Zeitwinkel: questions and answers
What does »Zeitwinkel« mean?
The »Zeitwinkel« (time angle) is used to calculate »true local time«, i.e. the time that is measured at a specific location according to a sundial. The 12 o'clock point, i.e. the precise point in time at which a sundial shows that it is noon, varies naturally from place to place within a time zone. In addition, since the sun does not move at uniform speed on the ecliptic, but rather faster in summer and slower in winter, the »mean solar day« was introduced; this also serves as a basis for navigation.
We were excited about taking on the challenge of »true local time« and to name our brand based on the »Zeitwinkel«.
Who are the Zeitwinkel founders?
Spokesmen for the Zeitwinkel founders are Ivica Maksimovic and Peter Nikolaus. Professor Maksimovic is a long-time watch enthusiast and professor for communication design, and a guarantee for creative and innovative solutions. Peter Nikolaus has been active in the Haute-Horology branch for 20 plus years and is responsible for turning our ideas into reality. One of the most important ideas the two have in common is the desire to put the main emphasis not on themselves but on the product and in their vision to create an authentic, enduring, and positive brand.
In addition to our investors (all of them private persons), Zeitwinkel's growing circle of friends supplies us with important feedback.
What was the founders' motivation to build a mechanical watch from the ground up?
The origin of Zeitwinkel's birth was the desire to produce an authentic, high-quality product that links people with similar attitudes toward life. We intended to create a product and a brand that we can proudly stand behind, that will continue to develop, and that will not have to hide behind superficial illusions. In other words, it puts the focus more on »existence« than on »appearance«.
How can the Zeitwinkel founder's intentions be described?
The founders wanted to give the Zeitwinkel brand three important characteristics:
Zeitwinkel should be credible in every aspect. Naturally, this refers in particular to the product, where we have decided to create our own manufacture mechanism and to work only with Swiss partners and suppliers as well as a few selected ones in Germany--after all, we are able to write «Swiss Made” on our watches. The presentation of the Zeitwinkel brand should also be credible. Therefore, you won't find any supposed 200-year tradition, opulent company buildings, sports equipment, or rented actors at Zeitwinkel.
As its founders, Zeitwinkel excites us above all else for the reason that a mechanical watch expresses endurance and longevity in an ideal manner.
Although the term »sustainability« has been subjected to a lot of abuse in the past, we believe that a forward-looking attitude, the consideration of consequences, and an economical use of resources are goals worth striving for. Even though the potential optimization for manufacturing watches is relatively low, we have been able to optimize our production processes--for example by minimizing the transfer distances by choosing regional suppliers.
While busy with the development of our watches in the first years, we have had many conversations about whether a new watch brand made sense or not. We received the most interesting proposals as well as a great deal of positive feedback from people who apply themselves in their area of specialty with their knowledge, have lots of commitment, and a great deal of enthusiasm in order to attain real improvements. These deeds often remain hidden from the public as a whole, but this appears to have little effect on the perseverance of these men and women.
It always makes us happy when we can personally present a customer with their new Zeitwinkel watch or when we get into a conversation with people interested in Zeitwinkel. We usually find that a person who appears to be more on the reserved side often has very interesting thoughts, a lot of knowledge to be shared, and in many cases an infectious optimism and a great deal of commitment.
Why has Zeitwinkel set up shop in St.-Imier?
For us, the traditional watchmaking region in the Jura area of Switzerland, between Biel and Geneva, was the only possibility. In the end, we consciously decided against representative premises in one of the larger cities, so we moved into an empty factory building in St.-Imier.
St.-Imier lies in the canton Bern at an elevation of 800 meters, approximately 15 km away from La Chaux-de-Fonds. As early as in the 19th century, the town blossomed when important watchmaking companies settled here. In the 1970s, however, hundreds of jobs in St. Imier were lost forever as a result of the quartz crisis.
