History


Arctos Elite History - German Watchmaking Tradition since 1923


1923  On 1st April the merchant Philipp Weber, ex-manager of the Marabu factory in Tamm and the clockmaker Jakob Aeschbach founded the WEBER & AESCHBACH company in Pforzheim. The aim: To assemble pocket and wrist watches. The company was based in two spacious attic rooms on 6 Tal and 53 Güterstraße. Since Pforzheim, famous for its jewelry trade, had almost no watch assemblers, Jakob Aeschbach set about training specialists. At the same time Philipp Weber concentrated his efforts on obtaining import licenses for the necessary Swiss clock movements.

At the end of 1923 when the German currency had stabilized and was once again respected abroad, Philipp Weber was able to notch up his first successes. WEBER & AESCHBACH became the first Pforzheim-based company to import and assemble watches using Swiss movements.

1930  Philipp Weber then approached his Pforzheim colleagues with a new idea: Supplying the wholesale trade with finished watches to allow it to concentrate on its trading activities. Philipp Weber wasted no time and almost over night he set up a cooperative consisting of three assembly workshops and a watchcase factory.

1931   Now the "Pforzheim Collection" was ready and was presented to the most important German watch wholesalers. Success was immediate because the collection offered a wide range of attractive models. The Pforzheim-based company became the preferred business partner of the most dominating wholesalers in the industry. This spurred Philipp Weber to expand his business from watch assembler for other companies to introduce his own watch brand, which he had registered in 1924. It was called "ARCTOS", the Greek word for the Great Bear constellation.

1932    Philipp Weber, Jakob Aeschback and technical expert Wilhelm Rentschler founded the RENTSCHLER & CO factory to manufacture watch cases, primarily from gold. Daily production of ARCTOS watches had now 320 units. Despite Philipp Weber's close relationship with the Swiss watch movement suppliers, he encouraged the growth of home-based watch part manufacturers in order to free himself, at least partially, from the Swiss monopoly. Halfway through 1932 he acquired a 20% stake in watch movement manufacturer "UROFA -Glashütte AG" and was named deputy chairman of the board of directors.

Arctos Manufacturer 1930s

1943   20 years after their founding WEBER & AESCHBACH was now employing 900 people in eight assembly workshops throughout.

1945   On February 23rd still in the throes of WW II, the city of Pforzheim had to pay the ultimate price when Allied bombers flattened the city in less than twenty minutes. WEBER & AESCHBACH continued to exist only in name.

1947   Reconstruction saw the restoration of a number of valuable factory machines. And sister company A. STEUDLER & CO. worked tirelessly on the production of product range and regulator mechanisms.

On October 21st WEBER & AESCHBACH was renamed ARCTOS-UHRENFABRIK PHILIPP WEBER.

1956   The "ARCTOS- Horometer" world time watch caused a sensation at the Hanover Trade Fair. Available as either a table clock or an automatic wrist watch, "the ARCTOS- Horometer is the only watch that displays the correct time in any place in the world no matter where you are", wrote the press. Not only were German television cameras whirring away to capture the event, US camera teams were also there to report on the Pforzheim world time watch, and so inform its discriminating audience back home about new sensation from the Old World.

During the show an additional line was introduced: ARCTOS ELITE. These watches were targeted specifically to more affluent consumers and offered a German watch of the highest quality to compete against Swiss brands in leading retail stores.

1962   On August 27th, at the age of 72 years, Philipp Weber passed away. The watch maker pioneer from Pforzheim was not only mourned by his immediate family and the company's entourage but far beyond. The pages of the newspapers were filled with tributes and obituaries.

Junior chef Werner Weber took over management of the enterprise and received active and friendly support from the company's legal representatives and from senior employees.

Military Tradition

Arctos Military Watches 1971 Years of research were over and the result was another sensation: on February11th, in the presence of the trade and consumer press, Werner Weber presented the prototype of the first quartz wrist watch made in Germany.

The magnitude of the announcement was considerable because other large manufacturers had been working at a feverials pace to develop the first German made quartz watch. The press covered the story in great detail and length.

ARCTOS NATO CHRONOGRAPH

1982   Based on the need for a watch of highest reliability, the German Department of Defence comissioned ARCTOS to produce and supply a chronograph for pilots and submarine commanders. ARCTOS watches became official standard equipment of NATO and the German Armed Forces under the NATO reference and supply number 6645-12-194-8642.

1994   ARCTOS-UHRENFABRIK PHILIPP WEBER was forced out of the market place as so many other watch manufacturers. The company did not have chance competing against overwhelming competition, who conquered the marketplace with low-cost digital wrist watches.

2002   Dorothea Bachmann, a retired business woman and passionate watch collector, got to know Hans IIg. Mr. Ilg's father had been director at the ARCTOS-UHRENFABRIK PHILIPP WEBER when Mr. Ilg Jr. started his career as watch maker apprentice in 1946.

His 48 years of watch making experience led him from quality control specialist to supervisor, then department manager - responsible for assembly - to finally become director of watch production.

Hans Ilg was instrumental in the creation of the PARAT alliance of Pforzheimer watch manufacturers. It included the following watch manufacturers:

Otto Schlund (OSCO brand), Paul Raff (PARA brand), Ph. Weber (ARCTOS, PARAT brand), Wilhelm Beutter (BERG brand) Stowa (STOWA brand)

Mrs. Backmann plan was to continue the manufacture of ARCTOS watches. And without hesitation Mr. Ilg offered his commitment to participate in the development using his knowledge and contacts within the Pforzheim watch industry. The initial phase of the reconstruction of ARCTOS ELITE watches had begun.

2004   81 years after the WEBER & AESCHBACH company was founded in Pforzheim, the ARCTOS Präzisionsuhren e.K. was re-established in Aarbergen, a small town close to Pforzheim, with all financial and technical prerequisites completed.

Decades of watch making experience as well as successful entrepreneurship and business experience lead to the continued production of ARCTOS Military watches. This new line of watches quickly gained popularity among watch aficionados world wide with the introduction of these new models: ARCTOS ELITE NATO fieldwatch, Marine Diver, Black-Wave, and NATO GMT.

2007   Continuing on the path of innovation, ARCTOS is the first German company to introduce an automatic watch made with zirconium oxide (ZrO2), high-tech ceramic, and titanium.

Innovation

2012   Arctos introduces the GPW Infantry line. Based on watches made for the Infantryman of the Future and German KRK (Crisis Reaction Forces) Soldier - Featuring a light weight solid Titanium case.