Japy Freres & Cie

In 1771 by Georges Frederic Japy (1749-1812), established Frederic Japy. Japy was apprenticed to Jean Jacques Perrelet in Locle and finished his apprenticeship about the 1770 period. Many of the makers in this area, at this time, such as Japy, L’epe, Monnins and Peugeots were all cousins many times over. Japy did not only make clocks, he also made many other goods including:- chains, locks, ironmongery, cooking utensils, children’s toys, electrical equipment, petrol engines, photographic equipment, typewriters, spinning and weaving machines etc.

The company was set up for the purpose of making ebauches (blanks) for watch movements in the village of Beaucourt, France. These blanks were in the form of the basic frame of a watch movement which was then sent to a finisher who gathered the other parts a watch required such as wheels, springs, screws, jewels, etc., from other specialty manufacturers. When the finisher was finished, the result was a finished watch. These watches would have had the finisher’s name on them, not Japy’s. Frederic had an aptitude for designing machines for making watch and clock parts and from about 1779 he made many of his own machine tools and was one of the forerunners in introducing mass production into Europe. During the invasion of France by the allied armies during the Napoleonic wars, the factory was burnt down. Czar Alexander, who was controlling the armies was furious as his mother’s birthplace was nearby and he had promised the locals that they would be safe under his ‘rule’. He sent an emissary to apologise to Japy and offer monetary assistance in rebuilding. Japy turned this down as he would not accept help from the enemies of France.

In 1773 Frederic married Catherine Marguerite Amstutz. They had many children and five of the sons joined the family business at some time. By 1801 Japy was employing 300 workers.

A factory was set up in Badevel, France, in 1809 for production of clock movement blanks. Finishers fashioned these blanks into clocks by much the same system as with watches. These clocks would also have shown the finisher’s name on them, not Japy’s. This factory was later run jointly by sons Charles (died 1821) and Fido.

By 1810, Pierre’s sons Fritz ( real name Frederic-Guillaume), Louis-Frederic and Jean-Pierre had joined him at Beaucourt and his other factories.

Soon after the death of Frederic in 1812, his sons renamed the firm Japy Freres et Cie.

In about 1825, Japy Freres introduce the alarm mechanism to their carriage clocks.

From 1837 the firm traded as Japy Freres. About the 1840’s, the Japy brothers opened a store and accounts department in Paris at 108 Rue du Temple. A Monsieur Monnin, a relation of Fritz, ran the depot. About 1844 to 1849 period, some clocks are signed Ls Japy Fils. These were made by Louis Japy who was awarded the Silver Medal in 1849.

In about 1850, the brothers set up a factory in Beaucourt, France, for the purpose of manufacturing the complete clock, by adding production facilities which were required to manufacture clock parts normally made by other specialists. At this time, the firm began to manufacture clocks that were marked Japy Freres, and the products of this firm were marketed under the name Japy Freres et Cie after 1854. Japy continued to manufacture blanks, however, and French clock movements similar in appearance to the Japy movement, and bearing other maker’s names, are frequently seen today. Japy exhibited at trade fairs all over Europe, and won many awards for their innovation, style, and quality.

In about 1865, the company started to make Bronze cases for their clocks. It must not be forgotten that Japy also made ebauches for watches and had made 21,715,788 of them by 1868, and 1,960,805 clock movements!

In about 1880 they introduced there American style alarm carriage clock ‘reveil Americain’. This sort of clock was still being produced in 1907. The company making many thousands of these a month at that time.

It was not until about 1902, that the company introduced clocks that had an alarm, repeating, calendar and Grande Sonnerie movement in them. In 1928 the name of the company was changed to Société Anonyme des Etablissements Japy Frères.

Medals awarded to Japy Freres

  • Date Medal From
    1819 Gold Medal Louis XVII
    1823 Gold Medal Louis XVIII
    1827 Gold Medal Charles X
    1834 Gold Medal Louis Philippe
    1839 Gold Medal Louis Philippe
    1844 Gold Medal Louis Philippe
    1849 Gold Medal Louis Philippe
    1851 Grand Medal Great Exhibition. London
    1853 1st Class Medal New York Exhibition
    1855 Grand Medal Honour Expo Universelle Paris
    1867 Grand Medal Honour Expo Universelle Paris
    1873 Grand Diploma d’ Merit Expo Universelle Vienna
    1879 Grand Prix d’Honneur Expo Universelle Paris
    1879 Grand Diplome d’Honneur Expo Regionale Besancon
    1879 Grand Diplome d’Honneur Expo speciale d’horlogerie
    1880 Grand Diplome d’Honneur de la Chaux-de-Fond

For some Japy movements with other maker’s names on have different medals. They were:-
Date Medal ‘Maker’s name on the clock
1855-70 Medaille d’Argent Vincenti et Cie
1860-69 Medaille de Bronze Marti et Cie
1889-1900 Medaille d’Argent Marti et Cie
1900-1931 Medaille d’Or S Marti
Post 1931 Grand Prix Paris S Marti