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.
Max Bill did not use 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.
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.
Reference number 84/3961
The automatic version with date is rare, the reference number is not known to me. Whether the automatic version with date is an original design by Max Bill, or the house designers at Junghans wanted to test the effect of a date display in a small series, remains questionable. The latter is more likely, since Max Bill, always striving for minimalism, may have found a date indication disturbing. If there is any further information available, I would be glad to hear about it.
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.
The Max Bill watch is described with "novel dial".
The famous wall clock from 1960. It´s reference number is 322/0389, it has a chrome-plated case, a diameter of 30 cm, cost 140,- DM and is equipped with a glass.
The electromechanical movement is called "Electora" Klappankerwerk Junghans W285.
Disadvantage of this watch: the hands cannot be set because the glass cannot be removed. The battery must therefore be inserted at the time the watch indicates.
In addition to the famous drop-shaped kitchen clock with a short timer, Max Bill also created wall clocks in cooperation with Junghans around 1958/59. There are three different versions of the clock with the lines, one chromed and two different with brass case.
One brass-case model has a case with only a very short rim, the dial is moved far to the front of the clock. This model has no glass and 30 cm diameter. It cost 120,- DM at that time. The reference number is: 322/0350
On the other brass version (here from the collection @sheldinkee, Australia), the movement is in a deep case and it is equipped with a glass. This version has got a diameter of 24 cm and cost 123,- DM at that time. The reference number is: 322/0411
The third version (reference number 322/0389) has a chrome-plated case, a diameter of 30 cm, cost 140,- DM and is equipped with a glass.
All three variants carry an electromechanical movement. It is an "Electora" folding pallet lever movement Junghans W285.
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 ...
This Max Bill wall clock is one of the rarest in existence and hardly ever appears... The catalog is from 1961 and shows the two square variants.
Unfortunately, the movement has been swapped on the clock shown, the original movement is the Junghans Electora W285 hinged lever movement.
The wood is polished walnut.
This table clock by Max Bill in a wooden case is equipped with a mechanical movement. The chiming movement (hour and half hour strike on two tone bars) can be turned on and off at the back.
The movement is the Junghans W274/210 caliber.
On the dials of the table clocks, in addition to the single "JUNGHANS" lettering, you can also find "design" and "MEISTER".
The kitchen clock with short timer designed by Max Bill is driven by two different movements. From the spring movement Junghans W284 or from the electric movement Junghans W285. The grey clock is driven by the Junghans W285 lever movement. The reference number of this watch is: 31/0336
The retail price was 79,-- DM.
The white watch from the Sebastian Brassat collection contains the mechanical Junghans Exacta movement W284. The reference number is: 19/5235
Max Bill also designed a kitchen clock without a timer. The two shown clocks are powered by the electrically driven Junghans W285 folding lever movement. The reference number of the blue clock is: 31/0194, the reference number of the white clock is: 31/02707.
The clocks and the photos come from the Sebastian Brassat collection, with many thanks!
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.