Juvenia

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Juvenia was a brand of Swiss watches active in the mid-20th century.

History

Juvenia traces its roots to the firm of Jacques Didisheim, founded in 1860. The company produced its first key-wound watch with cylinder escapement in 1880. The firm later developed a lever escapement and became a pioneer in ladies watches, producing one of the first ever to be marketed. In 1889 it was taken over by Bernard Didisheim, then just 22 years old, and moved to La Chaux-de-Fonds. Bernard would continue with the factory until its centenary and his death in 1960. By this time the concern had been taken over by his son, also named Jacques Didisheim, and was known as Petit-Fils de Didisheim-Goldschmidt.

The Juvenia brand was seen as early as 1905, though it may have been used earlier. In 1908, Juvenia began producing their own in-house movements, focusing on compact and ultra-thin movements for ladies watches. This was highlighted in 1914 at the Swiss national exhibition, where Juvenia showed the world's smallest single-plate movement. Another early innovation was the 1945 Juvenia Arithmo, a slide rule watch for pilots.

Their best-known brand was Juvenia, with the advertising motto "Accuracy and Elegance" reflecting their line of upscale dress and ladies watches after World War II. The company was known for their avant-garde case designs, in the shape of a star or flower with inset dials and movements. Juvenia was among the first watches to feature a display caseback and other transparent case elements.

Juvenia was made famous by their pioneer mystery dial watch, the Juvenia Mystère. First registered in 1945 and launched in 1947, the Mystère was released in many different forms in the 1950s, including a wrist watch, pendant, and table clock. The original Mystère was available in both round and square cases, with hour and minute hands protruding from the central dial into an outer track, transparent front and back. This was joined by a rounded rectangle version in 1952, Mystère Automatic and compact Mystère Lilliput in 1953.

Other unusual models include the 1955 Juvenia Trigone, with overlapping rotating triangles in a transparent case for hour and minute hands; the Juvenia Planéte, with eccentric discs; and the Juvenia Sextant, with a semi-circular hour hand.

In the late 1950s, Juvenia focused on ultra-thin dress watches in the Juvenia Slim line, notable for their flat cases and spare dials with stick markers. By 1962, Juvenia added a family of almond-shaped watches with cut crystals known as Juvenia Navette for ladies. The company relied solely on the Juvenia brand until the late 1960s, when they began selling under the Cord, Montana, Polar, Sonor, and Th. Piccard Fils brands as well. The Mystère was re-launched in 1969 in an octagonal case.

By 1970, Juvenia had joined with Ebel and Eberhardt as part of Communauté d'Horlogerie de Précision, which later included Borel, Doxa, Favre-Leuba, and Zodiac. This gave the company access to the Beta 21 quartz watch project. The company focused throughout the 1970s on ladies watches, especially jeweled and precious metal pieces.

In 1988, Juvenia was acquired by Asia Commercial Company of Hong Kong, along with Carvin, Leonard, Montana, and Perry Ellis. Juvenia was re-launched, though the focus on hand-made jewelry watches remained. The company launched with a pave diamond watch and coin watch for ladies or men. They even created a new quartz Mystère model in 1992, with diamond-set bezel or precious metal case and bracelet. But the name had lost its meaning, with a Skeleton Mystère and later Gents model lacking the namesake mystery dial. A "Golden Age" Mystère model was a much more faithful re-creation, however. The company also brought back the Sextant watch in 2000.

The brand began to stumble in the 2000s. Despite the amusing counter-clockwise dial Juvenia Contresens in 2001 and oddly-shaped Juvenia Excentrique, there was little to recommend the brand. François Thiébaud, who had managed the re-launch, had left to head Tissot in 1996 and the historic brand was aimless. The brand, now headed by Martial Leuba, opened a Hong Kong subsidiary in 2003 and focused on the Asian market. Future models, including the 2006 Long Feng, were obviously aimed at China. As of 2020, the company's website is no longer operational.

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