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The History Of The Cyma Watch Company

Cyma is a Swiss watchmaking company with a long and rich history; filled with innovation, precision, and dedication to craftsmanship. Producing high-quality timepieces since 1862 – Cyma SA was founded in the town of Jura, Switzerland, by two brothers, Joseph and Theodore Schwob.

Focusing on “avant-garde” mechanical production protocols of the time, the brothers set up their watch company. In the early years, the company had a staff of 40 people and 55 machines that together produced about 40 watches a day. Thirty years later, they partnered with businessman Frederic Henri Sandoz, a watch wholesaler and creator of the Swiss watch company, Henri Sandoz & Cie. With this partnership, their company, now known as Tavannes Watch Co., started producing an average of 150 timepieces per day. Under Sandoz’s leadership, the company became the Cyma Watch Company and built the Cyma factory.  

In the early years, Cyma focused on producing high-quality pocket watches for their consumers. The company quickly gained a reputation for excellence, and its watches were popular with European and American consumers. Cyma won numerous awards for its innovative designs and precision timekeeping, including a gold medal at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition (The World’s Fair), in Chicago. 

As the 20th century dawned, Cyma began to expand its product line with innovation; introducing new and improved features such as more water-resistant cases and luminous dials. Cyma also established a presence in international markets, opening strategic offices in London, Paris, and New York, increasing access and awareness to the brand’s reputation and commitment to excellence. 

In 1905, Cyma introduced their Calibre 701 – flaunting a sleek 3.85mm thick case, which awarded them the highly prized ‘chronometer certificate’ issued by the Neuchâtel Observatory in Switzerland. To receive a chronometer certificate, a movement must not only be made from the highest quality components, be the object of special care on part of the finest watchmakers and timers during the entire assembly process. This was awarded to them for their invention of an extra-flat lever movement which fits inside a pocket watch.  In 1910, Cyma landed the coveted first prize at the World’s Fair in Brussels, Belgium – in recognition of their incredible watchmaking feats. 

With high standards at the core of their concepts, their designers were creating shock-resistant movements of unmatched integrity, as well as models that were labeled as waterproof as early as 1915 – previously unheard of. Going forward, Cyma had grown to have a staggering 2,500 movements being hand assembled, in their workshops, daily. In fact, by 1929 they had the largest workshop in Europe with over 2,000 employees assembling more than 4,000 watches a day – all with Cyma’s impeccable standards being meticulously adhered to–a substantial increase from previous years. 

The History Of The Cyma Watch Company
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The secret to their success? The utilization of component interchangeability; the ability to replace a damaged or worn-out component with a new one (of the same type and size), without requiring any adjustments or modifications to the other components. More importantly, the process could be learned with great proficiency with a standard of excellence the company adhered to.  

During World War II, Cyma turned its attention to producing military watches for the Allied Forces. These watches were highly regarded for their accuracy and reliability, and they played an important role in the war effort. After the War, Cyma continued to innovate; producing new features such as automatic winding and shock resistance movements. The company also expanded its product line to include ladies’ watches and sports watches. For example, The Captive, released in the ’40s focused on the ladies’ market – a unique purse and travel watch, a timepiece that French writer Colette, acquired for her personal collection. 

In 1945, Cyma created an 8-day mechanical alarm featuring a single winding key. In 1956, the gold Time-O Vox alarm clock received official chronometer certification, followed by the release of the Sonomatic alarm clock, a year later.  

The notable 35mm Cyma Cymaflex, sold during the 50’s and 60’s, had a unique patented flexible bracelet made of unusual links – connected by a spring, allowing it to flex and bend to fit any wrist size.  

In the 1960s, with 20 international patents to protect their technology, Cyma produced a line known as ‘Navystars’. They were highly accurate and reliable, withstood shock and immersion -, the 42mm stainless automatic watch was rated for diving at 200 meters water-resistant, featuring a unidirectional bezel and luminous hands and markers against a black dial, which further cemented the brand’s reputation. The Cyma Navystar has remained unchanged for decades, with a successful relaunch in 2000 with said original design. The Navystar is a timeless, collectable timepiece.  

The 1960s and 1970s, with stiff competition from Japanese watchmakers who were producing less expensive quartz watches, Cyma faced challenges as the quartz crisis set in. Despite this, Cyma continued to produce high-quality mechanical watches for their loyal customer base, however, they did adjust with new materials like titanium and introduced new designs, such as the popular ‘Sphinx’ watch. 

In the 1980s and 1990s, Cyma faced new challenges as the watch industry underwent a period of consolidation and restructuring. Many smaller watchmakers were forced out of business, but Cyma managed to survive by focusing on its core strengths: precision, accuracy, and craftsmanship.  

In 1989, Cyma’s legendary ‘Signature Collection’ boasting timeless quartz watches was launched. Not long after, in 1992, they debuted another collection, the elegant ‘Charisma’ line of classic watches. By the end of the millennium, the dubbed “sport-chic” ‘Imperium Collection’ emerged on the market, featuring a new unique design with screws down the side of the case. 

In contrast, the 42mm Cyma Chronograph – an automatic, stainless, sophisticated sleek watch that features a black dial with three sub-dials for tracking hours, minutes, and seconds. The watch also has a tachymeter scale on the bezel, allowing wearers to measure speed over a known distance. 

Moving into the modern era, the Cyma brand doesn’t miss a chance to revisit their most popular concepts. Just like the Navystar being relaunched in 2000, their Nineteen Forty collection launched in 2004 was inspired by the models debuted in the 1940’s, combining the sophisticated yet simple style of that era with incredible accuracy, with options in quartz, automatic or certified chronometer versions. 

Who doesn’t like to celebrate an anniversary? The 40mm luxurious Cyma Heritage automatic, a limited-edition watch released, in 2018, to celebrate their 156th anniversary. The watch features a cream-colored dial with Arabic numerals and a small second’s sub-dial at 6 o’clock complete with a brown leather strap.  

Today, the Cyma Watch Company continues to produce a wide range of timepieces, including classic, dress watches, sports watches, and ladies’ watches. Known for its dedication to quality and craftsmanship, its watches are highly regarded by collectors and enthusiasts around the world. Cyma continues to innovate, introducing new features such as ceramic cases and diamond-encrusted dials.  

Now based in Geneva, Switzerland, the brand’s continued commitment to excellence ensures that its watches will forever be a favorite among watch aficionados.