Solvil et Titus

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Solvil et Titus
IndustryAccessories
Founded1892
FounderPaul Ditisheim
Headquarters(formerly) Geneva, Switzerland/ (currently) Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Key people
Paul Bernard Vogel (former owner)
Joseph Chong Chun Wong (Chairman) [1]
ProductsWatches, jewellery, electronic systems for timekeeping
Websitewww.solvil-et-titus.com/hk/en/

Solvil et Titus (or Solvil & Titus) is a formerly Swiss, now Hong-Kong-based, watch company, founded in 1887 in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Neuchâtel, Switzerland by Paul Ditisheim and developed by Paul Bernard Vogel.[2]

History[edit]

Paul Ditisheim: the founder[edit]

Paul Ditisheim, son of the famous Ditisheim family, was born into the small social circle of industrialist families that led the Swiss watch industry of the time.[3] He studied at the Horological School of in La Chaux-de-Fonds, the historic birthplace of watch-making industry,[4] and received his diploma at the age of 13. He was then trained in several of the major watch makers and worked at his family's Vulcain manufacture until 1892[5] when he founded his own brands: Solvil (whose items were often signed Paul Ditisheim) and Titus (whose items were generally marked separately).

Through its manufacture, Ditisheim was instrumental in developing the new generation of chronometers, improving them grandly through his studies on the impact of atmospheric pressure and magnetic fields. He invented the affix balance. Thanks to his inventions, he was able to make the most precise chronometers ever made. By 1903, his watches were awarded by the Kew and Neuchâtel Observatories contests. In 1912, he won the world's chronometric record of the Royal Kew Observatory.[6] He also worked closely with Physics Nobel prize winner Charles-Edouard Guillaume and has been considered the father of the modern chronometers. According to Professor M. Andrade of the Besançon Astronomical Observatory, Solvil et Titus Ditisheim's devices "constitute the most important progress of modern chronometry" [7]

Paul-Bernard Vogel: the Golden Age[edit]

In 1930, Paul Ditisheim handed over the Solvil et Titus and Paul Ditisheim brands to wealthy Swiss entrepreneur and captain of industry Paul Bernard Vogel. Vogel, heir to a prestigious family of industrialist and married to the heiress of the prominent Eberhard family, was also a member of the Swiss watch industry's elite. Vogel moved the company's headquarters to Geneva[8] where he started expanding it. Vogel was one of the most prominent members of Geneva's high society, he was the chairman of the Salon Montres et Bijoux (the Watch and Jewelry's Fair), the most prestigious association of Swiss watch manufacturers and jewelers of the time and used the various social events he organized to advertise his company's collections.

By the 1950s Vogel, feeling the shift in consumer's habits, decided to divide its brands into two. On the one hand, the company kept producing the luxury watches it was famous for. On the other hand, it started producing lower-cost watches that fitted properly the emerging mass consumption markets. Thanks to this new orientation, Solvil et Titus was instrumental in the development of mechanical and electronic watches. In 1968, Vogel took the lead of the newly founded Societe des Gardes-Temps SA, a conglomerate of low cost watch manufacturers which was the world's third largest watchmaking company of the time[9] and had a true international dimension (it acquired the American Waltham Watch Company and signed a licensing agreement in 1973 with Elgin Watch – then Swiss watchmaking's biggest foreign investment.[9]

Vogel created an international distribution system and consequently decided to expand Solvil et Titus activities overseas. In the 1970s, surfing on the Asian Tigers economic boom, he sent his son, Paul Vogel, to grow the family business operations in the Asian market.[8] Based in Hong Kong, Paul succeeded into making Solvil et Titus one of the most popular brand in Eastern Asia.[8]

Hong Kong[edit]

In the late 1970s, Paul Vogel who inherited the company from his father came back to Europe and decided to sell the Solvil et Titus brand. The European activities became part of Ebel while the Asian activities were sold to Hong Kong entrepreneur Joseph Wong and are now part of Stelux Holdings.[10] The company, now headquartered in Hong Kong, has kept its name and continues its growth as one of Asia's favourite brands, notably thanks to its famous Time is Love advertising campaigns starring superstars Dave Wang Chieh, Chow Yun Fat and Andy Lau as well as world-renowned footballer Ryan Giggs, [and] that have become classics of Hong Kong's advertising industry.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Honorary University Fellows: Joseph Wong", Hong Kong University news
  2. ^ Haines, Reyne (March 2011). Warman's Watches Field Guide (2 ed.). Krause Publications. p. 82. ISBN 978-1-4402-1439-4.
  3. ^ See also Musée international d'horlogerie
  4. ^ Profile of La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland Tourism
  5. ^ "Dictionnaire des Horlogers : D'Alleizette à Dyspa : Abécédaire des hommes et des entreprises qui ont fait l'histoire de l'horlogerie.", Worldtempus, Cf. entry for "DITISHEIM Paul"
  6. ^ Worldtempus (French) "en 1912 le "record chronométrique mondial" à l'Observatoire Royal de Kew (Londres)" [1]
  7. ^ Worldtempus (French) "[le travail de Paul Ditiesheim] constitue le plus grand progrès de la chronométrie moderne" [2]
  8. ^ a b c History of Solvil et Titus, official website
  9. ^ a b [3] Pierre-Yves Donzé, The statut horloger
  10. ^ [4] Solvil History, Worldtempus (French)
  11. ^ quote from History of Solvil et Titus, official website

External links[edit]