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Louis Audemars of La Chaux-de-Fonds

SFoskett

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I'm doing some research into Eberhard (which is really a fascinating story) and came across something interesting...

In addition to Eberhard & Cie., Georges Eberhard also owned a company called "Société anonyme de la fabrique d'horlogerie Louis Audemars". It was incorporated in La Chaux-de-Fonds on June 28, 1899 with initial capital of 50,000 francs (quite a lot of money for the time). The owners (and likely investors) were Georges Eberhard himself and Arnold Weber of Menziken.

Louis Audemars & Cie. of Le Crêt Meylan was founded in 1811 and liquidated in 1885. Another company called Louis Audemars of Le Brassus was active from the 1860s through the 1890s. And of course there was Jules-Louis Audemars and Edward-Auguste Piguet's famous Le Brassus company, started in 1875. But this wasn't those.

l'Impartial 1899-08-26-004-000 Louis Audemars.jpg


Given that Swiss law required companies to use the name of an employee or family, it seems likely that Eberhard's firm was associated with a "Louis Audemars" but it's not clear which one! I wonder if he was trying to capitalize on the fame of Audemars Piguet or those other Louises. Perhaps he purchased and continued the firm of Louis Audemars of Le Brassus or simply represented them commercially.

The share capital was reduced to just 5,000 francs in 1905 with Weber leaving the company. After this it was co-located with Eberhard & Co. in their landmark factory in La Chaux-de-Fonds until it was deleted from the register on December 12, 1912.

l'Impartial 1906-03-11-008-000 Louis Audemars.jpg


So this is my question: Does anyone know anything about the firm of Louis Audemars of La Chaux-de-Fonds?

And if you happen to be an Eberhard fan, I'd love to hear from you as well!
 

Audemars

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This may very well clear up - at least partially - a question which has irritated me for several years. I haven't lost any sleep over it but it has bothered me a bit.

After the bankruptcy and liquidation of the original Louis Audemars company (also referred to as the "Ancienne Maison") there were three successor companies established by four of Louis-Benjamin's grandsons. Sadly we have no archive material for any of the successor companies.

Louis Audemars & Co (founded by my great-grandfather - Louis Audemars-Valette - and defunct in around 1900, or even a couple of years earlier. That he chose to give his company the same name as the original house has caused much confusion over the last 137 years).
François Audemars Fils (Founded by his cousin François and defunct around the same time).
Audemars Frères (Founded by François' brothers Hector & Charles-Henri. This business was defunct in around 1910 but there are traces that they sold the name to someone in the Locle/Chaux de Fonds area).

In around 1895 or so my Grandfather came to London - with only the clothes on his back - and got a job as a repairer for a M. Baume. He later established his own business in London in around 1910, which he billed as a "successor" to the "Ancienne Maison". That he left the Vallée de Joux may be indicative that his father's business was already failing.

Over the years one or two correspondents have contacted me with photographs of watches (which I judge to be styled in the 1920s or 30s) signed "Audemars E & Co" on the dials. That has always been a bit of a mystery. It still is, but - and this is pure speculation - it looks as though Louis Audemars-Valette "sold" his name to investors.

In around 1921, he wrote a history of the "Ancienne Maison". I have always felt it comes over as a not-very-objective justification. He touches on the three successor companies but makes no mention of their ultimate fates.

He also makes no mention whatsoever of Audemars-Piguet ("AP"). AP was co-founded in 1875 by Jules-Louis Audemars, his second cousin, who - according the the ledgers I have - worked for the "Ancienne Maison". Apart from that connection, there was never any corporate connection between AP and the "Ancienne Maison" or any of the successor companies. I have in the past speculated that by the 1920s or 30s AP was already a power in the trade and would come down heavily on anyone using the Audemars name. But that is only speculation.