Nevertheless, the region still has a great deal of know-how in the area of producing high-quality mechanical timepieces. Today, St.-Imier is shaped by companies that produce highly specialized components for the watch industry. We hope that our settling in a former factory for watch dials will play a role in keeping the tradition of watchmaking alive in St.-Imier.
What advantages and disadvantages result from Zeitwinkel's independence from corporate affiliation?
Of course, we could list lots of disadvantages that result from the fact that we are not one of the large corporations in the watch industry. For example, getting access to jewelers who meet our standards is not always easy.
However, we concentrate totally on the advantages of our independence. And this is where we view ourselves as being top-notch, because we can make our concepts of creating a high-quality, credible watch reality without having to compromise and without having to take a central controlling department or our marketing section into account. It goes without saying that, due to the reasonably small size of our company, we have a very direct influence on every step in product development, production, quality control, and customer communication. For example, it can happen that your email to us lands directly on the table of one of our founders. And that your comments are the subject of lively discussions during the next lunch break.
How was the Zeitwinkel logo created?
Many things that we want to say about Zeitwinkel and our products are relatively text-intensive, requiring explanations using more than just a few key words. When we started to prepare an appearance for the Zeitwinkel brand, therefore, we thought about a suitable font starting very early on.
As a result, we decided to develop our own house font that gives our communications a distinct appearance. Our logo was also created using the Zeitwinkel house font: We took the characteristic »W« from the brand name and inverted it.
Where can I read about Zeitwinkel?
Increasingly, print and online publications write articles about Zeitwinkel, both from specialized media and general publications such as the New York Times, Frankfurter Allgemeine or South China Morning Post. We are happy to see that in all cases, the responses were positive.
Please contact us if you would like us to supply you with scans or weblinks.
Products: questions and answers
How were the Zeitwinkel watches developed?
We already had a clear idea of how a Zeitwinkel watch should appear very early on. This became more specific when the created illustrations were then «translated” by a specialist company in Geneva. Nevertheless, we continued to work together with them for more than six months until we held a preliminary computer simulation of the Zeitwinkel watches in our hands at the start of 2008.
The first Zeitwinkel movements, the basic caliber ZW0102 movement and the ZW0103 caliber date movement, were created in close cooperation with another partner in Le Locle. Le Locle is one of the strongholds of the Swiss watchmaking industry. Admittedly, we had underestimated the challenges of finalizing a completely new movement construction and of taking it to a serial production level. Fortunately, we were able to overcome early difficulties, and we are very pleased with the end result.
Why are Zeitwinkel watches usually made with a stainless steel housing?
We believe that our watches primarily speak for themselves; they do not necessarily need a gold or platinum casing to be seen as being "valuable." The stainless steel alloy that we use is highly suitable for producing watch casings because it is long-lived, optimally protecting the valuable movement. In addition, the concentration on stainless steel casings permits us to offer our watches at a competitive price despite the fact that they come with manufacture movements.
Since March 2014, we offer all the possibility to purchase all our Zeitwinkel models with cases made from either white gold or rose gold. For these watch cases, we only use certified „fairmined“ gold mined by artisanal and small-scale miners. These companies follow strict requirements for environmental protection, labor conditions and social as well as economic development in their mining communities. To ensure that the rigorous standards for the responsible practices are met, the entrepreneurs are certified and audited by an independent institution.
Will there be other model series, such as a sports watch?
Of course, we already have very specific ideas that we would be happy to make reality. Our focus is always on the intention of creating a sensible application as well as a "typically Zeitwinkel" product. Therefore, we will probably not design chronographs in which the same movement ticks as that in 80% of all the chronographs available on the market. Although we really like this movement!
Will Zeitwinkel also make watches specifically for women?
Currently, there are no plans to manufacture a Zeitwinkel watch solely for women--which does't mean that our current models can only be worn by men. We recommend our Midsize series with 39mm diameter casings.
What are Zeitwinkel’s plans for the future?
Currently, our engineers are concentrating on ensuring our high quality demands are met, especially in the face of increasing quantities and on coordinating production. However, we are sure that we will resume the creative process soon . . .