One of the greatest watch company you never heard of
When we talk about big players in the watch industry, it's easy for your to name a handful of luxury brands you can see every day, Rolex, Omega, Cartier, Patek Philippe, Heuer, etc. This list is widely known by the public, but if you talk about the chronograph world, there's a watch company that you may never heard of -- Lemania.
It may be the first time you've ever heard about this company, but in guarantee that you have seen their product around the street very often. Lemania is a company that makes completed watches and watch movements for the past 100 years. Named after the Lake Geneva, or Lac Leman, the original company was founded by Alfred Lugrin in 1884, the name Lemania was adopted when he re-named the company in 1928. They are a specialist in complicated chronograph movements and also other complicated movements as well. The company faced financial difficulties during the Great Depression and can only be survived by forming joint ventures with other companies.
Lemania entered into a joint venture called SSIH with Omega and Tissot in 1932, and it became the reason why it was disappeared almost completely out of the retail watch market. Lemania became the single chronograph movement provider from both Tissot and Omega until 1970s for over 40 years. Until this point, some viewers may remember the 861 movement we talked about in the last article. Yes, the 861 movement and its predecessor caliber 321 were both Lemania chronograph movement.
This is the Lemania 1873 movement.
This is the Omega 861 movement.
If building the only mechanical chronograph ever approved by NASA for use inside and outside of their space vehicles was not impressive enough, the Lemania movement was also used in Patek Philippe watches, Patek caliber CH27-70 is based on the same Lemania movement as the Omega caliber 321. This movement was used in multiple Patek watches, one being the Patek Philippe perpetual calendar chronograph ref. 3970. I am sure the use of the company's movement in one of the most exclusive watch in the industry is a high enough endorsement to Lemania.
Besides manufacturing movement for other well-known brands, Lemania actually made their own branded watches. Here are some interesting examples of how the company can execute their taste on their own as well.
Lemania W.W.W. watch made for the British Army (one of the Dirty Dozen)
Covered last week, the W.W.W. watches are ordered by the British Government for their army to use in war fields. These watches are of extreme durability and precision.
Nero Lemania's BBC Chronograph watch & Stopwatch
Before the advent of media using quartz timepieces, precise timing was still required for all program making and transmission. BBC ordered Lemania stopwatches used in almost all of its production suites for timing.
The BBC Nero Lemania was housing the same movement known as Caliber 861 in Omega Speedmaster.
To end this week's article, let's recap some of the impressive achievements of Lemania, and let's not forget this brand as one of the greatest watch companies in the world.
- The only mechanical chronograph ever approved by NASA for use inside and outside of their space vehicles.
- The only mechanical alarm watch where you can set the minutes as well as the hours.
- Manufacturer of all wrist chronographs issued to the British armed forces throughout the 1950s and 1960s.
- Almost all of the timing devices used by BBC production teams up until the 1980s.
- Automatic chronographs worn by the 2 German astronauts who worked in the International Space Station during the 1980s.
- Aircraft clocks in the cockpit of many NATO Air Forces.
- The movements inside all 4 models of an automatic chronograph used by the Luftwaffe in the 1980s and 90s, as well as chronographs for the air forces in Italy, South Africa, Sweden, Argentina, Kenya, Spain and Venezuela, and probably more.