More details are at The Successor Companies | Audemars

I hope this helps a bit.
I attach two photos of Louis Audemars-Valette. One around the time of the 1885 bankruptcy and the second around the time he wrote his monograph
Louis Audemars-Valette.jpg Louis Audemars-Valette ca. 1920.jpg

Paul
 
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eri231

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Over the years one or two correspondents have contacted me with photographs of watches (which I judge to be styled in the 1920s or 30s) signed "Audemars E & Co" on the dials. That has always been a bit of a mystery. It still is, but - and this is pure speculation - it looks as though Louis Audemars-Valette "sold" his name to investors.
Maybe Edmond Audemars 1882-1970 ?
regards enrico
 

Audemars

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Actually Enrico, I had forgotten Edmond.
I suppose he could possibly be a candidate.
He was a pioneer aviator (flew a Demoiselle) who made the first non-stop flight from Paris to Berlin. He had been a champion cyclist. He ended up working for Jaeger-Lecoultre in Le Sentier.
Here is a photo of him. he is (obviously) the one with the Swiss cross on his chest.
1669994913403.png


I also found this :
Audemars E & Co Dial.jpg and this Audemars E & Co movement.jpg
- which is a watch by Audemars E & co which somebody sent me a few years ago.

This is the only reference to Audemars E & Co, in my folders:
Registration.jpg


In 2015 you (Enrico) sent me this - which in my senility I had completely forgotten as well......(the dates seem to be conflicted)
:
23 Octobre 1929 La société en nom collectif Audemars et Co, fabrication d'horlogerie, à la Chaux -de-Fonds, est dissoute et radiée, la liquidation étant terminée. — 31 mai : 11 a été constitué sous la raison sociale Audemars E. et Co, société anonyme, une société anonyme ayant son siège à la Chaux-de-Fonds et pour but la fabrication, achat et la vente d'horlogerie et de tous produits s'y rattachant.
Cette société continue les affaires de l'ancienne entreprise Audemars et Co, radiée. Le capital social est de 3000 francs divisé en dix actions non inactives. La société est engagée vis-à-vis des tiers par la signature individuelle de chaque administrateur.
La gestion des affaires sociales est confiée à un conseil d'administration de 1 à 3 membres, qui confère la signature sociale et nomme tous directeurs.
Est nommé administrateur M. Louis Kureth, originaire du canton de Berne, employé de bureau, domicilié à la Chaux de-Fonds. Salomon Kirjasefer, originaire de Lettonie, négociant, domicilié à Varsovie, a été désigné en qualité de directeur ayant qualité pour engager la société par sa signature apposée au nom de celle-ci.

No Audemars in there at all....

Paul
 
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Audemars

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Senility strikes again !
- I just noticed "Edouard Henri A" in that notice of registration.
He MUST be the "E".
I have not run across him before and I have had that cutting in my files for several years.
I now have to find out where he fits into the 19th/20thC family.
P
 

eri231

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I can't find anything else, for now I hope.
Edouard-Henri Audemars, originaire du Chenil (Vaud), domicilie au Sentier (Vaud)
Regards enrico
 

SFoskett

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Edmond Audemars was indeed involved in watchmaking - he was one of the "money guys" who supported the rise of Jaeger instruments in World War I, along with Gustave Delage and other French aviators.

Audemars was particularly impressed by Jacques-David LeCoultre and joined him to take over Jaeger's operations in Geneva in the 1920s. He remained on the board of LeCoultre's company through the 1940s and the birth of Jaeger-LeCoultre. Indeed, it would have been difficult for Jaeger or LeCoultre to continue without Audemars' support and their companies would be largely forgotten without him.

But he's not "my" Louis Audemars...
 

VinSer

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... In 2015 you (Enrico) sent me this - which in my senility I had completely forgotten as well......(the dates seem to be conflicted) ...
Good morning,

actually the dates are not really conflicting, just a change of type of company :)

This is what I found on the Feuille Officiel Suisse du Commerce: in summary Audemars E & Co was founded in 1924, registered a trademark, became a joint-stock company in 1929, liquidation started in 1931 and was definetly radiated in 1934.

