It all began in an idyllic house in the small Swiss Jura village of Cerneux-Godat, where Jules Godat set up a modest workshop. As many watchmakers practiced the traditional art of watchmaking, he also spent the cold winter months working from home in his watch workshop. In 1868 he founded his own atelier in La Chaux-de-Fonds and thus laid the foundation for Zeno watch production. He mainly made large silver pocket watches. The family business, in which his wife Mary also worked, expanded the production and specialized in the manufacture of precise railway pocket watches. In 1900 the workshop was expanded and equipped with electricity to drive the machines. Son Charles Victor Godat took over production, but died of blood poisoning at the age of 38 only.
In 1920, André-Charles Eigeldinger took over Godat watch production. He specialized in the manufacturing of observation watches for military purposes, slide rule watches and pocket watches in silver, gold and platinum. In 1922, Eigeldinger & Söhne registered the ZENO brand. This name is a reminder of the Greek philosopher Zeno of Kition and means “gift of Zeus” or “god given”.
In the manufacture of ZENO watches, great care is taken to make high quality timekeeping instruments with a good cost-benefit ratio. Since 1922, the watchmakers at ZENO have been making individual pieces with a prominent personality, distinctive character and timeless beauty.
Demand for wristwatches rose constantly and in the inter-war years production was therefore converted to wristwatches. The first ZENO wristwatches were made of gold and intended solely for export. In 1937, to mark the 15th anniversary of the ZENO brand, the first watches with an integral stop function and acoustic telemeter were made. In 1949, for the first time Zeno took part in the Swiss watch fair in Basel. In the years that followed, Zeno engineers developed a number of digital watch models with “jumping hours”, pendant watches for nurses and “watches for boys”, until in 1960 production temporarily moved to the Atteslander workshops in Biel where the first mechanical airmen’s watches were developed.
Today the rapid pace of progress is bringing constant changes to our lives. Nevertheless, in Zeno’s watch workshops mechanical wrist and pocket watches are still being made using traditional techniques with the exceptional calm and concentration of experienced watchmakers. For almost a hundred years, ZENO watches have been produced in Switzerland and largely by hand. The watchmaking knowledge has been passed down from generation to generation…
The traditional family company presents itself in the 21st century with a product range with a high recognition value.