Max Bill

The Max Bill Problem

In various internet platforms and internet auctions Junghans watches offered as "Max Bill"-Design or "Original Max Bill", etc. increasingly appear.

But which design really is created by Max Bill?

The "in-house"-Designers of Junghans, who created quite as beautiful, simple and unique watch designs have become inspired by Max Bill. But at which watches?

This article wants to deal with Max Bill and Junghans.

A "real" Max Bill?

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Junghans J93S; Junghans 693.10; movement

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Junghans J93S; Junghans 693.10, back

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Junghans J93S; Junghans 693.10; Front

No.

Max Bill used no Dauphine hands. In Max Bill watches never were installed caliber Junghans J93S.

But from the very beginning.

Born in Winterthur, Switzerland shortly before Christmas 1908, the Artist, architect and designer Max Bill (Max Bill called himself "Architect") visited the art school in Zurich to learn the profession of a silversmith. Immediately after, in 1927, he began to study at the Bauhaus School of Design in Dessau and came there in contact with the great representatives of the Bauhaus.

Already in 1929 he worked as a freelance artist, architect and designer. He designed many famous design objects: Cutlery, posters and furniture. A prime example is his "Ulm stool".

A switch that led toward Junghans and watches, turned in 1951 when Max Bill became co-founder of the Ulm School of Design and among other things, made the architectural design of the school building.

From 1953 to 1956 he worked as the first Director of the College.

In 1952 Max Bill was head of the department "architecture and product form" and in 1956 he drafted a kitchen clock in tradition of the Bauhaus for Junghans in collaboration with students.

A classic design was created.

His affinity for watches

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Junghans kitchen clock with timer; design Max Bill

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Junghans kitchen clock with timer; design Max Bill

A certain affinity for watches Max Bill might have developed early on was his paternal grandfather a watchmaker. The simplicity in the design of the form and of the dial as well as the hands of the watch was groundbreaking for the 1961 following design of wrist watches. Together with the designer Nathan Horwitt that desigend the Museum Watch for Movado, Max Bill was the first designer who created a design for watches. The watches whose design Max Bill designed for Junghans are due to three dial versions.

Variant 1

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Junghans J84S3; Junghans 684.76; reference 84/3961; design Max Bill; Front

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Junghans J84S3; Junghans 684.76; reference 84/3961; design Max Bill; movement

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Junghans J84S3; Junghans 684.76; reference 84/3961; design Max Bill; back

  • Digits (hours, from luminous)
  • short minute lines
  • luminous hands
  • Dial color: black, polished
  • Print: Junghans; Junghans Meister; Junghans design
  • Case: steel
  • Movement: Junghans J84/S3; J84/S10
  • Reference: 84/3961

Variant 2

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Junghans J84/S10; Junghans 684.11; Design Max Bill; Front

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Junghans J84/S10; Junghans 684.11; Design Max Bill; movement

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Junghans J84/S10; Junghans 684.11; Design Max Bill; back

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Junghans J83E; date; design Max Bill; Front; picture/collection: M. Bütow

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Junghans J83E; date; design Max Bill; movement; picture/collection: M. Bütow

  • Digits (hours and minutes, printed black)
  • long hour lines short minute lines
  • Luminous hands
  • Dial color silver
  • Print: Junghans; Junghans Meister; Junghans Design; Junghans Automatic (for variant with automatic movement)
  • Case: steel or gildet
  • Movement: Junghans J84/S3; J84/S10; Junghans J83E (Automatic)
  • Reference (hand winding) steel: 84/3962
  • Referene (hand winding) gildet: 84/6962

The variant of the automatic version with date is extremely rare, the reference is not known to me. About corresponding notes I would be happy. With thanks to M. Bütow for the photos! There is no documented evidence for authenticity of the automatic watch with date beeing designed by Max Bill.

Variant 2 - Junghans J83 E; Junghans 683.74, Automatic

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Junghans J83E; Design Max Bill; Front; Foto: Fischer; collection: P. Reil

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Junghans J83E; Design Max Bill; Front; Foto: Fischer; collection: P. Reil

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Junghans J83E; Design Max Bill; Rückseite; back; Foto: Fischer; collection: P. Reil

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Design Max Bill; Front; Foto: Fischer; collection: M. Bütow, collection: P. Reil

Variant 2 - Junghans J84/S10; Junghans 684.10; Meister; manual wind

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Junghans 684.10; Junghans J84/S10; Meister; Design: Max Bill; Front; foto: Fischer; collection: W. Wusatiuk

