Founded in 1911 in Le Locle by Georges Pellaton-Steudler, Martel Watch Co. was a specialty maker of repetition and chronograph movements. This category was rapidly rising, especially in Le Locle, and Martel soon became a favored producer. The company is first listed in Indicateur Davoine as Georges Pellaton-Steudler, maker of “Répétitions et Chronographes” at 5 Rue du Chemin-Blanc in Le Locle. By 1916, the Martel Watch Co. had been established in Ponts-de-Martel by Pellaton-Steudler, though the Le Locle office remained active as well through the 1920s.
As early as 1917, Martel began specializing in chronograph movements, working with Universal for a movement that the company boasted was the world's first wrist chronograph. These were mono-pusher movements with the chronograph pusher integrated into the crown as on pocket chronographs. In 1932, Universal launched what they claimed was the world's first two-pusher wrist watch chronograph. With its dual-subdial design and pushers at 2 00 and 4 00, these remain the template for all future chronograph watches. They were powered by the Universal 281 movement, produced in Les Ponts-de-Martel possibly by Martel. A year or two later, in 1933 or 1934, Universal launched a three-subdial chronograph. Zenith and Universal named these chronograph designs compur and compax, a name which has stuck ever since.
The next great advancement for Martel, with partners Universal and Zenith, was the introduction of a wrist watch chronograph with a calendar complication. Launched around 1942, the new four-subdial design added a dial at 12 00 to show the date, two adjacent windows for day and month, and optional moon phase indicators were also added. By this time, Universal had built their own facility in Les Ponts-de-Martel, and history is unclear as to which company, Universal or Martel, is responsible for these movements.
In the 1950s, Martel began marketing watches with their own brand name, both time-only and chronograph models. One notable model in the mid 1950s was the Martel Victorious, an automatic movement with date in a waterproof case.
Ponts-de-Martel is located near Le Locle, home of Zenith and Universal, and the company long shared some production and management with those companies. Eventually, between 1958 and 1960, Zenith purchased Martel and absorbed its expertise, movement designs, and production facilities.