Independent Watch Brand
Heir to an impressive historical legacy, the House of Leroy has written some of the finest chapters in the history of watchmaking and French chronometry.
Charles Leroy, the royal watchmaker, entrusted his workshop to his employee Cachart, who, together with Charles, created the Leroy Company in 1751. Already a supplier of watches to the king and the entire royal court, this new enterprise gradually began to achieve great success in the field of timekeeping. In 1759, the company invented the modern underwater chronometer and presented it to the Academy of Sciences.
The brand gained fame in 1785 when it opened an official workshop and boutique at the most famous address of that time - Palais-Royal in Paris, which remained unchanged for 100 years. This new workshop immediately attracted the attention of the aristocracy and became a means of satisfying their need for luxury watches. The most famous clients of Leroy were Queen Marie Antoinette, who preferred L.Leroy table clocks, Count Axel de Fersen, and the Minister of Sweden. Today, the important historical L.Leroy watches are presented in the Leroy Museum.
The brilliant reputation of Leroy remained intact even after the troubled times of the French Revolution when Le Roy became one of the leading companies in Paris for the production of clocks and carriage clocks, mostly produced for officers in the Napoleonic campaigns. Among Leroy’s high-profile clients was General Bonaparte himself, together with his younger brother Jerome, King of Westphalia, his sister Princess Pauline and his mother Letizia.
The ever-increasing role of sea navigation began to dictate its requirements for the watch industry. Ships needed more accurate onboard chronometers to determine longitude. In June 1808, Leroy received its first order from the French Navy and soon became the official supplier of precision marine chronometers until 1988, when mechanical watches withdrew from the world watch industry.
In 1863 Leroy opened a store on London's famous Bond Street and became the official watchmaker of Queen Victoria. This was a special privilege, in particular, for a foreign company. In 1869, Queen Victoria ordered an exclusive wristwatch made of gold covered with enamel. During this significant period in the history of Leroy, the Emperor of Brazil, Napoleon III, Empress Eugenie, the Shah of Iran and the Queen of Spain have become Leroy’s clients.
In 1899, when Paris became the "capital" of all of Europe, Leroy opened its offices on the Boulevard de la Madeleine and became the most recognizable watch brand. Soon the company became the official watchmaker of the Russian imperial family and received an order from Admiral Rimsky-Korsakov to equip the royal yacht with a timekeeping system, displaying time, date, day, and month.
In 1900, at the Paris Universal Exposition, the company presented the Leroy 01 watch model, which became the most complex watch at that time, remaining the absolute standard for highly complicated watchmaking until 1989. It combined 25 complications, and the case was completely made of gold weighing 228 grams. This luxury watch was commissioned by the King of Portugal and today it’s exhibited at the Time Museum in the French city of Besancon.
In 1910, Leroy installed the first system for transmitting time signals by radiotelegraphy at the top of the Eiffel Tower. This step further strengthened the position of the Leroy brand. The 20th century was marked by the appearance of the first automatic wristwatches. In 1920, the Leroy watch brand released its first prototype of an automatic wristwatch, which was patented and presented to the public only in February 1922. The first followers of Leroy were Harwood and Rolex, and later 50 different watch brands began to offer original watches with automatic movement.
With the advent of car racing, the demand for more accurate timekeepers has increased. The company developed chronometers measuring 1/10 of a second, and even 1/100 of a second, becoming the official supplier to many automobile clubs, as well as the legendary Tour de France car race.
In 1959, the company introduced a steel-free chronometer. This new timepiece was made from beryllium. The model of this watch accompanied the polar expeditions of the 1960s and 1970s.
When the first quartz watches appeared in Europe in the 1970s, the Leroy watch brand became the first European manufactory to produce quartz watches, after moving all its development and production activities to Switzerland in 1990. In 1994, mechanical watches began to gradually replace quartz ones, but the company continued to specialize in creating superb avant-garde pieces boasting timeless designs, like the Osmoir wristwatch collection.
Celebrating 180 years of experience in the watch industry as a watchmaker of the maritime department, Leroy released the Marine collection. The contemporary Leroy Marine watches are in fact an updated version of the famous marine chronometers that made the Leroy brand world-famous.
Phone: +41 (0)21 845 20 80