|WATCH BRAND HISTORIES: A - Do|
Home ~ Buyers Guide ~ Bidding ~ Shipping ~ Payments ~ Returns ~ FAQ ~ About Us ~ Contact Us ~ Watch Buyers Guide ~ Rolex Instructions
Watch Brand Histories A to Do ~ Watch Brand Histories Du to I ~ Watch Brand Histories J to Rog ~ Watch Brand Histories Rolex to Z
ALDennison * Audemars Piguet * BALL * Baume and Mercier * Benrus * Blancpain * Breitling * Brequet * Bucherer * Bulova * Bvlgari * Cartier * Chopard * Citizen * Columbus * Concord * Cornelison * Corum * Dollar Watch * Doxa
AARON L.DENNISON, The father of the American watch factories, was the first person to apply the interchangeable system to the manufacture of watches. This he did in 1850. He was the son of a shoemaker of Freeport, Me., and was born in the year 1812. He was apprenticed to James Carey, a watchmaker of Brunswick, Me., in 1830. In 1839 he was engaged in a general watch and jewelry business in Boston and also carried a line of watchmakers' tools and materials. He invented the Dennison Standard Gauge in 1840. In the fall of 1849 he began to build machinery for the manufacture of watches on the interchangeable system, having associated himself with Messrs Howard, Davis and Curtis. In 1850 he completed the model for the first watch which was 18 size, with two barrels, and was made to run eight days. The watch, however, was not a success, and it was replaced by a one day wind model.
The factory was situated directly opposite to the Howard & Davis shop. The name of the company was changed subsequently to the Warren Manufacturing Company honoring a hero of the Revolutionary War who came from Roxbury, Massachusetts., and later to the Boston Watch Company. In 1854 the location of the factory was changed to Waltham. In 1857 the company made an assignment, and the property, consisting of real estate, the factory, and numerous other buildings, machinery, steam engine, etc., was offered at public auction and was bid in for $56,500 by Royal E. Robbins, for himself and the firm of Tracy & Baker, case makers of Philadelphia, who were creditors of the defunct company. After the failure of the Boston Watch Company Mr. Howard returned to Roxbury and continued with his clock business in connection with Mr. Davis.
The Tracy and Baker Company didn’t last long. Baker soon sold out to James Appleton and the name was changed to the Appleton, Tracy and Company. C T. Parker and P. S. Bartlett, both company employees, were the names of most of the watches produced. On January 1, 1859, the company merged with the Waltham Improvement Company, to form the American Watch Company.
Then the Civil war broke out. Royal E. Robbins, the majority stockholder of the new company, said; "During that year, came the outburst of the Civil War which brought the business to a standstill and threatened to again bankrupt the enterprise. There was little hope of finding a market for the factory product, unless it should be so reduced in quantity as to be manufactured at a loss. It was therefore decided to reduce expenditures to the lowest point, but to keep the factory in operation to such an extent as to hold the leading personnel."
In the first year in business, The American Watch Company manufactured the same watch as those manufactured by the Appleton, Tracy and Company. A. L. Dennison, while he was with the company, and prior to 1857, while he was with the Boston Watch Company, had experimented with and sold a few full plate 7 jewel models which were engraved Dennison, Howard and Davis, the same as the 18-size 15 jewel model which up to that time had been the sole product of the company. Robbins, when the company was known as Appleton Tracy and Company, had some minute changes made in this model in 1857, and tried to market it for $12.00 under the name of C. T. Parker. Only 399 of these 7 jewel models were produced as they did not go over well. In early 1861, the American Watch Company changed the name of this movement to J. Watson. The company dropped the name of J. Watson after the second run and renamed the model William Ellery, after one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. This watch became known as the "soldiers watch". In September 1861 the company manufactured the first watch for women ever by machinery and interchangeable parts. It was a 10-size 3/4 plate keywind and keyset. It was produced in two grades, a 13 jewel model engraved P.S Bartlett and a 15 jewel Appleton, Tracy and Company. Production of the 10 size movements ceased in 1873, but the company had manufactured enough movements, to assemble and offer them throughout the life of the American Watch Company. In the year 1885 the name changed to the American Waltham Watch Company. In 1905 the name was again changed to the Waltham Watch Company. The production of watches continued until 1953, having produced over 33,000,000 watch movements.
In 1875, Jules-Louis Audemars (1851-1918), in order to cope with orders for luxury calibers emanating from the great watchmaking houses in Geneva, became officially associated with his childhood friend Edward-Auguste Piguet (1853-1919). He handled the technical management of the small company, while his associate took charge of sales and marketing aspects, traveling through many towns and subsequently continents to establish direct contact with connoisseurs. This brilliant team changed horology as we know it and their foundation continues today.
The company prospered and developed, coming through World War I and the Great Depression without being affected harshly, thanks to the production of ladies' wristwatches and ultra-thin models. When World War II ended, the Manufacture reorganized to create a more accessible line of watches. The repercussions of the watchmaking crisis in the 1970s were scarcely felt by the company, mainly because in 1972 it made the daring choice to launch the world's first high-end sports watch in steel: the Royal Oak. The Company currently employs a staff of about 500 trained professionals worldwide and is starting the newest century on a confident note.
Audemars piquet claims the distinction of the first wristwatch with tourbillion and mechanical winding, the smallest self-winding watch with perpetual calendar, the Dual Time, the Ladies Minute Repeater Chiming watch throughout its history, the Manufacture has introduced a succession of landmark records and world firsts. Driven by this same conquering spirit, it is still producing the world's thinnest movement. All in all, a tour de force in the horology and watchmaking fields.
To a large extent, the development of the watch industry in America can be attributed to the advent and subsequent development of American railroads.
Prior to the advent of trains as a means of transporting people and goods, there was no real need for precise timekeeping or uniform time. Even after the railroad system in the United States had reached significant proportions following the Civil War, communities continued to maintain their local times.
By the end of 1883, the railroad industry had agreed, at least among themselves, to divide the nation into four time zones and had adopted Standard Time. The public soon followed suit, although it is interesting to note that the Congress did not officially sanction the concept until 1918.
WEBB C. BALL
In 1996, Cleveland, Ohio, celebrated the bicentennial of the founding of the city on the lake. During this celebration, many individuals were remembered and recognized as Cleveland's favorite sons, and their accomplishments were reviewed. One Clevelander honored, whose accomplishments reached international acclaim, not only for his civic contributions, but also for his place in horology, was Webster Clay Ball.
Webb C. Ball was born in Fredericktown, Ohio on October 6, 1847. When Standard Time was adopted in 1883, he was the first jeweler to use time signals, bringing accurate time to Cleveland. On July 19, 1891, the General Superintendent of Lake Shore Lines appointed Webb C. Ball as Chief Inspector for the lines. His early inspection system was the beginning of the vast Ball network that would encompass 75% of the railroads throughout the country and cover at least 175,000 miles of railroad. Webb C. Ball also extended his system into Mexico and Canada.
The Kipton Disaster
On April 19, 1891 the Fast Mail train known as No. 4 was coming west on the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railroad in Kipton, Ohio. At Elyria, 25 miles from Cleveland, the Engineer and the Conductor of the Accomodation were given orders to let the fast mail train pass them at Kipton, a small station west of Oberlin, the University town.
As the Conductor of Accomodation admitted afterward, from the time the train left Elyria until it collided with the Fast Mail at Kipton, he did not take his watch out of his pocket. He said that he supposed the Engineer would look out for Fast Mail No. 4. But the Engineer's watch stopped for four minutes and then began running again, a little matter of life and death of which he was unconscious. There were several stations between Elyria and Kipton, but the Engineer pounded slowly along in the belief that he had time to spare.
Leaving Oberlin, the Engineer supposed he had seven minutes before reaching the meeting point. Of course he only had three minutes. Had the Conductor looked at his own watch he could have prevented the accident. The trains came together at Kipton, the Fast Mail at full speed and the Accomodation under brakes, because it was nearing the station. The Engineers of both trains were killed, and the dead bodies of nine clerks were taken from the kindling wood and broken iron of the postal cars.
This accident prompted the Lake Shore officials to enlist Webb C. Ball to investigate Time and Watch conditions throughout the Lake Shore Line and develop an inspection system for their implementation.
