Junghans started serial production of wristwatches late and, unlike the Swiss Confederates, continued to produce and promote pocket watches for a long time.
In his book Ein Jahrhundert Junghans (1961), F. L. Neher mentions a passage from an advertising brochure from 1917: "It is fidelity for fidelity that it (the pocket watch) teaches people with its tick-tock. This fidelity is often rewarded with infidelity. An example is the wristwatch, which is contrary to purpose and a barbarism."
Nevertheless, in an advertising leaflet from 1914, a leather wristband is advertised in which pocket alarm clocks can be inserted, that these can be worn on the wrist and that the alarm clock and hands can be set on the wrist without any problems.
Gernot Stähle writes about the first Junghans wristwatch in his article "Armbanduhren aus dem Hause Junghans" (2014) and reports there on the contents of a catalogue from 1914 of the Schwenningen Junghans branch (catalogue no. 158/1914), in which a 14-line "watch with leather strap" (model D 14''') is offered. The watch was a ladies' pocket watch with soldered-on strap lugs.
In the 1925 catalogue, a small 13-line pocket watch calibre called "Miss" is offered at the top of page 70, which is offered at the bottom of the same page as a "watch with leather strap" and enamel leaf. The hands of the watches are still set with a small pusher, typical for pocket watches.
The first wristwatch without side pushers is shown on page 19 of the 1926 catalogue. It is called Lady, has a 13-line movement and the reference number 46/52.
On the watch shown, the hands are probably no longer original and it is the smaller version (J54).
Both catalogue sheets show as a trademark the butterfly, which marked the Schwenninger products of the Junghans company.
At that time, Junghans still had two different factory brands, the eight-pointed Junghans star for the quality watches produced in the Schramberg factory and a butterfly for the watches produced in the Schwenningen branch factory. The butterfly was registered on 13.2.1925 in Schramberg by the company Junghans AG.
Junghans distributed the watches with slightly different qualities. The cheaper, simpler watches were produced in the Schwenningen branch factory and carried the butterfly on their plates. The "better" movements were produced in the Schramberg Terrassenbau and initially received the caliber number on the plate (53 for the 13''' and 54 for the 12'''). For the American market, mainly watches from Schwenningen were delivered, with butterfly and the embossing JUNGHANS GERMANY NO (0) JEWELS UNADJUSTED and on the inside of the back cover JUNGHANS BROS GERMANY. The name "NOBRK" is often found on the dial, which is supposed to be a reference to the unbreakable (NOBRK = NOnBReaKable) cone pivots of the balance shaft.
It is written on the sales boxes:
"NOBRK" (Pronounced NO-BREAK) ...When a watch falls it is usually the balance staff pivot that breaks. The balance staff pivot of NOBRK is so constructed that it is shock-proof and practically NONBREAKABLE.
The registration of the trademark "NOBRK" took place in the USA on 27 September 1927.
The name "NOBRK" was registered by "Smith America Inc." in New York (USA) on April 28, 1927.
Weitere Quelle: NOBRK filed: May 12, 1927; used since: April 28, 1927 (United States Horological Trademark Index – Registered U.S. Trademarks of Domestic and Foreign Watches & Clocks; Kurtis Meyers).
Eine Junghans mit dem Kaliber 13''' NOBRK kostete 5.00 $. Heute würde dies inflationsbereinigt einem Wert von ca. 185 US-Dollar entsprechen.
Junghans probably used the "cheap brand" with the butterfly in parallel with the more expensive watches that were marked with the Junghans star. After the closure of the Schwenningen factory (20.06.1931), the production of small watches was completely relocated to Schramberg; before that, production in Schwenningen had been significantly reduced.
For a long time it was assumed that the caliber J53 was a development of the Thiel company.
Certainly there were some connections between Junghans and the Thiel company from Ruhla in Thuringia, Germany, which produced wristwatches, e.g. of the Darling type, very early (from 1908/09). The technician Alex Dürer moved from Thiel to the Thomas Haller company in Schwenningen in 1895. As is well known, Junghans and Thomas Haller merged in 1900 to form "Vereinigte Uhrenfabriken Gebrüder Junghans & Thomas Haller AG, Schramberg" (see also: Thomas Ernst Haller, caliber "Meta"). In 1902, however, the two companies separated again (orally). This step was only legally completed in 1911, but the company buildings in Schwenningen remained in the possession of Junghans. It is not clear whether the designer Alex Dürer also remained with Junghans.
Perhaps for this reason, it was long assumed that the first wristwatches bearing the name Junghans came from Thiel production.
An essential reference to the origin and development of the earliest Junghans wristwatch calibres comes from the book "Lexikon der Deutschen Uhrenindustrie 1850 - 1980", which is indispensable for watch collectors: The two technicians Eppler and Pfaff, who worked on the development of wristwatch calibers at Junghans in the 1920s, brought a 10.5-line pin lever movement to production readiness there. Around 1930, they both moved from Junghans to the Wilhelm Eppler watch factory in Schwenningen and became partners there, where they continued to work on the development of calibers. So, similarities to the 10.5'' caliber Eppler 1 should not come by chance.
The encyclopedia of the German watch industry of the author Hans-Heinrich Schmid, who unfortunately died in the meantime, was published in January 2017 in a 3rd and last edition.
The wristwatches, called „Armband-Ankeruhren“ ("wrist anchor watches") in the 1927 catalogue, were named after their case shape.
Rond, Carré, Carré Illusion and Octogon and were each nickel-plated and polished or gold-plated.
Further data on the movement can be found here: Junghans J53 NOBRK
Many thanks to Michael Weisser and Jens Finkbeiner!
In the lateral light it is clearly visible how thick the radium luminous mass was applied at that time.
The Junghans J53 was also installed by the Ingersoll company. Further information and questions to this topic I have put here: Der Ingersoll-Report.