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Roamer Watch Co SA (Powered by CubeCart)
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Roamer Watch Co SA

 Roamer of Switzerland.

 

The Roamer Watch Company S.A. dates back to 1888 when watchmaker Fritz Meyer opened a workshop in his own name in the small Baroque city of Solothum at the foot of the Jura Mountains, some 20 miles north of Berne. The fledgling company had 6 employees and manufactured cylinder escapements for supply to other watch manufacturers. This was common practice as, traditionally, the Swiss watch industry operated like a cottage industry comprising many individual craftsmen and sub-contractors, each specializing in the manufacture of a particular range of components. These parts were supplied to "établisseurs", or assemblers who would build the finished product to a particular specification. The new company was immediately successful and Meyer soon started to build his own watches from parts bought in. By 1904 the firm had produced over 500,000 units.

Meyer's ambition was to develop the company into a "manufacture" (Fr), the name given to the elite group of manufacturers which had the scale and resources to produce all the parts for complete watches and clocks in-house. In 1905 watchmaker Johann Stüdeli became a partner in the business which was re-named Meyer and Stüdeli, following which the firm began the design and manufacture of its own designed movements which became known as the "MST" calibre. MST movements quickly built a reputation for precision and reliability but still the company was reliant upon external companies for items such as gears, casings and dials.

 

The MST brand symbol (from Meyer Stüdeli) to be found stamped on movements.

 

 

 By 1906, the business had 400 employees and had completed the move to a new manufacturing plant, following which it started producing high quality lever escapement watches. A further step towards self-sufficiency came in 1908 with the production of its own gear wheels and pinions, and in the ten year period from 1914, the company established a number of watch assembly subsidiaries in the Solothurn area. By 1923,  production had reached one million watches a year and in the interests of ensuring reliable supplies of the required quality, the company began in-house manufacture of its own casings.

 

 

 Roamer movement

 

By the start of the Second World War, the company employed 1200 people and the final stages of vertical integration were implemented by the installation of a dial production line. Around this time, the company also designed and patented a radically new case which was both dust- and water-proof and simplified the servicing of the watches.  With continuing success, an office was opened in New York in 1945, and in 1952 the company name was changed to that of its most successful brand, becoming ROAMER WATCH Co. S.A. After years of continual improvement, in 1955 the patented watertight watch case became the feature of the new Antifibio line, which would become world-renowned for quality, exceptional endurance and reliability.

 

 Dial production at Roamer

 

 

 

December 1969 saw the launch of the first Quartz wristwatch from Japan, the Seiko Astron 35SQ and with it came a decade of turbulence within the Swiss watch industry. Overnight, a century of mechanical watch development was in danger of becoming redundant as the new technology captured the imagination of the masses. Many fine Swiss firms failed or amalgamated in the following decade, but Roamer just managed to survive with its identity and independence intact. The company presented its first quartz movement, the Roamer Microquartz, at the Basle Fair in 1972. This was built in-house in co-operation with the American company General Time Corporation, and followed up in 1973 with an improved version which was the basis for the first cheap quartz watches, available in 12 models. Throughout the 1970s, some excellent Roamer quartz divers watches and chronographs were produced which command high prices today.

In retrospect, the high point for the company during the first 100 years was probably the 1950s and 1960s when the company was a "manufacture" of mechanical watches at the top of its game,  producing some beautifully crafted timepieces with movements famed for longevity and accuracy. 

 

 

In 1994, the company was bought by the Chung Nam Company of Hong Kong but the administrative headquarters continued at Solothurn. Great efforts were made to re-establish the company as a strong global brand over the following decade. According to Roamer, in 2002  a prototype high class movement from the 1940s was discovered in the company archives which triggered a new strategy direction to re-position the firm up-market by returning to the company's prestigous roots of high quality mechanical watchmaking. The newly discovered movements were fitted to casings re-styled by the Roamer design team to become the basis for the Competence Collection launched in 2003. The thinking was that during its long history, Roamer was one of the "ORIGINAL SWISS" brands specializing in mechanical watches. The knowledge, the history and the competence in creating its own mechanical movements in the past would re-emerge in the birth of a new Competence Collection - the first step in the gradual re-positioning upmarket of the Roamer brand. Since the original Roamer Competence of 2003, a range of new Roamers have been developed, each unique for its exceptional historical design and heritage, and with superior quality highly specialized mechanical movements.

Today, Roamer is once more a highly respected manufacturer of quality mechanical watches and knocking on the door of the elite prestige market sector.

 

 

If you have further information to add to this account or wish to draw attention to any errors, please use the Contact Us option below and we would be glad to hear from you.

 

 

 

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