Kleine geschiedenis: Roamer

Fritz Meyer

1888

The story of ROAMER, the brand of high-quality Swiss watches, begins with the ideal of its pioneering founder, Fritz Meyer (1859-1926), to create a robust yet elegant watch, a precious accessory which everyone would love to own. With this goal, he sets up his own business in Solothurn, Switzerland – a workshop with six employees producing cylinder escapements for the watch industry.

(The origins of the Roamer Watch Company hark back to 1888, when the first enterprise in what would later become MST, and ultimately Roamer, was established by the then 29 year old by Fritz Meyer. The Meyer workshop produced a single product - a cylinder escapement for sale to etablisseurs or assemblers.

In its earliest days the company had 6 employees and fitted in very much with the traditional Swiss cottage industry, whereby small independant workshops would each supply a single, or small range of specialised product(s) that would then be assembled into an entire watch by an etablisseur. It was this environment into which the company was born, and the later changes within the company to a large degree mirrored the changes in the Swiss watchmaking industry as it grew from a cottage industry into a modern industrialised manufacturing base - that is, mergers, aquisitions, modern integrated factories, and a continual move upwards in terms of quality.)

1895

Within only 7 years, the company grows to 60 employees and produces complete watches. In the same year the company develops its first own calibre and names it number 38 to commemorate the 38th birthday of the company’s founder.

(After only 7 years Meyer’s company had enjoyed considerable success and was in a position to become an ètablisseur in its own right. Therefore in 1895 they began building complete watches - using ebauches, components, cases and dials made by other firms. A reversal of their earlier position in the manufacture of watches. As no brand seems to have been trademarked, it is likely that all production at this point was for other brands.

By 1897 Meyer could boast 60 employees and a major milestone in his ambition to become an integrated watch manufacturer - his first calibre, number 38 - named in honor of his 38th birthday. The calibre still used components from external suppliers, such as gears, but it is likely the plates and many other components were of Meyer manufacture. The movement iself was almost certainly a budget clyinder movement, as the company in these early days, was concentrating on producing large numbers of profitable lower quality movements. It was however, yet another step towards becoming an integrated manufacture, a long held personal ambition of Fritz Meyer.

The next step was the production of watches under Meyer’s own brands. In 1900 the brand ‘Femina’ was registered for use in the profitable watch market for ladies - far more subject to fashion and the need for more frequent replacement than mens watches. Later in 1903 the ‘Moles’ brand was trademarked, and while I have never seen an example of a Moles branded watch, I presume it was intended for entry into the mens watch market.)

1905

Johan Stüdeli

This year heralds one of the most significant milestones for the fledgling company: Fritz Meyer enters into a partnership with Johann Stüdeli, who is trained and experienced in the art and tradition of the watchmaker’s craft. This is the start of the legendary «MST» watch.

(This decade was a time of massive expansion and success for the the company. 1905 heralded the most significant turning point for the fledgling company - when Meyer entered into a partnership with the watchmaker Johann Studeli forming the firm Meyer and Studeli. The new company continued to grow and in 1906 had 120 employees and opened a bright and spacious new factory. The new factory could accomodate 300 workers - more than twice the current size of the company.

The products at this time concentrated on cheap cylinder movements for mens and ladies watches. There are some claims made in modern histories of the company an example that MST began making lever escapements as early as 1906. However this date appears to be incorrect, as in horological periodicals of the time (i.e. La Fèdèration Horlogèrie - Suisse) advertising in 1908-1910 lists only cylinder and not ancre production, also the employee figures in the linked document (quoted as many as 400) are well in excess of the numbers (120) reported at this time by Flury in his treatise on the state of industry in Solothurn. Both of these claims therefore need to be disregarded in the face of contrary independant evidence.
The big news of 1908 was the registration of the Roamer brand in Switzerland, reg 23699. There has been considerable debate in other articles about when the Roamer name first came about, with dates ranging from as early as 1905 through to 1924. I have copies of letters signed by both F. Meyer and J. Studeli, dated 1920, giving the details of the Swiss registrations and in addition both make the statement that ‘Roamer’ had been in use by their company from that date. These letters provide unequivocal evidence and lay this question to rest. The Roamer brand was registered again in 1917, although no Roamer branded watches from the period 1908-1917 have yet come to light.
In 1909 MST began their foray into international markets - with the setting up of the UK branch (The Medana Watch Co.) by Fritz’s son Leo Meyer. The UK was a significant stepping stone for MST and would remain one of their most important markets until the 1970s. After the setting up of the branch, management passed to another son, Charles Meyer in 1915 - a position he would continue to hold until his death in 1945. MST was truly a family enterprise. 1915 also saw the granting of MST’s first registered patent - the first of several pertaining to concealed movement mounting screws.)

