Charles Bertrand did not come from a clock or watchmaking family for his father Joseph was a headwaiter. Bertrand was born in Nettancourt near Châlons on 24th May 1746 and in 1761 at the age of 14 or just 15 he began an apprenticeship in Paris under Eustache-François Houblin (1722 d. after 1786). In 1770 Bertrand presented his chef d’oeuvre and the following year was received as a mâitre-horloger. Based on the obvious quality of his work he was appointed Horloger de l’Académie Royale des Sciences which, as here he proudly declared on a number of his clocks. In 1772 Bertrand married Marie-Française Perriard and in the same year established himself at rue Montmatre where he remained for the rest of his short life. Despite his esteem and prestigious client list that included the marquise de Lambertye and M. Aranc de Presles, Bertrand was declared bankrupt on 23rd November 1789 – the year in which he died.
He is known to have made both watches and clocks – from more simple mantel clocks and cartels to complex skeleton and lyre-shaped models, all of which featured exceptionally fine cases. His cases were supplied by some of the leading makers of his day notably Jean-Joseph de Saint-Germain (1719-91), François Vion (maître 1764, fl. 1764-c.1800), Jean-Nicolas Frémont, T. Thomas, Bécourt and Jean-Baptiste Zacon; some of his cases were gilded by N. F. Poisson. In addition Bertrand used marble cases sculptured by F. Cornière and is known to have used watchcases by Knab. His dials were of the finest quality and were supplied by Joseph Coteau, Edme-Portail Barbichon, Jean-François Borel and Jacques Anspach.