WristReview’s Top 5 French Watch Companies

By Harlan Chapman-Green

It’s another top 5 from WristReview! You may remember a long time ago I did a top 5 automatic rotors article which you can read over by clicking here. We went over some of the most beautiful automatic rotors you’ll find in the watch industry, and now we’re back with another WristReview Top 5.

In this case, the companies we are looking at need to be French. This means, for us, that the company needs to have been founded in France and that’s it. Even if they now operate solely from Switzerland or weren’t even founded by a Frenchman. Let’s get started.

5. Bell & Ross


Bell & Ross was founded in Paris by businessman Carlos A. Rosillo and designer Bruno Belamich (whom I’ve interviewed, read here for more). They make watches with a pilot theme to them, so we’re talking all black PVD cases most of the time with massive lume covered hands and numerals. Bell & Ross is mostly known by it’s big square case design which comes in three main sizes. These can even be bolstered with new movements with one, in particular, featuring a tourbillon mono pusher chronograph. If you want an affordable, functional piece which feels more solid than most SUVs, then a Bell & Ross is the watch for you. bellross.com

4. Leroy


Leroy watches was originally founded in 1713 by Basile Le Roy. Right from the start Le Roy was a well-renowned man who provided clocks for the royal courts of France, England and a lot of other European countries too, he eventually became watchmaker to the king. The Leroy company was inactive for a long time and has only recently come back to us. But it really has come back with a bang, there’s many watch designs on offer including (but of course not limited to) a tourbillon automatic regulator watch. A company with a lot of history if you are prepared to dig around, Leroy have many new designs in store for us, and we are very excited to see them. montres-leroy.com

3. Chanel


Chanel is a company regarded as the very top level benchmark when it comes to luxury. From perfumes to jewellery to designer clothing, if you want to have that aura of luxury and class about you, you choose Chanel and that’s the end of it. So it was no surprise to us that the watches Chanel makes are of a very high quality indeed. The designs of their watches ooze quality, and the use of black or white ceramic really adds to the overall image of the J12 collection. Let’s not forget that there are many other collections as well, such as the relatively new Boy.Friend, the beautifully delicate Mademoiselle Privé collection and let’s not forget the jewellery watches! chanel.com

2. Cartier


Cartier is a legend in its own right. The company creates magical pieces of jewellery, fine luxury accessories such as fragrance and eyewear and, of course, breathtaking watches as well. Cartier has many successful collections with historical ranges and contemporary as well. Perhaps their most successful lines are the Tank and Santos lines, the Tank being known as the piece that made it fashionable to wear a wrist watch. The Santos range actually gave the Rolex DateJust lineup a run for its money at one point, though it didn’t outdo it. Nowadays they have the Calibre and the Ballon Bleu as their main ranges, but we mustn’t forget their high complications section either. cartier.com

1. Breguet


Breguet is the company founded in France by a Swiss-born man which now operates under the Swatch Group in Switzerland, confused yet? Breguet was founded in 1775 by Abraham Louis Breguet, one of the greatest watchmakers ever and an inspiration for Kari Voutilainen among others. The company is known as the innovator when it comes to watch technology, here’s a list of the innovations made by Breguet himself or the company:

  • Self-winding mechanism (1780)
  • Gong spring (1783)
  • Breguet hands (1783)
  • Equation of time (1785)
  • Pare chute (1790)
  • Perpetual calendar (1795)
  • Breguet balance spring (1795)
  • Tourbillon (1801)
  • The first wrist-worn watch (1810)
  • Silicon escape wheel and lever (2006)
  • Magnetic pivot (2010)
  • Magnetic strike governor (2010)
  • High frequency [10Hz] movement (2010)

We understand that Breguet isn’t to everyone’s tastes, but to deny it the recognition it rightly deserves really is to deny yourself as a true watch fan. breguet.com



A keen bass guitar player, Harlan enjoys all the perks modern watchmaking technologies the industry has to offer. Although you might catch him sampling Omegas or the odd Rolex, Harlan loves all things Haute Horology, with his three favourite brands being Breguet, A.Lange & Söhne and Vacheron Constantin. He hopes to study timekeeping more in depth someday and will never be able to thank his father enough for introducing him to the industry. You can follow him on Instagram Read his articles here