Jean Romilly

Dates1714 - 1796, master 1752
BornGeneva, Switzerland
DiedParis, France

A successful businessman, author, weatherman, and clockmaker, Jean Romilly rose from a poor immigrant to an economic position "close to opulence when the [French] Revolution occurred." Born into a clockmaking dynasty in Geneva, Romilly joined his father, uncle, and three brothers in the family business. When he was about twenty, he emigrated to Paris and was soon accepted into the intellectual circle of the capital. Romilly was a good friend of noted philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau and contributed several articles on clock- and watchmaking to Denis Diderot's Encyclopédie. With his son-in-law, he also founded Paris's first daily newspaper, the Journal de Paris, to which he contributed the weather report.

Romilly specialized in producing movements for watches, usually set in fine cases. He perfected a mechanism that allowed his watches to run for eight days without being rewound. He also developed a watch that ran for 378 days without being wound, although it no longer gave accurate time. Romilly produced only a small number of clock movements, probably only at the specific request of members of the nobility such as Madame de Pompadour.