Webb C. Ball set about immediately and put in place fortnightly checks on the watches worn by all railroad workers. The checks were carried out by approved watchmakers. Ball set strict standards, forbidding variations more than 30 seconds among the watches.
It is important to recognize and applaud Webb C. Ball, for his system was the first successful one to be accepted on a broad scale. It was his system that set the standard for railroads; it was his system that helped establish accuracy and uniformity in timekeeping. It was his system that resulted in railroad time and railroad watches being recognized as STANDARD, whenever accuracy in time was required. In general, it became accepted that when the average person asks a railroad man the time, he is assured a correct answer.
Today, BALL Watch is one of the most respected and established watch brands in the United States. We continue to update the product range in the 21st century to keep pace with shifting consumer patterns. But, despite changes in appearance, the founding spirit of the brand - industrial function - is never compromised.
It is upheld in Ball's original details, such as the watch dial that faithfully follows his design guidelines for the standard railway watch. Every detail, from the shape of the hands to the style of the numerals, was laid down by the founder in his quest for accuracy in timekeeping.
It is a vision that the Ball family remains faithful to. For legions of men and women today whose split-second decisions keep the world ticking, it is a shared commitment.
BALL Watch - Since 1891, Accuracy Under Adverse Conditions
Baume and Mercier
The Baume Brothers Watch Making house in Les Bois, Switzerland was created by Louis Victor and Pierre Joseph Celestin Baume in 1830. Twenty one years later the Baume Brothers in London was founded. In 1918 a partnership was formed between William Baume and Paul Mercier. This lead to the brand of “Baume & Mercier” being awarded the Geneva Hallmark in 1921. Fifty two years later the company received the Baden-Baden Golden Rose Award for it’s women’s line.
The name Benrus is well known. When most people hear it they immediately think of watches. However, very little is known about the Benrus Watch Company.
The company’s founder, Benjamin Lazrus, was a Jewish Romanian born in 1894. He would eventually immigrate to the United States . Sometime before 1921, he would open a watch repair shop located at 206 Broadway in New York City . Not long afterwards, he was making watch cases and bands. To some small degree, his brothers were also involved in the business. However, at this time, I am not sure just exactly what that involvement was.
I have read that the Benrus Watch Company was started in the early 1920s. I don’t think this is a completely accurate statement. I believe that, until the late 1920s, Benjamin was simply selling watch parts and cases. He registered the name Benrus (taken from Benjamin & Lazrus) in 1922. In 1924, Benjamin was located on Beekman Street in New York City . Again, he is listed as an importer and wholesaler, but not a manufacturer. His first recorded appearance as an actual manufacturer of watch cases would not be until the mid 1920s. By 1930, he has moved again & is now making cases at 200 Hudson Street . He also maintains a “main” office, in the heart of the jewelry district, on 47th Street.
You’ll notice that some people refer to Benrus as a Swiss company while others say it an American company. This may be because; at sometime in the 1920s, he also rented one floor of a watch factory located in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland . Benjamin’s earliest watches were simple Schild movements that were shipped to the US and put in to American made cases. His early cases are unmarked. In order to understand why he needed a "factory" in Switzerland if he was simply buying movements there, one has to first understand the Swiss watch industry at the time.
Ebauches is a name commonly used when referring to Swiss watches. However, not many truly understand what an Ebauches movement was. Basically it meant a movement that was not completed. They had no balance assembly or escape wheel. Lazrus, like many other companies, would purchase these Ebauches movements. Then, his "factory" in Switzerland would complete the watch movements and ship them to his “factory” in the US . Once the movements arrived in New York they would be placed in Benrus watch cases. The company also purchased dials and hands from various Swiss companies in the same manner. So, yes, all of the movements used by Benrus from the 1920s up to the 1960s were Swiss. However, they made their watch cases in the US for over 40 years. In fact, you will see Benrus listed as “The Benrus Watch CASE Company” in many old records.
By the mid 1930s, Benrus was beginning to produce a few watches that actually had a little "personality". Their early rectangular and cushion watches were starting to show some style. This helped to pull the company away from all the others & enabled them to start “standing out” in the crowd. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it) this would not be the only factor that pushed Benrus ahead in the watch industry.
With the outbreak of World War II the other American watch companies (such as Waltham , Elgin and Hamilton ) were pressed in to service & required to make watches for the US Military. Some of the watch companies also had to “re-outfit” in order to make other goods (completely unrelated to watches) required by the war effort. Since Benrus had neither a watch movement factory nor the machinery needed for it here in the US , they were not required to do this. They managed to continue bringing Swiss watch movements into the US during the war and were able to keep selling their own watches. This gave them a great advantage when the war ended.
It was during the 1940s that Benrus produced some of their best watches. The most notable of these would have to be their infamous calendar watch which was introduced in the late 1940s. This was a manual wind watch that featured a “window” in the dial to show the month and a “hand indicated date” that had the days of the month running around the outside of the dial. The date would advance as you pushed the crown in. This would turn out to be the most mass produced “complicated” watch of all time.
In the 1950s Benrus would introduce some of their most innovative watches. Their Dial-a-rama watch was a futuristic version of the old jump hour watches of the 1930s. The Dial-a-rama used the old technology of the jump hour but added a star wheel or “seconds” wheel in the center. They also had windows in the dial to show the hour and minutes. The earlier jump hours only had windows in the case. It was also during this period that Benrus introduced a watch with a “winding indicator”. This feature would tell you how much the mainspring was wound without actually winding the watch. The Benrus alarm watch, also introduced in the 1950s, probably outsold every other brand of alarm watch being marketed at the same time.
Benrus Watch Company was very quickly changing. They went from being just another boring old watch company to one that was now continually introducing more and more complicated, “state of the art” watches. In fact, they became so big in the 1950s that they almost bought out the Hamilton Watch Company.
Through the years Benrus would continue to introduce new & innovative watches. Many of them had interesting or unusual features. Anyone familiar with Benrus watches most likely knows that they sold a lot of watches in waterproof cases. These cases had a 2 piece winding stems and a 2 piece case. They had to be put in a “press” in order to open or close them. This 2 piece waterproof case was later replaced with a one piece "drop in" style case. With this style you had to remove the crystal in order to pull the movement out through the front of the case.
Benrus also ventured in to clock making. One of their more interesting clocks was a self winding automobile clock. These clocks were mounted into the center of the car’s steering wheel and the turning of the wheel would wind it. These were factory accessories for Chrysler and other cars.
The first automatic watches that Benrus produced were "bumper" style. They had an oscillator that did not rotate around the watch. Instead, it would swing part way until it hit a spring that would bounce it back. Later the modern style automatic replaced the bumper.
In the 1960s Benrus also introduced 2 lower lines of watches -the Belforte and the Sovereign. While most of the Belforte watches had the same movements as the regular Benrus line, the Sovereign seemed to always have lower quality movements. It appears that Benrus actually spent some money advertising the Belforte watches. I have several ads including some featuring comedian Jerry Lewis. I don't think many of us are really going to believe Jerry actually wore a Belforte watch on a regular basis but I guess it looked good at the time.
Technipower was another one of the Benrus “off-shoots”. They made electronic parts & the name Technipower appears on some of their electronic watches. Technipower (Benrus) also made missile guidance components and one of the Benrus plants actually had a missile on display. Long after the plant closed, this “display” missile was found in the basement of someone’s house. The bomb squad was called in only to find out that it was a “dummy” with nothing inside it. So, it appears that Benrus did finally get to do their part for the war effort.
Most movements for the early Benrus Electronic watches were made in Switzerland . Some were also made by Lip in France . At some point in the 1970s they switched to Seiko movements that were made in Japan . It was around this same time, that Benrus would also begin using dials made Taiwan instead of the Swiss dials.
The 1970s were a bad time for the entire watch making industry. Most of the old Swiss companies either closed entirely or stopped manufacturing movements. Instead, they were now using ETA or Schild movements. Companies such as Omega and Longines, who had always used their own distinct movements, also began using Schild and ETA movements. This meant that regardless of which brand of watch you bought it would probably have the same movement inside. It would simply have a slightly different look or finish on the outside. This was also the time period when companies began using up leftover ladies movements in their men’s watches. It simply wasn’t economical to just throw them away.
