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Forgotten watchmakers who you should know • Gearbox

Forgotten watchmakers who you should know • Gearbox

Manufacturers reminiscent of Rolex, Patek, Audemars Piguet and Omega dominate the primary place of classic watch collectors, not only because of their exceptional high quality, but in addition because of their historic significance. These are names which were around for many years and in some instances for hundreds of years; They have come to assist determine what the watch business is immediately.

These previous brands, nevertheless, will not be just vital vintage-style watches. Earlier than the 1970s and 80s quartz disaster, there have been dozens of other watchmakers who produced distinctive watches. Though most of them have been victims of seismic change in time administration know-how, it’s value accumulating their watches.


The roots of Cortébert return to the 1790s, when the watchmaker Abraham-Louis Juillard opened his bell in Switzerland in Cortébert. Nevertheless, the names were not used till the mid-19th century. There’s not much information about Cortébert (its data have been misplaced within the hearth in the 50s), however it was thought-about the high-end model of the day. It’s at present greatest recognized for the precise railway watches delivered to the Turkish and Italian rail methods (the latter being bought underneath the Perse brand).

Cortébert also produced one of many world's first leap bounce watches within the 1890s, when he was given the best to make use of the watchmaker motion made by watchmaker Josef Pallweber (IWC's popularity was higher used). Cortébert ultimately produced a leaping watch within the 1920s. Presumably, it even constructed the motion that shaped the inspiration for the Rolex 618 used within the previous Panerai watches. Regardless of this, Cortébert ultimately turned a so-called. Quartz Disaster and closed. Cortébert's stays continue on Perseon immediately, regardless that it is a utterly totally different firm than the previous Juggernaut.

Cortébert Watches to Acquire
Cortébert Sport: View advertisements
Cortébert Grand Prix: View advertisements
Cortébert Turkish Railroad Watch: View advertisements


Elgin, outdoors Elgin, founded In the 1860s, the Elgin Nationwide Watch Company was one of the earliest watchmakers who founded buying and selling in America. It was additionally the most important: at the finish of the 19th century and at the start of the 20th century, its manufacturing unit complicated was the world's largest dedicated safety facility, and the model was accomplished in 100 years with about 60 million clocks. Elgin was capable of achieve such unimaginable production numbers by being an early mass manufacturing technique, utilizing interchangeable machine-made elements.

Like other American watchmakers, Elgin discovered it troublesome to participate within the Swiss watchmaker competition supported by Swiss neutrality throughout World Warfare II, the 50s and 60s, and ultimately closed manufacturing in 1968. Elgin's identify has been purchased and bought a number of occasions ; all trendy watches with the Elgin identify are by no means related to the American watchmaker in america.

Elgin did loads of pocket watches (so many American watchmakers during his flowering), but the brand was an early watchmaker. made some wonderful time items. It also made watches for the US army (particularly icons A-11) as well as some distinctive and progressive fashions, reminiscent of Direct Read (which showed time on discs lengthy earlier than it turned a development). In America, Elgin watches all over the world are quite low cost to buy and serve, and most models only sell a couple of hundred dollars on the vintage market.

Elgin watches to gather
Elgin Shockmaster View listings
Elgin A-11 View advertisements
Elgin Straight Learn Show advertisements


Enicar was based in 1914 in La Chaux de Fonds, Switzerland, by Ariste Racine (whose final identify you might notice is Enicar when it’s written backwards). As a relatively humble activity, the distribution of the model shortly began to be topical within the japanese market, akin to Russia and China (where the brand turned highly regarded). After the Second World Warfare, the watchmaker increased his skills and produced his own actions (as opposed to relying on the stores provided) and the construction instruments watches, which have been, in accordance with most accounts, exceptionally dependable and inexpensive. It even promoted clock actions with ultrasonic cleaning.

Enicar's peak appeared to be in the 1950s and '60s. In 1954, it had produced its first movement with Chromometric Certification from the Neuchatel Observatory. On the similar time, the brand delivered its diver to the mountaineers of Seapearl 600, particularly to a gaggle of Swiss mountaineers, who scaled up to Lhotse and Everest in 1956. A couple of years later, the US Navy assessed and used the Seapearl model, which it compared with Rolex Submariner and Blancpain Fifty-Fathom when it comes to performance and low value.

Enicar, like many watchmakers, encountered a crash within the so-called. Although the watchmaker was part of the Swiss consortium to develop Beta 21, one in every of Wolrd's first qurtz shops. Within the late 1980s, the company went into insolvency and was acquired by Wah Ming Hong, a watch and jewelery company based mostly in Hong Kong. Enicar continues to make watches, but the model is usually in Asia, the place it’s still a robust seller.

