Wittnauer. A Stainless Steel Chronograph Wristwatch
No: 46 1xxxx
Valjoux 72 mechanical movement, 17 jewels, silvered dial, black Arabic numerals, blued steel hands, outer tachometer sale, three engine-turned subsidiary dials for 12 hour and 30 minute registers and constant seconds, circular water-resistant case, polished bezel, two round chronograph buttons in the band, screw back, case, dial, and movement signed
Albert Wittnauer emigrated from Switzerland to New York in 1872, bringing with him his knowledge of fine watchmaking. In 1880, he launched a line of watches with the same top quality as watches produced in Switzerland. Wittnauer watches quickly became well-known and recognized for their excellence, and were supplied to armed forces in both World War I and World War II.
Wittnauer Watch Company featured Swiss movements, with the same functions and durability as the fully Swiss-manufactured watches, but at a lower price point. As early as 1918, the company developed the world’s first waterproof, shock-proof, and anti-magnetic watch, known as the Wittnauer All-Proof. In the mid-1920’s, Wittnauer began putting more focus on developing aviation watches and instruments. They became the brand of choice for many trips that would become legendary parts of US history. Amelia Earhart’s plane for her solo Atlantic crossing contained Wittnauer aviation instruments, as did Howard Hughes plane that set a US coast-to-coast record.
In the 1950’s, Longines purchased the Wittnauer Watch Company, and continued to sell watches in the US under both brand names. Wittnauer, with the help of Longines, would become one of the three contenders (along with Rolex and Omega) for a watch that NASA would send with astronauts to the moon.
Unlike many other American watch companies, Wittnauer focused on importing Swiss movements that were already well-respected and in demand in the United States. The quality of movements combined with the company’s reputation as a reliable source of aviation and timing instruments made them one of the first choices for watches in America. The present watch features a valjoux 72 movement, a well-known Swiss caliber that was also used in chronographs produced by Rolex and Heuer. With the AXA import stamp, and triple signed by Wittnauer, this chronograph is a fine example of an American chronograph that was built for function and purpose, yet is still reliable and wearable in today’s world.