1906-1908

The «MST» movements developed and constructed by Meyer and Stüdeli quickly acquire an excellent reputation for their high precision and reliability in and beyond Switzerland. The manufacture continues to grow and a spacious new factory to accommodate 300 workers opens its doors. ROAMER, the name of the most successful line, is registered as a trademark in Switzerland.

1923

The watch production soars to one million units a year and the company begins to produce its own cases to control the overall quality and to reduce its dependency on external suppliers.

(The biggest news of 1916 was the purchase of the widely respected Messrs Tièche-Gammeter, who were makers of high quality lever escapements - with medals awarded at various international expositions. MST continued to make Tièche-Gammeter calibres under the brand Tièga until the later 1930s. The Tièga calibres were produced as a seperate range alongside the Roamer lever and Medana cylinder calibres, and are a fundamentally different design philosophy with the motion works driven via the barrel rather than directly from the centre wheel as in the Roamer designs and most others. The acquisition of Tièche-Gammeter also included the Vidar brand.

In 1917 MST became a Sociètè anonyme (SA) or in English, a limited liability company. The new company was chaired by Fritz Meyer, and the board of directors was at this time composed of: Johann Studeli, and Meyer’s sons Leo, Charles, Hermann Meyer and son-in-law Heinrich Benisch. In 1918 the company made a move to differentiate their brands and product ranges. The Roamer brand was reregistered in Switzerland and became the premium name applied to MSTs high quality jeweled swiss-lever movements while Medana became the name used for the traditional clyinder, and then later, their pin lever movements In 1919 Fritz’s youngest son Ernst joined the board of directors.
1920 saw the first attempt at entering the United States, with applications for both Roamer and Medana brands as trademarks in the USA and Roamer in the UK in late 1920.

The Roamer trademark was issued in 1921 in the UK, while a conflict with the makers of the Roamer Automobile in the United States delayed registration until 1922. The conflict was amicably resolved when MST reduced the scope of their trademark claim to exclude automotive items.
MST had obviously long been intending to incorporate case manufacture into the company for some time, with the case screw patents and later in 1922 a patent for a gold coloured alloy for use in cases. Case manufacture and polishing finally started in 1923. In compliance with Swiss governmental policy of dispersing industry, MST was operating a total of six branch factories with assembly and finishing departments in remote and non industrial area of the country.
In 1924 MST saw their highest daily production record of 5000 watches, a figure that they never again surpassed - even in the watch hungry post WWII period, due in part to the higher quality movements they were beginning to produce (which of course are more labour intensive), but also due to the Great Depression beginning in 1929.
1926 saw the death of Fritz Meyer, the founder and chairman of the company and marked the end of the companies first era.)

1940

The company now employs more than 1,200 people and starts to produce its own dials. An astute case providing excellent dust and water-resistance and simplifying servicing procedures is designed, developed and patented.

1952

The company name is changed to that of its most successful brand, becoming ROAMER Watch Co. SA, under which the famous timepieces have been sold ever since.

1955

Repeatedly improved over the years, ROAMER patents a watertight watch case which induces the company to launch its Anfibio line. Anfibio gains a world-wide excellent reputation for exceptional quality, endurance and reliability.

1927 The MST logo registered.

1932 All major compentents; movements, cases and now dials all made in-house. Note the MST branded dial printing machine in the photograph. By this stage MST employed around 1,200 workers. As was common with many Swiss companies of the time, MST offered extensive welfare assistance to its workers and their families - this would later become the Roamerhaus Welfare Centre.

