The one and only “capital city watch”: Askania from Berlin

By Montredo in Lifestyle
April 24, 2020
The one and only “capital city watch”: Askania from Berlin

That’s how Berlin ticks…

Under this motto Askania has been producing watches in Berlin again since 2006, even though the brand was already on the verge of doom. To understand its eventful history, however, one must first take a look back over 170 years:

Johann Carl Wilhelm Anton Bamberg, son of the autodidactic watchmaker Heinrich Bamberg, was born in Thuringia in 1847. After completing an apprenticeship as a precision mechanic at Carl Zeiss in Jena in 1966, he moved to Berlin only shortly afterwards. There he founded the Bambergwerke in 1871 and at the tender age of only 24 years. They were specialized in measurement technology, where Bamberg could perfectly draw on his knowledge from the mechanical-optical industry.

Carl Bamberg
Bamberg borrowed the starting capital of 3000 thalers from his future father-in-law.

Although Bamberg already died in 1892, his company expanded greatly. The factories became more and more adept in the production of nautical precision instruments, such as ship’s chronometers and navigation devices, so that soon film cameras, pressure gauges as well as range finders were added to the product catalogue. In 1921, the company merged with Centralwerkstatt Dessau, resulting in the Askania Werke AG.

Inseparably linked: Askania and aviation

The connection to aviation has always been a very special one for Askania. Take any record flight from the first four decades of the 20th century or any Lufthansa aircraft and chances are that the pilot was wearing an Askania watch or that the on-board instruments came from Askania.

Messerschmitt Bf 108
The Messerschmitt Bf 108 is of particular relevance for Askania today.

Starting with the aforementioned merger in 1921, the professional marketing of flight instruments, both for civil and military purposes, began, so that by 1939 the factories already employed 5,000 workers. Like so many other promising companies, however, the expansion came to an abrupt end in the turmoil of post-war Germany: The Askania factories were split up, with the individual divisions losing more and more importance and consequently being sold and swallowed up by other companies. Askania was about to be forgotten forever.

Resurrection of a watch manufacture

Fortunately, this changed in 2004. The fact that the name Askania has not disappeared into nirvana today is thanks to watch enthusiast Leonhard R. Müller, who discovered the Askania brand during his own research and made its revival his life’s work. As CEO of the newly founded Askania AG, he helped the brand gain new momentum.

Askania Watches
For an Askania watch you need two things: an experienced master watchmaker and a lot of manual work.

Today, both the creative work and the production come from the proprietary workshop in Berlin, the city where the Bambergwerke already had their origins once. From the initial processing of the individual components, through assembly, to the final casing, all steps are carried out in the German capital.

Askania Taifun: A pilot watch made in Berlin

Askania is rightfully proud of its accomplishments in the field of aviation timekeeping. The Taifun collection was hence created to give due expression to these achievements. The story of how the collection got its name is particularly interesting:

Elly Beinhorn
Elly Beinhorn where she always felt the most comfortable: in her cockpit.

In the early morning hours of August 13, 1935, Elly Beinhorn started the engine of her Messerschmitt Bf 108, which she just affectionately called “Taifun”. The destination: Scutari on the Bosporus. The legendary German aviation pioneer wanted to fly from Gliwice in Silesia via Istanbul to Asia and back to Berlin Tegel in just one day. All this, mind you, in the early days of aviation and in an absolute male-dominated turf. The Taifun collection pays tribute to this 13-hour, 30-minute feat of strength and Beinhorn’s legendary light aircraft, with which she flew 3470 kilometers in one day.

Askania Taifun
Maximum contrast for perfect readability.

Although Askania also has quartz watches in its repertoire of more than 50 different models, the Taifun collection relies on purely mechanical movements. With the ASKANIA calibre 4062, the automatic chronographs of the Taifun collection use the ultra precise ETA Valjoux 7750, which is modified in-house according to the brand’s own quality standards and adjusted to chronometer standards.

For the Taifun 5712 shown above, Askania makes use of a hardened 42mm steel case that guarantees magnetic field protection up to 80,000 amperes per meter (A/m). Elly Beinhorn would certainly have been delighted with this watch, as the dial is reminiscent of the aircraft instruments of the Bf 108. Askania’s way of subtly emphasizing the origin of the collection.

The watch with the reference TAI-5712 is priced at €3,690.00.

Models without rotating bezel are also part of the Taifun collection.

If you would like to find out more about Askania’s watches or the daring flights of Elly Beinhorn, we link to the company website here.

Previous comments (1)

  1. […] However, this suicide mission marked the beginning of a life of continuous record hunting. In the same year, she would set off on a world flight, before she circumnavigated Africa in 1933. Another flight through Central and South America between 1934 and 1935 was followed by her legendary one-day flight over two continents, which we already reported on in connection with Askania’s Taifun collection, see here. […]

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