The story began in the cradle of French watchmaking, in Charquemont, a village nestled in the heart of the Jura mountain range. Michel Herbelin’s parents had intended for their son to take over the family business, but he could only dream of precision mechanics.
Against his parents’ wishes, he began to study watchmaking. After spending several years in a local watch factory, whose products did not live up to his high quality standards, and fuelled by the ambition to restore traditional French watchmaking to its former glory, he took the bold step of starting a new venture... his venture.
Michel Herbelin opened his own studio on the top floor of his parents’ house in Charquemont and began to create his first watches at the age of 26.
It was not by chance that Michel Herbelin named his first watch “IMPEC” in 1947.
He clearly wanted to communicate his dreams and ambitions: to create elegant watches that worked perfectly – “impeccable” watches. He relied on French and Swiss suppliers based in the Charquemont area to give his customers flawless watches.
In 1965, given the success of his collections, he decided to create his eponymous brand. IMPEC became Michel Herbelin.
Bringing passion to time was Michel's profession for over 40 years.
It was therefore only natural that he passed on his passion for watchmaking to his two sons Jean-Claude and Pierre-Michel, who joined him in his venture. It was at this time that quartz first made an appearance. While some saw this as a sign that French watchmaking would weaken, Michel Herbelin and his sons viewed it as an amazing opportunity to unleash the creativity of their designers and to take on the challenges of the future. The passing down of know-how is an essential value at Michel Herbelin.
Today, three of the founder’s grandchildren now ensure the success of the family business. Their creativity and expertise has given the brand new momentum.
Today, Michel Herbelin is celebrating 70 years of independence, over the course of which nothing – or almost nothing – has changed.
All of its watches are designed, assembled by hand and inspected in the brand’s Franche-Comté workshops and promote the same philosophy: the creation of timepieces that are designed to last, all the while respecting artisanal know-how and adding a touch of French elegance. Since 1947, Michel Herbelin has adapted to developments and changing fashions while staying true to its identity.
Today, the Maison is looking to the future by reinventing its iconic model, the Newport, and giving it smart functionalities: the Newport Connect.