1933 Patent: self-winding watch (CH 169396 US 2,013,386 GB 439677) Oscillating pendulum/weight.
1936 Patent: Two part waterproof stem (CH 180459), Ernest Morf (not MST) but will be used extensively by MST.
1938 Modern Roamer logo registered (UK)

1940* First automatic (bumper), using the Felsa 278/9
1941 Patent: Waterproof case (CH 215999), Ernest Morf (not MST) but will be used extensively by MST.
1945 Charles Meyer died.
1948 Patent: Bi-directional full rotor winding with small lost angle (CH272613), used in first MST rotor automatic.
1948 Patent: Decoupling of manual and automatic winding mechanisms (CH274012), used in first MST rotor automatic.
1950* First in-house rotor automatic MST 410/411, using patents above. Could be late 1940s.
1951 MST changed its name to its most prestigeous brand Roamer.
1952 Patent: Amplifying back design, for the alarm calibre MST 417 (CH 304446)
1953 A number of high profile engineers/horologists were associated with Roamer around this time and they made a significant contribution to the renaisance at Roamer in the 1950s. Time for a role call:
Bernard Humbert
People often express surprise that a mid range movement company like Roamer could produce a technical triumph of a movement so many years ahead of everyone else like the MST436 from ‘out of the blue’ so to speak. What is interesting is the renaisance MST/Romer went through in the 1950s, the developments of which resulted in the golden era of the 1960s. In this period almost 40 patents were granted to the company, 18 of which list Bernard Humbert as the inventor. From the patent dates it is clear Bernard worked with or at MST on their prestige automatic movement - the MST436 and was the major contributor to its design. So, why was this man so significant? He wrote articles that appeared in the Horological Journal and the Journal Suisse d’Horlogerie, amongst others. He was the author of three important horological books of the 1950s, Modern calendar watches: Detail of calibers, repair (1954) - for half a century one of the most widely used text and reference book on how to service, adjust and repair the calendar mechanisms in 20th century watches, and Swiss self-winding watches (1956), plus the reference on chronographs - The chronograph: its mechanism and repair. It is probably not surprising then that Bernard Humbert was also the Professor of Complications at the Watchmakers School in Bienne, and was widely feared by his students.
Walter Uebelhart
Two patents for Roamer from 1956 and 1957 for calendar mechanisms. Walter Uebelhart later worked for Le Coultre.
Andre Jeanrichard
Sharing the name of a famous horological family - perhaps a coincidence, perhaps not. He worked on automatic/manual winding mechanisms in the mid 1950s and was responsible for 3 patents.
Max Meyer
The Meyer family were still invoved at the cutting edge, for example, in 1953 Max Meyer, patented an automatic rotor bearing.
1955 Patents: Improved waterproof case design (CH 305467, 305776, 307382, 308491 ).
1955 Anfibio launched.
1955-1959 Many patents for calendar mechanisms. Development of the calendars was for the MST 430/436, in the meantime Roamer used Felsa 4002 (MST 441) and 4007 (MST 452) automatic movements with date alongside their in-house (and non date MST420).
1959 Patent: Eccentric micro/precision regulator (CH338769)
1962 MST414/430 and the star of the lineup the 44 jewel MST 436 launched.
1967 Dr Ernst Meyer dies
1968 Max Meyer appointed as CEO, and unfortunately dies at a young age - ending the family control of the company. Until becoming CEO Max Meyer was in charge of calibre design, and his untimely death can be attributed to the stress from the development of the MST52X family of movements with their problematic date mechanisms in conjunction with the concurrent development of the first Roamer quartz movement.
1972 First quartz watch.
1973 Last patent? Date and day advance mechanisms. Used in 52X? Check.
1975 Movement manufacture halts. “The Roamer Watch Co. in Solothurn, one of the last remaining family-owned watchmaking firms in Switzerland, is closing its independent watch-parts production in a drastic reorganization and has been granted a four-month moratorium on…” This is from the American machinist: Volume 119, 1975 and is the only snippet of information we have.
1983 Meyer family ownership of Roamer comes to an end. Roamer was incorporated into the the Swiss ASUAG group (Société Générale de l’Horlogerie Suisse SA) and held in trust for a brief period.
1985 Purchased by a former Roamer marketing director Hrr. Leval and returned to independant manufacture under his ownership. At this time Hrr. Leval rescued a remant of the company archive from the basement of the former Roamer building which is retained by the current companytoday. Thanks to this action precious historical documents avoided destruction.
1994-2012 Roamer was purchased by the Hong Kong based Chung Nam Company and later (in 2009) reencorporared as a 50/50 venture between Chung Nam and the luxury focused Swiss Watch Group. During the entire period Roamer was left to function independently in Switzerland. The current chief designer worked for Roamer in the original family owned company and the company maintains links with former owner Hrr. Leval. The company is currently located about a 5 minute walk from their historic headquarters. The current company continues with a solid historical connection to the original family owned company.
All text and images are either © 14 or © Roamer Watch Company.

