Wempe Chronometerwerke Hamburg>
Wempe, precision watchmakers and jewelers...
the story of a company guided by a pioneering and enterprising spirit, personal service, exquisite quality and perfection.
When gifted watchmaker Gerhard Diederich Wilhelm Wempe took the first bold step on 5th of May 1878 in Elsfleth on the Weser River and set up his own company with a starting capital of only 80 marks, no-one could foresee that this would be the foundation of an internationally-operated family enterprise. Reinvesting his initial income, the 21-year-old company founder then steadily extended and improved his store.
He took special care to create large attractively decorated store windows and display cases. After 16 years he was able to open another store in the royal town of Oldenburg. He was the first German merchant to offer watches, clocks and jewelry there. In 1907 he moved on to Hamburg and opened his flagship store on the 'Schulterblatt'. After only three years, this store had an annual turnover of 100.000 marks. Within the next seven years another four stores in Hamburg followed.
When the Chronometerwerke GmbH began the machine-produced manufacture of marine chronometers and ships' clocks in Hamburg in 1905, this was also the starting point for the Wempe Chronometer Works - a continuing success story today in the production of maritime timepieces. Numerous transatlantic liners, among them such illustrious names as the 'Hanseatic', 'Europa', 'Astor' and 'Aida', have been equipped with these reliable high precision ships' instruments and have carried the clock face-signature 'Wempe Chronometerwerke' proudly across the Seven Seas.
Wempe chronometers have a worldwide reputation that is alive and well even in this age of satellite navigation. The best proof of this is the fact that all German marine research ships have been equipped with Wempe precision instruments and chronometers.
Without a doubt, the mechanical Wempe chronometer of 1989 represents the zenith of mechanical ships' clock-making. This masterpiece proves at the same time that these days only a very few master craftsmen remain committed to the old, traditional values in the field of precision instrument making.
After Gerhard D. Wempe's death in 1921, his son Herbert took over and continued to expand the firm's activities, building on the foundations laid by his father so successfully that by 1929, sales had reached three million marks per year. In 1938 he purchased the Chronometerwerke Hamburg, founded in 1905 by a group of major ship-owners from Bremen and Hamburg.
1945 found Hamburg in ruins and all the Wempe stores with it. A difficult period of reconstruction began, but one which eventually bore fruit after the currency reform in 1948. By 1953 the city could once again boast five Wempe stores. The post-war reconstruction and international expansion were guided by Hellmut Wempe, grandson of the founder. Born in Hamburg in 1932, he entered the family business in 1951, taking over management after his father's death in 1963.
To plan the nationwide expansion of the company, he returned to the principles of the founder: "I will strive to offer my honored customers the best merchandise, the widest selections and the most excellent service". To help fulfill these conditions, the criteria for selecting new store sites were strictly specified: prefer those buildings listed as historic monuments, in the best downtown districts, offering a minimum window-display of 25 ft. This led to the creation of a unique store atmosphere, nowadays almost always enhanced by the firm's signature colors, black and red.
Today, to emphasize Wempe's total commitment to service quality, there is also our first-class service and repair workshop, unparalleled in Germany after an investment of around $ 1 million in 1997. Here, on a specially-designed floor at our Head Office in Hamburg, 30 watchmakers work in a space flooded with light.
Since 1966, Wempe has opened stores in the cities of Bremen, Hanover, Frankfurt/Main, Cologne, Stuttgart, Munich, Duesseldorf, Nuremberg, Berlin, Mannheim, Dortmund, Leipzig and Dresden. International expansion got off to a flying start with the opening of a store in New York - more followed in Paris, Vienna and London. After the inauguration of a store on board the liner Europa in 1999, another opening is planned in Madrid for spring 2000.
In 1984, the fourth generation joined the company: Kim-Eva Wempe, who takes an active part in establishing policies for marketing strategy, the purchase of merchandise and the firm's international orientation.
Since 1994 the firm of Gerhard D. Wempe KG has been managed jointly by Hellmut Wempe and Kim-Eva Wempe.
Chronometer Testing at the German Naval Observatory Hamburg
Chronometerwerke GmbH Hanburg
Contest Year Chronometer no.
32 1908/09 338*
33 1909/10 390
34 1910/11 455
35 1911/12 479
36 1912/13 536
37 1913/14 595
38 1914/15 638
39 1915/16 788
40 1916/17 839
41 1917/18 903
42 1918/19 951
43 1919/20 958
44 1920/21 956
45 1921 to 1926 no
46 publication of numbers
47 of the chronometers
50 1926/27 1017
51 1927/28 1020
52 1928/29 1022
53 1929/30 1031
54 1930/31 1043
55 1931/32 none
56 1932/33 1059
Here is a discontinuity of the numbering.
57 1933/34 1933
58 1934/35 1941
59 1935/36 1975
60 1936/37 none
61 1937/38 none
62 1938/39 2054
List of Chronometers
1989 ab 9366
In 1942 the production of the ' Einheitschronometer', the standardized chronometer begins with no. 2800.