Nicolet was a Swiss watch brand founded in Tramelan in 1914 and continuing in production there in various forms until the 1970s. Today's Armand Nicolet brand is not derived from this Nicolet but instead is an homage to a related early 20th century watchmaker.
The Nicolet Watchmaking Family
Nicolet is a common name in watchmaking, especially in Tramelan but also in La Chaux-de-Fonds and Berne. Members of the Nicolet family began making watches in Tramelan-Dessus in the 1880s, notably Alcide Nicolet. He produced cylinder escapements by 1886 and complete watches as of 1895. Samuel Nicolet also produced cylinder escapements in Tramelan in this period.
Alcide Nicolet was born in 1853 and married Adele Vuilleumier in 1875. The couple had 13 children, 10 of whom survived to adulthood. Among them are Achille Nicolet, born 1877, Paul Armand Nicolet, born in 1884, and Charles Albert Nicolet, born 1890. This large family is the reason the Nicolet name is so closely associated with Tramelan, and the source of so many watchmakers of that name after the turn of the century.
Achille Nicolet began work in Tramelan-Dessus by 1916. He was joined by Charles Nicolet in 1918, after which Alcide Nicolet is no longer listed. Armand Nicolet is not listed as a watchmaker until 1933. These are likely Alcide's sons, and another firm, Nicolet Frères, appears in Tramelan-Dessus in 1928 which could have included some of the other children of the family.
Charles Nicolet was a watch maker in Tramelan-Dessus between 1914 and 1928 and registered the Nicolet brand name. Nicolet produced Swiss lever and cylinder escapement movements as well as watches, including bracelet watches. Many of Nicolet's movements were exported to the United States.
Charles Nicolet was a specialist in petite watches by 1918. His workshop was located in Tramelan-Dessus and produced 8 and 13 ligne movements, including bracelet watches.
Nicolet Watch SA was incorporated around 1937 as a successor to the Charles Nicolet watchmaking business. The company focused on precision watches, including chronographs by 1938. By 1940, Nicolet was exporting movements to America, including 13, 14.5, and 15.5 ligne chronograph movements with 1 or 2 pushers.
Nicolet used the Nicolet trademark, along with Transmarine, Fidéa, Silex, Team, Steady, Crocus, Saturne, Roinek, and Nike in 1960. The Achille Nicolet SA corporation used the Mon Réve brand. By 1966, Nicolet Watch SA focused on the Nicolet Watch brand along with Transmarine, Saturne, “N”, and Aster. These brands would continue through at least 1972.
- See Also Cominter
By 1970, most of the Tramelan factories had been merged into a single holding company, Cominter SA. This included Nicolet Watch SA along with Betina, Loyal, P.V. Mathez, and Nitella of Tramelan as well as Droz & Cie of Tavannes and Heba Watch of Alle. The group boasted 700 models at their Basel Fair stand that year. The individual companies continued to operate independently through most of the 1970s, with Nicolet Watch SA in operation through 1977.
Cominter continued in operation at least through 1982.
The Nicolet family had many watchmaking operations in Tramelan and beyond. The following are unrelated to the Nicolet brand: