lost to time- Wittnauer Watch Company

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lost to time- Wittnauer Watch Company

Post by koimaster » February 15th 2016, 8:48pm

The beginnings of the A. Wittnauer Company seem almost like a fairy tale, the quintessential immigrant's dream come true in a time of war and poverty. A young man from from a far off land with a dream that he would eventually have his name of the dashboards of pilots and pioneers & on the wrists of actors and astronauts. This dream would continue even after his death as his sister, the first female CEO of a watch manufacturer, took the reins of the company in the midst of the worst economic depression America had ever seen. Yet despite the triumphs of the Wittnauer family and brand, they have faded into obscurity amid a complicated history.

The year was 1872 and at just sixteen years old, Albert Wittnauer journeyed from Switzerland to New York to work for his brother-in-law, Eugene Roberts, who ran a watch importing business focused mostly on high end pieces such as Vacheron & Constantin and Jaeger LeCoultre. Albert dreamt of creating his own watch brand that would suit the American market: an affordable Swiss watch that was still of high quality despite a lower price. Eight years later in 1880 the first Wittnauer watches were being made. In the same year F. Eugene Roberts & Co became the exclusive sales agent for Longines in America, a partnership that would last nearly 125 years. Ten years after the first Wittnauer watch was produced, Eugene bestowed the title of "A. Wittnauer Company" upon Albert's new venture.

The company went from strength to strength as Albert's brothers, Louis and Emile, joined him from Switzerland to help run the family business now residing on Maiden Lane, the heart of New York's jewellery and watchmaking industry in its day. Albert was as skilled a hirer as he was a watchmaker, employing Ferdinand Haschka (who later became the head watchmaker for Tiffany & Co) and Charles Johns (who went on to create a perpetual calendar chronometer that would feature at the 1939 World's fair). Unfortunately, one by one the three brothers passed away and in 1916 (four years before she would be allowed to vote) their sister Martha, a homemaker with no watch or business knowledge, became CEO of A. Wittnauer. Despite her lack of formal business training, Martha would lead the company for twenty years, surviving a World War and the Great Depression. Under her leadership, the original goal of producing high quality, low price watches remained at the forefront of the company's objectives.


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Re: lost to time- Wittnauer Watch Company

Post by svaglic » February 15th 2016, 11:18pm

I love the vintage Wittnauer, I have some great textured dials and have been looking at some vintage divers. hchares has the best dial on a vintage Wittnauer I have seen.
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