Each month we focus on the founders of some of the most successful or reputable watch brands available today. Here we focus on the founder of Alpina Watches, Gottlieb Hauser.
About Gottlieb Hauser
The Swiss Watchmakers Corporation
Gottlieb Hauser was a talented watchmaker and creative marketeer from Winterthur who founded Alpina Watches in 1883 in Geneva, Switzerland.
He also founded the Swiss Watchmakers Corporation (“Corporation d’Horlogers Suisse”), a unique horological cooperative that brought together an innovative blend of watchmakers, manufacturers, and retailers producing their own calibres.
To appreciate the reason for Hauser introducing the Swiss Watchmakers Corporation, you have to understand that the history of watch making in Switzerland can be traced back hundreds of years to when dairy farmers used their downtime in the winter months to assemble precision watches.
The idea of a co-operative to share knowledge and acquire parts made a great deal of sense. The Union still exists to this day with several well respected watchmakers as members.
How Hauser’s Union worked
Hauser’s innovative marketing and sales ideas were ahead of their time.
Representatives of Union Horlogère depended on the Association, which aimed to sell high quality watches primarily under the Alpina brand. Each watchmaker, manufacturer or specialised shop that wanted to become a member had to apply.
The Board of Directors of the Union Horlogère would study the candidates carefully and thereafter accept or reject them. Membership was possible only after paying the entry fee and allowed each representative to benefit from the purchase of Alpina watches at competitive prices.
The Association fought hard for its members’ interests and helped to stimulate maximum growth. The Association was a non-profit organisation. Each member was guaranteed to be the sole Alpina representative in his or her town unless the town was sufficiently large enough to support more than one representative. Members could represent other brands, but could not be member of a similar organisation.
As of 1908, the Association created a guarantee, valid in all shops selling Alpina Watches within the Swiss network.
Then in 1926, this guarantee became valid internationally. Retailers could make use of attractive point of sale displays to help them create eye catching shop windows. The Association also organised selling and technical training courses regularly.
Lastly, the Association published its own newspaper informing its members of developments and novelties. Hauser equipped every store that sold his watches with the tools and the knowledge to excel.
Hauser’s 4 rules for a sports watch
More than any watchmaker, Gottlieb Hauser was responsible for the concept of the sports watch of the sort we know today.
He was convinced that his small watch company would grow to become supremely successful not just in Switzerland but around the world for the quality, durability and dynamism of his watches.
This culminated in 1938 with the introduction of ‘Alpina 4’ which was also equipped with one of the sturdiest watch engines of its generation, the hand-wound Alpina 592 calibre, which continued to be used well into the 1950’s and 60’s.
Hauser revolutionised sports watches with 4 elements which he pronounced essential. He insisted a sports watch had to be:
Hauser’s rules for a sports watch
1 A sports watch must be Anti-magnetic
2 It must be waterproof
3 It must have a robust anti-shock system
4 It must be made from top quality stainless steel
This winning formula is still incorporated into every Alpina watch to this day. Hauser may not be a name which is writ large in the annals of horology, but to Alpina enthusiasts, of which there are many thousands around the world, Hauser is a hero and a Father of Time.