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Founder of a dynasty of master watchmakers, Victorin Frésard was born in the late 19th century to a family of farmers in Charquemont, in the Jura department of France. At the time, a number of the region’s inhabitants maintained a secondary activity, especially during the long winter months. Thus a specific form of craftsmanship developed over time: watchmaking. The father of Victorin Frésard himself made a trip to Switzerland to perfect his knowledge in the field. Upon his return to Charquemont, he founded a company specialising in cylinder escapements while continuing his profession as a herdsman.
When he retired in 1911, the following generation took over the company, and his son Victorin became head of the “Frésard Frères et Paul Bessot” company, where his brothers and sisters also worked. At the time, the new organisation employed 60 people in the workshop as well as 40 people working from home, since this method made it possible to combine flexibility and competitiveness.
To fulfil his passion for art, Victorin Frésard regularly travelled to Paris, a hub for French artistic creation. He took inspiration from the craftsmen, writers, sculptors and painters in the neighbourhood of his pied-à-terre on rue Saint-Honoré.
In 1932, he decided to leave the company to found a new one, “Victorin Frésard & Enfants”, specialising in watchmaking components. This was a substantial factory that included up to 150 employees and called on the services of subcontractors; but gone were the herdsmen/craftsman producing on an exceedingly small scale a few hours per day. These were true workshops equipped with modern mechanical machinery.
Example of a cylinder escapement, 19th century
Victorin Frésard manages the family business “Frésard Frères et Paul Bessot”
Victorin Frésard’s house in Charquemont
Upon Victorin’s death in 1936, his son Roger took over the company, which became “SARL Maison Victorin Frésard”. He decided to specialise in pivoting (fitting a pivot onto a mobile component), a promising field.
By this time, the population of the Jura Mountains lived to the pace of watchmaking, and the destinies of its families were tied to success of the industry. Victorin’s brothers and sisters also founded their own respective companies, and all were based in the village of Charquemont.
As time went by, the generations to follow continued to solidly reinforce Frésard as a name in watchmaking. Before marrying Roger, his wife-to-be was a worker in his father’s workshop; and most of his daughters also married within the circle of manufacturers and watchmakers.
Beginning in 1947, Roger Frésard’s company began to assemble and sell its own watches under two different brands: MVF (Maison Victorin Frésard) for pieces with a cylinder escapement; and SardLux for those with an anchor escapement. All the movements were sourced within the Jura Mountains and the Savoy region. The production quickly increased, and more than half of it was intended for exportation.
Although the SARL Maison Victorin Frésard factory was taken over by another company outside the family at the end of the 1950s, the story carried on with another of Victorin’s sons, Raymond, who founded a watch manufacture called Sarlux with some ten employees in 1960. In 1971, it was passed along to his nephew, Jacques Frésard. This watchmaker, Victorin’s grandson, brought the Frésard family name back into the spotlight, since in addition to Sarlux watches, another brand bearing its name was also brought to the market.
The story continues with SARL Maison Victorin Frésard
Jacques Frésard took over Sarlux, his uncle’s business
Sarlux brings Jacques Frésard watches to the market
In 1985, it was up to Thierry Frésard, the son of Jacques Frésard, to take the helm of the company alongside Christian Frésard and Gérard Jeannoutot. A watch model was created in a tribute to the family pioneer, Victorin: it was called Saint Honoré. The name was chosen for the brand in 1991 to bring it a strong identity.
Thus SAINT HONORE PARIS was born.
In keeping with this development, the Charquemont factory was updated with modern equipment, and the new installations were inaugurated the following year.
The year 1993 was marked by an important event: the opening of the first SAINT HONORE boutique on rue Réaumur in Paris.
Under this new management, a competitive development policy was implemented, and exportation became a priority. It was also in the beginning of the 1990s that SAINT HONORE took on the “Swiss Made” adventure, establishing its watch production in Switzerland. This decision reinforced the brand’s position and addressed market demand, with 80% of the production intended for exportation.
Thanks to these watches, appreciated for their design and sophistication, the company’s success abroad made it possible to put forth its French ambition. A recognition symbolised by the Opéra watch, which won two awards in the United States, as well as the Manhattan chronograph, which won the “New York Luxury Design” award in 1997.
The success story continued in the early 2000s, characterised by a strong geographic development in France and abroad, including a new boutique on 326, rue Saint-Honoré in Paris. A number of points of sale and exclusive boutiques were inaugurated throughout the world, principally in Asia and the Middle East, the brand’s historical markets. In particular, a subsidiary opened in Dubai to support the development of that region.
Thierry Frésard takes over as head of SAINT HONORE
Manhattan collection: First prize of the “New York Luxury Design” award
Opening of the boutique on 326 rue Saint-Honoré in Paris
Strengthened by the success of its expansion, and to address an ever-increasing demand, the SAINT HONORE company is an active participant in the creative effervescence taking place in the watchmaking world. In 2005, the “Tourbillon 1885” Haute Couture Collection addressed well-informed collectors seeking watch complications.
The brand calls on ambassadors and has an active sports partnership policy. In particular, it has invested a number of times with racing drivers, including Paul Belmondo, who remained the brand’s icon for a decade. An increasing number of watches with distinctive allures are thus proposed, and SAINT HONORE reinterprets its emblematic collections. Its Opéra, Monceau and Orsay watch designs are becoming rounder to correspond with today’s trends. The spectacular Effet Eclair innovation illuminates the more feminine models, and capsule collections set the pace for the SAINT HONORE offer, marking the brand’s anniversary dates and other notable events.
In 2015, for example, came the launch of the Tour Eiffel collection, exceptional timepieces crafted in metal taken from the legendary Parisian building.
This dynamic energy also makes itself felt in the company’s sales strategy. Present from the beginning at the Baselworld watchmaking trade fair in Switzerland, SAINT HONORE has acquired a stand deserving of the best houses, enabling it to welcome clients and prospects from all over the world in space with resolutely Parisian inspiration. This image is also expressed in the brand’s digital strategy, with a website that quickly expanded to include an e-commerce boutique, quickly followed by a presence on the social networks.
Introduction of the “Tourbillon 1885” Haute Couture watch collection
Paul Belmondo and the Orsay Black Racing watch
Launch of the Tour Eiffel watch for the 130th anniversary
An eventful year in terms of image and products, 2018 represents the beginning of a collaboration with Kiera Chaplin, Charlie Chaplin’s grand-daughter, who has become the brand’s muse. Representing today’s SAINT HONORE collections with pure elegance, Kiera Chaplin appears in the current communication campaigns.
2018 is also the year that SAINT HONORE is branching out into the connected world. With the SH Connect collection, an interchangeable connected strap transforms traditional watches into smart watches. A connection between tradition and modernity, the symbol of a brand that never ceases to adapt to its time.
2018 is also the context for another great turning point in the history of this family business, because it joined the Swiss distribution corporation INTERNATIONAL LUXURY GROUP (ILG) in September. With this first purchase of a watchmaking manufacture, ILG is also taking over its own brand, since until now it had been licensed to distribute the products. A favourable merger for the French Maison, which will benefit from the strength of this large corporation to further develop itself on the national market and abroad.
For SAINT HONORE PARIS, the story continues…
Kiera Chaplin is the new SAINT HONORE ambassador
Launch of the SH Connect collection
The family business joins the ILG corporation
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