The competition, created by these cheap electric watches, hurt everyone including Benrus. In order to stay competitive, they also began using cheaper movements and ladies movements. They introduced the Destino line in the 1970s in order to sell cheap fashion watches. It continued this way through out the 70s until they eventually became just a watch “name”. They were no longer a manufacturer in any sense of the word. They were simply having their name put on watches that they bought from other companies. The company has changed hands several times in the last 30 years. They now sell a line of quartz watches.
The Swiss like to point to Benrus and call them a Swiss watch company. While they did use Swiss movements for the first 40 years the cases were always made in the USA , at least until the 70s. I think a better description would be that Benrus was an American company that used Swiss movements.
In 1988, Blancpain—a brand with historical connections dating back more than two and a half centuries—unveiled a complete watch collection dedicated to complicated mechanical watchmaking.
Born on the premise that it would never make a quartz watch, Blancpain has regularly mastered the most complex horological feats of excellence. Indeed, the first Blancpain collection included the six most difficult timekeeping legacies: the ultra-slim watch, the moonphase, split-seconds chronograph, perpetual calendar, tourbillon and minute repeater. Every timepiece the brand creates is dedicated to the master watchmaker that bears its name, and pays homage to the traditional art of watchmaking begun by him.
Blancpain’s expansive history is inextricably tied to the rural village of Villeret, nestled in the Jura Mountains, where Jehan-Jacques Blancpain set up shop in 1735 in a farmhouse—and gradually built a full-fledged watchmaking atelier. Blancpain’s work was steeped in invention and innovation. These are the benchmarks of the brand even today.
Blancpain garnered international acclaim in 1991, when it unveiled the now-famed “1735” model—one of the most complex timepieces in the world. Six years in the making, the 1735 housed a movement comprised of 740 parts and offering a wealth of different functions. Other critical accomplishments of the 1990s included creating the smallest self-winding chronograph, and creating the ultra-complicated Self-Winding Tourbillon Split-Seconds Flyback Chronograph watch.
In the year 2000, The Swatch Group acquired Blancpain and CEO Nicholas Hayek vowed to continue in the brand’s rich tradition. Following this creed in 2001, Blancpain unveiled the Quattro platinum watch—an elegant self-winding timepiece housing a tourbillon regulator, perpetual calendar, flyback chronograph, and split-seconds chronograph. The 39-jeweled movement features a platinum rotor and consists of 432 parts—each hand finished to exacting detail.
In 2002, Blancpain unveiled a very classic new watch collection—appropriately named Villeret. Bold in size and endowed with signature Blancpain aesthetic references (including long hands, a slender bezel and a stepped case), the Villeret series of timepieces combines the beauty of a clean, uncluttered face with the technical sophistication of complex automatic movements.
The most recently unveiled Villeret watch, referred to as the 4040, is a 40mm-wide case of 18-karat white or red gold that houses an extra-slim self-winding movement with hour and minute displays and a power-reserve indicator. Water resistant to 30 meters, the watch features a silvered opaline dial with Roman numerals and long, leaf-shaped hands.
1884: In St-Imier, in the Jura Mountains of Switzerland, Leon Breitling opens a workshop specializing in the making chronograph pocket watches and precision counters for scientific and industrial purposes.
1892: Leon Breitling relocates in La Chaux-de-Fonds, the center of Swiss watchmaking of the day.
1914: Leon Breitling dies. His son Gaston Breitling takes over the company.
1915: During WWI, Recognizing rapid advancements in aviation and the need for a precision timepiece for that purpose, Gaston introduces the first wristwatch chronograph providing pilots with the first Breitling wristwatch.
1923: Breitling develops the first independent chronograph push piece. Start and return-to-zero functions had previously been controlled using the winding-crown
1932: Gaston's son, Willy Breitling, takes over for his father as the head of the company.
1934: Breitling develops a watch with a second return-to-zero push piece. This invention, made it possible to measure several successive short times with an added function using the first push piece, and gives the wrist chronograph its definitive form.
1936: Breitling becomes the official supplier to the Royal Air Force. This definitively marks the start of its longstanding ties to aviation.
1942: Breitling launches the Chronomat, the first chronograph to be fitted with a circular slide rule. In parallel, the company broadens its professional clientele to include the American armed forces.
1952: Breitling creates the Navitimer, a wrist instrument equipped with the famous "navigation computer" capable of handling all calculations called for by a flight plan. This "super" chronograph quickly becomes a favorite among pilots around the world.
1962: Astronaut Scott Carpenter wears the Cosmonaut chronograph during his orbital flight aboard the Aurora 7 space capsule.
1969: Breitling introduces the self-winding chronograph. This technical feat represents a major breakthrough for the entire Swiss watch industry.
1979: Ernest Schneider - a pilot and watch manufacturer takes over as the head of Breitling.
Present: The Company continues to produce timepieces of the highest quality in the world.
Recognized worldwide as the greatest watchmaker of all time, Abraham-Louis Breguet was born in 1747 in Neufchatel, Switzerland. He moved to France at the age of 15 and acquired extremely thorough theoretical and practical training before founding his own enterprise in 1775, in Paris, on the Ile de la Cité. This was the beginning of an unparalleled career, characterized by great virtuosity and artistic flair, scientific rigor and technical innovation, as well as by commercial daring and a great sense of human relations.
Heir to an uninterrupted tradition, the House of Breguet now possesses an exceptional legacy in the shape of archives, which represent a constant source of inspiration for contemporary models, like the 'Classique Chronograph'. In keeping with the standards of technical excellence and visual harmony established by the maestro, it constantly innovates and makes a point of remaining ahead of its times. This has been confirmed in recent times by developments such as the patented perpetual equation of time wristwatch in 1991, the straight-line perpetual calendar with instant date-jump in 1997, and the 1998 launch of the 10½-line self-winding chronograph, with 6 mm the smallest in its category. By innovating and seeking to keep one step ahead of its time, the House of Breguet has remained faithful to its pioneering image, thereby cultivating the creative spirit of its brilliant founder Abraham-Louis Breguet, the father of modern watchmaking.
Abraham-Louis Breguet was to make successive or simultaneous incursions into all fields of watchmaking. His career got off to a spectacular start with a series of master strokes: the development of the automatic or "perpétuelle" watch, first commercialized in 1780; the invention of the gong spring which considerably reduced the width of repeater watches, followed by that of the first anti-shock device or "pare-chute", which rendered watches less fragile and consequently more reliable. I personally think he was a genius such as Da Vinci and might have been personally directed by a higher being such was his brilliance.
Much appreciated by King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette, Breguet watches featured original movements and constantly refined lever or cylinder escapements. Their neo-classical style was strikingly economical. Breguet designed a new type of hands with off-centre hollowed-out points (known as "à pomme" means apple in French and later simply as "Breguet" hands) and elegant numerals for enamel dials. The gold cases, and subsequently the silver dials, were hand-engraved on a rose-engine. For the first time, watches were thin. However, at a time when his works had contributed much to the advancement of watchmaking, Abraham-Louis Breguet was forced by the Revolution and the ensuing upheavals to momentarily abandon Paris and take refuge in Switzerland for two years.
After a period of reflection and ongoing international contacts, he returned to Paris in 1795, subsequently offering his contemporaries a wealth of inventions and new creations: the Breguet overcoil balance spring; the constant force escapement; the first modern carriage-clock, sold to Bonaparte; the "souscription" watch; the "sympathique" clock which regulates and sets the time on a watch placed in a special recess; the "tact" watch which makes it possible to tell the time by touch; and finally the "tourbillion" regulator, patented in 1801. Constantly pursuing his aesthetic research, he created ever more elegant and refined models and in 1812 launched the first dials with off-centre chapter-ring.
On a commercial level, Breguet was known and highly regarded at all European courts and became the watchmaker of reference for diplomatic, scientific, military and financial elites. His personal contacts with foreign sovereigns did much to foster his unparalleled international reputation. He crafted specially commissioned models for eminent figures such as the Tsar of Russia, the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, the Prince-Regent of England and the Queen of Naples, Caroline Murat - for whom he fashioned a world première: an extremely thin wristwatch with repeater mechanism and thermometer. After a period of constraints imposed by Bonaparte's aggressive foreign policy, which naturally hampered its exports, the House of Breguet experienced an extraordinary new commercial lease of life after the fall of the Napoleonic Empire.
