Jean-Francois Bautte was born on March 26, 1772 in Geneva, the son of enamel specialist Abraham Bautte and his wife Marie-Anne. He orphaned early, as the father dies when he is a year old, and his mother commits suicide when he is ten.
Already with twelve he in 1784 begins to work for the case maker Jacques Dauphin Moulinier as a messenger; then there follows a craft apprenticeship, in which he is educated as case maker, guilloching expert, watchmaker and goldsmith. Because of his great talent in 1793 he becomes partner of Moulinier.
Already in 1791 the 19-year-old had signed his first watches. Moulinier and Bautte from 1793 also traded with complete watches. The movements were mostly purchased, while the cases came from their own production. After the Napoleonic Wars a small factory grew out of the manufacture, which brought together all watchmaking crafts of that time under one roof. An excellent businessman, Bautte traded with all courts of Europe and became one of the most famous watchmakers of his time. He is also regarded as the first who made extra flat watches.
Jean-Francois Bautte died 1837. After his death, Jacques and Jean Samuel Rossel Bautte took over the company. The company Bautte in 1906 merges into the manufacture Girard-Perregaux, which since then counts the year 1791 as the beginning of their own history.