Paul Buhre firm


The history of the Buhre watch company began in 1815 in St. Petersburg, where Karl Buhre moved from Revel together with his son. Pavel Karlovich grew up with the watch business of his father and eventually became an assistant and continuer of his business. His eldest son, Pavel Pavlovich Buhre, graduated from the Petropavlovsk Commercial College and became his father's companion at the age of 26 in 1868. In 1874, he acquired a large watchmaking factory in the heart of the Swiss watchmaking industry in the town of Le Lockle. In 1880 he was an appraiser under the Cabinet of His Imperial Majesty, a technician at the Imperial Hermitage, a supplier of the Supreme Court since 1879 and a merchant of the 1st guild since 1884. In the last 30 years before the revolution, the firm became that "Pavel Buhre", without which it is inconceivable to talk about the history of Russian watchmaking. To expand business, a store was opened in Moscow, and then in Kiev. In 1899 the company was awarded the title of Supplier of the Imperial Court.

 During the reign of Alexander III (1881-1894) from the Cabinet of His Majesty, 3,477 gift watches worth 277,472 rubles were awarded. The overwhelming number of them was from Buhre. At the end of the 1890s, only the Supreme Court was supplied with watches worth 50-60 thousand rubles a year. In total, out of 15,000 watches purchased through His Majesty's Cabinet in 30 pre-revolutionary years, more than 80 percent were from Buhre. Under government orders, watches were made in simple metal cases. These were prize army and railway watches and, of course, the world's first real wristwatches. These watches were ordered by the Chief Artillery Directorate in 1904 in connection with the Russo-Japanese War. There were so many “Pavel Buhre” watches – wag-on-the-wall and chronographs, travel and wall clocks, alarm clocks and gold repeaters - the whole story is literally permeated with references to "Pavel Buhre".

Not without the participation of writers, this name almost became a common denominator. So, for example, only in the works of Anton Pavlovich Chekhov "Buhre watches" occur more than 20 times. Experts of ancient watches find it difficult to explain why Buhre's watches were better than watches of other firms that worked in Russia at the turn of the century. Some of them, like Buhre, had their own factories in Russia, where watches were assembled from the mechanisms imported from abroad. At a time when from being a luxury accessory watches turned into a necessity, "Pavel Buhre" sold watches for everyone. Prices for “Pavel Buhre” watches started from just two rubles. The company owned 50 percent of the Russian market of inexpensive watches. For more affluent buyers, the same mechanisms were inserted into the silver and gold cases. Complex (repeater, chronograph, calendars) mechanisms were ordered from the most authoritative Swiss watch companies. And in 1916 Pavel Buhre obtained a Swiss patent No. 74144 for a chronograph mechanism of its own design. "Pavel Buhre" was awarded the highest awards at many national and international exhibitions, including at the World Exhibitions in Paris: in 1889 – a silver, and in 1900 – a gold medal.

The Revolution of 1917 put an end to “Pavel Buhre” business in Russia. However, the "Buhre" watches themselves were popular with the new regime. In Vladimir Lenin’s office in the Kremlin there hung the round wall "Buhre". For many years, the pocket "Pavel Buhre" were owned by Joseph Stalin and Nikita Khrushchev. It should be noted that the firm “Pavel Buhre” did not cease its existence in 1917. The fact that the main production facilities were in Switzerland saved the company. And normal work was resumed with the transfer of the headquarters from Petrograd to the Swiss Le Lockle. Although the first years were very difficult, since the main market - Russian was lost. But the company could not only survive, but also significantly increase the geography of supply and become one of the leading watch companies in Switzerland. In order to be recognizable by consumers all over the world, the logo was changed from Cyrillic to Roman “Paul Buhre”. The watches were awarded more than 500 prizes for accuracy and successfully sold all over the world. For many years in the middle of the last century they were supplied to the English court.

The brand returned to Russia in 2004 with the efforts of the Trade House striving to revive the traditions of Pavel Karlovich Buhre, the watchmaker. And the next year, the year of the 190th anniversary of the firm, the first novelties under the revived brand were issued, conveying the classic spirit of the old masterpieces of the company. Particular attention is paid to the high reliability and quality inherent in the pre-revolutionary "Buhre". And the interest with which novelties "from Buhre" were received by people of different generations in many countries of the world, inspires confidence in the revival of one more ancient tradition – to define time by “Paul Buhre”.


Exhibits in the Museum Collection