A Swiss luxury watch manufacturer, headquartered in Paudex/Le Brassus, Switzerland. It designs, manufactures, distributes, and sells prestige and luxury mechanical watches. Founded by Jehan-Jacques Blancpain in Villeret, Switzerland in 1735, Blancpain is the oldest surviving watchmaking brand in the world.
Blancpain has been a subsidiary of the Swiss Swatch Group since 1992, and is regarded as a top-tier Swatch brand. It is best known for its Fifty Fathoms diving watch introduced in 1953 and its 1735 Grande Complication wristwatch introduced in 1991.
Jehan-Jacques Blancpain started making watches in 1735 in Villeret, Switzerland. He founded the Blancpain brand, setting up his first workshop on the upper floor of his house at Villeret, in the present-day Bernese Jura.
In 1815, Frédéric-Louis Blancpain, the great-grandson of Jehan-Jacques, who was head of the family business at the time, modernized production methods and transformed the traditional craft workshop into an industrial undertaking capable of serial production. By replacing the crown-wheel mechanism with a cylinder escapement, Frédéric-Louis introduced a major innovation into the watchmaking world.
In the second half of the 19th century, as industrialization took hold, the prices of watchmaking products were falling and many workshops were fated to close down. To face up to American competition, in 1865 Blancpain built a two-storey factory by the River Suze and made use of water power to supply the electricity needed for its production processes. By modernizing its methods and concentrating on top of the line products, Blancpain became one of the few watchmaking firms to survive in Villeret.
In 1983, SSIH sold the Rayville-Blancpain name to Jacques Piguet, son of Frédéric Piguet and director of the company of that name, and Jean-Claude Biver, at that time employed by the SSIH. The company set up production at Le Brassus, in the Joux Valley, and from then on traded under the name of Blancpain SA.
In 1992, the SSIH purchased Blancpain back for 60 million Swiss Francs. At that time, Blancpain had annual sales of 50 million Swiss Francs. Jean-Claude Biver remained as CEO of Blancpain until 2002. Marc Hayek, the grandson of the Swatch Group’s founder and chairman, Nicolas Hayek (1928 – 2010), has run Blancpain since 2002.
Later, SSIH became known as the Swatch Group, and in July 2010, Frédéric Piguet SA, also owned by Swatch Group, was merged into the firm Blancpain SA. Currently, Blancpain is an active member of the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry FH.