Ciao

FOSC 17-01-1924
FOSC 17-01-1924.jpg

Trademark registered on 28-01-1934
trademark Audemars E & Co.jpg

FOSC 05-08-1930
FOSC 05-08-1930.jpg

FOSC 15-12-1931
FOSC 28-12-1934.jpg

FOSC 28-12-1934
FOSC 15-12-1931.jpg
 
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Audemars

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Enrico, where is your source for Edouard-Henri? What did he do?
I've been through my great-grandfather's family tree (published 1922) and I can't see a Edouard-Henri.
The nearest I can get is an "Edward" (English spelling) born in 1879, which seems to be the right sort of date.
He was the grandson of Adolphe Audemars.
P
 

eri231

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H o r l o g e r i e. — 10 janvier. ' Edouard-Henri Audemars, originaire du Chenil (Vaud), domicilie au Sentier (Vaud); Theophile Kissling, originaire de Wattenwil (Berne), à la Chaux-de-Fonds, et Salomon Kirjasefer, de Lettland (Lettonie), a Varsovie, ont constitué à la Chaux-de-Fonds une société en nom collectif sous la raison sociale Audemars E. et Co, qui commence son activité avec son inscription au registre du commerce. Theophile Kissling à seul qualité pour engager la société par sa signature individuelle à l'ègard des tiers. Fabrication, achat et vente d'horlogerie.' •Rue du Nord 60, la Chaux-de-Fonds


H o r l o g e r i e. - January 10. 'Edouard-Henri Audemars, originally from Chenil (Vaud), domiciled in the path (Vaud); Theophile Kissling, from Wattenwil (Bern), in La Chaux-de-Fonds, and Salomon Kirjasefer, from Lettland (Latvia), in Warsaw, constituted in La Chaux-de-Fonds a company in collective name under the social reason Audemars E. and CO, which begins its activity with its registration in the commercial register. Theophile Kissling solely quality to engage the company by its individual signature at the third party. Manufacturing, purchase and sale of watchmaking. ' • Rue du Nord 60, La Chaux-de-Fonds.

I had found it in the commercial register of Switzerland.
I also remember an Albert Audemars technical director at Meylan manufactory , but he was originally from Besancon, a city where there were other Audemars.
Regards enrico
 
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Audemars

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Thank you.Enrico - what would we mortals do without you?

It seems likely that Messrs Kissling & Kirjaseferhad found a willing Audemars to front their enterprise. But for SFoskett's purposes he seems to be a red herring because of the dates.

Edouard A does not answer SFoskett's question which sought for a Louis Audemars in around 1899-1905. That was about the time that my great-grandfather's (Louis Audemars-Valette) successor company was defunct, although we have no details about what happened.
It doesn't take a vast leap of imagination to surmise that he also sold his name.

So his son (also a Louis) came to London with only the clothes on his back, and here I sit 122 years later in South-West England, with a family name which needs to be spelled out several times a week.

Paul
 

eri231

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So his son (also a Louis) came to London with only the clothes on his back, and here I sit 122 years later in South-West England, with a family name which needs to be spelled out several times a week.
True, your ancestors should be grateful to you. Thanks to you we often talk about it.
Regards enrico
 
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mosesgodfrey

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The close of the century does not appear to have been kind to the Audemars clan, in general. I was taking a glance back to see if I could glean anything to help with the query--no luck, only another disaster of which I was not aware:

Journal du Jura, Saturday, 23 August 1890

Here are more details on the damage caused to the Valley by Tuesday's (19 August 1890) tornado:

…As we approach Le Brassus, the disaster increases. — At Campe, you could still see a few facades that had withstood the storm. But in Crêt Meylan, three quarters of the houses are completely demolished; only two or three sections of the wall remain, threatening to collapse on passers-by. And yet, it was at Crêt Meylan that there stood the beautiful buildings of MM. Louis Audemars frères, who have made a universal reputation for their precision timepieces. The frames are dislocated, the windows torn out. There are walls there that are more than 50 centimeters thick. The wind blew huge boulders from it and rolled large stones a considerable distance. Of the Lecoultre and Meylan houses, which are adjacent, you can only see the four walls…
It doesn't take a vast leap of imagination to surmise that he also sold his name.
I believe you are correct, that this is the way the "Société anonyme de la fabrique d'horlogerie Louis Audemars" took his name.
 

astonvilla

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Another question , off topic . Who ownes the " Louis Audemars " brand name today ?
H Sandstrom
 

Audemars

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Mosesgodfrey wrote: Here are more details on the damage caused to the Valley by Tuesday's (19 August 1890) tornado:

In the 1970s I was travelling extensively on business in Europe (E & W) usually by car. At weekends, if I was in motoring distance from the Vallee de Joux, I would often rock up and beg a bed from my godfather or one of my cousins.

One weekend I arrived to a scene of devastation. A "cyclone" had hit the village of Le Brassus, and it had followed exactly the same path as the wind of approximately eighty years earlier.

The Valley runs SW-NE. There are two prevailing winds in the Valley one from the NE ("La Bise") and the other from the SW ("Le Vent").

Both cyclones came from the NW across the Valley. The second one did not cause as much damage as in 1890. But many houses were damaged. My godfather's house had a huge crack and the hillside opposite was denuded of several million cubic metres of timber, some of which was carried over the mountain and down onto the "plaine" which runs down to the Lake of Geneva. I was told some cows disappeared. I'm still not sure I believe that.

I was also told there was very slight evidence of a similar event early in the 19thC but I have no confirmation.

Here is the valley viewed from the NW, from the summit of La Dent de Vaulion

Lac de Joux - Copy (3).jpg

Paul
 
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Audemars

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Who owns the " Louis Audemars " brand name today ?
H Sandstrom
My Grandfather started his business "Louis Audemars & Co Ltd" in London in about 1910 and billed it as a successor to the "Ancienne Maison"; my father carried it on until his death in 1968. They had most definitely registered the "Louis Audemars" name in the UK and also, I believe, in Switzerland. After my father's death and the liquidation of his business, I presume it became defunct. I had been vehemently discouraged by my father from going into the watch business.

In the late 1990s Hartmut Zantke was preparing his book about Louis Benjamin and the original company. I was cooperating very closely with him. He told me that AP tried to persuade him not to publish, but that is hearsay and I am not sure it's true.
After the publication I was routinely informed by my lawyers (I had my own business at the time) that AP had registered various combinations such as "L-B Audemars" etc etc.

The answer to the question is: I don't actually know who - if anyone - owns the precise name "Louis Audemars" but I reeeeally would not like to try to use it.

Various people - mostly in eastern Europe - are busily converting old movements into big wristwatches. Some of them are sold as "Louis Audemars". A few of them might be genuine movements. Who knows?

The same question was asked when I was headhunted as export manager by Junghans Uhren in the seventies. But I came back to England before I could capitalize on it......

Paul
 
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eri231

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I was also told there was very slight evidence of a similar event early in the 19thC but I have no confirmation.

2 juillet 1834 - Grêle énorme dans la vallée de Joux

Un très violent orage de grêle sévit dans la vallée de Joux, particulièrement vers Le Brassus. Au lieu dit La Campe, les vitres ont été abattues "d'un coup". Les sapins ont été déshabillés d'un côté, jusqu'à l'écorce. 50 ans plus tard il était encore possible d'observer les stigmates de cette grêle.

July 2, 1834 - Huge hail in the Vallée de Joux

A very violent hailstorm raged in the Vallée de Joux, particularly towards Le Brassus. At a place called La Campe, the windows were knocked down "all at once". The trees have been stripped on one side, down to the bark.
50 years later it was still possible to observe the scars of this hail.

