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Technos Watches: A Short Account of a Long History

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In 1900, a watch company under the name of M. Gunzinger-Hug was founded by Melchior Gunzinger at Welschenrohr in the Swiss Jura canton of Solothurn, Switzerland. The firm started manufacture of wristwatches in 1918 and in 1920, the watch manufacturing facility passed to Melchior's son, Joseph Gunziger, and became, “Gunzinger Bros Ltd” (Gunzinger Frères SA). Joseph Gunzinger registered the trademark, “Technos,” in 1924, at the same time launching that brand as an individual company title, Technos SA. With the success of that brand, he started to expand production of watches such that the firm became a leading employer in the area. We also know that, at least in the earlier period of Gunzinger frères, the brand name Pioneer was registered in 1938 and used by the firm; other stand-alone brand names were probably also in use by the firm. Finally, it should be noted that Mikrolisk continues to denote Gunzinger Frères SA/Technos SA as being engaged in both the production of watches and watch parts throughout the period up to the sale of the company by Joseph Gunzinger.

 

 

 

An Technos wristwatch in military style and dating to the Second World War period; chrome plated 32mm  case and 15J hand-wind movement (pics from i.ebayimg.com):

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A 1959 advert for the Technos Atomium wristwatch (pic from s.ecrater.com):

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The story linking the history of Gunzinger and Technos with Brazil began in 1956 when Brazilian businessman, Mário Goettems, founded Centauro Importadora of Rio Grande do Sul and began to exclusively represent Technos watches in Brazil. Sales and the company expanded through the 1960s and into the 1970s, until in 1973 it was the largest brand distributor selling half a million watches per year. This firm was to become Technos Relógios SA, and we rejoin it later below.

From just after World War Two until 1975, we find a slew of tradename/brand slogan registrations for Gunzinger Frères SA/Technos SA, and these (together with examples not given registration details) are as follows, according to Mikrolisk:

 

Technos Alarmdate; Technos Atomium (1958); Technos Clinic (1957); Technos Cougar, Technos/ein Unterscheid, der zält (1975); Technos Fair Lady (1964); Technos Fair Ladys (1964); Technos Goldshield (1962); Technos is tops (1962); Technos/La Marque qui se distingue (1975); Technos/Le distingue porque se distingue (1975); Technos Masterpiece (1962); Technos Neutron; Technos of Switzerland (1958); Technos Partner (1962); Technos Perpetron; Technos Popular (1957); Technos Positron; Technos Sea Lady (1964); Technos Select (1955); Technos Slim Dandy; technos Slim Lady; Technos Slim Master; Technos Slim Mate; Technos Slim Neat; technos Star King (1963); Technos Star Lady (1962); Technos Supercron; Technos T; Technos Technograph; Technos Technotron; Technos/The brand with a difference (1975); Technos The Queen (1963); Technos Trans-World (1956); Technos Univision (1962); Technos Univista (1962); Technos Vacuum Sealed (1958); Technos Vacuum Tested (1958); Technotron T Tested; Ultramar Technos (1947).

 

This list clearly does not include brand name registrations that do not include the word, “Technos,” which means that we cannot reference the company name in order to find out all the stand-alone brand names used/registered by Gunzinger Frères SA?Technos SA. Interestingly, under Technos in the Mikrolisk directory, we do find the transfer of Technos from Joseph Gunzinger to The General Watch Co., in the (unfortunately not dated) reference for “Technos” as: “La Generale Watch Co./Montres Helvetia/General watch Co. SA – Taschenuhren, Kleinuhren; Biel, Reconvilier und Tramelan, Schweiz; Wien, Österreich”.

Although not dated, we can assume that the above Mikrolisk entry dates to 1970 or just after because it was in that year that Joseph Gunzinger sold his company to General Watch Company,at which time the Gunzinger concern employed 450 people and exported watches on a worldwide basis, especially to Japan and Brazil. General Watch Co (previously of Helvetia fame) had recently joined the ASUAG group of Swiss watch companies, but even this established grouping of Swiss firms could do little to stem the increasing competition from Japan and the new quartz watches. Technos SA (now the sole title of the company after the Gunzinger connection had been broken) found itself losing market share until, ironically, only the Japanese market was providing any substantial export orders.

 

 

 

An early 1960s Technos Popular hand-wind wristwatch with separate seconds register, steel screw back and 33mm (excl. crown) stainlesssteel case, powered by a 15J FHF caliber 70 movement (pics from assets.catawiki.nl):

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In 1977, the Technos company was transferred to Biel/Bienne where it was located in the premises of Montres Edox SA. Both firms were reorganized under new joint management as a strategy for survival, and in 1980 they were joined by Certina in this short-lived ad hoc arrangement. In 1982, the company was sold, with all its rights to the Technos trademark, to its long-time Japanese importer, Heiwado & Co, Tokyo, Japan. The new owners then passed on a limited licence to the importing company in Brazil allowing them to design and manufacture their own Technos branded watches. Thus, Technos Relógios SA opened an assembly and distribution plant at Manaus and started production of watches in Brazil from 1984/85; by the end of the 1980s, they were the leading watch producer in Brazil in monetary terms. The Manaus manufactory of Technos was operated by the subsidiary company, Technos da Amazonia Indústria e Comércio Ltda (or Technos da Amazonia Industria e Comercio SA as it is sometimes now designated) which was founded in 1983.

