Historically, Tellus made premier pocket and technical watches, manufacturing its own movements, in particular, the calibers 540B, 546, 583D. In the 1940’s, the brands Tellus and Hebdomas merged to form a group in La Chaux De Fonds (Switzerland), under the management of Albert Juillard. The distribution of Tellus flourished to become a leading brand in the 1960’s in Central America, the Caribbean and in European countries such as Romania, Hungary and Russia.
Recently, Tellus made a “comeback”, launching a completely new collection of highly creative timepieces designed by Hovel Chenorhokian, of Armenian descent, from a family famous in its watch trade.
When people ask me where I come from, I stumble. I need a few seconds before I reply. People think, “What’s wrong with this guy? Doesn’t he know where he comes from?” Well, it’s not so simple, and I am often perplexed about how to give a concise and correct answer, without having to tell a long story. I “am” French and have been living in Paris for 30 years. My roots though are in Lebanon, where I was born, raised, and lived for twenty years. My father was born in a city, which is now in Turkey actually. However, Armenian is my mother tongue, the language I speak with my family, as both my parents are of Armenian origin.
The watch business has been a “tradition” linked to my family since the 1930s. My father’s family had just escaped the Armenian genocide perpetrated during the First World War, and had settled down in Lebanon. For the first generation of Armenian refugees, in Lebanon and elsewhere, with no property, no financial assets, and very rarely speaking the language of their host country, tailoring, shoemaking and jewelry making were the typical trades parents intended for their sons in early teens. Boys generally worked as apprentices for a couple of years before they worked for a salary. It was Harout, the oldest of my uncles, who decided, in his late teens to undertake watch-making, a trade that grew in prominence from the 1930’s to the 1950’s. He then trained my father and three of my other uncles in the trade.
Watches were reserved to the social elite until the inception of the twentieth century. With the industrial revolution, watches became accessible to common citizens, creating a serious demand for watchmakers. I recall my father telling us about his first business. He had sub-rented a three square meters corner in a tailor’s shop, where he had set his watch repairing bench. As people used to line up on the sidewalk for getting their watches fixed, my father, still a young boy, was subject to the jealousy of the older tailor.
My grandfather Mihran enrolled in the Ottoman Army before the genocide - 1914
My parents welcoming the Lebanese president C. Shamoun during an exhibition of "Universal - Genève" watches in Beirut - 1955
My family with composer Aram Khatchatourian (I am the youngest). - 1961
Multitudes of ideas continue to bubble in my brain. Mornings are particularly fertile. On nice summer days, during my ride on the Canal de l’Ourcq bicycle track between my home and my office I have so many ideas. When I reach my office, I rush to write them down, to avoid the ideas from bubbling away.