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FeatureWhat’s In A Name: Watchmaking Brands With Foreign Names

Foreign names for brands generate instant interest for their exotic spelling and sound, and apt to recount the brand origin story. Listed below are six Swiss watchmaking brands resorted to other languages to find the right name for desired mass appeal.

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Contrary to the popular Shakespearean adage—’A rose by any other name would smell just as sweet’—a brand name that is catchy, has instant recall, and make the masses feel connected, is a gamechanger. Foreign origin names generate instant interest for their exotic spellings—especially those with diacritical marks—and sound. Harping on these very principles, certain Swiss watch brands have resorted to other languages to generate the desired mass appeal. Listed below are six brands with foreign names that best reflect their brand ethos.

Eterna

Eterna is Latin for eternal and its synonyms such as everlasting, imperishable, that which has no beginning or end. The Swiss watch brand Eterna originated as Schild Frères & Co., cofounded in 1856 by a physician Dr Joseph Girard and a schoolteacher Urs Schild that manufactured watch movements. The brand with a foreign name created a stir in the horological industry for their pioneering ébauche manufacture titled ‘Dr Girard & Schild’. Shortly after, they launched their first range of dainty wristwatches that carried the traits of pocket watches. And in 1905, the brand changed its name to Eterna. Till the present day, Eterna watch movements are leading in the horological industry for their range of in-house calibres and Sellita movements.

Eterna KonTiki Automatic Sellita SW200-1 watch brand names Sapphire Crystal steel strap
The name of the Swiss watchmaker Eterna in Latin means eternal, everlasting, imperishable, or that which has no beginning or end. Pictured here are two Eterna KonTiki versions
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Eterna KonTiki Shop The Collection

Staying true to its name, the brand honours people and significant moments in history that deserve to remain timeless. Their KonTiki collection pays tribute to Thor Heyerdahl, an archaeologist and ethnologist who established in 1997 that South Americans arrived to Polynesia from the East, contrary to prior claims that stated they came from the West.

Bremont

One of only a few British watch brands, Bremont, is headquartered in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, and their watches are engineered at the company’s manufacturing facility in Silverstone, Northamptonshire. Brothers Nick and Giles English cofounded the brand with its foreign name after two aircraft related episodes that drastically altered their lives. The first one involved Nick and his father Dr. Euan English, a Royal Air Force (RAF) veteran. During a practice session for an air show in 1995, the senior Englishman lost his life after their 1942 WWII Harvard aircraft crashed. The brothers took over their father’s company, which restored historical aircraft, but soon discovered they enjoyed engineering mechanical aircrafts more.

The Watch Guide
Cofounders and brothers Nick and Giles English names their watch brand after a hospitable French farmer Antoine Bremont who hid their 1930s’ biplane that landed in his field due to bad weather. Pictured here is the Bremont Supermarine Chrono

The second life-altering episode occurred in the late 1990s. The duo was flying across France in a 1930s’ biplane, when bad weather and engine trouble forced them to make an emergency landing. Keen to avoid the French authorities, the brothers were more than happy to accept the gracious help of a farmer whose field they had landed in. This farmer sheltered the plane in his hay barn and extended his hospitality for a couple of days till the weather improved. The brothers discovered that the farmer was obsessed with engineering timepieces, and connected over shared passions. To express their gratitude to their foreign host, named Antoine Bremont, the brothers decided to later name their watchmaking company after him. Bremont have broadly named their collections after the three forces of nature: air (Altitude), land (Armed Forces) and sea (Supermarine). The brand are among the top chronometer producers in the world with their COSC-certified timepieces, and currently manufacture watches for exclusive military squadrons across the globe.

