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The Heno "H" logo as designed in 1964 by Adrian Frutiger  (see text below) (pic from logobook.com):

 

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I was feeling a bit “whacked out” by Wakmann, the subject of my last topic, with the research and writing taking a great deal of diligence and concentration. Therefore, for my next topic, I started looking for an interesting watch-related subject to write about that would be less onerous and easier to compile. Fortunately, just such a subject cropped up when I came across a mechanical wristwatch in a charity shop wristwatch dating to the late 1950s and marked, Heno, on the dial above a printed H logo. Unfortunately, this charity shop tends to price watches above my price range so I have not bought the watch; however, I have done some research and here are my findings.

 

 

 

 

 

A Heno waterproof wristwatch from about 1960 with a 34mm steel case, screw-down caseback, plastic crystal, date window and powered by a 21J automatic AS1701 movement (pics from ranfft.de):

 

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The Heno story probably begins in 1944 when Fritz Kirchhofer founded Kirchhofer AG, and opened the first specialist watch store in Interlaken, Switzerland. In about 1950, or just before, it seems that Fritz decided to enter watch production as an addition to selling watches, and he founded the Heno watch company, placing a relative, Erich Kirchhofer at the head of the new concern. It seems strange that Heno was, and would remain, an independent offshoot from Kirchhofer AG, and these two family-related companies have their own story to tell.

 

Mikrolisk gives 1950 as the first registration date for the Heno concern, with the eponymous name mark being registered in that year by Heno Watch, E. Kirchhofer & Cie., at Interlaken, Switzerland. Interestingly, also in 1950, the Heno name mark was also registered to a Hermann Hennefeld, based at Berne, who was perhaps a wholesaler of/agent for Heno watches. In 1952, we have two further brand registrations for Heno Watch - Cantador and E.O.S., with another undated registration of about the same time for the name mark, Beha. Also from the early 1950s, the letter "H" was used as a brand mark, although it was not until about a decade later that the familiar Heno "H" logo (usually framed by a rectangular outline), shown above, was adopted.

 

 

 

 

 

A Heno wristwatch from about 1972 with a 38.5mm (excl. crown) steel case, screwback, date window, 5 ATM water resistance, and powered by a 25J ETA 2783 movement (pics from assets.catawiki.nl):

 

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It would appear that the date of 1954 given for the foundation of Heno on the current Heno website is incorrect and relates to the conversion of Heno to a limited company in Switzerland - titled, Heno SA - which seems to have taken place in place in that year. Also in 1954, the company began producing/selling jewellery in addition to watches as evidenced by registrations where we find “Montres & Bijoux” in the company title.

 

Rather than go on in text style about the various brand registrations relating to Heno after 1954, here is a list taking brand name registrations from 1955 until 1987:

 

H.W.:  used prior to 1957 when this name mark is registered again by Heno Watch SA

 

Kirama: registered in 1955 by Heno Watch SA

 

Carina: registered in 1956 by Erich Kirchhofer & Cie/Heno Watch

 

Heno Solar-Elect.: registered in 1961 by Heno Watch/E. Kirchhofer & Cie.

 

Heno Solar-Electronic: registered in 1961 by E. Kirchhofer & Cie. (also registered at an unknown date without the Heno name prefix)

 

Heno "H" logo designed by Adrian Frutiger in 1964 and adopted as a brand mark registered by Heno Watch, E. Kirchhofer & Cie.

 

Heno Commitment-Ring: registered in 1979 by Heno Watch/E. Kirchhofer & Cie.

 

Heno Chronoswiss: registered in 1987 by Heno Watch/E. Kirchhofer & Cie.

 

Heno Interlaken: registered in 1987 by Heno Watch/E. Kirchhofer & Cie.

 

Newtime: listed at an unstated date for Heno Watch, E.Kirchhofer & Cie.

