Jean Lassale was a Swiss watch company that designed the Calibre 1200, featuring the thinnest mechanical watch movement : 1.2 mm. In the 1970s, Pierre Mathys, master watchmaker in La Chaux-de-Fonds, designed and built the prototype of a revolutionary watch caliber, with the goal of making the thinnest watch in the world. To achieve this feat, Mathys based his design on the work of Robert Annen, who previously had the idea of using ball bearings in small scale horology. Mathys decided to remove the bridges and counter-pivot, and instead use ball bearings for the axis.
The company Bouchet-Lassale was founded by Jean Bouchet-Lassale on October 8, 1976. The company won several awards for its watches:
- Salon International des Inventions et des techniques nouvelles; Genève 1976 :
- Médaille d’Or avec félicitations (Gold medal with congratulations)
- Grand Prix de la ville de Genève
- Prix de la Chambre Suisse de l’Horlogerie
- Salon Mondial des Inventions; Bruxelles December 1976 :
- Grand Prix du Jury pour les innovations industrielles
- Médaille d’Or (Gold Medal)
- Int’l Inventors Expo «77»; New York 4 March 1977 :
- Gold Medal
- Award of Honor
- Award of Merit
In 1978-79, a collaboration starts between Bouchet-Lassale SA and Omega SA, through Lemania-Lugrin SA, L’Orient, which were both units of the SSIH Group (Société Suisse pour l’Industrie Horlogère, which does not exist anymore today). So, Lemania–Lugrin SA built calibres 1200 and 2000, Omega owning a non-exclusive license for the production and the sale of those movements.
In Septembre 79, Bouchet-Lassale SA met some financial difficulties, and the production was stopped. In December of the same year, Claude Burkhalter, then the director of Lemania-Lugrin SA, declares during an internal meeting that « Omega has the possibility to buy the Jean Lassale brand ». But Jean Lassale is bought by Seiko, while the technical documents and the patents are bought by Claude Burkhalter, at the same time as he creates the company « Nouvelle Lemania SA ». Founded in 1982, this company will continue the activities of Lemania-Lugrin SA, and it will produce from the beginning the successors of the calibers 1200 and 2000 : the calibers 1210 and 2010 Lemania. Those calibers will be sold exclusively to Piaget SA, as long as this company will stay independent. When Piaget went under the control of Cartier, this exclusivity was released, and Nouvelle Lemania SA could then sell the calibers to different watch companies, among them Vacheron Constantin.
At Vacheron, the Caliber 1200 is called 1160, and the automatic movement is called 1170.
The company Bouchet-Lassale filed some patents :
- Sealing Arrangement for an Extra-Flat Waterproof Watch Case. Filed on 10/11/1980. Designer : Pierre Goy. UK Patent GB 2 087 603 A. INT CL : G04B 37/11.
- Clasp for watch bracelet. Filled on 13/06/1983. Designer : Jean Bouchez. Swiss patent CH651729 (A5).
The Jean Lassale SA company was excluded from the Swiss Chamber of Commerce on 10 April 2006, following the bankruptcy that was declared by the Tribunal de Première Instance dated 23 June 2003. The company’s last CEO was Mr Hagiwara Yasunori.