The latter part of Breguet's life was prosperous and marked by numerous tokens of recognition: he became a member of the Board of Longitude and Horologer to the French Royal Navy. He also entered the famous Academy of Sciences and was awarded the Legion of Honor by King Louis XVIII. Supported by his family and the finest watchmakers of his times, he tirelessly pursued his creative work: his marine chronometers with two going-barrels, his trimetallic thermometers and his military pedometers are known throughout the world. His astronomical counter with eyepiece permitting the measurement of tenths and even hundredths of seconds; his inking chronographs; or the "chronometers à doubles seconds”: these inventive feats constitute the very source of modern watchmaking. When he died in 1823 at the age of 77, everyone was unanimous in paying tribute to a figure that had revolutionized all facets of the art and science of watchmaking.
The founding father passed on but the story continued. While the influence of Abraham-Louis Breguet was felt in all countries, his work was particularly perpetuated within the house that bore his name and pursued the prestigious route he had opened under the leadership of his son and grandson. Heir to such an outstanding master of his craft, the House of Breguet remained faithful to the innovative spirit of its founder. In 1830, it launched the first watch featuring keyless winding carried out by means of a "knurled winding-button". Soon after, it successfully launched a new generation of "sympathique" clocks, which rewound watches in addition to setting them to time.
Louis-Clément Breguet, both a physician and a watchmaker, was passionately interested in electrical applications. After developing the first electric clocks and patenting the tuning-fork clock, he abandoned watchmaking in 1870 to devote himself to electrical telegraphs and the nascent field of telecommunications. The firm passed smoothly into the hands of workshop manager Edward Brown and his family, with whom it would remain for one hundred years. Honored by a prestigious clientele, it successfully weathered the major crises of the 20th century while remaining a watchmaker of reference for some of the world's eminent figures, as well as in scientific and aviation circles.
In 1888, Carl F. Bucherer opened his first watch and jewelry shop, together with his wife Luise, on the Falkenplatz in Lucerne. Although a small business at the start, his reputation quickly grew, both in Switzerland and abroad. A good head for business, a talent for creating watches and jewelry, and the ability to deal with people were perfectly complemented by his wife’s practicality and business skills. Together, they laid the foundations for a brand which to this day stands out from the rest thanks to its individual identity and financial independence.
- 1875 Joseph Bulova, a 23-year-old Czech immigrant, opens a small jewelry shop on Maiden Lane in New York City.
- 1911 Bulova begins manufacturing and selling boudoir and table clocks as well as fine pocket watches. These pieces are sold in unprecedented numbers.
- 1912 Bulova sets up its first plant dedicated to the production of watch components and their assembly into jeweled movements in Bienne, Switzerland.
- 1919 During World War I, the convenience of wristwatches (as opposed to pocket watches) is discovered. In 1919 Bulova introduces the first full line of men's jeweled wristwatches.
- 1923 The name Bulova Watch Company, Inc. is adopted. Bulova perfects a new concept in the watch industry with total standardization of parts. Every part of a Bulova watch is made with such precision (standardized to the ten thousandth part of an inch) that it is interchangeable with the same part in any other Bulova watch. This revolutionizes the servicing of watches in the industry.
- 1924 Bulova unveils the first full line of ladies' watches, including diamond accented pieces.
- 1926 Bulova produces the nation's first ever radio spot commercial, "At the tone, it's 8 PM, B-U-L-O-V-A Bulova watch time."
- 1927 In honor of Charles Lindbergh's transatlantic solo flight from New York to Paris, Bulova ships 5,000 Lone Eagle watches, packaged with pictures of Lindbergh. The supply is sold out within three days. During the next few years Bulova sells nearly 50,000 of these commemorative watches. 1927 is also the year Bulova Watch Company goes public on the American Stock Exchange.
- 1928 Bulova introduces the world's first clock radio.
- 1929 Bulova engineers and patents a new principle in the construction of automobile clocks.
- 1931 Bulova begins manufacturing the first electric clocks via mass production. The collection includes wall and mantel clocks, and clocks for use in stores, windows, office buildings and terminals.
- 1931 Bulova conducts the watch industry's first ever million dollar advertising campaign. Throughout the Depression years, Bulova supports retailers by offering Bulova watches to buyers on time-payment plans.
- 1935 Joseph Bulova, founder of Bulova Watch Company, dies.
- 1941 Continuing its tradition of advertising firsts, Bulova airs the first television commercial: a simple picture of a clock and a map of the United States, with a voice-over proclaiming, "America runs on Bulova time." 1941 also marks the year that the Bulova Board of Directors adopts a resolution to manufacture products for national defense at actual cost. Throughout World War II, having perfected the skill of creating precision timepieces, Arde Bulova, Joseph's son, works with the U.S. government to produce military watches, specialized timepieces, aircraft instruments, critical torpedo mechanisms and fuses.
- 1945 The Joseph Bulova School of Watchmaking opens its doors to help disabled veterans learn watchmaking skills
- 1948 Bulova begins developing the Phototimer, a unique combination of photo-finish camera and precision electronic timing instrument.
- 1952 Bulova begins developing Accutron, the first breakthrough in timekeeping technology in over 300 years. Accutron, the first fully electronic watch, promises to keep time to within 2 seconds a day.
- 1953 Recognizing a new trend in the watch industry, the self-winding and shock-proof watch, Bulova adds more of this type of watch to its line. Also added this year is the Bulova Wrist-Alarm, an entirely new kind of watch.
- 1954 Bulova introduces the "Bulova 23," a self-winding, waterproof , 23-jewel watch with an unbreakable mainspring, made entirely in the United States.
- 1955 An A.C. Neilson Co. Survey reveals that Americans see more national advertising for Bulova products than for any other products, in any other industry, in the world.
- 1956 Bulova completes negotiations to co-sponsor the Jackie Gleason Show, a one-hour live television show airing Saturday nights from eight to nine o'clock. This is the first time in history that any watch or jewelry allied industry has made a sponsorship commitment of such magnitude.
- 1959 Bulova offers an unprecedented 1-year warranty on all of its clock radios.
- 1960 NASA asks Bulova to incorporate Accutron into its computers for the space program. Bulova timing mechanisms eventually become an integral part of 46 missions of the U.S. Space Program. Also in 1960, Bulova reintroduces its redeveloped Phototimer clock, improved with updated photographic and electronic technologies. It features an infrared sensing element patterned after those used on heat-seeking missiles. Mounted on the starter's pistol, the Phototimer senses the flash of the gun and starts a timer clock at the same instant that the runners leave their marks.
- 1961 Accutron, the first watch to keep time through electronics, is introduced. It is the most spectacular breakthrough in timekeeping since the invention of the wrist watch. This revolutionary timekeeping concept of a watch without springs or escapement is operated by an electronically activated tuning fork. The Accutron watch goes on to become a presidential gift to world leaders and other dignitaries. President Johnson declares it the White House's official "Gift of State."
- 1962 The Accutron Tuning-fork watch becomes the first wristwatch certified for use by railroad personnel. 1962 is also the year that Bulova introduces its Caravelle line of jeweled watches. Designed to retail at $10.95 to $29.95, Caravelle competes with non-jeweled watches in the same price range.
- 1967 Accutron clocks are the only clocks aboard Air Force One.
- 1968 The Bulova Satellite Clock, the world's first public clock to display time controlled by time signals broadcast by orbiting satellites, is inaugurated by Gustavo Diaz Ordaz, President of Mexico. The clock is installed atop the Torre Latino Americana, Mexico's tallest skyscraper. 1968 also marks the year that Caravelle becomes the largest selling jeweled-movement watch in the United States.
- 1969 An Accutron watch movement is part of the equipment placed on the moon by Apollo 11 astronauts, the first men on the moon. A Bulova timer is placed in the moon's "Sea of Tranquility" to control the transmissions of vital data through the years.
- 1969 Bulova introduces the Accuquartz, the first quartz-based clock.
- 1970 The Bulova Accuquartz men's calendar wristwatch becomes the first quartz crystal watch sold at retail in the United States. Designed in 18 karat gold, it retails for $1,325.