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Junghans 684.10; Junghans J84/S10; Meister; Design: Max Bill; movement; foto/collection W. Wusatiuk

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Junghans 684.10; Junghans J84/S10; Meister; Design: Max Bill; back; foto: Fischer; collection: W. Wusatiuk

Variant 3

Reference number 84/6963

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Junghans J84S3; Junghans 684.76; Reference number 84/6963; Design Max Bill; Front

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Junghans J84S3; Junghans 684.76; Reference number 84/6963; Design Max Bill; movement

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Junghans J84S3; Junghans 684.76; Referencenumber 84/6963; Design Max Bill; back

Variant 3

Reference number 84/6964

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Junghans J84S3; Junghans 684.76; Design Max Bill; Reference 84/6964; Front

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Junghans J84S3; Junghans 684.76; Design Max Bill; Reference 84/6964;

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Junghans J84S3; Junghans 684.76; Design Max Bill; Reference 84/6964; movement

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Junghans J84S3; Junghans 684.76; Design Max Bill; Reference 84/6964; back

Variant 3

Reference number 84/6965

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Junghans J84S3; Junghans 684.76; Design Max Bill; Reference 84/6965; Front

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Junghans J84S3; Junghans 684.76; Design Max Bill; Reference 84/6965; movement

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Junghans J84S3; Junghans 684.76; Design Max Bill; Reference 84/6965; back

Variant 3

Reference number 84/6965 Meister

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Junghans J84S3; Junghans 684.76; Design Max Bill; Reference 84/6965; Front

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Junghans J84S3; Junghans 684.76; Design Max Bill; Reference 84/6965; movement

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Junghans J84S3; Junghans 684.76; Design Max Bill; 84/6965; back

Description variant 3

  • only line indexes
  • long hour lines, short minute lines
  • Dial color:
    • silver sunburst (reference 84/6963)
    • gold plated with sunburst (reference 84/6965)
    • black polished with recessed index marks (reference 84/6964)
  • Imprint: Junghans; Junghans Meister; Junghans design
  • Case: Steel or gilded
  • Movement: Junghans J84/S3; J84/S10
  • Reference steel case: 84/3963 (silver dial with luminous dots at 3, 6, 9; double dots at 12)
  • Reference gilded case: 84/6963 (silver dial with gilded hands)
  • Reference gilded case: 84/6965 (golden dial with black hands)
  • Reference gilded case: 84/6964 (black dial with gilded hands)

The watch with the black dial has at the end of the lines of 12, 3, 6 and 9 tiny luminous mass and the hands also have luminescent mass. So far I was of the opinion that this concerns only individual watches, which were equipped on customer's request. Meanwhile, however, some watches are known, which are provided with luminescent material.

Advertising

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Reader´s Digest Oktober 1963

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Reader´s Digest Oktober 1963; Detail

The Max Bill watch is described with "novel dial".

Other manufacturer with similar design

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Kienzle 058a 01; Front

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Kienzle 058a 01; movement

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Kienzle 058a 01; back

Other manufacturers took advantage of the emerging trend in the 60s and launched watches in the minimalist Bauhaus style as here the manufacturer Kienzle. The dial design has nothing to do with a Max Bill design.

Max Bill created even more watch designs for both Junghans (wall clocks) and for Omega (Edition Max Bill I, Edition Max Bill II, Omega Art) and Movado.

Junghans collaborated with other external designers, including the  "Picto Watch".

I hope to have given a first little insight into the far-reaching topic Max Bill and Junghans. I can not guarantee completeness, but it will grow ...

Max Bill table clock

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Max Bill table clock; Front

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Max Bill table clock; Front

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Max Bill table clock; back

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Max Bill table clock

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Max Bill table clock

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Max Bill table clock

This table clock in the wooden case (designed by Max Bill) is equipped with a mechanical movement. The sound (hour and half hour strike on two bars) can be turned on and off at the back with a little lever.

The movement is the caliber  Junghans W274 / 210 with suspension.

On the dials of the table clocks is to be found beside the standalone "JUNGHANS" lettering also "design".

Max Bill wall clock

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Junghans Max Bill wall clock; movement W285; picture/collection @sheldinkee; Australia

In addition to the famous drop-shaped kitchen clock with timer also wall clocks were created in collaboration with Junghans by Max Bill. Here is an original from 1960 from the @sheldinkee (Australia) collection. Thank you very much!

The electromechanical  movement is called "Electora" Klappankerwerk Junghans W285.