Louis Brandt founded the Omega brand in 1848 and, since then, the brand’s pioneering spirit has produced the world’s first diver’s watch, the world’s only certified marine chronometer wristwatch, a world leader in timekeeping for sports, and the world’s most records for timekeeping accuracy. These timepieces are among the most desired in the world, as the official timekeeping device of the Olympic Games since 1932 and the choice of NASA and the first men to walk on the Moon in 1969 (making it the first timepiece on the Moon); as well as the watch favored by James Bond since 1995. They are also a military favorite: with watches chosen by Britain’s Royal Flying Corps (in 1917) and the American Army (in 1918) as their combat units’ official timekeeper. Based in Biel/Bienne, the company is now owned by the Swatch Group.
A brand named for the founder himself, Konstantin Chaykin is a company founded in St. Petersburg – with its first piece created and presented in 2004. Russian born Chaykin was a young inventor who learned watchmaking not at the feet of a teacher, but was self-taught, with the aid of manuals. Driven by his passion for watch movements, he taught himself the process, one skill and one step at a time, with amazing results. He then began restoring and repairing timepieces, learning the intricacies of their movements, and soon started implementing his own ideas into those movements. Since that time, he has created several new, patented movements; along with unique watches and general mechanic inventions. He takes great pride in creating “exceptional timepieces, for exceptional people” in his home of Russia. He now runs his own manufacture in Moscow and has a wealth of amazing achievements – especially for someone who is so young and has come into the business in such an unusual way.
Using one of the rare metals, one that has distinctive qualities, Vacheron Constantin unveiled the Patrimony Traditionnelle 14 Day Tourbillon Collection Excellence Platine. The timepiece has been issued in a limited edition series and designed with only the finest collectors in mind. Joining the ranks of the most exceptional timepieces, this watch is a culmination of technical brilliance in the major complication that is present by the tourbillon.
The Jaquet Droz brand of watches was born in 1738, when Pierre Jaquet-Droz set up his first watchmaking shop at the Sur Le Pont farm in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. This was not surprising, as he was born into a family of watchmakers and farmers; and it was under the tutelage of some of his older relatives that he learned and took a serious interest in clock-making and precision mechanics. Initially, he worked on pendulum clocks; before deciding to specialize in automatic mechanisms – a specialty in which he excelled. He created a series of grandfather clocks with amazingly sophisticated movements. He then decided to add music and automata to these movements, drawing the attention of wealthy clients.
A 23 year old Ulysse Nardin founded his company of the same name in 1846 in La Locle, Switzerland. Already an accomplished watchmaker, he first trained under his father and then under Frederic William Dubois and Louis JeanRichard-dit-Bressel – two master watchmakers. The company has been known for it’s high-accuracy and high-quality craftsmanship, since that time. They are most well known for their Marine Chronometers, which have a precision of about a tenth of a second per day and are the most accurate mechanical clocks ever made.
The TAG Heuer brand began as Uhrenmanufaktur Heuer AG and was created in 1860, when Edouard Heuer set up a watchmaking workshop – at the age of twenty – in St. Imier, Switzerland – in the Jura mountains. Only nine years later, he patented one of the first crown-winding mechanisms for pocket watches. A leader in chronograph watchmaking innovation, Heuer patented his first chronograph in 1882 and an oscillating pinion – which is still used by major watchmakers creating mechanical chronographs – just five years after that. He also patented the first dashboard chronograph and introduced the first wrist chronograph, with the crown at the 12 o’clock position; as well as manufacturing “Flieger” chronographs, which were specifically for pilots.
A timepiece distribution company was founded in London in 1905 by a 24 year old Hans Wilsdorf. It was with the birth of this company that he started to dream of a timepiece that would be born on the wrist, and still be elegant and reliable. Three years later, he chose the name Rolex for his company, due to the fact that it looked good on watch movements and dials, as well as being short and easy to say and remember in any language. In 1910 the company developed the first wristwatch to be granted the Swiss Certificate of Chronometric Precision by the Official Watch Rating Centre in Bienne. It was nine years later that they moved to Geneva, the watchmaking capital.
Jacob Arabo – nicknamed “Jacob the Jeweller” – founded Jacob & Co. in 1986, after studying jewelry in New York. He arrived in the US from Russia in 1979, fascinated by fine watchmaking and mechanical art since boyhood. Watchmaking now makes up a large part of his business, as he began making watches in 2002, with his The Five Time Zone Collection, which is still one of most iconic made by the company. It creates an amazing, fascinating display of the time in time zones around the world – Twenty cities to choose from for display in four of the five windows, with the fifth window being used for the user’s local time – using the latest innovations in electronics. The watch’s internal GPS receiver can synchronize itself to the atomic clock that is controlled by the GPS network, by locking onto the global GPS satellite network. Along with these features, it also shows the current date. This is the perfect timepiece for a world traveler. His pieces are a favorite among those in the entertainment industry, and his company has become an international phenomenon.
Louis-Ulysse Chopard went into business making high-precision watches in 1860, at the age of 24. He set up his workshop in Sonvilier, Switzerland, and specialized in pocket-watches and chronometers. His timepieces quickly gained a solid reputation, due to their precision and reliability. In 1937 his son, Paul Louis, relocated the company headquarters to Geneva, which is the capical of fine watchmaking. The company was sold to Karl Scheufele III in 1963, by the founder’s grandson, when he was 80 years old. Since then, the company has experienced lasting success and is renowned for it’s technology, creativity, and excellent craftsmanship. It is now one of the leading names in the high-end watch and jewelry industry.
Childhood friends Jules Louis Audemars and Edward Auguste Piguet – both from Le Brassus, Switzerland – joined together in 1875 (at ages 24 and 22, respectively) to develop and craft watches. Six years later they founded “Audemars Piguet & Cie”, creating what is now the oldest watchmaking company that is still owned by its founding families. Their timepieces – which were, initially, basic chronometers – have evolved since then and are now designed to exude class, status, luxury and prestige, giving their pieces a different style. They have created a brand that is now a symbol of success and wealth.