Atlantic Watch SA is a Swiss watchmaking company based in Lengnau. The brand has been specialized in nautical timepieces for more than a century.
In 1888, in the Solothurn town of Bettlach, Edward Kummer laid the basis of a company, which was one day to become Atlantic Watch. Some years later the company was already employing over 700 people and has left a strong mark on the history of watchmaking in the 20th century. Since 2008, Atlantic has been based in the Bernese town of Lengnau/Longeau.
The Atlantic Brands came into being in 1888 under the name of Ed. Kummer AG, Bettlach, abbreviated to EKB. At that time aged 43, the master watchmaker had identified the huge potential for growth offered by the manufacture of watch movements and components.
Six years later, he and his partners had already set up the company called Obrecht & Co. established in Grenchen, which specialized in the production of movement-blanks. However, the authorities of Bettlach, his commune of origin, persuaded him to transfer his activities to his place of birth, in order to contribute to its development. These projects were favourably received by the inhabitants of Bettlach, so that production was able to start in 1888 in the new and imposing production site, which had just sprung up from nothing.
Thanks to his rare business skills, Eduard Kummer quickly ensured the prosperity of his business. In a few years, the number of employees increased spectacularly, from around 20 to over 700 at the beginning of the 20th century, only two decades after the company’s foundation. Until the end of the 1920s, the manufacture of watchmaking calibres and components remained the company’s basic activity. Nevertheless, the name EKB soon found its way onto pocket watches, and in a second phase, onto the dials of wrist watches.
The crisis which developed at the end of the second decade of the 20th century brought with it its share of changes. EKB experienced a difficult period, which finished with its integration in 1931 into the ASUAG (Allgemeine Schweizerische Uhrenindustrie AG). This takeover included the absorption of EKB’s movements’ division into the Ebauches SA company, which was founded in 1926, and already combined around ten movement manufacturers at the time. These changes brought about drastic staff cuts at EKB and from that moment the company transformed itself completely into a watch brand, devoted entirely to the manufacture of complete watches.
Launched in 1932, the “Atlantic” collection contained some of the first water-resistant timekeepers in watchmaking history. The collection soon became popular with the public, and was so successful that in 1952, the brand decided to adopt the name of Atlantic. From then on, the company also appeared in the commercial register under the trading name of “Atlantic Watch Ltd”.
Launched in the 1940s, the “Worldmaster” collection is another pillar that underpinned the success of the company, to the extent that today it is still one of Atlantic’s best- known lines. Apart from the avant-garde role of the company in the water-resistant timekeeper segment, Atlantic also acted as pioneer in other domains. In 1960, the Brand thus launched a remarkable innovation called “Speedswitch”.
Developed by the Brand itself, this device enabled the changing of the date in a way that was so much faster than any of the currently available systems. Indeed, a time lapse of hardly longer than five minutes was now enough to display the following day, whereas hitherto this process could last several hours. The new procedure created a sensation and attracted imitators, and is still used by many watch brands.
Since the middle of the 20th century, Atlantic has continued its rise beyond national borders. The Brand’s main clients include Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, South America and the Middle East. For almost thirty years, Atlantic was one of the most sold brands in Poland. This concentration on exports is also one of the reasons that the Brand was, and still is, known only by professionals in its domestic market.
After the quartz crisis that shook the industry during the 1970s, Atlantic changed hands again in 1983, following the merger between ASUAG and SSIH (Société Suisse pour l’Industrie Horlogère SA). However, its new owners were not able to realize the company’s potential. Since 1988, the brand has been in the hands of private investors and managed by Jürg Bohne, who is one of the shareholders.
Today, Atlantic has over 20 collections and a thousand models marketed in over 25 countries. Its current logo, comprising a sextant and an anchor, evokes the pioneer role enjoyed by the Brand in the development of water-resistant timekeepers and emphasizes the high-quality standards of its Swiss Made watches.
ATLANTIC WATCH Ltd