Nivada is a manufacturer of Swiss watches founded in 1926 in Grenchen, Switzerland. The company gained traction after World War II, producing a series of successful watches before succumbing to the quartz crisis. Some sources place the beginning of the company as early as 1879 or 1887.
Wullimann and Schneider
The firm of Wullimann Schneider et Cie, Uhrenfabrik Nivada (Nivada Watch) was registered on February 13, 1926. The company was located at Kirchenstrasse 38 in Grenchen (Granges), with Otto Wullimann of Grenchen, Hermann Schindler of Thörigen, and Jakob Schneider of Diessbach pres Büren. Hermann Schindler died a few years later and was removed from the company's management officially on April 28, 1931, with his widow Louise Schindler receiving a 1,000 franc payout and Wullimann and Schneider remaining as directors.
The company relied on proven movements from ETA and Phénix S.A., as was typical at the time, and the company was known for quality mass-produced watches. The focus for the firm was on Eastern Europe, though this caused issues as World War II approached.
The company was registered as a Société Anonyme on September 20, 1932. The new firm, officially called Nivada A.G., was capitalized at 75,000 francs, with Otto Wullimann as president, Jakob Schneider as secretary, and Julius Brandts also joining the board. Juluis and his brother Viktor Brandts of Lucerne also invested in the new firm, which was now located at Bündengasse in Grenchen. Another firm, Regalis-Uhren A.G., was registered by Jacob Schneider (president), Otto Wullimann (vice-president), and Julius Brandts (secretary) on the same day. It was also located on Bündengasse. Julius Brandts left the board of both Nivada and Regalis on August 24, 1937, and was replaced by Robert Lerch of Ruegsau and Rosa Lachat of La Scheulte.
The company was officially renamed Wullimann Schneider & Co, on May 19, 1933. Share capital for Nivada was increased to 200,000 francs on December 28, 1939 while capital for Regalis increased to 50,000 francs.
Through World War II, Nivada sought new markets in the Americas and Western Europe. The company was especially popular in Latin America, where the name was well established. Nivada was prevented from using their name during the 1960's and 1970's due to its phonetic similarity with Movado, so the products were labeled "Nivada Grenchen". In the United States, Croton was formed in 1940 as a distributor for Nivada products, so many were sold under the "Croton Nivada", "Croton Nivada Grenchen", and simply "Croton" names.
Jakob Schneider, Otto Wullimann, and Julius Brandts registered a new Société Anonyme called Regalis-Uhren A.G. on September 2, 1932. The company generally paralleled Nivada through the 1980s, with many sources showing Regalis to be a brand produced by Nivada even though it was a separate company.
Robert Lerch and Jakob Schneider
Otto Wullimann died and was replaced as chairman by Robert Lerch on April 1, 1943. Jakob Schneider became vice president while Rosa Lachat became secretary and Hanni Schafroth joined the board. The same changes were mirrored at Regalis. Cesar Schneider joined the board of both companies on June 2, 1953. Willy Viatte of Les Bois joined the board on July 9, 1957.
Nivada was doing so well in the 1950s that the firm recapitalized, increasing shares from 200,000 to 600,000 francs on October 22, 1957. Jakob Schneider died and was replaced by Max Schneider on June 29, 1962, while Fernando Bulletti of Flumenthal joined the board. Ferris Ramseyer and Hans Hertig joined the board on September 9, 1961.
A new company, Time-Center, was formed in 1967 to coordinate the purchase of ebauches by Nivada and three other firms in the region: Atlantic Watch Factory of Bettlach, Fortis and Eloga of Grenchen and Lengnau, Felca & Titoni of Grenchen, and Nivada. Time-Center was known as Protime SA by 1973 when Rodania of Grenchen also joined the group as an equal partner.
Nivada celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1976, suggesting that the company officially dates to 1926. The company was run by Max Schneider, son of the founder, at that time. By the 1980s, the third generation was represented in the person of Harry Schneider, son of Max and grandson of the founder.
Nivada and Regalis continued in business for decades, into the 1980s, and the same board were also part of Lamont Uhren and Arpeggio, maker of Roskopf watches.
Today, the Nivada brand continues in some markets, notably Mexico. The brand was purchased by Salinas Pliego and Grupo Salinas restarted sales in 2000 selling entry-level watches and operating company-owned branded stores. The Nivada brand was also used in South Korea by the Kim Suk Keun Watch Company from 1985 through the 2000's but appears to be defunct now.
Nivada registered the Lamont brand on January 17, 1940, and was actively using it through the 1940s. Robert Lerch, Jakob Schneider, and Max Schneider registered a separate Société Anonyme, Lamont Uhren A.G., on January 30, 1952, and maintained this as a separate firm from Nivada for the next few decades. It generally had the same management team as Nivada, Regalis, and (later) Arpeggio. Lamont remained an active firm at least through 1987.
Othmar Wullimann-Behnisch of Grenchen was a maker of watches by November 29, 1946, when he separated from his wife, Frieda Behnisch. On July 19, 1955, Othmar registered the focus of the company on the construction of Roskopf or pin lever watches, a high-volume low-priced product. He registered the brand name Spyrex in September of that year.
On December 31, 1958, the assets of Othmar's firm were taken over by a Société Anonyme called O. Wullimann AG. This company was established with just 10,000 francs share capital and was run by Othmar Wullimann (president) and Paul Aeschbacher. Max Schneider of Diessbach managed the company, which was located at Gibelstrasse 32 in Grenchen.
On July 4, 1963, the firm of O. Wullimann was transformed into Arpeggio AG. Othmar Wullimann and Paul Aeschbacher were removed from management, with Robert Lerch becoming president, and Max Schneider and Max Lerch forming the board. Kurt Schneider and Elsa Abrecht formed the management team. After this, Arpeggio followed Lamont, Regalis, and Nivada in management changes, suggesting that the four companies were linked.
- Rollamatic (also "Rollador") using Phenix 200 movements
- Reglavit, a water resistant watch with a unique external regulator screw
- Antarctic was a long-running series of watches initiated in 1958 in celebration of the International Geophysical Year, and using the ETA 2472 movement
- Depthmaster was a diving watch, water resistant to 1,000 M
- Depthomatic was another diving watch, water resistant to 200 M, and using the ETA 2472 movement
- Alertamatic was an alarm watch using the Lemania 2980 movement
- Ultramatic 36000 (1975) used the rare 36,000 A/h ETA 2734 movement
Due to their close relation to Phenix/MSR, Nivada sold the Vulcain Cricket alarm watch under their own brand as the Wanderer.