The Fabrique genevoise de crayons was founded in Geneva in 1915 when Arnold Schweitzer purchased the Ecridor Pencil Factory. In 1924, Arnold Schweitzer named his new company after Caran d'Ache, the nickname of the French satiric political cartoonist Emmanuel Poiré (who in turn took his name from карандаш (karandash), the Russian word for pencil).
In 1929, Carl Schmid invented the Fixpencil, one of the first mechanical pencils which has been trademarked by Caran d'Ache. Caran d'Ache launched its watercolour pencil Prismalo in 1931 and its wax pastel Neocolor in 1952. In 1969, it created its emblematic office metal ballpoint pen 849.
In 2012, Caran d'Ache changed distributors from Letts Filofax Group Ltd to Victorinox AG.