- 1973 Three specially designed Accutron portable alarm clocks are placed on board NASA's Skylab, the world's first space laboratory, launched from Cape Kennedy. Also this year, Bulova wins the world's first design competition for solid-state digital watches at the Prix de la Ville de Geneve watch-styling competition, the world's most prestigious international watch styling competition. Bulova also wins two of the three honorable mentions awarded at the competition.
- 1976 Bulova introduces its line of Accutron Quartz movement watches for men. Also this year, the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum opens. Exhibits include a display replicating the NASA Skylab, including an Accutron "space alarm" clock, identical to ones mounted onboard the actual Skylab.
- 1977 Bulova introduces its line of Accutron Quartz movement watches for women.
- 1979 Bulova becomes a subsidiary of Loews Corporation.
- 1983 The Bulova Dimension is unveiled. It is the worlds thinnest wall clock, measuring in at just 5/8 of an inch.
- 1986 Bulova introduces its first miniature clock. Creating a new category in clocks, Bulova goes on to produce entire collections of miniature clocks, including limited edition pieces and themed groupings.
- 1998 Bulova introduces the Millennia Collection, a group of watches featuring either innovative technology or materials. The collection includes a solar group, watches powered by light; motion quartz, watches powered by the motion of the wearer's arm; and vibra-alarm, watches featuring two alarm mode options sound or vibration.
- 1999 Bulova adds World Timer and Perpetual Calendar watches to the Millennia Collection.
The Bvlgari's descend from an ancient family of Greek silversmiths whose activity began in the small village of Epirus, where Sotirio, the founder of the family, made precious objects in silver. In the mid 19th century Sotirio immigrated to Italy where in 1884 he opened his first shop in via Sistina in Rome. With the help of his sons Constantine and Giorgio, in 1905 he inaugurated the shop in via Condotti, which still today is Bvlgari's flagship store.
During the first decades of the 20th century, the two brothers developed a passionate interest in precious stones and jewels, gradually taking over their father's role. The period following the Second World War marked an important turning point in Bvlgari history. In fact, it is during this period that Bvlgari moves away from the strict disciplines of the dominant French school to create its own unique style inspired by Greek and Roman classicism, the Italian Renaissance, and the 19th century Roman school of goldsmiths.
The 1970's mark the beginning of Bvlgari's international expansion with the opening of shops in New York (their first overseas), Paris, Geneva, and Monte Carlo, building towards the 50 shops Bvlgari has today. In 1977, the Bvlgari-Bvlgari watch is created, a design that is now considered a classic and is still Bvlgari's best selling watch. In the early 1980's, Bvlgari Time is founded in Switzerland to manage the creation and production of all Bvlgari watches.
The 1980's mark the continuation of significant events such as the opening of the flagship store on New York's Fifth Avenue as well as shops in the heart of Europe (London, Milan, Munich, and St. Moritz) and in the Far East (Hong Kong, Singapore, Osaka, Tokyo). In 1989, Bvlgari signs an important joint-venture agreement with Girard-Perregaux, the renowned Swiss watchmaker company, for the production of the movement of Bvlgari watches.
In 1995 Bvlgari introduces a series of watches characterized by a classic design and enriched by precious stones. Trika, a new bijou-watch with a flexible bracelet is also introduced. In September, Celtica is launched, a line in gold characterized by the use of multi-coloured stones with a cabochon cut.
On July 17th, 1995 the Holding Company Bvlgari S.P.A. is quoted on the Italian Stock Exchange Telematic system and the International SEAQ in London. Today, Paolo Bulgari, the Chairman and Nicola Bulgari, Vice-Chairman, with their nephew Francesco Trapani, Chief Executive Officer, manage the company's development with the intent of better serving an international market, while remaining fine and prestigious jewelers.
One of the oldest jewelers in the world, catering to the whims of royalty and movie stars alike, Cartier enjoys a reputation for selling only the finest quality jewelry and accessories. Nowhere is this philosophy more in evidence than Cartier's highly diverse line of wristwatches, many of which are the most recognizable designs on the planet. From the Tank or Pasha models, to the finest bejeweled creations for women, there is literally a Cartier for everyone, at almost every price point.
Cartier was founded in Paris by Louis-Francois Cartier, son of a powder horn maker. The year was 1847; just four short years later, Napoleon III came to power and through Countess Nieuwerkerke, the young Cartier was able to become a supplier to the court, selling Empress Eugenie a silver tea service in 1859. In the same year, Cartier rented quarters on the Boulevard des Italiens in what was then the most fashionable neighborhood in Paris. Cartier's jewelry was characterized by a light, airy touch in contrast to the overly formal and overwrought ornaments of the period.
In 1874, Cartier's son Alfred took over the business and expanded it considerably. That included watches, which Louis-Francois had only dabbled in. In 1899, Alfred's son Louis Cartier entered the firm. Louis Cartier was a great lover of mechanical pocket watches and wanted the company to build its own watches.
In 1904, Louis Cartier met the Brazilian aviator, Alberto Santos-Dumont, who complained of the unreliability of pocket watches in flight. Cartier rose to the challenge, designing a flat wristwatch with a distinctive square bezel. This watch was not only a hit with Santos-Dumont, but also with Cartier's many clients. Thus, out of this timeless design, the "Santos" was born. Incredibly enough, this watch is still produced today in much the same form.
In 1907, Cartier signed a contract with Edmond Jaeger, who agreed to exclusively supply the movements for Cartier watches. By this time, Cartier had branches in London, New York and St. Petersburg and was quickly becoming one of the most successful watch companies in the world. The introduction of the Baignoire and Tortue models (both of which are still in production today) took place in 1912, followed by the Tank model's debut in 1917. In 1932, the watertight watch made especially for the Pasha of Marrakesh - raised the bar even higher. Needless to say, the innovations, both in terms of design and technology, continued apace.
In the early 1920s Cartier formed a joint company with Edward Jaeger (of the famed Jaeger-Le Coultre company) to produce movements solely for Cartier. Thus was the famed European watch & clock company born, although Cartier continued to use movements from other great makers. Cartier watches can be found with movements from Vacheron Constantin, Audemars-Piguet, Movado and Le-Coultre. It was also during this period that Cartier began adding its own reference numbers to the watches it sold, usually by stamping a four-digit code on the underside of a lug. In fact, many collectors refuse to accept a Cartier as original, unless these numbers are present.
In 1942, Louis Cartier died and his successors were unable to continue without his artistic genius. As a result, the company became financially and artistically stagnant. It was only in 1972, when a group of investors took over the company and installed Alain Perrin as its CEO, that the company finally regained lost ground. Perrin, a former antique dealer, turned the company around. By developing the "Le Must" line, as well as creating new versions of classics such as the "Santos", Perrin managed to re-establish Cartier as an innovative and fashionable watchmaker.
Today, Cartier's best-sellers include the classic "Tank"; the hot new "Tank Francaise", a sports watch similar in concept to the Santos; the "Pasha", which has become a very watch for ladies; and the "Panther" which features a highly distinctive bracelet available in 18K gold, stainless steel and gold, or stainless steel. Needless to say, a Cartier watch is finished to very high standards. The cases and bracelets in particular are meticulously handcrafted and exude quality in every sense of the word. Yet in spite of the famous brand name and timeless designs, Cartier watches are available in a wide range of prices and styles. If you are looking for a prestigious name brand that offers a mix of quality craftsmanship and contemporary styling, one need look further than Cartier.
The history of Chopard dates back to the 19th century. In 1860, Louis-Ulysse Chopard founded his own watch factory in Sonvilier, in the Swiss Jura. Relying on his family tradition for watch making and his own innovative ideas, the company soon acquired an excellent reputation for its precision watches. The Chopard watches were so precise, that they became one of the main suppliers to the Swiss railway - known for their punctuality. From history to current events, VIP’s and movie clips, Chopard is the watch that many high profile individuals prefer to wear. In 1996, Chopard returned to its roots by creating a fully-fledged "manufacture" in Fleurier, in the Swiss Jura, where a new automatic movement was crafted. It became the L.U.C. watch that was voted "Watch of the Year" in 1997.
The Chopard collection include the Happy Diamonds collection, a unique watch jewelry concept with diamonds moving freely on and around the dial, which became a great classic and paved the way for the development of a whole range of lady’s watches, such as the Happy sport watch, together with jewels and accessories.
