Charles A. Girardier (1759-1839),
He signed all his watches by his name Girardier by adding the elder, thus in French Girardier l’Ainé, as if he wanted to give himself even more importance and respectability. The connoisseurs of Haute Horlogerie considered Charles G. as an outstanding craftsman, so that in 1810 the very respectable Society of the Arts of Geneva awarded him a distinction for his whole watchmaking work.
How did he become a watchmaker? Nobody can say for sure. But what we know is that for two or three generations, in his family from father to son, all of them had been watchmakers.
Charles had inherited from his father Abraham his most expensive property: a cottage in the village of Fleurier and an antique collection of clocks. But he especially benefited from watchmaking know-how, a secret transmission of his ancestors.He was tirelessly striving to improve the movements and mechanisms of the mysterious and complex interior of timepieces.
Even if he did not possess any certificates from any high school, he was no less worthy of his rank in Haute Horlogerie. Just to admire his collections today proudly exhibited in the most prestigious museums of London, Paris and Geneva is quite convincing. Master Horloger Charles Antoine Girardier had privileged relations in politics and even in royalty for whom he was creating the most astonishing timepieces.
If it is true, as some claim, that one could guess the profession of a man just by observing him, the master Horloger Charles Girardier was not to contradict this idea.
He wore round glasses with double lenses. He often forgot to put his shirt back in his pants, which gave him a rather nonchalant look. Not much worried about the weather outside, he was always wearing his grayish brown raincoat. In the right pocket, at hand, a magnifying glass that was used to examine the value of a gemstone or an antique piece, which could have been added to its invaluable collection. When inhabitants had the chance to meet him in Geneva or more likely in the village of Fleurier, neighbours took the opportunity to ask him to evaluate the price of clocks or jewellery. His jerky gestures recalled the movements of the cogs and gears of a pendulum clock. He singularly avoided breathing too hard, not to breathe air from his nostrils inadvertently. This blow could have compromised everything in his workshop, all being swept like in a hurricane; very annoying when one builds together metal parts and clock springs as tiny as light during days and weeks. In general, he was rather calm and introverted except when a clock he had just finished was not ticking like it should: precisely on time.
What was he doing in his technical laboratory, our watchmaker? Perfectionism for each parts of the horological mechanisms, he devoted body and soul to the challenge of time precision. The turn of the century in the year 1800 and the invention of the „tourbillon“ by Breguet had been a turning point in his life, the achievement of unimaginable technical progress and magnificent beauty by the Swiss Horlogerie. Time will not prevent the realisation of his dream: Timepieces by Charles Girardier made very precise and of utter beauty; more than 200 years later…