Corum

René Bannwart founded Corum in 1955 at La Chaux-de-Fonds after having worked with Patek Phillipe and Omega, especially noted for his contribution to the iconic Seamaster series. Bannwart was particularly fascinated with the Latin word ‘quorum’ that translates for minimum number of people present to hold discussions and arrive at a valid conclusion. The emblem, resembling an old-fashioned ornate key facing skywards was Bannwart’s aim with Corum; to unlock new pathways in watchmaking innovation and mastery over time. Corum is popular for their pathbreaking Admiral Cup and Golden Bridge iterations, and collections such as Bubble, Heritage and LAB.

The Watch Guide
René Bannwart, who founded Corum in 1955, was particularly fascinated with the Latin word ‘quorum’ that translates to the minimum number of people present to hold discussions and arrive at a valid conclusion

Hublot

An Italian by the name of Carlo Crocco began Hublot in 1980. Four years prior to that, in 1976, Crocco had left his illustrious family-owned Binda Group—that manufactured Breil watches—to find his own feet. He moved to the land of watchmaking, Switzerland, and launched his brand MDM Geneve. Till 1980, Crocco concentrated in innovating his first-issue watch that he named ‘Hublot’, which in French (pronunciation: [yblo]) means ‘porthole’ or a small, round aperture/window in a ship. For Crocco, portholes with screws around their circumference were reminiscent of the 12 hour markers on a watch dial. He replicated the porthole imagery through 12 tiny titanium screws that secure the lunette to the case in Hublot watches. Besides the watch, Crocco had innovated the strap of his first Hublot (a timepiece inspired by a foreign term for the word porthole) and it became the first natural rubber watch strap. Hublot is currently a wholly owned subsidiary of French luxury conglomerate LVMH, and popular for its Big Bang, Classic Fusion and Shaped watch collections.

The Watch Guide
For watch entrepreneur Carlo Crocco, an hublot (French for porthole), studded with screws throughout their circumference reminded him of the 12 hour markers on a watch dial. Pictured here: Hublot Big Bang Unico Nespresso Origin

Luminox

Luminox is the portmanteau of Latin words ‘lumen’ or light and ‘nox’, night. Together, it fits as ‘light in darkness’. For its pioneering watch luminescence technology, the American watchmaking brand, founded by Barry Cohen in 1989, is a partner of the reputed US Navy SEALs Foundation. Luminox watches are inbuilt with LLT (Luminox Light Technology), made up of tritium gas-filled tubes that lend powerful glow to the hands and hour markers. This version of luminance is not dependent on a battery or ultraviolet light or solar energy for recharging, but promise up to 25 years of durability to stay illuminated throughout. This technology is perfect for Navy SEALs and other elite organisations. It is why groups such as the US Navy SEALs and emergency services heavily rely on Luminox watches as part of their search and rescue missions.

The Watch Guide
Luminox is the portmanteau of Latin words ‘lumen’ or light and ‘nox’, night, and the American watch brand is indeed a world leader for their LLT, tritium gas-filled tubes that lend a powerful glow to the hands and indexes. Pictured here: Luminox Pacific Diver Chronograph, 44mm
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Urwerk

Creative geniuses Felix Baumgartner and Martin Frei cofounded the avant-garde watchmaking company Urwerk in 1997, an extension of their joint interests for sci-fi and films as Star Wars. The duo met after Baumgartner completed his studies at the Solothurn School of Watchmaking, and Frei graduated in graphic design from the Zurich School of Visual Arts. Urwerk is the portmanteau of ‘Ur’, the name of Mesopotamian town, while ‘Werk’ in German means work, shape, evolve, and arouse emotions. The two founders intended for the brand to shake up the horological industry that was still quite traditional, with their futuristic visions. With the launch of UR-101 and UR-102, the conservative watch industry was shocked and initially dismissed their inventions. But the technical and design prowess in timepieces like the EMC soon won fans by offering real-time reading of its own accuracy.

The Watch Guide
Urwerk is the portmanteau of ‘Ur’, the name of Mesopotamian town, while ‘Werk’ in German means work, shape, evolve, and arouse emotions. Pictured here is the UR-102 Reloaded

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