Intent on producing pocket watches and chronometers of stature, Louis-Ulysse Chopard founded his company in 1860, and the brand has continually turned out masterpieces. Just about a century into its legacy, jewelry entrepreneur Karl Scheufele purchased Chopard in 1963.
It was his vision to unite his jewelry company with watchmaking under one brand and to propel both areas to greater levels of accomplishment in design and technology.
In 1975, Scheufele built a production facility in Meyrin-Geneva, marking a new era for the brand. In 1976, Chopard unveiled the now-famed Happy Diamonds collection to the world, and in the 1980s the brand launched the Gstaad collection of timepieces. In 1988, Chopard teamed with the Mille Miglia as an official partner and began creating the annual special-edition Mille Miglia watch—an icon of vintage automobile racing.
In the early 1990s, Karl and Karin Scheufele’s children became integral players in the family business. Caroline took over the jewelry design and Karl-Friedrich headed up the watch division. In 1996, the brand established itself as a complete Manufacture with the opening of a movement factory in Fleurier. The L.U.C movement made its debut that year and was the impetus for other movements to come.
In 1999, Chopard unveiled the L.U.C Sport 2000 collection, and a year later presented the L.U.C Quattro watch—equipped with a new caliber with four barrels and nine days of power reserve—in 2000. Chopard presented the L.U.C Tonneau in 2001. Chopard is also a major supporter of charitable causes and is a devoted patron of the arts. In 2001, Chopard began supporting the Elton John AIDS Foundation, creating limited edition Elton John timepieces whose sales would benefit the foundation. Chopard is also intimately involved with such high-profile events as the Cannes International Film Festival.
Chopard’s collections of ladies’ jewelry and watches are amazing and inviting. From Happy Diamonds to Happy Sport with free-flowing diamonds, from the 1950s-inspired chic La Strada to the innovative Pushkin and Ice Cube collections, rich colors, seductive shapes and innovation are prominent driving forces.
With creativity at an all-time high, Chopard has grown at a faster rate than the market as a whole while preserving its independence—a rarity amongst watch and jewelry companies today. Caroline’s exquisite designs continually impress and excite the senses.
All of Chopard’s magnificent jewelry is created with the utmost attention to details. Each stone is hand picked and every design is completed by painstaking hand-craftsmanship. From gem selection to setting and polishing, master jewelers work long hours to ensure smooth, sensual finished pieces.
For the past decade, Chopard jewels have glistened on the necks and wrists of celebrities from all corners of the earth.
Partnering with the Cannes International Film Festival, Chopard is jeweler to the stars for 12 days each year at this exciting gala of heady days and wild nights. In addition to adorning the stars as they parade down the red carpet, Chopard produces all of the Palme d’Or trophies in its own workshops
For almost eight decades, Citizen has been ahead of its time. Our brand has always stood for innovations and high precision that make life better for everyday people and now we are raising our sights to meet the needs of the new Millennium.
Our beginnings go back to 1924, when Citizen's forerunner, the Shokosha Watch Research Watch Institute produced its first pocket watch the "CITIZEN". The then Mayor of Tokyo, Mr Shimpei Goto, named the watch "CITIZEN" with the hope that the watch, a luxury item of those times, would become widely available to ordinary citizens and be sold throughout the world.
Time and again Citizen has pioneered groundbreaking technologies and helped to make watches an indispensable part of modern life. Introduced in 1956, Parashock was the first shock resistant watch made by a Japanese manufacturer. And three years later, Parawater was hailed as the country's first water resistant watch.
One of the latest milestones is our Eco-Drive system. Bringing new thinking to the art of watchmaking, this is a light powered solution that eliminates the need to change batteries - a revolution that made it the first watch technology to receive the Japan Environment Association's Eco Mark for environmentally friendly products.
And in 2003, Citizen continues to evolve and be ahead of its time with the launch of Stiletto. This is the World's thinnest light powered watch - a watch so revolutionary it combines eco-drive technology with a refined, sleek and sophisticated case and bracelet from 4.4mm thick.
Citizen is, however more diverse then simply watches. In fact watches only represent less than 40% of the company's business. Today we are drawing on a heritage of proven quality and technologies as we develop the market for watches, clocks, jewellery, eyeglass frames and health care products.
The Citizen Watch Company, Ltd. was established in 1930. Citizen Watches Australia (CWA) was established in May 1965 with its head office in Brookvale, NSW. We operate across Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the South Pacific Islands.
Citizen believes that delivering excellence is the key to building successful partnerships with retailers and consumers alike. Excellence in product, marketing and service is paramount, and the resources required to achieve excellence are viewed as investments, not costs.
Citizen looks forward to the challenges that the future will no doubt bring. Our guarantee is a commitment to continually strive and work towards an even more successful future for our retailers and consumers. Ready for further growth and progress, we are working harder than ever to explore new directions and contribute to changing lifestyles.
The Gruen Watch Company 1867 - 1894
Although the Gruen Watch Company was founded in 1894, the company later traced its history back to 1874, following the early career of its founder.
Dietrich Gruen (originally spelled 'Grün') was born in Osthofen, Germany in 1847. After attending both public and private schools, at age 15 he was sent away from home to learn the watchmaking trade. He was an apprentice to Martens in Friedburg, Germany, and also worked in Carlsruhe, Wiesbaden and Lode.
In 1867 he traveled to the U.S. following his three brothers, who had immigrated several years earlier. One brother had been killed in 1863, in the American Civil War.
During his visit, Dietrich met and fell in love with Pauline Wittlinger, a schoolteacher and the daughter of a Delaware, Ohio watchmaker. After working as a watchmaker in St. Louis, Cincinnati and Columbus, Dietrich married Pauline in 1869, moved to Delaware, Ohio, and went to work for her father. Years later, a Gruen advertisement told how "one word from a woman's lips" (Pauline's "yes" to Dietrich's marriage proposal) changed Horological history.
Dietrich and Pauline's first son, Frederick G. Gruen, was born in 1872. Fred was to become an important figure in the Gruen story.
On June 12, 1874, Dietrich applied for a patent on an improved safety pinion, which was granted on December 22. He was 27 years old. Because this was his first important contribution to horology, in the future the Gruen Watch Company would take 1874 as its founding date.
In later years, alloys for unbreakable mainsprings were developed, but the large and powerful mainsprings used in older pocket watches tended to be brittle and commonly broke. The recoil, caused by the sudden release of the energy stored in the spring, could strip teeth off of wheels and snap pivots, doing tremendous damage to the movement.
The safety pinion, mounted on the shaft that also holds the center wheel, is the interface between the potentially destructive power in the mainspring and the fragile moving parts in the rest of the watch. Dietrich's invention consisted of a simple device that, in the event of mainspring breakage, uncoupled the pinion and allowed it to spin freely without passing the dangerous shock through the shaft to the center wheel and the rest of the mechanism. The pinion itself would not be injured and did not need to be replaced.
In his patent application, Dietrich gave his address as Delaware, Ohio, an indication that he was not yet making watches in Columbus.
1876: The Columbus Watch Manufacturing Company
Dietrich started the Columbus Watch Manufacturing Company in the basement of a downtown Columbus, Ohio bank building in 1876. Although 1874 was used later by the Gruen Watch Company as a founding date, and is the date given in nearly all-recent histories, I don't believe that this is correct. Articles, books and jewelers' newsletters from the 1800s all say 1876. The Gruen Watch Company itself used 1876 in advertising until about 1915.
Some sources say that Dietrich started as a sole proprietor; others claim that the company was formed as a partnership with businessman W.H. Savage.
Although The Complete History of Watchmaking in America (1888) claims that the original name was The Columbus Watch Manufacturing Company, the earliest watches (including serial number 572, in the museum at the American Watchmaker's Institute) are signed without "Manufacturing" in the name.
In his Columbus workshop, Dietrich modified, finished and cased imported raw movements manufactured by Leo Asbey in Switzerland. These new watches included his patented safety pinion. The size and wearing comfort of a pocket watch was always a concern of his, so Dietrich introduced 16-size watches as an alternative to the heavy and thick 18-size and larger watches that were prevalent at the time. It is also claimed that he introduced the first stem wind watches sold in the U.S. market.
A second son, George J. Gruen, was born in 1877.
