How France shaped horology and why French watches are unique

The Essence of French Heritage 

France has been a historic center for jewelry and horology. The French watchmakers made great achievements in the technique that shaped how watches look nowadays. They maintain their distinctive essence: Elegance, sophistication, and style at their core. 


The Golden Age of French Horology 

Made in France meant chic, watches were status symbols among the higher classes. The King had his own horologist to create innovative and luxurious pieces. Countries raced with each other looking for the most advanced technology.  

Abraham-Louis Breguet, one of the greatest watchmakers of all time, created the revolutionary tourbillon - it averaged positional errors caused by gravity, making watches more precise - among his many accomplishments in the golden age of French horology. 

For Breguet, style and beauty were as important as technical innovation, and practicality was key to success. Which still represents the French approach to watchmaking.

His clients shared this appreciation for fashion, including Marie Antoinette, King Louis XVI, and Napoleon. He created a touch watch that allowed the rich French elites to check the time just by touching the watch inside their pocket, since looking at it at a social event was considered rude. 

Pocket watches used to be bulky, but Jean-Antoine Lépine made them drastically thinner, shaping the most elegant form of watch that would be forever associated with France. And a hundred years later, LeCoutre would create the thinnest pocket watch movement yet. This elegant and essential design as a peak of technological innovation would inspire all watchmakers. Ultra’s designs still reflect this spirit of effortless sophistication and timeless simplicity, as you can see in the Ultra SuperAutomatic Croc Gold design


Horology in Modern Times

 The first wristwatches were for women to use as jewelry. They became popular among men in the 1880s and were the norm when World War I began. By this time, wristwatches' automatic movement was introduced, making them more reliable and long-lasting. Ultra was the first manufacturer to produce a French automatic watch.

During the next decades of watch innovation, beauty was always kept as a necessary goal. Trends and fashion changed quickly, and companies moved production to new countries for cheaper products, but some brands still keep alive their great legacies.


Today, Ultra watches are still made in Morteau, France. Ultra is proud to continue the history of French watchmaking and the values of the company when it started in 1911. The designs show the vintage heritage inspiration, creating modern but classic pieces, made to last and never go out of style, like the ones of the SuperAutomatic Collection. They carry the elegance and practicality the masters taught us.