Rodania

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Rodania (formerly called Rodana) is a Swiss/Belgian watchmaker active since the 1930s. The company was founded by the Baumgartner family in Pieterlen before moving to Bienne, Lengnau, and then Grenchen.

Hans Baumgartner, Roskopfuhren, and Joba

The company that would become Rodania celebrated their 50th anniversary in 1980, but the story of their founding is rather complex. They were celebrating the October 9, 1930 decision by Hans Baumgartner to start his own watch company, but the Rodana name originated elsewhere and the company would not adopt Rodania until the 1950s.

Hans Baumgartner founded the company in the small town of Pieterlen in German-speaking Switzerland. He had been in charge of the Wasa ebauche factory there, which was founded in 1925 by his brothers Fritz and Ernst (or Ernest) Baumgartner and Hans Sieber. He managed the factory after Ebauches SA took over between 1929 and 1932, even as his brothers left. Despite the direct involvement of this holding company, Wasa faced issues as a "dissident" that resisted the control of Fidhor and skirted export controls through a French buyer, leading to bankruptcy and closure in 1935.

Even while still running Wasa, Hans Baumgartner registered Roskopfuhren AG on October 31, 1930. Like Wasa, this new company was located in Pieterlen but it focused on producing watches rather than ebauches. As implied by the name, Roskopfuhren focused on the Roskopf design for inexpensive movements rather than the jeweled anchor style. Company administrators were Paul Glocker (who had founded Ebosa five years earlier and would run that company for decades) as president, and Hans Baumgartner himself. The company moved to Kapellstrasse 54 in Grenchen on February 23, 1932, with Glocker and Baumgartner still in charge. Glocker later married Marie Baumgartner, Hans' sister, and the companies remained close for decades.

Roskopfuhren AG was renamed Joba SA on July 15, 1935, with Paul Glocker leaving to focus on Ebosa. Joba produced watches under the Miki and Joba brands at first, adding the Rocar brand name by 1938. The company added Grety Baumgartner (nee Schwab) and Greta Kirchhofer to management on January 1, 1937. Joba relocated to Lengnau on October 8, 1937 and was recapitalized to 100,000 francs on April 16, 1940.

Rodana

The company that originated the Rodana name dates to at least 1916 in Selzach. Robert Moser registered R. Moser & Cie., the Mosera Watch Co., on August 21, 1916 to produce pocket watches and components. On September 8, 1917, the company was reorganized, with Josef Rudolf of Sezlach joining Moser and his sons in management. The company failed in 1923 and was removed from the register on August 29, the same day as Josef Rudolf's watch case company, which was also located in Selzach.

Josef Rudolf returned with another watch company in Neuch√Ętel on January 10, 1929. This new company would lead directly to Siwa and Rodana. It was reincorporated as Siwa AG on April 15, 1932 with Joseph Rudolf remaining as president and Walter Ramseyer of Eggiwil as secretary. The company, located at Rue de la Garre 34 in Bienne, was quickly renamed Rodana SA on June 10, 1932. Joseph Rudolf was removed as president on October 3 of that year, just four days after Orwa SA was registered by the non-Baumgartner partners from Wasa.

Rodana SA failed and was transferred to Quartierstrasse 17 in Grenchen on April 30, 1935. Former secretary Walter Ramseyer of Eggiwil was in charge of liquidation along with Albert Kohler of Wynigen. Rodana SA was removed from the register on August 30, 1935. The creditors of the company (along with those of Mendel Weinzieher of Geneva) were warned in November of that year to submit their statements, including Gnomon of Sofia, R. M. Halpern of Montreal, Karl Hrabak of Prague, and J. Wiener of Bielsko. Rodana SA in Liquidation was removed from the books on May 10, 1937, suggesting that the bankruptcy proceedings were complete.

Rodana and Rodania

Joba SA of Longeau/Lengnau returned to the Basel Fair with the Rodana brand in 1942, having started advertising watches using that name the previous year. The company was known as "Rodana SA, Montres Joba SA" in 1943, and simply as Rodana SA at the fair in 1944. A complete range of contemporary watches are seen in a 1946 advertisement.

In April 1952, "Rodana SA, Fabrique d'Horlogerie" became known as "Rodania SA, Fabrique de Montres." This change in name is not documented in the contemporary Swiss press.

References

  • 1930-1980: 50 years Rodania, Europa Star, 1980