It’s rare these days for a new watchmaking firm to start up. Even rarer if it’s French and rarer still if it’s Provençal. But the firm we’re talking about is based in La Ciotat. There are four brains behind the initiative: Hubert Patural, chair of the supervisory board; Céline Guth, strategy and growth; Anthony Simao, watchmaker and also founder of the Lornet brand; and Olimpiu Salcou, chair of the management board. “We want to make our mark on the history of French watchmaking, putting French craft skills in the international spotlight and offering French watch brands an alternative to Swiss or Asian movements. The last watch that was entirely French-made dates back to the early ‘80s – 40 years ago. We mean to make up for that.” To meet the challenge, the Aiôn group is thinking big. “We have actually purchased a complete Swiss watch factory. Its name is being kept under wraps for the moment. It has all the machinery we need to produce 50,000 movements by 2023. But our project is broader than that, because we mean to offer a complete watchmaking process from design, parts production, decoration and assembly of movements to after-sales service,” he adds. The group is planning to hire 160 staffwithin five years.