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POINTtec’s past shows a path to its future

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German manufacturing is admired the world over for its engineering, artistry and innovation. POINTtec is part of this grand tradition, and has been making more precision watches in Germany than almost all of its contemporaries over the past three decades. The business, still operating under its founder Willi Birk and his daughter, is building on over 30 years of excellence and continues to fly the flag for German watchmaking.

Over 30 years ago in 1987, POINTtec electronic was founded by Willi Birk, an economics graduate with a mission to revive watchmaking after the dark years of the quartz crisis.
The company made its first watches in France, a country where striking designs and styles were the order of the day, and those early POINTtec watches were some of the most powerful and daring of its creations.

An oversize ladies’ watch, for example, with a casing measuring an astounding 48 mm in diameter, was not only unusual at that time, it was also a provocation and a statement. And it was precisely this daring attitude that was to pave the way for the company’s future success.

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In 1990, shortly after German reunification, POINTtec’s founding family expanded beyond its home in Munich and started making automatic movements in Glashütte, which was previously the wrong side of the iron curtain. The watches using these movements were an instant success, and the company made and sold over 15,000 of them, setting the company on a path to become Germany’s largest producer by volume.

In the early 1990s, POINTtec surged forward in two directions: it became much larger after relocating its manufacturing facility to Ruhla, and it started experimenting with new timekeeping technology such as radio-controlled watches under Maximilian München brand name.

In 1996, Mr Birk won an order to create 1,000 chronographs for the centenary of Bosch-Junkers, which led POINTtec develop more watches under the Junkers brand name until 2019.

The quality and scale of POINTtec’s watchmaking made it the engine of growth for Germany’s reunified watch industry. The company launched a third brand, ZEPPELIN, and also started private label manufacturing on behalf of huge businesses including Bosch, Siemens, Audi and VW. Over the past 30 years, it has also made watches on behalf of Lufthansa, Air France and major organizations such as the German Armed Forces, NATO, KFOR, SFOR, ISAF and the navy.

At Expo 2000 POINTtec collaborated with Infineon-Siemens and unveiled a revolutionary technology for the time, a contactless payment system within a wristwatch; an idea that took another 15 years to become mainstream. Another concept at the time was a multi-function watch with an integrated altimeter, which it made in collaboration with the Technical University of Munich.

In 2019, POINTtec replaced its bestselling brand Junkers in favour of new brand Iron Annie, a name borrowed from the Ju 52 German transport aircraft manufactured since the 1920s by Junkers. The change of direction came about after Pointtec decided not to renew a license with Junkers after a sharp increase in royalty fees was asked for by the brand’s family for the use of its name.

POINTtec’s history of innovation, precision engineering and manufacturing at scale continue to today, with the organisation still producing around 150,000 watches per year using only Swiss and Japanese movements under its three brands: Iron Annie, Zeppelin and its newest addition, Bauhaus.

Zeppelin introduced its first Regulator Watch earlier this year.

It has also recently added smart watch strap to its portfolio under the POINTconnect name. The straps turn a classic watch into a connected smart device with embedded screen and technology for health tracking, messaging, contactless payments and maps.

POINTtec continues to be one of Europe’s largest watchmakers of watches in the €200 to €2,300 price range, and its watches deliver exceptional value thanks to the large volume business it conducts with the world’s best suppliers.

This year it used Inhorgenta in February to unveil a brand new Zeppelin Regulator Watch, where the hour and minute hands are separated on the dial. It uses a new Sellita SW266 regulator movement that was developed specifically for POINTtec. The watch is part of Zeppelin’s New Captain’s Line series of watches that breathe the style of the 1920’s and 30’s and are inspired by the outstanding engineering achievements of Ferdinand Graf von Zeppelin, the world-famous creator of the unique airships.

Iron Annie’s key launch this year is the Flight Control Black Ref. 5174-2. Which has a partially open dial exposing elements of the Citizen/MIYOTA 82S7 automatic movement through two asymmetric apertures within 24 hour and small second sub dials.

POINTtec never stops innovating from both a technical and business standpoint.

Creating the Bauhaus brand combines both. The timepieces are designed after principles put forward by the famous German design school that also heavily influenced architecture. Pointtec’s building from 1929 is a perfect Bauhaus example, and this set the tone for the brand.

Bauhaus joins a group that is still one of Germany’s leading watchmakers, and is determined to develop its businesses into global brands sold by the world’s finest retail partners.

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Tags : bauhausIron Anniepointteczeppelin
Rob Corder

The author Rob Corder