Wednesday, February 9, 2011
DEP clocks - continued
The design of the numbering on the clock face created by DEP was unique and made their clocks recognizable from afar. It was used for about 8 years and represented the high-end of their desk and mantle clocks models. The earliest example I've seen dates from 1926 and appears to be a mock-up model of the oval clock face. It was also used for elegant little travel clocks in a fine leather case.
Many of their clocks were made for export and had 'Made in France' and 'Breveté' stamped on the back as required by law, along with the letters SGDG which mean Without Guarantee from the Government.
As an aside 'Breveté' means patented in French and is NOT a brand. All manufactured goods were required to have it.
The DEP manufacturing headquarters were located in Cluses, a small industrial town in the Savoie and like many clock makers, it was a seasonal occupation for farmers during the winter months. Clock making had been a major industry there for decades and the creation in 1849 of one of France's largest clock making schools - L'Ecole de L'Horlogerie de Cluses - confirmed its importance. In 1900, Cluses and the neighbouring town of Scionzier counted over 40 manufacturing plants related to clock making. Social and economic lines were drawn and the wealthy owners of the parts and clock manufacturing plants were firmly entrenched in their belief of their God-given rights to do as they wished, and that included managing their workers' lives.
In 1904 when seven workers were fired for supporting the election of an opposing municipal party without the permission of the plant owner, the plant workers went on strike demanding their reinstatement. The owner refused and the strike spread to the other plants. It was the first industrial general strike and shut down the clock making industry. Things took a tragic turn when the son of the plant owner where the strike began, fired on the demonstrators in front of the gates, killing several of them. It marked the beginning of the labor movement and a new socio-economic order in the French clock making industry.