 

 

 

 

 

A 1980s Heno quartz ladies' coin watch with a 30mm 800-grade silver case, powered by an ETA 977.001 movement (pics from assets.catawiki.nl):

 

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It is stated on the current Heno SA website that Heno produced its own watches from 1954 until 1988, and certainly the Mikrolisk entries end in 1987. As for Erich Kirchhofer himself, he was evidently replaced as head of the Heno company by Helen Kirchhofer, daughter of Fritz Kirchhofer, in 1982, and she took the company in a different direction, perhaps as a means of avoiding annihilation of Heno SA due to the Quartz Crisis. Helen became Chairwoman of the Board of Directors at Heno - which post she still occupies - and also the majority shareholder. Her first move, over twenty years ago, was to introduce two new own-brands, Equinox and Club, before moving the company away from any hands-on production of watches (also abandoning the Heno name as a watch brand) to trading in watches and jewellery from other sources - the first of these new brands being “GUESS” watches. As an aside, it is of note that Guess watches are currently manufactured by the Swiss company, Sequel AG, which is part of the Timex Group.

 

Heno SA built up a portfolio of watch and jewellery brands for sale over time from 1988, variously including the following; Go Swiss Made watches, GUESS jewellery, Double Dots, Karma jewellery, Henry London, Sence, Kudo, Lizas, Heart to Get, Sif Jakobs and Kapten & Son. Currently, the main brands traded by Heno SA are as follows: Esprit, Guess, Guess Jewellery, Rosefield and Kapten & Son, with Sence, Select, Qudo also listed as brands sold by Heno SA. The company probably has some influence over production/design issues in the case of certain of its poortfolio of brands, and it now trades on both a wholesale and retail basis - the retail being through a number of Swiss retailers as well as an online shop. Heno SA montres & bijoux has more than 20 employees in various departments, with a management of 4 persons, and its headquarters are now centrally located in Thun, the gateway to the Bernese Oberland.

 

 

 

 

 

A Heno Slim-Line hand-wind wristwatch, c.1965, with a 3.5 X 9mm rolled gold case and steel caseback, powered by a caliber B1280 17J movement (pics from assets.catawiki.nl):

 

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I think that when it comes to Heno watches produced by Heno in Interlaken, these will date to the period 1950-1988, and it is likely that Heno watches of this period by Heno were also sometimes branded with other names, as the Mikrolisk entries given here suggest. In looking at that list, there are tantalizing references in 1961 possibly referring to early solar watches with electric/electronic pre-quartz movements produced by Heno. As with so many Swiss watch companies over the 20th century, it is difficult to pin down exactly how much manufacturing/assembly work was executed by Heno themselves, in Interlaken. My sense is that Heno was not a manufacturer in any proper sense of the word and other companies will have been engaged in the manufacture of movements and other components found in the watches, which were then assembled and branded by/for the Heno concern. The Heno watch company certainly produced a wide variety of both ladies' and gents' watches during the 1950-1988 period and in the later years, produced quartz examples.

 

 

 

 

 

A Heno gold plated/gilt painted and enamel ladies' pendant hand-wind watch from about 1960-65 measuring about 1" X 1" hanging from a gold-filled chain (pics from p1.liveauctioneers.com):

 

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Before concluding this topic, I must just discuss briefly the history of Fritz Kirchhofer’s original company, started in 1944. Kirchhofer AG concentrated on the sale of jewellery and watches to the public and it was a successful business. In 1968, Fritz Kirchhofer moved his headquarters into the Casino Gallery at the entrance of the Kursaal in Interlaken, where it still resides. At about the same time that Helen Kirchhofer took over the Heno concern, Fritz Kirchhofer passed on control of his watch stores to his son Jurg (umlaut on ‘u’) [also spelt Juerg] who is now the owner and CEO of the Kirchhofer group.

 

Just to give a snapshot of the Kirchhofer group as it was when it was offered for sale in 2016, the Fashion Network reported the following figures: The company had 230 sales staff, 10 watch and jewellery stores in Switzerland, and annual sales of 300 million Swiss francs (about US$302 million). Juerg Kirchhofer had reached retirement age by 2016 though he was not necessarily looking to retire from the business. As things stand now, Kirchhofer AG is still a family owned business, specializing in luxury watches, jewellery and accessories sold to a domestic and international clientele; it could be said that this company, with its long heritage, has a special niche in the Swiss luxury watch industry.

 

 

 

 

A Heno steel compressor automatic dive watch from the 1960s with external rotating bezel (pic from i.pinimg.com/originals):

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A Heno automatic compressor dive watch from the late 1960s or early 1970s with a 37mm steel case and inner rotating bezel, powered by an AS 1902/03 movement (pics from cdn2.chrono24.com):

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