According to writings by Fred Gruen, Dietrich took on W.J. Savage as a business partner in 1879. Other sources indicate that Savage was a partner from the start. Savage was the elder son of William M. Savage, Columbus’ leading jeweler and one of its most prominent citizens. The son sold his share of his father's business in order to raise capitol to invest in the watch company. The financial security his partner provided allowed Dietrich to concentrate on supervising the factory, coordinating production in Switzerland, and selling, while Savage seems to have had little day-to-day involvement with the firm. The company name was Gruen and Savage, but the factory name was The Columbus Watch Manufacturing Company.
Output during this time was about 10 watches per day.
Sometime before 1882, the company moved to two floors in a commercial building a few blocks away. Fred Gruen described a homemade phone system using catgut to allow communication between floors.
Very little information exists for the early years of the company. The tables of dates and serial numbers used in collectors' guidebooks and price lists are educated guesses, but are skewed because they start two years too early.
1882: The Columbus Watch Company
Under Gruen and Savage the Columbus Watch Manufacturing Company was small but very successful, and began to attract the interest of bankers and investors. In 1882, in collaboration with a number of new partners, the company was reorganized as the Columbus Watch Company and moved to a newly constructed factory building located on Thurman Street, in the 'German Village' section of Columbus. Dietrich was President of the new corporation.
Joining the ranks of older established American watch companies like Waltham and Elgin, the new company designed and manufactured their own in-house movements, instead of finishing imported ones as Gruen had done previously.
By 1888 production was about 45 watches per day; the company would grow to 300 employees and output to 150 watches per day.
Although the company continued to issue stem wind watches, they also manufactured key wind movements for some of their less-expensive models.
Starting when Fred was very young, Dietrich involved his older son in the business. During breaks from school Fred worked in the engine room, blacksmith and machine shops, and was later given more skilled jobs in the gilding and die departments. After earning a mechanical engineering degree at the University of Cincinnati, Fred was sent to Germany to study at one of the most respected European watchmaking schools, graduating with top honors from the Horological Institute of Glashütte in 1893. During his studies, he designed and built both a chronograph and a repeater movement, according to small notices in a 1890s Jeweler's publication.
Fred quickly became an important part of the company. Shortly after returning from his studies, he began to streamline and reorganize manufacturing processes at the Columbus Watch Company, starting with the jewelling department, which up until then had been a bottleneck in the production of finished watches.
Things had gone very smoothly for the young company, but this was not to last. The Panic of 1893 was devastating to the U.S. watch industry. This was one of the worst economic periods in American history, second only to the Great Depression, and lasted for several years. (What we now would call 'depressions' were once referred to as 'panics.' In the early 1930s, President Herbert Hoover coined the term 'depression' to put a cheerful spin on the harsh economic conditions that his administration was being blamed for—the U.S. was not experiencing a panic, merely an economic depression. This term has stuck.)
American watch companies were forced to reduce prices and cut wages, and several did not survive. During this same time, Waltham and Elgin engaged in a vicious price war that hit the Columbus Watch Company very hard. Fred later wrote that he believed his father's these powerful rivals specifically targeted company. The smaller and younger company did not have the financial resources to weather the crisis.
After a series of disagreements with the other partners, Dietrich and Fred left the Columbus Watch Company in 1894, shortly before the business went bankrupt. Dietrich had lost his share of the company to the investors, and was faced with the prospect of staying on as a salaried employee at the company that he had founded. He chose to leave rather than bear this indignity. After the departure of the Gruens the firm was reorganized, refinanced and renamed "The New Columbus Watch Company."
For collectors wishing to know if a Columbus watch is from the Gruen era: The Complete Price Guide to Watches indicates that the Gruens would have left around serial number 229,000. After 1894, Columbus watches started to have names like Time King and Railway King. The pre-1894 models were not named. Although after 1894 the official name was The New Columbus Watch Company, many dial and movement markings still used the original name, leaving out the word "New."
The New Columbus Watch Company survived until 1903. The contents of the factory, including all the tooling and stocks of movements, were eventually purchased by the Studebaker family, moved to Indiana (along with many key employees) and used to start the South Bend Watch Company. Some early South Bend watches were sold with signed Columbus movements in them.
Truly one of the most innovative watch companies, Concord has
been creating timepieces of distinction for nearly a century. From the beginning, Concord focused on technical prowess and aesthetic advancements, quickly propelling itself to a premier position within the world of fine watchmaking.
Since its founding in Bienne, Switzerland, in 1908, Concord has regularly turned out masterpieces. Bienne is a beautiful city and just is steeped in horology and watches. The very air you breath in Bienne Biel is replete with the work of master horologists.
Within the first decade of its existence, the brand carved out a niche for itself as a producer of luxury timepieces, crafting in platinum and accenting its watches with diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires.
In the 1920s, Concord moved into the realm of clock design and unveiled the now-famed Concord Ring Clock—the first portable eight-day winding travel alarm clock. Nearly two decades later this clock was still so impressive that president Harry Truman presented it to several heads of state in 1945, including Winston Churchill.
In 1969, visionary businessman Gedalio Grinberg purchased Concord Watch Company and incorporated it into North American Watch Corporation in New York—which is known today as Movado Group Inc. Under Grinberg’s vigilant eye, the Concord brand flourished. Groundbreaking research resulted in the launch of the quartz-powered Delirium in 1979. The world’s thinnest watch, the Delirium measured 1.98mm. Within a year, the brand broke its own record with the Delirium IV—measuring just under 1mm.
A year later, in 1980, Concord introduced its Mariner sports watch, and in 1986 unveiled the Saratoga—an icon for the brand even today. A trendsetter in the sophisticated art of watch design, Concord went on to launch the Saratoga Exor in 1995.
Created in three versions, including a perpetual calendar, minute repeater and tourbillon, each of the Exor watches was so elaborately decorated with gemstones that they ranked among the world’s most expensive jeweled creations.
Today, Concord’s impressive roster includes not only the Saratoga, but the sophisticated Veneto watch (launched in 1996), the daring 18-karat gold geometric La Scala (launched in 1997), and the bold La Scala Stainless Steel Chronograph (launched in 2001).
In typical Concord style, the brand regularly adds new models to these collections—offering fresh intrigue and excitement.
Determined to adhere to the highest standards in watchmaking, Concord creates all of its timepieces with scrupulous attention to detail, performance and originality. Such is the case with the superb Saratoga line. First launched 17 years ago, the Saratoga was a sophisticated, elite timepiece that earned international praise. It has remained an important signature collection for the brand and was recently reinterpreted to reflect today’s lifestyles and designs.
The new Saratoga is the culmination of nearly a century of Concord watchmaking excellence. Its casually elegant beauty is emphasized by the eight-sided bezel—a hallmark of the watch—and by the striking modernistic scallop-engraved dials. The faces are graced with alpha hands, applied markers and numerals, with a date at 3:00.
A precision sports watch, the Saratoga is sleek and bold—a true expression of individuality. The newly designed Saratoga watches are crafted in solid stainless steel, 18-karat white or rose gold, and stainless steel with 18-karat yellow-gold or rose-gold accents.
They feature a distinctive woven-link bracelet with deployment clasp and elegantly engineered, patented crown protector that securely latches shut to ensure water resistance to 50 meters. The newest models feature embossed case backs with an equestrian design, recalling the original sport for which the watch was created. New variations include diamond-adorned bezels and dials.
Paying homage to its heritage, Concord has unveiled a one-of-a-kind Saratoga Tourbillon that is crafted harmoniously in 18-karat white gold. This spectacular piece is a work of art and old-world craftsmanship.
It features a tourbillon escapement, minute repeater, chronograph, and power reserve. The watch features a sapphire case back to view the magnificent movement.
Cornelison’s Bybee Pottery stands today as it did in 1845, six generations of Cornelison's ago. As you approach the building, you are taken with a quiet sense of history. The simple potter’s process that created beautiful works over a century ago is still practiced at Bybee today. It is amazing how efficiently Bybee Pottery completes orders and produces each piece of unique, handmade pottery. Orders are numerous, as Bybee Pottery is quite famous. “Having been here for a long time, we’re fortunate to have had some national articles,” says Walter Cornelison modestly. Bybee articles have appeared in Better Homes & Gardens, Smithsonian, Country Living, The New York Times and Southern Living
Bybee Pottery begins with good Kentucky clay which is extracted very near the pottery. The clay is ground in an old pug mill and stored in an ancient vault where it is kept moist and pliable. It is then shaped by the potters, fired and finally glazed with one of the many Bybee colors, the most requested being Bybee Blue. “It is hard to say there’s a most popular color when I put over 1000 pieces out in the morning and they’re gone by afternoon.” says Buzz (Cornelison)
The Corum adventure started in 1955, in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. When the co-founders of the company, Simone Ries and René Bannwart, joined Gaston Ries' watchmaking workshops, they knew that their new firm would benefit from this solid experience. Their alliance quickly established creativity and traditional craftsmanship as the order of the day.
