The History of the Angelus Chronograph Wristwatch

History of Angelus Introduction

Angelus is a company that has built a reputation for creating superior chronograph and multi-complication wristwatches, as well as multi-display travel and alarm watches with long power reserves.

Its uniquely developed movements and watches are still sought after by collectors around the world.

Angelus was founded in 1891 by brothers Gustav and Albert Stolz in Le Locle, in the canton of Neuchâtel, Switzerland, a region known for its high-end watchmaking. They started out in a small room on the Rue du Marais, but by 1898 the company had become known as a watchmaker, and a third brother, Charles Stolz, joined the company.

Angelus' unique movement

In 1902, the Angelus company won a gold medal at the International Exhibition in Paris, and the Stolz brothers were able to employ 15 skilled craftsmen and began to get more and more work in-house.

At the time, watchmaking was still largely based on a division of labor, but the brothers decided to set up a factory to produce their own ébauches (unfinished movements).

The company specializes in complex movements, including repeaters and chronographs, and its superior craftsmanship has won it awards at various international fairs and expositions.

In 1905 it won a gold medal at the International Exhibition in Belgium and in 1914 the Grand Prix at the Swiss International Exhibition in Bern.

In the same year, Gustav Stolz took over the famous watch manufacturer Le Phare and continued his role at Angelus, further strengthening the relationship between the two companies.

That is why Le Phare movements are sometimes found in Angelus chronograph pocket watches.

Angelus Repeater and Alarm

The First World War hindered development, but the company did not stop producing repeater pocket watches for the blind.

This was to provide them to returning soldiers who had suffered facial injuries during the war.

In the 1920s, the watchmaking industry began to develop fluorescent paints using radium, a material that glows in the dark.

The ability to tell the time in the dark led to a decline in the popularity of repeater pocket watches, Angelus' speciality.

However, the company was able to survive the Great Depression by starting to produce clocks with alarms.

Angelus: The challenge to become the smallest in the world

In 1925, Angelus launched its first in-house monopusher chronograph wristwatch.

The first ones made had diameters of 29.3 mm and 31.6 mm and were activated by a single press of the crown.

The following year, this watch won a gold medal at the International Exposition held in Philadelphia, USA.

In 1929, Angelus movements were awarded a first class certificate for precision and three certificates for complications by the Observatory of Le Locle. In 1930, the company began selling the world's smallest 8-day movement (32mm x 21mm) with an accuracy of just ±1 minute per week.

This movement in fact had a potential power reserve of 10 days and remains today the smallest 8-day movement in the world.

In 1935, Angelus began making two-pusher chronograph wristwatches.

These were available in diameters of 29.33 mm and 33.84 mm and had either a 30- or 40-minute counter.

The first two-pusher chronographs were made by Breitling in 1933, while chronographs with complications were popularized by Angelus and Universal from 1935 onwards.

Angelus Caliber SF240

Angelus Foursome

Angelus Foursome

In 1936, Angelus developed the world's smallest 8-day alarm movement.

We will start working on the "Caliber SF240".

This movement was also made without the alarm function.

In the same year, they created the Dateclock, the first clock with an alarm and a full calendar showing the date, day of the week, and month.

The watch was compact and easily folded up, making it very portable for the increasing number of people traveling overseas for business or long distances by train or car at the time.

The following year, in 1937, the Foursome was created, a compact table clock with four faces, an eight-day power reserve, an automatic calendar, a barometer and a thermometer.

Angelus Caliber Development and Chronodate

In 1940, the Hungarian Air Force adopted Angelus chronographs.

The watch had a large (for its time) 38mm steel case with pointed lugs.

The dial, like other military chronographs, was designed to be highly visible in low-light conditions such as an airplane cockpit, and featured large luminous Arabic numerals and hands on a black background.

The caliber 215 used in this watch is worthy of being placed alongside legendary chronographs such as the Valjoux 72 and the Longines 13ZN, being simple, robust and requiring minimal force to keep functioning.

In 1941, to celebrate its 50th anniversary, Angelus opened a new factory on Rue Piaget in Le Locle, by which time it employed around 90 people.

And on this occasion, we are launching an amazing mini watch called Naveo.

