The residents of Waldenburg in Northwest Switzerland, near Basel, decided in 1853 to begin producing watches, as traffic in their valley was to be bypassed by the construction of a railroad the following year. The Waldenburg Watch Manufacturing Company was not successful, but in 1859 was taken over by local entrepreneurs. 10 years later, Gedeon Thommen took over and, between 1870 and 1890, progressed from building 4,000 cylinder watches to 13,000 cylinder and lever watches. In 1905, his son Alphons Thommen incorporated the concern as the Thommen's Watch Factories Ltd..
In 1932, control of the firm passed to Doctor Hermann Straumann, the son-in-law of Alphons Thommen. A noted medial doctor and Swiss Army Colonel, Straumann managed the company until 1944, when it passed to his son, Dr. Roland Straumann. Dr. Straumann's cousin Reinhard Straumann, also from Waldenberg, joined the firm in 1916 and rose to managing director. He would invent the Nivarox hairspring material in 1931 but did so on his own time and for the benefit of a separate company, Nivarox SA.
Thommen was one of the early pioneers of interchangeable parts, and the factories were increasingly mechanized and automated. By the 1950s, the Thommen factories in Waldenburg, Langenbruck, and Gelterkinden were producing over 200,000 watches per year under the brand name, Revue. The company also produced precision measuring instruments for aviation and other machinery since 1936.
In 1961, Thommen, Vulcain, Buser, and Phénix joined together to form the Manufactures d'Horlogerie Suisse SA Réunis SA (MSR). This gave Revue Thommen access to the "Cricket" alarm watch in the product range. In 1967, the group unveiled their jointly-developed Exactomatic movement, a 11.5 ligne automatic designed for durability and accuracy. Over the next decade, these firms increasingly specialized, with Phenix producing movement components, and Vulcain, in La Chaux-de-Fonds, handling final assembly. But they continued to operate as separate businesses under MSR. The long-standing Marvin brand was also soon added.
In 1987, Thommens Uhrenfabrik AG launched the Revue Thommen brand.
The company became dependent on Asian markets in the 1980s and 1990s and was hard-hit by the financial crisis at the end of the 1990s. In 1999, Revue shuttered its La Chaux-de-Fonds operation and transferred production back to Waldenburg as a cost-saving exercise. The company was bankrupt by July 2000 and the Vulcain and Marvin brands divested.
Revue Thommen sold the rights to the watchmaking enterprise to Grovana in 2001, and it was re-launched in 2004. In 2012, the rights to the name were acquired by Andreas Thommen, Roland Buser and Christopher Bitterl, members of the original watchmaking family, and reorganized as GT Thommen Watch AG (GTWAG). In 2015, the Revue name was removed from the aircraft equipment maker.
- Revue Thommen, offical website