As far as electric watches are concerned, Wittnauer are probably best known for their very unique 1960’s Electro-Chron series of watches featuring the Landeron 4750 / 4760 movements. Later, they adopted electronic movements such as the ESA Dynotrons. The text below summarises the company’s early history; it was copied from the Internet without permission, so if you wrote it, I apologise.
There isn’t anything as endearing to the public as a rags to riches story and the history behind the Wittnauer Watch Company is one such story. Imagine if you will a young 16 year old Swiss immigrant arriving in New York City in 1872 with an already well developed ability to produce high quality watches. The story only gets better from here.
Young Mr. Wittnauer begins working for his brother in law J. Eugene Robert. Mr. Robert is an importer of fine Swiss watches. With the help of his younger brother, Albert Wittnauer decides there is a need for a watch designed with all of the durability and function the American public demands. Much to everyone’s except Albert’s surprise, the watches are an instant hit with his brother in law’s clients.
By 1890, the company is formally establishes when Mr. Robert gives the title to Albert Wittnauer and the A. Wittnauer Company is born. All of the Wittnauer siblings are involved in the budding business. They make the bright decision to employ the best and most talented of watch making engineers. The company also stays ahead of the game and begins to cater to the ever growing world of exploration. It is their timepieces that are found on trips made by navigators, explorers, and astronomers.
In terms of the great global exploration taking place, the A. Wittnauer Co. becomes even further involved with the Navy for early aviation tests. From there the world’s most exciting people in regards to the budding fields of aviation, astrology, and navigation go to this company for the most accurate, well made field devices and watches. Of the Wittnauer Company and products, noted horologist Marvin E. Whitney writes, “No one company has been more involved in the design and production of so many different types of navigational timepieces and been involved in so many history making expeditions…”
With the death of her last brother Emile, Martha Wittnauer is left holding the reins of this amazing company in 1916. At the time, she is one of the few CEOs of a major American company. Martha does continue the amazing work she and her brothers began years before and continues to bring success to the family company. She was particularly fond of encouraging the aviation navigating instruments that had helped make the company so successful in the first place.
That is a brief synopsis of the Wittnauer Company’s early history. The events and people who originally formed the company were to have a tremendous influence on the rest of its history. The advantages made by the company were continued in 1949 with the release of a self winding watch. It was designed to be slimmer and more durable than the other self winding watches of the time. — Author Unknown.
In the 1950’s Longines purchased the Wittnauer watch company and marketed a number of very similar lines of watches in the US under both brand names.