Enicar Ultrasound: View advertisements

Enicar Seapearl: View advertisements
Enicar Sherpa: View advertisements


Like Elgin, Gruen was one of many largest watchmakers in the USA, founded by German-born watchmaker Dietrich Grün in Cincinnati within the 1870s (he later modified his identify to Gruen). The company underwent several identify modifications until it turned the one Gruen Watch Firm within the early 1900s. It was noteworthy that it was an American company that produced its own movements in Switzerland – the corporate retained Biel's production plant, however its watches have been nonetheless set, selected and placed in america

Gruen introduced many inventions and watches. Grün himself invented a security gear that forestalls movement from damaging if the primary body was broken and included into Gruen's movements. Gruen additionally experimented with watches using very skinny movements (referred to as Veri-Thin), and its boldest design – Curvex – made a curved movement in the curved rectangular casing of the design. The curved rectangular watches meant for the consumer's wrist have been fashionable on the time, however used flat movements. Using a curved caliber the operation of the inside was bigger and extra sturdy, but the clock itself remained thin

In 1953, the household of Gruen bought the corporate, and in 1958 the company had broken down. US amenities moved from Ohio to New York when Swiss operations have been finally closed in 1977.

Gruen Curvex: View advertisements
Gruen Precision: View advertisements
Gruen Pan American: View advertisements

] Lemania

Lemania, based in 1884, produced etbauches, principally utilized by different watchmakers. From the outset, the chronograph brand and its sophistication resulted in some legendary chronograph actions, including the Caliber 1873 used within the unique Omega Speedmaster, and the straightforward Caliber 5100 used in a number of Sinan watches. Tutima, Porsche Design and Omega, which turned a pillar of some troopers. Though Lemania primarily targeted on the motion of buildings, there were several Lemania branded watches produced in the 20th century.

Like many forgotten watches from the last century, Lemania fell in the 1970s with a rising quartz watch. The brand rose in the 1980s to Nouvelle Lemania, which was acquired by Swatch Group in 1999 with Breguet. Right now, the Lemania identify is not used, but the firm continues to make calibrations for the Breguet and Swatch groups. Lemanias, like lots of their tools taking a look at magazines from the 20th century, at the moment are eager with collectors. Although some only time fashions can go beneath $ 1000, chronographs, especially in fine condition, will put you back at the least $ 1,500.

Lemania Watches
Lemania 192 View advertisements
Lemania CH27 View advertisements
Lemania Elvström View listings
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Like most watchmakers in this listing, Niva has a historical past that dates back to the 19th century, however the model actually got here after the Second World Struggle when it took critical sports activities watches. significantly. Perhaps the perfect instance of this was the "Antarctic", a simple three-handed watch, which was thought-about to be magnetic and water resistant, which was constructed and used through the US Navy Operation Deep Freeze throughout a world geophysical yr. It survived an unimaginable cold, impressive performance, however it’s nonetheless comparatively unknown compared to different research durations like Rolex Explorer and Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic.

Nivada continues to build other durable watches for the subsequent decade. There was a Chronomaster, a chronograph meant for both diving and aviation, which was waterproof to 600 ft and used the motion of the Valjoux pole wheel chronograph, and was additionally a Depthmaster, an enormous thick diver, categorised as waterproof for superb 1000 meters, a powerful figure, not to point out in 1965 when it was introduced. On the similar time, the brand launched the Depthomatic, which was thought-about as the first dive watch depth meter.

Apparently, Nivada confronted authorized points in america as a result of the identify was phonetically just like Movado Watches, so Nivada watches have been typically distributed in the USA underneath the brand identify "Nivada Grenchen" or divided into Croton watches.

Nivada Antarctic: View advertisements
Nivada Chronomaster: View advertisements
Nivada Depthmaster: View advertisements



Smiths (as we speak Smiths Group) started with S. Smith & Sons, Jewellery Retailer and watchmaker in south london. Based in 1851, the business developed through the years. On the flip of the century, Smiths made instruments for automobiles and aircraft (the truth is, the Smiths instruments have been put in on the first transatlantic flight in 1919 and the primary business jet plane in 1952). Though the brand was well known for its instruments, its watch manufacturing was half of the UK market firstly of World Struggle II.

It wasn't until after World Conflict II, when Smiths started manufacturing wrist watches in England. Its watches have been comparatively simple, but the largest moment of the watchmaker got here in 1953 when Sir Edmond Hillary took Smiths Deluxe to Everest (along with Rolex Explorer). Hillary's account labored completely.

