THE WATCHMAKING COMPANY
Rielé ran his own company which was officially registered in March 1883. However, he dealt in watchmaking many years earlier – in the 1860s. The birth certificate of his daughter Louisa Adèle already mentions that Albert was a watchmaker (French: horloger). He worked officially as a watchmaker in La Chaux-de-Fonds.
Initially, Albert Rielé’s counter (French: comptoir) was a buying and selling office, but it turned into an organisation that dealt in both manufacture and trade. The counter became an atelier and watchmaking workshop that procured supplies, tools, semi-finished products, and all kinds of watchmaking elements such as watch cases, movements, dials, parts of movements, etc. All these things, supplied by local business partners, were assembled at Rielé’s establishment.
Albert was not only a watchmaker. He was also involved in chronometry and was renowned for his precision, especially when it came to Breguet springs. Also, Albert Rielé was one of only a handful of people who had direct access to the markets. He worked for other traders and wholesale distributors in Germany – his home country. It is known that many pocket watches were exported to Germany for Nathan Ruben Fränkel (a watch wholesaler based in Frankfurt in ca. 1870-1905), most probably a business partner of R.A. Rielé.
Albert Rielé was very active and his work achieved a number of successes. His company grew and, in subsequent years, he hired several specialists to enlarge his team and be able to meet the demand for his watches. For this reason, a few times he relocated to bigger premises, offering more space to his new employees and adapted to the growth of his business. However, his business address always remained in Rue de la Demoiselle (currently Rue Numa-Droz) – the dream location for watchmakers in those years. An advertisement from 1896 suggests Rielé’s strong ties to Germany. Albert was looking for an apprentice, but for a wholesaler in Germany, not for his own comptoir. This person was to do an apprenticeship at a wholesale company (French: maison de gros). That same year (1886), Albert participated in a watch exhibition in La Chaux-de-Fonds. He was one of the few producers who received a distinction for watchmaking.