«Marius Meylan (the then CEO of Omega) came to me one day. He told me that the day before he had been to Biel, where they had given him the task of making a chronograph caliber Ø27 mm. It had to be as flat as possible, with separate subsidiary dials for the 30 minutes and the 12 hours». With these words Albert Piguet recalled the birth, in the years between 1940 and 1941, of one of the most important calibers of modern watchmaking, the Lemania 27CHR C12 (which later became 321 and then 861), the heart of the Speedmaster.
On the left Albert Piguet and on the right John Hasler: winter 1942, the year in which the 27CHR C12 calibre was officially presented.
For almost 50 years in the service of Lemania and Omega, Albert Piguet is remembered a bit as a "sergeant major: honest, concise, strict" this is the natural culmination of a long line of watchmakers: father, grandfather, great-grandfather. After completing the four-year course of the Watchmaking School of Le Sentier in just three years, he joined Lemania at the beginning of the 1930s, which was already specialized in the production of particular watches, especially chronographs.
After working on the refinement of the Omega chronograph used for the Los Angeles Olympics in 1932, in the late 1930s he began making the chronograph movement.
He started the chronograph project by building the first prototype by hand despite the few resources, barely enough machinery and limited manpower because of the war (even in Switzerland the conflict brought economic problems and a conversion into "war production").
He began the tooling construction and the first series production when he obtained, almost immediately, the approval by the motherhouse, as "the first project turned out to be the good one". The production continued for many years, with a single change at the end of the 1960s: the control of the chronograph functions was simplified and there was the passage from 18,000 alternations/hour to 21,600.
A little curiosity will help us understand his character. Albert Piguet, a strong and austere man as only a master watchmaker can be, did not hesitate to declare, with a touch of haughtiness, that he had not followed the Apollo XI expedition to the moon with particular interest and «my watch was there but I was not impressed that much». More Swiss than that!