WINNERL Founder’s Series Marine Chronometer Wristwatches

This fine mechanical watch brand from Switzerland pays tribute to Joseph Thaddäus Winnerl (1799-1886), the internationally acknowledged horological master and inventor from Austria.

The creative genius behind this luxury watch brand is Austrian master watchmaker Bernhard Zwinz, who officially revived the WINNERL name in 2018. The debut collection from the brand is Founder’s Series comprising of hand-wound Marine Chronometer wristwatches in white gold, red gold and platinum.

As of now, the brand offers three models: White Gold Case with Blue Gold Dial, Red Gold Case with White Enamel Dial and Platinum Case with Black Enamel Dial.

The watch case measures 40mm diameter and 10.35 mm thickness. The front glass and transparent case back are made from sapphire crystal. The watch is worn on a leather strap fitted with specially designed ‘flat line’ buckle.

The movement beats inside this timepiece is a 21 jewels mechanical manual wound caliber equipped with Beryllium copper balance and Breguet overcoil hairsping. It has 32 hours of power reserve.

Turning back the timepiece, you can admire the finely decorated mechanical movement which is visible through the sapphire crystal case back.

The movement finishing differs depends up on the version: Silver Grainage for white gold version, Geneva Stripes for red gold version and Engraving for platinum version.

Joseph Thaddäus Winnerl was born on 25 January 1799 in a small town close to the Austrian-Slovenian border. At a very young age he left home to study watchmaking as a journeyman apprentice serving among others, Georg Schmidt Fidel in Graz, Kessels in Altona, Urban Jürgensen in Copenhagen and the famed watchmaker Breguet in Paris starting in 1829. Already in 1832 he had founded his own business in Paris producing marine chronometers, precision pocket watches and clocks.

His fame quickly spread across borders, and by 1835 he was already so revered that Ferdinand Adolph Lange expressly learned French in order to be able to live in Paris and apprentice with him for a period of 5 years. It was during this stage at the Winnerl atelier that Lange came in contact with Winnerl’s penchant for the so called 3/4 movement plate, diamond endstones and screwed chatons, perfect elements for stable movement design and functionality – still widely used in German watchmaking today.

A prolific inventor of horological and scientific instruments, Winnerl was responsible for the most essential mechanical developments found at the heart of every mechanical chronograph, still in use today, such as the return to zero mechanism required for the functioning of every existing mechanical chronograph. Amongst some of the greatest achievements must be his invention in 1831 of the first pocket watch with an independently stoppable seconds hand that could be stopped and restarted at will. Later, in 1838, he presented a pointer mechanism with two superimposed seconds hands, the direct precursor of the split seconds mechanism for timing two moments simultaneously during a single event, and around 1840 he presented a triple split seconds chronograph pocket watch, the first of its kind ever created.

After 10 years in Paris, he received his first gold medal in 1839, and through the years, many other prizes, accolades and awards would follow, including his appointment as clockmaker to the Paris Observatory in 1850 and Expert Clockmaker to the Navy in 1873. His clocks and watches were so exceptionally accurate, that with simple oiling and cleaning, they were still in use by the French Navy even after atomic timekeeping had long been established and accepted on their naval vessels in the 1970’s of the last century. Coincident with his years at the Paris Observatory, several elementary discoveries were made in which Winnerl’s expertise in chronometric timekeeping was of fundamental value, such as Foucault’s determination of the speed of light, made at the observatory in 1862, requiring exact timing measurements for their accuracy. He was also closely involved with the construction of the first mechanical calculator, the Arithmaurel, which surely, together with various chronometers, would have been of great assistance in the various astronomical calculations and sightings of the day.

Winnerl’s achievements and influence were formidable; yet his renown faded from horological history due to the lack of an heir and the fact that he never courted the attention of rich and fashionable aristocratic clients, like so many of his contemporaries. As the watchmaker’s watchmaker, his sole concern was focused purely on the pursuit and achievement of the greatest possible accuracy in order to guide ships safely over the seven seas, and to assist scientists searching for the secrets of the universe.

This love of detail, the personal history and life work of Winnerl has for many years been the center of interest to the Austrian master watchmaker Bernhard Zwinz. He too journeyed away from his homeland in Austria to pursue horological excellence in different countries, finally arriving in Switzerland’s Vallée de Joux to apprentice and work on Philippe Dufour’s Simplicity series of watches for 3.5 years, where after he settled in the valley permanently since 2001.

Bernhard Zwinz established his own horological workshop, L’Atelier de Joux, in 2004, and for the last 14 years now, he has been working for other brands such as Gruebel Forsey, H. Moser & Cie, Urban Jürgensen, MB&F and MCT. His small work shop handles new movement designs, prototyping, all types of hand finishing, the assembly of high complications like tourbillons and repeaters.

In 2018, Bernhard decided to officially revive the Winnerl name in the 21st century, with the aim of creating a series of different wristwatch models, each one to be closely inspired by a different original movement or concept first developed for use in Winnerl’s chronometers and pocket watches.

It began with researching Winnerl’s history and patents, cataloguing existing timepieces and then designing the first movement and even some movements planned for the future. The Founders Series watch houses a first horological movement of its kind incorporating a unique balance wheel design taken directly from Winnerl’s chronometer No. 80.

Technical details

Diameter: 40.00 mm
Thickness: 10.35 mm
Glass (front and back): Sapphire with anti reflective coating
Water resistance: 50 meters

Diameter: 33.00 mm
Thickness: 4.30 mm
Power reserve: 32 hours
Total No. of jewels: 21
Total No. of parts: 93

Material: Beryllium copper
Diameter: 13.00 mm
Height: 1.00 mm
Angle: 45°
Weight screws: 4 x in white gold
Regulation screws: 4x in steel
Hairspring: Breguet overcoil

Leather strap
Strap attachment: Screwed and sprung safety fastening
Strap width: 20.00 case / 18.00 buckle
Buckle: Specially designed ‘flat line’ buckle

2 years


Founder’s Series No. 596
18K White Gold Case, Blue Gold Dial, Polished Steel Hands
Movement 3/4 Plate Finished With Silver Grainage
Diameter: 40 millimeters
Price without TVA: 68’400 CHF

Founder’s Series No. 597
18K Red Gold Case, White Enamel Dial, Blued Steel Hands
Movement 3/4 Plate Finished With Geneva Stripes
Diameter: 40 millimeters
Price without TVA: 68’400 CHF

Founder’s Series No. 598
Platinum Case, Black Enamel Dial, Polished Steel Hands
Movement 3/4 Plate Finished With Engraving
Diameter: 40 millimeters
Price without TVA: 87’600 CHF