Watches have never gone out of fashion – they are the most common accessory and jewelry piece worn by men, and women’s watches are available to match every outfit and social occasion.
Switzerland and Germany are perhaps better known than France for the amazing watch brands located there, such as Rolex or Mont Blanc. However, in some circles, French watches are still preferred.
French Watch Brands List
Cartier (or CARTIER International SNC) was founded in 1847 by Louis-François Cartier. His vision was to make Cartier a truly exclusive brand, and he achieved this by making products for European royalty. Apart from timepieces, the company also designs, distributes, and sells jewelry. Over time, it has grown into one of the most internationally hailed and coveted brands in the world.
Cartier is credited with inventing the modern wristwatch! Louis-François Cartier created this first wristwatch for his friend, aviation pioneer Alberto Santos-Dumont in 1904.
Often referred to as “the jeweler of kings and the king of jewelers”, Cartier certainly lived up to it’s founder’s vision. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, they are the king of French watches!
Breguet was founded in Paris in 1775 by Abraham-Louis Breguet. Abraham-Louis Breguet was the greatest horologist of his day, and he is credited with 13 major inventions in timekeeping, many of which are still used today.
Breguet focused on the aesthetics of his watch, so much so that the Louvre has exhibited his work.
Breguet is one of the most exclusive, impressive, and important watch brands in the world.
Bell & Ross
The brand name is the combination of its founding fathers’ names: Bruno Belamich and Carlos Rosillo. The two fellows established the company with a view to providing pilots, astronauts, and special forces in the army with functional and enduring watches.
When founded in 1992, the company focused on selling watches to the French Air Force. Since then, their focus has expanded to a wider variety of professional users, from divers to race car drivers to explosive ordnance disposal units.
Bell & Ross watches are intended to be utilitarian, and are designed around four principles: legibility, functionality, precision and reliability.
Michel Herbelin watch company was founded in 1947 in Paris. To this day, it is still a traditional, family owned, independent watch company.
Michel Herbelin watches are all designed and assembled in France, but they all have Swiss movements.
While Michel Herbelin watches are fine timepieces, they are also reasonably priced, many available for under $1,000 USD. They are sold at over 3,000 retailers in 50 countries worldwide.
B.R.M was founded in 2002 by Bernard Richards and produced their first watch in 2003.
Bernard Richards was a former race car driver and the company originally focused on watches for the racing industry. Since then, B.R.M has broadened its focus to include golf watches.
B.R.M. watches are exclusive and expensive.
Baltic was founded in 2017 by Etienne Malec in France.
They are a very modern company with very elegant watches.
They sell direct to the public via their beautiful website here. Many of their watches are under $1000 USD.
Fugue was founded in 2015 by Leopoldo Celi. Another modern watch company, they have even financed a watch model via kickstarter!
Dodane 1857 has a laser like focus on watches and chronographs for civilian and military aviation. Their long history goes back to the dawn of aviation, and their breakthrough was providing watches to allied aviators in World War One.
The brand was founded in 1948 by Henry Louis Belmont, and offers both mechanical and quartz watches. With many options available for under $1000, Yema offers excellent diving and aviation watches.
Yema is the Official Partner of the French Air and Space Force.
Yema recently added a digital watch with an LED display. This is a reissue of a watch they offered in the 1970s and is a “retro” offering.
Dietrich was founded in 2010 by Emmanuel Dietrich. Their first watch, the “Snow”, in 2012 was dedicated to the skiing industry.
Their successful “Skin Diver” line was launched in 2021, and it’s successor, the SD-2, is being designed now.
What’s Your Choice?
Thank you for reviewing the top 10 best French watch brands list!