Smith's reputation grew, but Smiths determined to stop producing watches by specializing in the aerospace business. At the moment, Timefactors produces a handful of watches beneath the Smith's identify, but they’re by no means associated to Smith's mid-20th century watches. Regardless of its historical significance, Classic Smiths watches are fairly low cost in the present day, apart from the military-spec. W10, which usually sells for over $ 1000.

Smiths Watches to Acquire
Smiths Deluxe View Lists
Smiths Everest See Lists
Smiths W10 View Lists

Universal Genéve

Based in Le Gené in 1894 Universal Genéve is probably some of the influential Swiss watchmakers who seemingly disappear from the ground. In 1917, during World Struggle I, World Genéve was the primary watchmaker to arrange a watch with a watch. In the 1930s, chronographs turned the primary focus of the Common, and the model produced the present icon in a collection of Compax chronographs. After World Conflict II, Universal Genéve was one of the first watchmakers to test the micro-rotor's automated watches and release their first micro-rotor clock, Polarouter designed by Gérald Genta, in 1954.

Common Genéve was within the late 60s and early 1970s owned by Bulova, and in the length of the Quartz disaster it was one of many few Swiss watchmakers who tried to make and sell their own quartz movement. In 1989, the model was bought to Hong Kong-based Stelux. Although the brand has released some micro-rotor watches after the acquisition, they do not seem to release a new clock since 2009. Nevertheless, Classic Universals is making an enormous investment right now as a result of costs (particularly for Compax chronographs) have grown steadily

Common Genéve Watches for Colelc
Universal Genéve Polerouter View advertisements
Common Genéve Uni-Compax -Compax View advertisements


Wittnauer was founded in New York in the 1880s by a Swiss immigrant named Albert Wittnauer, who initially worked within the brother-in-law advantageous watch import enterprise. Wittnauer saw the need for Swiss watches tailor-made to the US market and commenced using Swiss-supplied stores (from a number of suppliers) to offer a extra reasonably priced various to different Swiss imports. One of the brand's first major innovations in wristwatches was the 1920s AllFroof, who claimed to be the world's first watch that was shockproof, waterproof and antimagnetic.

Wittnauer watches and airplanes have been permitted by troopers early. Through the First World Warfare, many Wittnauer wrist watches replaced giant infantry pocket watches, and brand airplanes have been used on many American plane during World Conflict I. The Wittnauer instruments have been even featured on Amelia Earhart's Lockheed Vega-5B when she made her solo flight over the Atlantic in 1932. Wittnauer additionally produced many bells, timer compasses and watches for a US soldier during World Warfare II.

In contrast to many other watchmakers, Wittnauer was not steamed with the introduction of a quartz watch. It produced its first electronic clock in 1957, and in 1969 Westinghouse bought it. Within the 1970s, the model would build both quartz and mechanical watches (including chronographs and eternal calendars and different problems), although within the 1980s and 90s the brand started to be unclear. In 2001, Bulova purchased Wittnauer and is presently a sub-brand

Wittnauer Watches to Acquire
Wittnauer's Watches: See Lists
Wittnauer Skilled: View advertisements
Wittnauer 2000: View listings


Although clock manufacturing in Europe is usually associated with Switzerland and Germany, France has its personal watch manufacturing history and Yema is undoubtedly the most effective manufacturers. Based in 1948 in Besançon, France, watchmaker Henry Louis Belmont, Yema's objective was to supply reasonably priced and dependable watches, featured in lots of tools, wanting on the brand in the 60s and 70s.

In 1963, Yema constructed Superman, an early dive watch that was both waterproof and 300 meters, and had a locking mechanism for a rotating body at three o'clock; it was thought-about as durable because it was given to members of the French Air Drive. Shortly afterwards, the brand made its debut at the Rallygraf – racing race, utilized by drivers like Mario Andretti, and Yachtingraf, a sea-ready chronograph that is waterproof to 200 meters high and specially built for pleasure boats. In 1982, Yema turned the first French watchmaker to put his watch into area when French astronaut Jean-Loup Chrétien used Yema Spationauto for ten days in area.

Whereas these watches have been traveling to the USA, most did so by way of third-party distributors who used totally different names, so Yema just isn’t notably recognizable. Although the watchmaker appeared to regulate the quartz disaster comparatively nicely, Seiko finally acquired the model in 1988 and was a sub-brand for the Japanese company in Europe. Ultimately, Yema was bought again to the French management and has been quietly an unbiased model after it bought its basic watches.

Yema Superman: View advertisements
Yema Rallygraf: View advertisements
Yema Yachtingraf: View listings
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