The Racine family versus watch making.

For many centuries the Racine family (in France and in Switzerland) is related to arts and watch making. The most famous Racine - however - is the French play writer and dramatist Jean-Baptiste Racine (1639-1699), one of the 'Big Three' (Molière and Corneille) of 17th-century France.

In 1590 the name Racine has a link to the foundation of the 'Communauté des Montagnes de la Paroisse de St. Imier". In 1708 David Racine (1669-1726?) is mentioned as 'expert maître horloger', famous for his nice clocks. His prosperous business enables him to buy a large piece of land in 1729 in Montagne de Tramelan-Dessus, Switzerland. In 1725 his brother Pierre (±1665-1728) is allowed by the Basel Court to carry the title 'engineer-architect'. Charles-Frédéric Racine (1769-1832) becomes a famous watch face painter. He is a real artist on the square millimeter! In 1812 he is able to paint the Lord's Prayer (in total 605 type faces) on the 24th part of a 6 6 Lignes (around 14 mm.) dial including his signature!

Most of the members of the Racine family - involved in the watch industry - lived in and around Lamboing, Bern Canton and (just across the Canton border) in Grenchen, Solothurn Canton, Switzerland. At the TAG-Heuer watch manufacturer members of the Racine family are employed since 1920.

In the 19th and early 20th century many Racine's and their in-laws had an independent small or large 'manufacture' producing watches and all kinds of watch parts and accessories. Some of them are listed below. Most of them closed their business in the 1920's and 1930's.

In the late 1800's Eduard Racine & Fils had a relatively large factory (Fabrique de Galonné) of belts, chains, crowns etc. in St.-Imier/Biel

César Racine (born in 1851) was running a 'Horlogerie' in the Ave. du Nouveau Collège 2 in Le Locle. He did very well as he received the 'Medaille d'Or Expo Nationale Suisse, Genève 1896' and the 'Grand Prix Paris 1900'. In February 1898 he was granted a patent on an automatic disconnection mechanism for larger movements. One year later he refined that invention. In 1908 he becomes a member of a committee that commemorates Mr. Jules Grossmann, the late director of the 'Ecole d'Horlogerie' in Le Locle. His son, César Racine Jr. (born in 1889) enters the name 'César Racine' in the 'registre de commerce' on February 4, 1913. Unfortunately on January 24, 1931 he went bankrupt.

Louis-Ferdinand Racine (1839-1925), in Lamboing, married to Eugenie Giauque, had a small factory of special (pillar) wheels for chronographs.

Until 1890 Louis Giauque (1832-1910), married with Dina Racine, worked as an independent engraver. His ads in the entire 1889 edition of the 'La Fédération Horlogère Suisse' were upside down; probably because his business was to be closed.

Herman Racine is registered at the cantonal Chamber of Commerce as an engraver mid 1907.

A. Racine-Liengme established a small watch business (Manufacture d'Horlogerie Liengme & Co.) on January 16, 1888 in Cormoret, selling their products with the funny name 'Zelt mit Fahne' (tent with ribbon, although 'Fahne' in German also means 'tipsy'!). Once the Liengme Watch Co. was active from 1888 till 1974, producing watches under names like Gala and Veto.

W. Racine had the Donada Watch Co. in Welschenrohr, selling little watches as 'Azu', 'Carus', 'Donada' (see above), 'Joseco', 'Warac' and 'Waral'.

L. Racine-Wenker was registered as a watch maker (brand name 'Ranee') in Biel/Bienne since March 16, 1903.

Ernest Racine (1868-1923) has a factory of special cogwheels in Lamboing. In his best days he gave work to some 50 people. And his factory even had a petrol engine as power source! Unfortunately he went bankrupt in June 1911. Since early 1904 - however - he managed a company with his younger brother as Racine Frères (Racine Brothers). They were running two small factories of bracelets in Biel/Bienne and Corgemont, selling also watches under their own name and brand names like 'Fuxia' and 'Suza'. Late December 1912 they register 4 models of wristwatches.

The Racine Brothers registered on May 29, 1911 their Fuxia Watch Co. (aka Fabrique Suza). Unfortunately a settlement of debts was announced on November 22, 1926, leading to a brankruptcy early 1927.

During the 1910's Charles Racine is running a shipping agency in La Chaux-de-Fonds that is offering transports - despite the W.W. I - from Chaux-de-Fonds to Japan, India and USA via the French harbours of Marseille and Bordeaux. After 1920 there is no information available of his business.

Henri Racine (1880-1968) worked at the Longines factory in Saint-Imier nearly all his life.

Finally Eugène Racine, living in Tavannes, was a dealer in special oils and lubricants for watches and clocks.

 

Great great grandfather Jean-Pierre Racine (18-12-1750/2-6-1832) married on 2-12-1776 Lydie Giauque (20-8-1756/24-2-1847). Their son Jean-Pierre Racine (5-12-1779/26-4-1848) married in August 1800 Anna Rosa Carrel (7-3-1779/??). They had three kids: Rosalie (14-11-1802), Jacob Aime (21-9-1805) and Jean-Pierre (10-1-1808/??), who married on 12-2-1831 Adelaide Bayard (5-2-1811/??). Their (yet unknown) son (who was an architect in Grenchen) is the father of Ariste (1889-1958) and Oskar Racine.

Charles-Frédéric Racine - mentioned before - was born on July 11, 1769 in La Chaux-de-Fonds and baptised 12 days later. He married on February 13, 1796 Catherine Hannick (born 1775). His father was Daniel Racine (1737-1804) and his mother (and Daniel's second wife) Marie Sandoz-Gendre (1744-1784). Daniel Racine was a judge in Renfort but also an expert in clocks and clock repair. His first wife, Marie Huguenin, died in 1764. In April 1794 he emigrated to Baltimore, Maryland, USA. Charles-Frédéric stayed in Switzerland, however. Daniel started a shop as a horologist and married on October 9, 1794 Harriot Perry Gentile. He and his family moved shortly after to the centre of the USA. Charles-Frédéric Racine had a son: David Henry Racine (born 22-3-1811 Le Locle), who married on 29-10-1842 in La Brevine Charlotte Henriette Montandon-Blaiselion (born 27-10-1821 Paris).

The families-in-law Gallet, Giauque, Carrel and Bayard were involved in the watch (related) business, too.