In the bustling streets of 1870s New York City, amidst the clatter of horse carriages and the distant hum of industry, Albert Wittnauer, a young Swiss immigrant, arrived in America in 1872. At the tender age of 16, he already possessed a deep knowledge of watchmaking. This expertise made him an invaluable asset to his brother-in-law J. Eugene Robert's Swiss-watch importing business. Over the next few years, Albert's siblings joined him, forming the core of what would soon become the Wittnauer Company.<br><br> Albert Wittnauer was not just a watchmaker; he was a visionary. He identified a gap in the market for affordable Swiss pocket watches in the United States. Given that Robert was already importing Swiss watches, including the renowned Longines, it was a logical step to introduce a Wittnauer-branded model. The watches were an instant hit. By 1885, Albert was at the helm, and by 1890, the firm was christened the A. Wittnauer Company.<br><br> While the company began with economy models, it soon ventured into the realm of sophisticated chronometers. A significant breakthrough came in 1907 when Wittnauer supplied watches to the U.S. Navy, which was exploring its aviation capabilities. This association with aviation led to Wittnauer watches gracing the wrists of legendary explorers like Roald Amundsen, Richard E. Byrd, and aviators from Amelia Earhart to Wiley Post.<br><br> After Albert's passing in 1916, leadership passed to his sister, Martha. Under her guidance, during World War I, Wittnauer provided military wristwatches and precision navigational devices to the American Expeditionary Forces. Around the same time, the company introduced its groundbreaking All-Proof watch, touted as the world's first waterproof, shockproof, and anti-magnetic timepiece.<br><br> Wittnauer's association with renowned Swiss manufacturers and its practice of assembling watches in the U.S. to avoid heavy taxes made it a unique entity. The brand was not just about affordability; it was about quality. Over the years, Wittnauer watches often mirrored designs of famous Longines models, yet they maintained their distinct identity.<br><br> The company underwent several changes in ownership and branding. In 1936, after the Wittnauer family sold their stake, the company was renamed Longines-Wittnauer Co., Inc. By the 1960s, Wittnauer had established itself as a reliable and affordable alternative to luxury brands, often marketing itself as "second best to Longines."<br><br> The Wittnauer Watch Company's journey is a testament to American enterprise and the spirit of innovation. From its humble beginnings to its association with aviation pioneers and its legacy of quality timepieces, Wittnauer remains a cherished name in the world of horology.