Reviving the Glory of Nivada Grenchen
Nivada timepieces have been in the watchmaking industry since 1926, the year when Jacob Schneider first created it in Granges (Grenchen). In 1976, his son Max took over the business. In the United States of America (USA), the Croton Company distributed all Nivada watches. The timepieces can have either the Nivada or Croton signature, or both.
In 1930, Nivada was one of the first companies to manufacture automatic watches. This led to the creation of Nivada’s first waterproof automatic watch called the Antarctic in 1950. The watch was worn by the members of the American Navy’s Deep Freeze 1 during their expedition to the South Pole from 1955 to 1956.
Since then, Nivada has become known for its Antarctic’s robust and reliable performance in extreme conditions. In 1963, the company launched the Chronomaster – a waterproof chronograph up to 200 meters. It had three distinct collections, namely: Chronomaster, Aviator, and Sea Diver.
In 1964, Nivada released another breakthrough timepiece – this time, a diver’s watch called Depthomatic. It was the first diver watch with a depth indicator or bathymeter. A year later, another diving timepiece was introduced under the Depthmaster model – a dive watch that could withstand a pressure of 100 ATM or 1000 meters.
The 1960s also marked the year for the booming Swiss chronograph market. Nivada was one of the competitive brands that contributed to the rise in exports from the Swiss chronograph industry – from 52,000 in 1964 to 173,000 in 1969.
The standard movement used by Nivada back in 1950 was Valjoux 92, which was specifically used in its early Chronomaster models. Moreover, Nivada used Ebauches SA calibers, primarily because the company did not make its ébauches.
The Nivada Chronomaster was a success that its production lasted until the end of 1970. During this time, the designs were constantly changed. Among the notable changes were the following:
- From having dauphine and arrow hands to stick hands with tritium
- Changing of the Nivada logo to an ‘N in a shield’ on the dial
- Replacing of Valjoux 92 to Valjoux 7733 (non-column wheel type movement)
- Using of Valjoux 23 and Valjoux 234 caliber in some models, including the 1977 Chronograph Aviator Sea Diver model using the Valjoux 7765, a manual wind version of the Valjoux 7755
The biggest challenge for Nivada happened in the late 1970s when quartz watches started to dominate the watch market. The phenomenon caused a drastic drop in the market shares of traditional Swiss mechanical watch manufacturers.
Despite this, Nivada remained optimistic and attempted to maintain the brand by broadening its product choices. The business was no longer profitable in the early 1980s, even with the new product lines, including ‘fashion watches’ with Leonardo da Vinci models.
The Return of Nivada Grenchen
Two years ago, the concept of reviving Nivada Grenchen was a hot topic between Guillaume Laidet, a French entrepreneur and founder of William L. 1985, and Remi Chabrat, the CEO of Montrichard Group. During this time, Chabrat already had ongoing business with Industrial Omega SA de CV group, a Mexican group that owned the Nivada brand.
Laidet was convinced that Nivada, as an iconic brand will give them (together with Chabrat) an edge in the watch industry using its timeless collections such as the Chronomaster, Aviator, Sea Diver, Antarctic, Depthmaster, Datomaster, Travelmaster, and others.
Indeed, Industrial Omega SA de CV Group granted Montrichard the license to the Nivada Grenchen copyright a year ago. Since then, Montrichard and Laidet have been working on the new beginning of Nivada Grenchen.
They have started working first with the Chronomaster and Antarctic collections. If the relaunching of these collections yields positive results, they will begin working on the other collections such as the Depthmaster and Datomaster.
This 2020, some samples have been launched already, and the preorders will be available on the website in June. The production will start in July, and the deliveries of orders will begin in December. This is the current project timeline but may change due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The team understands the need to uphold the collections' original designs and specifications. This remains the core idea in creating the concept for Nivada's rebirth while maintaining its 'affordable price.'
Using Nivada’s Instagram account, the team has started sharing some of the first designs to gain some insights from the existing Nivada Grenchen community. It is one way to ensure that the new models live up to the previous Nivada users' expectations and that vintage watches aficionados.
The new Nivada Grenchen timepieces will be available on the website, and only a few retailers will be granted rights to sell the watches. The following will be the expected prices for the available collections:
- 1600€ for the Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver (CASD) manual-winding chronograph with leather or tropic rubber
- 1800€ for the CASD automatic chronograph with leather or tropic rubber
- 650€ for Antarctic Three Hands with a leather strap, plus another 200€ for a steel jubilee bracelet
All collections will be Swiss made, with Sellita movements and parts assembled in Switzerland.