REgards enrico
 

VinSer

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... So this is my question: Does anyone know anything about the firm of Louis Audemars of La Chaux-de-Fonds? ...
From the publication of Switzerland commercial register:

(a) As you already found, founded on 28 June 1899
FOSC 22-08-1899.jpg

(b) Opens a subsidiary in Geneva on 1 September 1899
FOSC 08-09-1899.jpg

(c) Change of the head of the subsidiary on 30 September 1902
FOSC 30-10-1902.jpg

(d) The subsidiary is closed on 26-02-1906
FOSC 02-03-1906.jpg

(e) The company closes on 10-12-1912
FOSC 23-12-1912.jpg

Hope it helps

Ciao
 

VinSer

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... And if you happen to be an Eberhard fan, I'd love to hear from you as well
Fan is a big word ... surely Georges Eberhard was one of the greyest figures and more active schemers in the watch industry ... the later success of Eberhard & Co has cleaned a lot his reputation ;)

By the way, the present Eberhard & Co is the company with this name founded by Georges Eberhard on 26 June 1919. The one founded in 1887 was sold off in 1918.

So, as they say on their website, Eberhard & Co has an uninterrupted history from 1919.

Ciao
 

Audemars

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So, to my mind, this thread answers what was a question which the family in Switzerland never ever asked: what happened to my Great-grandfather's "successor" company?
My great grandfather Louis Audemars-Valette - referred to as the "petit-grand-papa" was said to have imposed a "ban" on all discussion within the family of the bankruptcy of the original "Ancienne Maison Louis Audemars" and its aftermath.
This seems to have included his own machinations around the end of the 19thC, which he never mentions in his monograph of 1921/2.
My godfather, his grandson, refused many times to talk to me about it and when Zantke, in the late nineteen-nineties, wrote to senior members of the family seeking information, they all threw the letters away. My godfather pushed the letter at me and said "You speak German, find out what he wants if you want to, but don't tell me".
Zantke thought it was Christmas; he had an English Audemars who spoke German, had documentation (including Louis Audemars-Valette's monograph), and was willing to talk to him.
Here is Louis Audemars-Valette in old age in front of the farmhouse with two of his sons. The small boy is Henri-Daniel, my godfather.
L.Audemars-Valette + Family (C).jpg
Paul
 

Incroyable

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So who were the Audemars that were making the high end repeating modules, etc. for the English trade?
 

VinSer

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... what happened to my Great-grandfather's "successor" company? ...
If you want to fight with Swiss bureaucracy, maybe there is a way to know more :)

Below is the iter of the bankrupcy of Louis Audemars Vallette from the Feuille officielle suisse du commerce (opened on 30 December 1896; closed on 10 June 1897): it ended with a concordat approved by the tribunal. So somewhere in the archives of the Tribunal Civil of Sentier there should be a copy ... :)

Ciao

FOSC 06-01-1897
FOSC 06-01-1897.jpg

FOSC 28-04-1897
FOSC 28-04-1897.jpg
FOSC 02-06-1897
FOSC 02-06-1897.jpg
FOSC 12-06-1897
FOSC 12-06-1897.jpg
 
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Audemars

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Brilliant! Thank you very much.
That fits with the arrival of his son in UK in 1895 or 1896.

Over the years I have concentrated on the "Ancienne Maison" rather than the successor companies - because they left no archive material.
As I said, Louis Audemars-Valette does not mention what happened to his enterprise in his 1920s monograph and for a long time that was my only source.
Having read and translated his not-at-all-objective account, I am not in the least surprised that he banned all family discussion of the matter. But I am astounded that his taboo lasted for two generations.

I still think he is the answer to SFoskett's question.

