Chronoswiss – Success is in the past

Thirty-five years ago, Gerd Rüdiger Lang emerged as a visionary when he believed in the mechanical watch as opposed to quartz. Chronoswiss is his legacy, and today it is taking new steps with Oliver Ebstein at the helm

Chronoswiss is one of those familiar names, and for those who have followed the evolution of the watch industry for some years now, in and outside Switzerland, it brings to mind models that defined an era and which, in some cases, established a trend followed by much larger houses with much more capacity.

The man responsible for this legacy is still Gerd Rüdiger Lang, author of one of the finest books about chronographs, co-authored with Reinhard Meis. Lang is the founder of a house that initially didn’t mind the strange contradiction of including “Swiss” in its name but basing its production in neighbouring Germany, more precisely in Munich.

Producing mechanical watches since 1983, the initial series based on an old lot of calibres Enicar 165 emerged in a troubled period in the history of watchmaking, when quartz still reigned supreme. Despite that, Lang was one of the visionaries who believed in the resurgence of the mechanical watch and who subsequently benefitted from a market that went back to its origins. The first wristwatch with classic regulator indicator, separating the seconds, minutes and hours indicators, giving them dedicated scales in the best “Observatoire” fashion, emerged in 1987 and contributed exponentially to the success and growth of the young brand.

The simplicity of these models’ cases, defined by a delicate decoration of the rim, was accompanied by the classicism of the dials, the sword-shaped hands and a large, easy-to-use “ognion” crown. These elements established an unmistakable trademark that led Chronoswiss to stand shoulder to shoulder with some of the most prestigious names on the Swiss watchmaking scene.

The Timemaster line, of military inspiration and with an entirely luminescent dial, has models that still leave no one indifferent. These pieces are focused entirely on their functionality and legibility, but which still command a strong attraction from all those who appreciate a well-designed mechanical watch.

The growth of Chronoswiss as a company, and the various highs and lows of the market that it had to sustain, ended up allowing the infiltration of executives into the company board that didn’t have the same foresight as Lang as to what defines a relevant mechanical watch in the mid- to long-term. The succession of featureless models that were a far cry from the essence that defined the brand put the company in difficulties and ended up pushing away the founder himself.

In 2012, Chronoswiss was on the market, and it was up to a young couple of Swiss investors to restore the brand to its rightful place. Oliver Ebstein and his wife, Eva Ebstein, embarked on a process of recovering and redefining the brand, saving the historical name from joining a list of defunct brands that didn’t adapt to the new paradigms of today.

Proof of that is the return to the roots demonstrated by its focus on three key lines: Regulator, Sirius and Timemaster. The new collection, presented by the brand during the last Baselworld fair, favoured the regulator model with the launch of a version that represents a reinterpretation of the Chronoswiss classic, the Flying Regulator Night and Day.

For this new model, the brand wanted the peculiar mechanism to remain visible, as it is usually hidden under the dial. And so, the cogs that “separate” time become an integral element of the design of this watch. The dial, comprising multiple layers, is now part of a module on which the bridges and wheels of the gear trains are assembled, as well as the expressive day and night indications.

The bridges are brilliantly finished with polished angles and flat surfaces with granular finish. At the top of the dial are two flying rings, on which the seconds and hours have been imprinted. The Chronoswiss Flying Regulator Night and Day features an integrated self-winding movement in a 41mm case and the brand’s characteristic design.

Today, Chronoswiss is no longer in Munich. Its headquarters are now in Luzern, a city with enough watchmaking tradition to support the bright future of the brand whose success is undoubtedly written in the past.