and it is now in the hands of the third generation. Despite its international success, the brand remains one of the true independent watchmakers. Its timepieces are already sold in over 50 countries around the world. Michel Herbelin is well-known for its technically sophisticated masterpieces.
Pequignet is a French luxury watch brand best known for its own in-house mechanical movement, the Calibre Royal. It was entirely designed and assembled in the Haute Horlogerie laboratory of the company in Morteau, France. It features a number of engineering details that resulted in some pretty complications on the main plate, resulting in an elegantly thinned movement.
The MOOREA link bracelet, inspired by the founder’s (Emile Pequignet’s) racehorse, is another trademark creation of Pequignet. As a result, it features a steel grain-shaped link that is hinged with the bracelet. Over time, the MOOREA collection has grown to include more timepieces.
Yema is a brand name that arose from the creative mind of a teenager who took part in a school contest organized by the company’s founder and French watchmaker, Henry Louis Belmont.
This watchmaking company, founded in 1948, created a variety of long-lasting and dependable timepieces suitable for diving, sailing, racing, and even space exploration. Several Yema timepieces were used in historic events such as the first Franco-American orbital flight mission, North Pole exploration, and the Proxima space mission.
It’s no surprise that older Yema timepieces are highly sought after on the vintage market. However, one of the most notable Yema watches for the modern market is the Superman Heritage. Yema also has collections for motorsports enthusiasts, yachting watches, and watches inspired by space travel. If that piques your interest, take a look at these watches worn by astronauts in space.
It is a re-creation of the brand’s classic Superman model, which was first released in 1963. It is a 39mm dive watch with a 38-hour power reserve and an automatic ETA 2824-2 movement. It has an oyster case, a thin unidirectional bezel with an L-shaped locking system, and a five-link brushed steel bracelet.
Here you can learn more about the brand and buy its watches.
ZRC is yet another French company with a long history of working with the French military that primarily produces one type of timepiece, in this case, a dive watch. The unique design, based on a piece made for the French navy in the 1960s, features a 6 o’clock crown (to avoid damage and snagging during underwater operations) and an angular case shape, among other design features that set it apart in the world of dive watches.
Serica is a Paris-based microbrand that focuses on tool watches but has a keen sense of design. It offers new interpretations of classic sports watch styles. The brand’s first collection was a field watch, and its second collection, released in 2021, was a dive watch. They have similar retro vibes and case diameters under 40mm, but with fresh designs that keep them interesting, unique, and well worth a look.
The collections of the trained interior designer, whose passion culminated in the establishment of the luxury watch brand in his name in 1990, are made up of a wild mix of shapes and patterns, as well as the four primary colours of the opposite colour theory.
A watch by Alain Silberstein is inevitably associated with the 1990s and pop art. The (apparently) randomised interplay of various geometric shapes stands out from the crowd. Clearly, the irreverent style extravaganza is not for everyone, and Alain Silberstein watches are not designed to appeal to every taste. The influence on watch designs over the last 20 years, on the other hand, is irreversible. Alain Silberstein’s production ceased in 2012.
What remains is a watch brand that defied many conventions, coined new ones, and helped shape watch designs in the years since. Whether for another company or for the Alain Silberstein brand, the designer continues to create unique watch designs with zeal – such as the MB&F “LM1 Silberstein,” a limited edition of the legacy machine N°1. Because Alain Silberstein’s designs will almost certainly always be re-iterations of the very unique Silberstein design formula, the brand lives on in some ways.
Le Roy is a well-known name in French horology. It was particularly important in the production of marine and ship chronometers in the 18th century. The watch’s exceptional accuracy earned the manufacturer, which was named Le Roy after the watchmaker, numerous awards.
They also made significant contributions in other areas, such as paving the way for the self-winding watch, which was developed just two years later by John Harwood, with their “systeme de remontage automatique.” The Festina group is reviving the legacy of renowned French watchmaker Basile Le Roy. Le Roy’s name was changed to L. Leroy. The brand’s positioning is based on its corporate heritage and is positioned in the high-end segment, with a defining focus on producing the most precise watches and Tourbillons possible. The styling also builds on the brand’s history: the nautically inspired designs feature a traditionalistic keynote reminiscent of the Baroque style language. Guilloche dials, blued hands, Breguet numerals, and intricately cut out dials can all be found here.
Can I say that this is as French as it gets without sounding politically incorrect? March LA.B has created their own petite universe with luscious colours and a glamorous take on the 1970s. Not a pure online player like the others in this storey, but with a showroom in London as well as two additional brand stores in France. With their glamorous creations, March LA.B (no, I didn’t miss a dot) aims high. Alan Marhic’s favourite colour is green, which is the colour of the year in 2021.
The organic, square cushion shape of the AM2 Automatic exemplifies their design integrity and non-conformist style, as it does not resemble anything else. A softly shaped slender case has abrupt notches where lugs would normally sit, brushed indents like the slim flat edge of the bezel, and a jauntily placed intricately engraved crown at 4 o’clock.
A sun-ray green dial with parallel polished indices for the hours and some whimsically horizontal at the top and bottom of the dial is very 70s glam. I detect a futuristic take on art deco in both these architectural details and the March LA.B logo itself – it’s certainly unique. The AM2 is a near-goldilocks 39mm square watch with a choice of five dial colours and three hand-made leather and steel bands, as well as a solid Myiota calibre that keeps time.
This low-cost small brand has one thing in common with all of the French-speaking watches in this article: integrity. Style integrity and a language that reminds us of vintage details we’ve seen elsewhere. The blue dial Concordia from Charlie Paris, like the seventies cocktail factor of March LA.B, is a fresh sports watch in a superb case shape that reminds us of the chunky lugs of the original Black Bay. The broad polished bezel is a dressy sports frame for a just-so mid blue dial, with a sharp, swoopy bevel that should not be possible on such a small manufacturer’s budget. The intricate crown incorporates the same blue, which is somewhat maritime in nature.
The Concordia punches well above its weight class, with a 300m depth rating, no mean feat in a svelte 38mm case measuring only 11.1mm in height. Applied indices and a sharp set of sword hands round out a compact package of 316L steel at a price that is hard to believe, aided by the everyday solidity of a VH31 Seiko Mecha Quartz movement. The Concordia is also available as a diver’s watch, which may appear as a Micro Mondays storey here in a few weeks. At EUR 275, it represents excellent value.