1972

ROAMER presents its first quartz movement, the ROAMER microquartz. Some excellent ROAMER quartz diver’s watches and chronographs are introduced throughout the seventies.

2003

With the launch of the Competence collection, ROAMER reconnects with its traditional past as the producer of mechanical watches.

2010

The success story of the «Quality Time Made in Switzerland» continues: ROAMER presents further collection milestones and affirms its position as one of the most powerful Swiss watch brands in the medium price range.

2013

In 2013, ROAMER celebrates its 125th anniversary. The strong tradition of high-end production and constant innovation has made ROAMER a Swiss watch brand with a renowned international standing.
With a long-term vision as its guiding principle, ROAMER is expanding its retail presence in core markets, while focusing on the competitive price/performance ratio that is at the heart of its appeal to men and women who appreciate unique design and excellent craftsmanship made in Switzerland at a reasonable price - a commitment which has forged the brand’s identity and reputation.

Fabriek nu

Ambassadrice

Alphorn musician Eliana Burki is the exclusive ambassador for the traditional Swiss watch brand Roamer of Switzerland.
The partnership between the charismatic alphorn player Eliana Burki and the Swiss watch brand Roamer of Switzerland expresses the passion and the profound connection that these two partners feel for their homeland. Both are deeply rooted in the traditions of Solothurn, Switzerland.
Roamer is focusing on its identity and authenticity as a genuinely traditional company in the Swiss watchmaking industry. This is also why Roamer is so proud to welcome the young musician Eliana Burki as its ambassador: she embodies ‘Swissness’ in a thoroughly charming and innovative way, so she is the perfect ambassador for the Roamer watches.

(Bronnen: Roamer, Kris Bubendorfer)

Geweldige site: http://roamer-watches.info/

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Een geweldig (eigenwijs) merk; vandaag om de pols! :sunglasses:

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Toevallig heb ik aardig wat Roamers een tijdje in mijn bezit mogen hebben, omdat ik vrij veel werk doe voor een verzamelaar van Roamer horloges in de UK.
De uurwerken zijn inhouse en van een zeer goede kwaliteit met chatons voor de jewels en veel hebben een microregelaar voor de balans.

Dit is bijvoorbeeld een Roamer die alleen is geproduceerd in '56 tot '58. Uurwerk is de MST 430, wordt ook genoemd in jouw artikel. Rolex begon te mekkeren over het logo op de kroon en daarom hebben ze het moeten aanpassen. De Pm op de chapter ring, rechts van de 6 staat voor Promethium. Een lumen dat ze maar even hebben gebruikt, voordat ze overgingen op Tritium.

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Mooi ding en die zijn zeldzaam, maar dat wist je vast al :slight_smile:

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geweldig! dank!!

helaas, helaas … :slight_smile:

mooie!!

Rolex echt zo moeilijk??.. mmm

Ja kroontje he, dat mag dus niet.

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Ik haal morgen mijn VJ72 Stingray op en post dan wel een fototje ( staat in het Voor en Na topic van Freddy).

Voor nu deze:
https://igcdn-photos-a-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xap1/t51.2885-15/10809519_317563088438208_1723915622_n.jpg

Mis alleen nog een Pasadena en een JetTimer (Chronodiver met andere kleurtjes).
Van de pasadena zijn er genoeg maar veelal plat gepolijst.

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flauwe kul…:slight_smile:

Leuk artikel, toevallig gister nog een Roamer Mustang Indianapolis D+D gekocht ook met een MST uurwerk en ook nog de originele NSA band.

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Weer leuk en leerzaam om te lezen!

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thnks :slight_smile:

showen!! :slight_smile:

Mijn beste,

Goed hoor zo’n educatieve voorstelling!!
Vanmiddag op mijn gemak nog eens doornemen.

Orologio Signaturis Temporis. :wink:

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Thanks and be my guest :slight_smile:

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Mooi merk. Jammer dat ze de afgelopen jaren niet echt mooie horloges produceren, maar ze verdienen alleen al respect voor hun rol in de doorontwikkeling van het automatisch uurwerk.

Groet Tecco

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helemaal mee eens, een beetje een “modeplakmerk” geworden… (niet alle modellen hoor :slight_smile: )

Hij is nog onderweg, vanmorgen verstuurd dus morgen binnen ga ik van uit, morgenavond zal ik picca posten.

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