In watch connoisseur circles, the name Junghans is synonymous with the term “made in Germany”. Since its foundation over 160 years ago, the name has stood for high precision, design and the Black Forest. Much has changed since then, but the joy of innovation and the attachment to the Schramberg location remain unchanged to this day. Join us on a journey through the eventful history of the traditional southern German manufacturer and a presentation of its most popular timepieces.
Together with his brother-in-law Jakob Zeller-Tobler, Erhard Junghans founded a workshop specialising in watch components in Schramberg, a small town in the middle of the Black Forest, Junghans in 1861. What began modestly soon developed into one of the most successful companies in all of Germany. In 1903, Junghans was even the largest watch factory in the world, with 3000 employees producing over three million timepieces of all kinds per year. This success necessitated the expansion of production capacities, and so in 1917 and 1918, the now listed Terrace Building was built, which, thanks to its ingenious slope and large window fronts, offered every single workplace the maximum amount of daylight. From 1936, the high-end wristwatches with the Meister quality mark were also manufactured in this famous industrial building. In the post-war period, Junghans seamlessly continued its successes: in 1951, the company was the largest producer of chronometers in Germany, and in 1956 it was even the third largest in the world.
Even though tradition has always played an important role, the people of Schramberg have always been open to new developments and technologies: in 1971, Junghans was among the first in Germany in the race for the first German quartz calibre for wristwatches. In the second half of the 20th century, the watches “made in Schramberg” not only accompanied the economic miracle, but were also at the forefront in many other areas, for example as the official timekeeper at the finish line of the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. The Mega 1, presented in 1990, was the world’s first digital radio wristwatch, followed in 1995 by a radio solar watch in an innovative ceramic case. Junghans was also one of the pioneers in the field of solar technology.
Today, the traditional company revives its history in successful interpretations of historical classics from all areas and combines them with the achievements of our time. Thus, the essence of 160 years of know-how and passion for the profession is contained in every single Junghans watch.
This is especially true of the Max Bill, a wristwatch that connoisseurs associate with the Bauhaus school. Since its reissue in the 1990s, based on the original designs, it has been a highlight in the Junghans collection. Its design, which is completely reduced to function, is inspired by a kitchen clock that the artist and product designer Max Bill designed for Junghans in 1956 together with his students at the Ulm School of Design. His thoughts on it: “It was clear: the thing had to have numbers, the hours on the minute track – and the minute numbers on the short timer. Why? Often the kitchen clock is the only wall clock in the household. It teaches children to recognise the time, to read their first numbers, the order of hour and day. And it should be bright and friendly, like beautiful kitchen crockery.”
The harmonious design was so successful that in 1961 it was also introduced in wristwatch format and found its way onto the wrist. Today, the award-winning Max Bill, which explores the Bauhaus principle in many variations, is one of the best-known watches in this country. Consequently, it is available in a variety of different sizes and designs for men and women, with mechanical movements – automatic and hand-wound – as well as with quartz calibres. The technical flagship of the collection is the Max Bill Chronoscope, a minimalist, elegant chronograph that stylishly celebrates the unmistakable Bauhaus style.
This watch line is the most traditional of the southern German manufacturer: it originated in the 1930s. At that time, only the highest-quality models with elaborately decorated movements were awarded the title Meister. They bore the signature of Anton Ziegler, the head of design at the time, who gave Junghans watches their face for many decades. Today, the collection, which was revived in 2011, encompasses a wide spectrum of classically elegant and sporty timepieces. The spectrum ranges from simple three-hand watches to chronographs, such as the two retro models Meister Telemeter and Meister Pilot. It also offers some of the most popular and useful complications, such as the Meister Agenda, a business watch par excellence. It combines fine aesthetics with extraordinary complications. In addition to the day of the week and date display, the Meister Agenda shows the calendar week and power reserve in cupped subdials. The Meister Kalender is characterized by the same design code, and it is entirely dedicated to the moon phase. The night star is accompanied by several small stars, one of which represents the Junghans star, and is framed by a hand date. Two small windows at ten and two o’clock indicate the day of the week and the month respectively.