Paul
 
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Audemars

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So who were the Audemars that were making the high end repeating modules, etc. for the English trade?
The original company aka the "Ancienne" maison up to 1885 followed by Audemars Frères (up to ca 1910) and François Audemars Fils (up to ca 1900).
I don't think Louis Audemars-Valette made many high-end products. He seems for a while to have specialised in small ladies fob watches with very fancy enamelled cases.

Paul
 
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Incroyable

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The original company aka the "Ancienne" maison up to 1885 followed by Audemars Frères (up to ca 1910) and François Audemars Fils (up to ca 1900).
I don't think Louis Audemars-Valette made many high-end products. He seems for a while to have specialised in small ladies fob watches with very fancy enamelled cases.

Paul
Speaking of Audemars Piguet, it's quite difficult finding examples of their pre-WWII production.

It seems they made very few things prior to the 1950s.
 

VinSer

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Sometime good to look at the automatic suggestions of the forum o_O

It looks like this thread shows a watch of the fabrique Louis Audemars :cool:

And based on its content, Paul is absolutely right about of who this fabrique was the successor (not that I ever doubted you :D )

Ciao
 

VinSer

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It also illustrates my ignorance at that time..................
P
Looks to me you missed just a small detail :) ... and you did not make it up :D

Ciao
 

mosesgodfrey

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A curiosity, relating to the mark of Louis Audemars. We've speculated that he sold his name the above firm, but--presuming I'm seeing this correctly, in this story with so many twists and turns--he did not sell his mark. He filed it in 1893 and renewed it himself in 1913 (new number + "et commerce"); it remained in his name until it expired in 1933. A license for the name, but still in the game? I believe I see this mark inside the caseback of the Chaux-de-Fonds watch VinSer linked above...

1671055657972.png 1671055901547.png
1671055834360.png
 

Audemars

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The first list is of marks that were cancelled ( "radiations") in 1893, because they had not been renewed ("non-renouvellment"). The 1913 entry is a renewal of the mark, for reasons unknown. It might have had something to do with his son's business in London.

I already knew that his account of the history of the "Ancienne maison" was less than totally objective, but at the time it was the only source I had (and consequently, Zantke's only "original" source).
This thread has changed my view of the man. Writing in 1921 he never mentioned a word of any of this stuff.

Thank you Mosesgodfrey and other contributors to this thread. I realise how superficial my original researches were.

Paul
 
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SFoskett

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Well all this is certainly an interesting story! This is what I love about my strange hobby of researching defunct watch companies!

I'm not sure we have a definitive answer on Louis Audemars, but it seems that it was a firm founded to exploit the name and legacy of Louis Audemars-Valette who had leaf Switzerland (or was soon to leave) perhaps because of the tornado of 1890. But it was not a success so Eberhard and Weber let the company go.

As for Georges Eberhard, I will continue my research and eventually publish more about him! And when I do I will include this curious side trip into the Audemars brand.
 

Audemars

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Louis Audemars-Valette (my great-grandfather) never left Switzerland to live, and never ever came to England.
It was his son (my grandfather - also a Louis) who emigrated to London at around the time his father was facing bankruptcy (see also Vinser's post of December 7th).

Louis Audemars-Valette's successor company was established in 1885-6 precisely in order to continue the name of the "Ancienne Maison" Louis Audemars & Cie, which had been liquidated in 1885.
My records show that prior to the 1885 liquidation my great-grandfather bought very large quantities of watches, movements and ébauches from the original company, probably using his wife's money (he had married very well).

Following his own bankruptcy in 1897, he appeared to have retired to the family farm until his death in 1933. As far as I am now aware he is the only possible candidate for the Eberhard connection. From everything we have seen in this thread I am now sure he "sold" the name.
His cousins Charles-Henri and Hector, did much the same with "Audemars Frères" in about 1910.

It is only speculation but might there not have been later discussions between Eberhard and AP about use of the Audemars name?

Paul
 

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