Jean-Gabriel Imbert, known as Imbert l’Aîné (1735-95) was born in Devalon in the Burgundy region of France; in his youth he travelled to Paris, where he worked for his brother-in-law, Jean-Charles Olin (husband of Imbert’s sister Anne). He worked firstly as an ouvrier-libre (a worker not affiliated with a guild) then became a master clockmaker in 1776 and a deputé of his guild in 1780. Four years later he declared bankruptcy but continued to work. For many years his younger brother Jean Edme, known as Imbert le Jeune (1741-1808), worked with him. By 1767 Imbert l’Aîné was established at Carrefour de la Roquette, by 1781 at rue Planche-Mibray, three years later at rue des Arcis and at the time of his death in June 1795 at rue de Monceau.
Imbert l’Aîné worked with excellent suppliers: Richard and Gaspard Monginot supplied his springs; his enamel dials were generally made by Georges-Adrien Merlet, Elie Barbezat or Bezelle. Imbert’s clock cases were made by a range of Parisian fondeurs in particular Robert and Jean-Baptiste Osmond, Nicolas Bonnet, Michel Poisson, Jean Goyer, René-François Morlay Léonard Mary and of course François Vion, while some were gilded by Le Cat and H. Martin. Examples from his work may be found in the Musée Carnavalet in Paris, the Residenzmuseum in Munich, the Palazzo Reale in Turin, and several museums in Spain. Imbert l’Aîné counted among his clients the marquis de Brunoy and the duc de Deux-Ponts.