Saturday, April 9, 2011

JAZ - the beginnings

As WWI drew to a close, the industrial revolution took wings. As a result, engineers and technicians who imagined, designed and produced the machines that produced objects in large quantities at a cheaper price became a driving force in this new economic reality. Before then, it was clockmakers who created clock manufacturing plants.
In 1919, a small group of French engineers - realizing that there was a very lucrative potential market for alarm clocks (essential elements to get the industrial workforce up and into the workplace on time) decided to create a manufacturing process that would "produce an alarm clock in large quantities, of superior quality and pleasing presentation, capable of competing with foreign imports."

The brand name JAZ was born.
Why the name JAZ? There are two  schools of thought: one believes that it was the first letter of the family names of the original three engineers and the other  believes that it was in reference to the new American music sweeping the Continent.

The first model that was a produced was le Classic in 1921.
From the beginning, all Jaz clocks had both a model number and a model NAME..and ALL model names finish in "ic".
This first model was revolutionary. The alarm bell was on the back of the clock and not on top. It had a button that allowed the alarm to be turned off and because of the thickness of the metal used, the sound of the alarm bell was more melodic and richer than the usual shrilly, ear-splitting sound of a tin hammer against a tin bell.
Another revolution was the same model - The Classic L produced with luminous numbers and hands allowing time to be seen in the dark.
More than 10.000 of them were sold during the first year - which represented an exceptional success.

In view of their initial success, the company decided on a unique and potentially risky marketing and sales approach. Their clocks would only be sold through retail clockmakers and jewelers, never in catalogues reasoning that even the smallest of villages had a clockmaker.
Another very imaginative marketing initiative was that Jaz did not advertise in magazines or newspapers for their first ten years. Their target market was the workers and few of them read papers or magazines but....everyone went to the movies! So Jaz created some of the first silent, animated advertisements to be shown before the main feature. Apparently this approach was so successful that clockmakers and jewelery shops located in large cities, near movie houses would remain open until the end of the last showing to give people an opportunity to buy a Jaz on their way home.

Replic model 1920

Given the success of their first model, a new similar model le Replic was produced. It came in four sizes, but the big difference was the new mechanism - The Calibre D - that was so sturdy, it was used in most of their clocks from 1921 until 1955, a unique achievement.

Between 1921 and 1930, Jaz steadily built up and solidified its hold on the French utilitarian clock market. They always emphasized that they were French-made and to position the brand, they were always called a 'JAZ', never a Jaz clock. Like many other everyday objects, they wanted JAZ to become synonymous with time telling...and it did.

CUBIC model in brass 1928

CUBIC model in chrome 1928

The CUBIC was one of the  first models sold as "a luxury clock for ladies" with a little window to set the time for the alarm.


  1. Im a deco bakelite collector, and would like some information
    regarding Jaz clocks.
    I hope your expertise can help me.

    There are certain Jaz clocks that have a glittery bakelite material, i
    once came across it however did not know what model it was.

    when the sun was out or in bright light the colors where very nice.

    do you know anything about it

    thank you

    1. On some of the larger models such as the Silentic, minuscule copper shavings (dust)were sometimes added to the bakelite mix(which Jaz called Jazlite) during the molding process to give them a unique and more imposing appearance.

  2. Hi there, I have a jaz electronic clock, rectangle shape, with glow in the dark circles at the numbers , front is plastic but chrome / mirrored and rectangular clock face is grey. Says 'alarm' on the front with a symbol each side and bottom of front it says LIC ATO FRANCE . I cannot find an image of the clock anywhere at all online. Any idea when this was made or any other information about this clock? I'm happy to email a photo . Thank you

  3. Hi there
    I really need a photograph or several to be able to identify it and give you information. Could you send them to and I will reply.

  4. We have a Jaz grandfather clock. Any info on that kind of clock would be very helpful. The JAZ in under the 12. Above the 6 is 1767.



  5. i just bought a Jaz deluxe Pierres 11 jewel Made in France travel alarm clock at at garage sale. Looks like a brass case with leather outer box/case. Event numbered with luminous markers. Seems to keep decent time. I may just use it for my travels. I would like to know more about it if you know anything about it.

  6. UK and Japan, this travel alarm clock can set itself against the most accurate atomic clocks in the world. Leather Travel Clock