 

 

 

A 1974 Technos wristwatch in 9 carat gold (pic from images.antiquesatlas.com) and below, a 9 carat gold Technos Goldshield wristwatch hallmarked for 1965 with 33.5mm (excl. crown) case and powered by a 25J automatic movement (pics from loveantiques.com). Note the "flattened" 'T' logo above the name on these two watches, which was registered as a trademark by Technos. Earlier use of this mark tends to have a smaller T logo kept well within the borders of the name beneath, as in the bottom watch here below, while later watches using this trademark, including modern examples, tend to have a bolder letter T, widened to extend over more of the brand name, Technos, beneath.

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This arrangement continued until 1995 when Heiwado sold the rights to the Technos brand throughout South America and the Caribbean to Technos Relógios SA; followed in 2002 by the sale of the remaining worldwide rights to Technos, through a sister legal/intellectual property rights company, Technos da Amazonia Swiss Sàrl, established in 2001, in Neuchâtel. From this time onwards, Technos was a Brazilian watch brand produced and marketed from Brazil. Also in 2002, Technos began exploring third-party brands, starting with the licensing of the Moraii brand and the acquisition of distribution rights for Seiko products.

In 2008, control of Technos Relógios SA passed to Fundo de Investimentos e Participações GMT (GMT FIP), that had among its shareholders two well-regarded asset managers, DLT and Dynamo, as well as a group of Technos managers/executives. The Technos brand continued to thrive in Brazil, with the licensing of ladies' fashion market brand, Euro, in 2009.

In 2010, the Mariner brand was reintroduced, which had been a great success back in the 1980s and which was now targeted towards the younger audience and customers who liked the notion of interchanging straps. Also in that year, a Technos subsidiary was launched in China.

 

 

 

A 1970s Technos chronograph wristwatch with a 42mm steel case and screw-on steel caseback, powered by a Valjoux 7750 automatic movement (pics from poshtime.com):

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2011 was a most important year for Technos SA/Technos Relógios SA as it marked the launch of the (newly reconfigured) Technos Group (Grupo Technos or GrupoTechnos) as a publicly traded company. Unfortunately for us, this is where the history of Technos becomes “muddled,” partly because of the different company names/structures involved, but I shall endeavour to “muddle through” this period in Technos history as best I can.

Firstly, we have the continuation of Technos Relógios SA, seemingly as the watch manufacturing arm of the Technos Group but apparently also engaged in other non-watch activities. Then we also have the Fundo de Investimento e Participações GMT, which in December 2011 held a controlling 58.38% stake in Technos Relógios SA. This organisation seems to have changed its title to GMT Equity Investment Fund and reduced its stake in Technos immediately prior to the launch of Technos Group as a public limited company in 2011 thus freeing Technos from its control. Finally, to make things more complicated, during this period the term Technos SA reappears, which is here presumably a shortened version of the title, Technos Relógios SA. As for Grupo Technos itself, this seems to become the controlling umbrella organisation after the end of 2011, comprising the various Technos watch and jewellery businesses/activities.

In 2012, Technos relaunched the Allora brand of ladies' watches, catering to the less expensive fashion sector. The Technos Group also signed a distribution agreement and right to use the Timex brand throughout Brazil, reinforcing the group's position in the sports' sector of the market, and finally in that year, the company, Touch, was acquired by Technos – this being a firm that develops and markets watches and glasses through a franchise network.

 

 

 

A 1970s automatic Technos Spider day/date wristwatch with dark grey dial and stainless steel case and back (pics from scondtime.ca at cdn.shopify.com):

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In 2013, Grupo Technos acquired the Dumont Saab Group, which greatly boosted the number of watch brands now owned and/or distributed by Technos in Brazil. Dumont Saab owned the Dumont and Condor brands, and distributed, in Brazil, watches by international watch brands including Fossil, Diesel, Marc Jacobs, Armani Exchange, DKNY, Emporio Armani, Adidas and Michael Kors.

As for the link with Seiko, in January 2015, Grupo Technos abandoned the exclusive distribution agreement with the Japanese Seiko company. I shall end this history of Technos in the year 2015; readers who wish to see the current status of GrupoTechnos can easily look online and view the group's website.

 

 

A Technos Highbeatron 36,000 automatic wristwatch from the mid 1970s made for the Swedish market with a waterproof 40.5mm (incl. crown) steel case and powered by a rare 25J ETA/Zenith high frequency automatic movement, caliber ETA 2832 (pics from Neo Classic Watches at cdn.shopify.com):

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NOTE: The brand name, Technos, was not wholly exclusive to the companies discussed in this topic. In particular, we have an undated registration of the name by “Stoltz Freres SA/Angelus” cased at Le Locle, Switzerland, and also a 1958 Technos name and trademark registration by J. Engel Company/Jacob Engel in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. It is not known whether this latter registration, which relates to wristwatches, relates to a distributor of Technos watches in the USA produced by the company discussed in this topic.

 

 

A fast-becoming collectable classic is the mid-late 1960s Technos Skydiver dive watch; this example is the Skydiver 500 model  with 37.5mm steel case and 500 metres water resistance (pics from s.songwatches.com at cdn.shopify.com):

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Just to remind collectors that Technos entered the quartz market in addition to producing mechanical watches is this sweet little gold plated quartz ladies' watch probably made in the 1980s in classic vintage style with a 23mm case (pics from i5.walmartimages.com):

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Excellent article, I have a few Technos in the cupboard, with a start name of Gunzinger seemed a tough watch to collect.

one of the quartz series.

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Edited by bridgeman
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A very interesting read . Thank you for posting :thumbsup:

The 1970 chronograph is a cracking looking watch .

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I had a Swiss Technos once... From the 50s or 60s. It was a watch of good quality. All stainless steel, good materials, nice finishing touches, good movement (ETA or AS manual wind, I believe).

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