James C Pellaton

Jämes-César Pellaton, was born on December 24, 1873 at Croix des Côtes. He apprenticed as a watchmaker with Albert Pellaton-Favre (1832-1914), his father, after leaving primary school. The latter was recognized as an exceptional watchmaker and specialist in the construction of tourbillons and chronometers.

Albert Pellaton’s special dispositions were passed on to his eight sons but Jämes-César was the favoured heir of this watchmaking talent. In November 1898, Jämes-César entered the service of Ulysse Nardin S. A in Le Locle. He remained there for less than five years as a specialist in detent escapements for marine and ship’s chronometers.

On July 29, 1903, he was hired at the Locle Watchmaking School where he had an exceptional career of thirty-six years. Appointed, first of all, Master of the escapement class in 1903, his course met with great success. In addition to teaching escapements, he was entrusted with teaching watchmaking theory in 1908. In addition, he promoted the manufacture of tourbillons at school for gifted students. In 1909, a student’s 2nd tourbillon was completed at the time when the 1st tourbillon was under observation at the Neuchâtel Observatory, which won a 1st prize. At the National Exhibition in Bern in 1914, the Locle Watchmaking School exhibited tourbillons among other pieces. During the period he taught, Jämes-César Pellaton’s students produced twenty-three tourbillons.

On July 6, 1918, Mr. Pellaton was appointed to the position of deputy director after having assumed the position of director in the interim.  However, this promotion no longer allows him to fulfill his teaching function 100%.

In 1921, he wrote a book on the theory of escapements. The quality of it is such that it becomes obligatory to study it in all schools in Switzerland except in La Chaux-de-Fonds which uses the book written by P. Berner. This book is also used at the Besançon school in France and translated into German and Finnish. This work will go through five reissues.

In 1926, Mr. Pellaton caused a sensation by releasing the world’s smallest tourbillon in a caliber 10 ½ “`.

During his free time, Jämes-César Pellaton personally created 35 tourbillon cages for Patek Philippe and a few for Girard-Perregaux. He will also produce movements for the Ulysse Nardin and Zenith houses. As a passionate individual, Jämes-César Pellaton continued his work from 1939 during his retirement, continuing to build to order and for private clients, pieces with tourbillon mechanisms, demonstration escapements of Benoît, lever, and detent. Today, these masterpieces command the admiration of watchmakers and discerning collectors.

Around his authoritative theoretical course on escapements and his scientific research in the field of watchmaking – James-César Pellaton has established wide connections abroad, particularly in the Nordic countries.

Indeed, he was awarded the title of honorary member of the Union of Watchmakers of Finland in 1937 and was decorated by the Society of Finnish Watchmakers with the Order of the White Rose. This is the first time that such a distinction has been given to a foreigner. He also received the large gold medal from Schwender, which the Congress of Swedish Watchmakers awarded him in 1948.

The merits of Jämes-César Pellaton are also recognized in Neuchâtel. By decree of the Council of State of October 18, 1938, and on the proposal of the Faculty of Sciences, Mr. Jämes-César Pellaton was appointed honorary doctor of the University of Neuchâtel. This title was given to him on November 12, 1938 on the occasion of the Centenary of the University of Neuchâtel.

Furthermore, in 1942 he was named an honorary member of the Swiss Chronometry Society in recognition of the eminent services rendered to watchmaking science. In 1946, Mr. Pellaton again received the prize from the Swiss Chronometry Society for “exceptional artistic work”. Finally, he became an honorary member of the Society of Former Students of the Technicum du Locle and honorary members of the Federation of Former Students of the Technical Schools of Western Switzerland.

These distinctions and the laudatory addresses which accompany these merits testify to the esteem and talent for this Master watchmaker and former director of the Locle Watchmaking School who died in Le Locle on January 11, 1954 at the age of 81 years old.

It is in this spirit that Michel Dawalibi revived the name Jämes-César Pellaton in 2009. The timepieces he produces are part of the purest watchmaking tradition and reflect the philosophy of Jämes-César Pellaton at the highest level. Caesar Pellaton. For Michel Dawalibi, the art of creating tourbillon timepieces is not only the result of a tour de force, but it also consists of crystallizing and magnifying the expression of the creative genius of Jämes-César Pellaton.

Getting as close as possible to perfection was the idea of Jämes-César Pellaton, tourbillon maker, and today it represents the ideal of Michel Dawalibi.