vend Andersen launched his own workshop in Geneva in 1980 after having spent nine years in Patek Philippe’s Atelier des Grandes Complications. Svend was already well known to collectors worldwide, thanks to his outstanding “Bottle Clock” of 1969. This earned him the nickname “the watchmaker of the impossible”!
In 1980 a Swiss collector asked him to make a new gold case for a very complicated pocket watch movement by Louis Audemars. Word spread, and collectors began to beat a path to his door. Svend Andersen began his career as independent watchmaker by manufacturing pocket watch cases for collectors, before moving on to bespoke “pièce unique” timepieces.
- A portrait of the “magician” Svend Andersen in a 1995 edition of Europa Star
- ©Europa Star 4/1995
Since then, as a brand in its own right, Andersen Genève has continued to develop complicated watches such as minute repeaters, annual calendars, perpetual calendars and jumping hour calendars. After making the world’s first wristwatch with a Hebrew calendar, named the “Hebraika”, in 1996 Andersen Genève introduced its Secular Perpetual Calendar.
- In 1982, the newly launched “Créations Cabinotiers Andersen & Cie” made a name for themselves by creating 10 Poinçon de Genève enamel models for the 10th anniversary of the Geneva Museum of Horology and Enamels.
- ©Europa Star 6/1982
This watch accommodates a quirk of the Gregorian calendar; three century years that are not divisible by 400 – 2100, 2200 and 2300 – are not leap years. In these years, regular perpetual calendars traditionally require manual correction, because they don’t need an extra day in February (there is no “29”). The complication developed by Andersen Genève displays the date without needing any adjustment, for every year up to and beyond 2400. As of 2020, this remains the only wristwatch that has a calendar guaranteed to be accurate for 400 years!
- The Perpetual Secular Calendar wristwatch, a speciality of Svend Andersen
- ©Europa Star 4/1996
Svend Andersen gained recognition not only from watch collectors but also from his peers. He co-founded the Académie Horlogère des Créateurs Indépendants (AHCI), an incubator of talent, in 1985.
- One year after its creation in 1985, the Académie Horlogère des Créateurs Indépendants, co-founded by Svend Andersen and Vincent Calabrese, announced that it would be exhibiting at the Basel Fair.
- ©Europa Star 5/1986
- The AHCI booth in Basel in 2000
- ©Europa Star 2/2000
World Time specialist
In 1989 he developed the smallest calendar watch ever produced, at 6.5 x 17.4mm scarcely bigger than a match head, which was recognised in the Guinness Book of World Records. In 1994 one of his world time watches, the “Mundus”, became the thinnest world time watch ever made.
While working at Patek Philippe in the early 1970s, Svend Andersen had the opportunity to work on the world time complication developed by legendary Geneva-based watchmaker Louis Cottier. In the 1930s Mr Cottier created the first pocket watch, and then the first wristwatch, with a module that could display different time zones.
- In 1990, Andersen Genève introduced its first World Time model, called “Communication” (right-hand column).
- ©Europa Star 2/1990
To commemorate Louis Cottier’s first world time wristwatch, Andersen Genève designed its own world time watch, the “Communication”, in 1990. The successful launch was followed by other limited editions including the “Christophorus Colombus”, the “Mundus”, the “1884” and the “Tempus Terrae” series. Today, world time watches are part of Andersen Genève’s horological DNA.
- The Christophorus Columbus model with World Time was launched in 1992.
- ©Europa Star 2/1992
- The Mundus, an exceptionally thin World Time model
- ©Europa Star 2/1994
- The 25th anniversary of Andersen Genève’s first World Time watch was celebrated with the release of the Tempus Terrae model
- ©Europa Star 1/2018
Automata and Montres à Tact
Andersen Genève’s other iconic series are the Automata (such as the Eros and Automaton Joker) and the Montres à Tact. Svend Andersen has produced some of the most elaborate automata on the market, with up to 15 components that come to life on the watch. These models offer an unlimited choice of customisations.
- Svend Andersen’s erotic automaton watches: sensitive souls, please avert your eyes!
- ©Europa Star 3/2004
Montre à Tact watches feature two time display apertures in the watch case; one of them is located between the lugs, so that the wearer can tell the time without having to turn his wrist. These handless watches also offer an almost infinite range of possibilities for personalisation, from hand-painted scenes to any type of guillochage, hand engraving or precious stone setting.
- A show of strength from the Andersen Genève workshops in 2001 (central image), with four high-complication models, including a hand-engraved Montre à Tact.
- ©Europa Star 2/2001
- Orion and Maya, a duo of discreetly elegant models for men and women
- ©Europa Star 2/1995
A jumping hours timepiece to celebrate 40 years
In 1995, a Spanish collector commissioned Andersen Genève to make a unique piece: a minute repeater with a jumping hours mechanism displaying 24 hours and minutes on the dial.
After making this watch, the workshop completed a first series of “Grand Jour & Nuit” watches with a jumping 24-hour hand complication for Cartier. Members of the board of the brand had discovered the first “Grand Jour & Nuit” and in 1998 they decided to commission Andersen Genève to make 125 “Cartier Pasha” timepieces with this exclusive complication.
Since then, several “Grand Jour & Nuit” editions and jumping hours unique pieces have been produced. Two years ago, Andersen Genève was commissioned by Convopiece to manufacture a new one-of-a-kind watch with a jumping hours mechanism for one of their clients.
- Grand Jour et Nuit model, another speciality of Andersen Genève
- ©Europa Star 2/2000
In 2020, Andersen Genève is introducing a new jumping hours timepiece to celebrate its 40th anniversary. This timepiece has been manufactured with the help of craftsmen who are masters in their respective fields. The hand guilloché 21K BlueGold “Magical Lozenges” dial is extremely difficult to manufacture: it requires the artisan to work with three different machines to achieve this level of detail. The result is a surface that produces a different visual effect depending on the angle at which the light hits it.
- Andersen Genève: a model with jumping hours to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the independent brand
The back of the watch features a 21K BlueGold ring with the hand-engraved text “40 years of independent timepiece creation” and an 18K yellow gold rotor hand-decorated with a “barleycorn” guillochage motif. The brand’s “A” logo is engraved in the centre. The watchmakers added their artistic touch to the movement finishes, which include finely chamfered bridges and mirror-polished screws.
On this very classic and elegant timepiece in 5N red gold, the hours are displayed in the window at 12 o’clock, and a single hand points to the minutes in the subdial at 6 o’clock. The years “1980” and “2020” are displayed on the 21K BlueGold dial, to underline this new milestone for Andersen Genève.
- The back of the jumping hours model with the anniversary signature
Movement: Frédéric Piguet 11.50 double barrel automatic movement with “Jumping Hours” mechanism developed and manufactured at Andersen Genève, 3 Hz (21,600 vph), 28 jewels, 60-hour power reserve Rotor: 18K yellow gold with hand guilloché “barleycorn” motif and hand-engraved “A” logo Case: 5N red gold with polished/brushed zones. Two sapphire glasses Waterproof: 30m Diameter: 38.0 mm Height: 9.22mm Width between lugs: 19 mm Dial: 21K BlueGold hand guilloché with “magical lozenges” motif. Hours displayed in the window at 12 o’clock, minutes indicated by a brushed 5N red gold hand in a counter at 6 o’clock Strap: Hand-stitched alligator leather with 5N red gold buckle or fold-over clasp