Louis Berthoud

Pierre-Louis Berthoud (1754-1813), known as Louis, was a very important clock maker and an ingenious scientist. He is listed in the Tardy dictionary of watchmakers. His father Pierre was a clock maker but Louis trained under his highly esteemed uncle, Ferdinand Berthoud (1727-1807). Louis took over the management of his uncle Ferdinand’s workshop in Paris in 1784. Like his uncle, Louis was particularly interested in precision horology. He specialized in making regulators, over 150 chronometers as well as clocks and watches.

Louis Berthoud was appointed as clock maker to the Observatoire and to the Bureau de Longitude. He won a gold medal at the Paris Exposition, l’an X (1800/1). And in 1802 he received the position of Horologist to the Navy. And after that, in 1805, Horologist to the Observatory and the Board of Longitude in Paris. Louis Berthoud was a member of the French Academy of Science and he is the author of a book of “conversations” on naval timekeeping: Entretiens sur l’Horlogerie à l’Usage de la Marine (1812). Also he left several volumes of handwritten notes that he did not have time to edit. His work in watchmaking consists of marine or pocket chronometers, astronomical clocks, clocks with seconds, equation and ringing and complicated watches and clocks for civilian use.

In November 1784, Louis Berthoud married Thérèse Bézout, niece and adopted daughter of the mathematician Étienne Bézout. He had two sons who, like their father, took on an eminent position in the art of watchmaking. Since 1798, he had had accommodation provided by the Minister of Marine at the Hôtel d’Egmont (depot for naval plans and charts) which he kept until his death. However, he moved his workshop to Argenteuil to be in a quieter environment. Admiral Decrès, Minister of the Navy, owned the Château du Marais in Argenteuil, where he resided as often as his duties permitted, and he frequently invited Louis Berthoud to dine at the Château du Marais.

Discover the Empire mantel clocks by Louis Berthoud and other artists in our gallery.