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.
In 2018, the Nivada brand was rebirthed with its two iconic models at the forefront--the Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver and the Antarctic.
Taking cues from the original Antarctic, which was used by the U.S. Navy during Operation Deep Freeze in the 50s, the new model sports an almost identical design and aesthetic but packed with state-of-the-art features such as a choice of manual or automatic movement that does not just offer more value for your money but also for more precise and accurate time-reading.
The Chonomaster Sea Diver, on the other hand, offers a more robust design while still honoring the history and even the visual signature of the original model. Featuring a 60-minute/12-hour rotating bezel as a diver watch should, it also lends modern technology goods such as the Super-LumiNova lume, an anti-scratch sapphire crystal, and a water resistance of 100 meters.
The use of modern movements on these vintage watch recreations is paying homage to the legacy of the Nivada watches, at the same time, staying true to its precision quality.