The watch, shaped like a ship's wheel, had an 8-day power reserve, an automatic calendar, a barometer, a thermometer and a hygrometer. In the same year, Albert Stolz's son André took over the company.

Angelus then created a sensation in the watchmaking world with the world's first chronograph wristwatch with date display. From 1943 onwards, the chronograph wristwatch, called the "Chronodate", featured a 32.8mm diameter calibre SF217, 17 or 19 jewels and a 45-minute counter.

The Chronodate displayed the date by pointing a central hand to the date printed on the outer edge of the dial, while the day of the week and month were displayed in windows at 6 o'clock and 12 o'clock, respectively. The Chronodate quickly became Angelus' number one selling watch and also became a symbol of Swiss-made chronographs.

Angelus Calendar, Alarm and Moon Phase Watches

Angelus 1945 Sixsome

Angelus Sixsome

In 1943, Panerai adopted the Angelus caliber SF215, which marked the start of Angelus' waterproof sports watch. Its 40mm diameter was quite striking at the time.

In the late 1940s, international business trips and intercontinental travel by plane became increasingly common, and Angelus began releasing a series of watches to suit this trend.

First up is the Sixome, a travel desk clock that adds a hygrometer and compass to the Foursome, followed by the Folioluxe, an 8-day movement with a full calendar, alarm and moon phase display, and finally the Multitime, a travel clock with alarm, world time and date display.

In 1948, the brand developed a new chronograph movement, the Caliber SF250, with a 30-minute counter and a size of 27 mm. This invention paved the way for the brand's signature Chrono-Datoluxe.

The Chrono-Datoluxe was the world's first wristwatch chronograph with a digital date display.

At the same time, the company also introduced a chronograph wristwatch with a moon phase display and date and day of the week displayed in a window at the 12 o'clock position.

Subsequently, the development of automatic movements with date displays led to the creation of thinner and thinner wristwatches.

In 1955, Panerai adopted the Angelus SF240 8-day caliber for a wristwatch made for the Italian Navy. This watch had a small second hand at the 9 o'clock position.

The following year, in 1956, the Datalarm was released, the world's first wristwatch with both an alarm and a date display.

The date was displayed at the 3 o'clock position, the chapter ring on the bezel showed the world time in 24-hour format, and the inside of the dial listed the names of 24 cities and time zones.

In 1958, Angelus introduced the Tinkler, the first automatic and waterproof repeater wristwatch.

The Tinker's repeater mechanism, activated by a pump pusher similar to the company's waterproof chronographs, chimes every hour and quarter hour. Only 100 of the watch were ever made, making them highly sought after by watch enthusiasts.

In 1960, Angelus produced the last chronograph of the 20th century: a monopusher watch for doctors, with blood pressure and respiration rate readings printed around the outer edge of the dial between 12 and 3 o'clock.

Angelus: 21st Century Resurrection

In the 1970s, the quartz crisis hit the Swiss watch industry hard, causing Angelus to cease production, and after more than 30 years of silence, Angelus was resurrected in 2011 by La Joux Perret, a company known for its innovative automatic movements.

After four years, the U10 Tourbillon Lumière was unveiled at the Basel trade fair in 2015 and looked completely different from previous chronographs.

Inspired by vintage travel clocks, the watch is shaped like a 1960s TV and features a sapphire glass case revealing a large tourbillon that is detached from the movement.

While the tourbillon's construction is very avant-garde, the rest of the movement is classic and traditional, originating from 18th century pocket watches.

Today, Angelus employs a large number of highly skilled craftsmen and designs, manufactures, finishes, assembles and tests all of its movements and watches in-house.

All non-movement parts such as cases, dials, hands, etc. are sourced from the best suppliers in the Swiss luxury watch industry.

Our production combines traditional methods with ultra-modern techniques, using time-honoured techniques and tools to achieve delicate finishes, as well as programmed semi-automatic machines.

The latest movements are designed using the latest CAD, and meticulous quality control is carried out during each process using a variety of measuring equipment, including digital sensors, microscopes, photo cameras, gauges and projectors.

The Angelus manufacturing team is constantly striving to innovate, researching and exploring new technologies.