Shortly thereafter, the company carved out a significant niche for itself, one that remains theirs alone to this day, with a classic model that quickly became an international best-seller: the $20 Liberty Eagle watch, which is made from a genuine U.S. $20 gold piece. In the Corum workshops, genuine mint-state Liberty eagle ($10) and double eagle ($20) coins are carefully cut in half, and in between the obverse and reverse of the coin, a high-quality movement is carefully inserted. Although other companies had made this style of watch since the 1920's, it was always as dress pocket watches. Corum's breakthrough was making it as a wristwatch.
It would be a bit misleading, however, to say that such a procedure can be accomplished like clockwork, for in reality, completing a Corum gold coin watch requires numerous steps and many painstaking hours of meticulous hand-finishing. In fact, machining the inside of the case, so that a movement can be fitted, can in and of itself take several hours of patient work.
Today, Corum can be justly proud of the fact that it has one of the richest collections in its field. Corum watches are immediately recognizable as such, and although a few of the movements are based on ebauches, Corum’s in-house watchmakers often rework these ebauches. An enormous range of original designs, which with their infinite variety define the Corum style - always in the forefront of time. From the "Golden Bridge" to the "Limelight", "Coin Watch", "Romulus" and "Admiral's Cup", Corum's products reveal a progressive attitude that is quite rare in today's watchmaking world. Rather than merely resting on its laurels, hoping to maintain the value of its tradition, at the cost of new ideas, Corum continually debuts new designs. Their attitude might best be summed up as follows: "To create is to construct, and to construct is to live".
This motto has become the keynote of Corum's policy. True creation cannot be compared to merely re-inventing old models that have proved reliable in the past. Time moves on, each second thrusts us onwards into the future, and it is a mistake to claim to have mastered time without having the courage to move forward constantly... to offer the wearer a watch that reflects his or her own vitality.
To mark its 40th anniversary Corum commissioned a new design center which is interesting for a number of reasons: it is tangible evidence of the company's policy of continuous innovation and it is the product of an architectural competition. The idea of this competition is once again a reflection of the pioneering spirit that was important to the company's founders in the early days.
Guided by its own enthusiasm, this young company has made great efforts to establish a reputation to match it ambition. The results speak for themselves: a very effective publicity campaign and successful sponsorship program demonstrate Corum's desire to be at the helm and not in the wake.
Since December of 1998, Corum has been jointly owned by the Bannwart family and the Al Fardan Group in Doha, Qatar. Following several months of negotiations, American businessman Severin Wunderman, a well-known figure in the watch industry, has personally acquired a majority interest in the company rather than through his company, Severin Montres, Ltd., "Because I want to be personally involved with the firm. I intend to maintain the current personnel in their positions, from management to production, and to capitalize on the rich traditions that have made the reputation of Corum throughout the world", he stated.
In the meantime, the master watchmakers at La-Chaux-de-Fonds continue to produce the magnificent timepieces - including such masterpieces as the Minute Repeater and Minute Repeater/Tourbillion - for which they are rightly famous. And they do so in an environment that rewards creativity and treasures craftsmanship - a perfect marriage of tradition and progressive thinking.
American watch companies found themselves in a dilemma from around 1875. Almost all of the watch companies were in financial troubles, and felt the pressure to create an inexpensive watch for the general public. Most of these companies had to sell their watches for at least $10 each to make ends meet. Emphasis on producing a cheap watch was the key, the idea to make a profit and reach a larger market. Factory owners concentrated on making a “dollar” watch, one, which could be sold for a dollar in shops. Companies that were attracted to this idea at first were Ansonia, Waterbury, and E. Ingraham.
Designers used a feature of the “tourbillon” watch, made famous by Breguet. The Breguet had an escapement that revolved to even the timekeeping errors. Instead of having a revolving escapement, American designers caused the whole movement to revolve around the case.
The first patent for this movement was obtained by Jason R. Hopkins. (c.1818-1902) in 1875. Problems and redesigning delayed to presentation of this watch into the market until 1877, introduced by the Auburndale Watch Company as the Auburndale rotary watch. Auburndale fell to the demise of previous companies in the inability to pay its debts, and went out of business in 1883.
Waterbury’s brass suppliers, Benedict and Burnham Manufacturing Company, was then offered the watch, but declined to handle its production due to the lack of development. They found another watchmaker to design a rotary watch. This was made with a duplex escapement and a movement that rotated once per hour. It had only 56 parts and was not jeweled. The winding of the watch was tedious, as the mainspring was 2.7 metres, or 9 feet long.
This design, created by D. Arzo A. Buck, was accepted by Benedict and Burnham, from a company named Locke, Meritt, and Buck. Manufacturing was started and the watch was marketed first under the Benedict and Burnham name at a price of only $3.50. These low-priced, non-jeweled watches were known as the “dollar” watch. From 1880 on, the watch was then marketed under the Waterbury Clock Company. Thousands of these watches were made before the end of production in 1891. The dollar watch was produced by many firms, out selling the jeweled watch companies. The inexpensiveness of the product was appealing to many retailers, who often gave them away as premiums.
Ingersoll was the host of the most famous dollar watch, and the first manufacturer to get the price down to one dollar. A mail order business was formed in 1881 by Robert H. and Charles H. Ingersoll in New York, selling watches for $1.00 each, as well as other items. Success in this business encouraged the Ingersoll Brothers to concentrate on cheap watches. Robert ordered 12,000 pieces from the Waterbury Clock Company. These sold for $1.50 with a chain. Expansion of the Ingersoll business grew rapidly to the point that, in 1894, the company was able to order 500,000 for a year’s supply. In two years, they sold a million watches, each of which cost only one dollar.
By the year 1905, Ingersoll had an outlet in London for the marketing of the dollar watch. The British equivalent of the dollar watch was called the “Crown” and sold for five shillings. The British company assembled these watches with parts supplied by Waterbury.
Ingersoll-Waterbury made it through the great depression, but was taken over by Norwegian born Joakim Lehmkuhl, founder of the Time Corporation in the United States. Trademark of the name Ingersoll continued until 1951, when it was then replaced with the name of Timex.
The dollar watch enjoyed its time, but the collectible value continued. Any watch that was intact from its inception was much sought after, especially the cartoon/comic character watches. Watches that were manufactured by makers such as Ingersoll, Ingraham, and the New Haven Watch Company for simply a dollar or two are now worth hundreds of times this amount. Commemorative dollar watches are another sought after by collectors, such as the New York World’s Fair, Graf Zeppelin, and so on.
(c) 2001 Lisa Williams
Georges Durammun founded Doxa in 1889. Durammun grew up in the Jura Mountains and founded his watch business in La Chaux-de Fond. Durammun’s house is now the home of the Le Locle Horological Museum.
Durammun was one of the first individuals in the Locle area to own a motorcar that led him to work with both the automotive and aircraft industry to produce the 8-day clocks designed for the dashboard, including the dashboard of the Bugatti.
Doxa is little known in the U.S. as it primarily marketed to Eastern and Southern Europe as well as South America. It has produced quality pieces with design flair. It is currently reissuing some of its best-known pieces. Doxa is one of those quality makers that should be looked into when creating a wristwatch collection. It’s pieces are mechanically sound with some wonderful designs and when found here in the U.S. are generally priced below pieces of similar quality from companies that primarily marketed to the U.S.
Perhaps the only Americans to be familiar with the Doxa name are Divers or readers of Clive Cussler’s adventure hero Dirk Pitt who wears the orange dialed Doxa diver’s watch that now is being reissued as the Dirk Pitt model. It really looks like fun, but since I only snorkel a couple times a year, seems silly to buy a top end diver’s watch for the occasional foray into the shallow end.