At the beginning of the 18th century, Jehan-Jacques Blancpain perceived the potential in a completely new business activity: watchmaking. In 1735, 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. By recording his name in the official property register of the municipality of Villeret, this pioneer had created an establishment which is now the world’s oldest watchmaking brand.
Blancpain watches enjoyed great success from the earliest years, and the heirs of Jehan-Jacques Blancpain perpetuated his expertise.
In 1815, Frédéric-Louis Blancpain, the great-grandson of Jehan-Jacques, who was head of the family business at the time, modernised 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.
With the resources of its expertise, by the middle of the 19th century the House of Blancpain had become the most substantial enterprise in Villeret.