On 13th of March 2020 the Favre-Leuba brand celebrated its anniversary, honoring the brilliance of Swiss engineering along with Swiss passion for mountaineering. Since 1737, their pioneering philosophy has continued from one era to the...
This year, to celebrate their anniversary, Swiss brand Favre-Leuba are bringing together two eras that have shaped human history when they clearly declared themselves as a pioneering brand: 1960s, the era of exploration and new beginnings, and 2010-2020s, the time of high-tech and even crazier discoveries. In both those times in history, Favre-Leuba engineering was at the forefront.
In 1962, Bivouac became the first mechanical wristwatch with an inbuilt altimeter (measuring up to 3,000 meters) and barometer. It was a technological revolution for the time, and for many years after. Half a century later, in 2017, another record was broken by Favre-Leuba. The brand created yet another engineering marvel: the legendary timepiece returned as the Raider Bivouac 9000. The modern watch can measure altitude all the way up to 9,000 meters, being the only wrist timekeeper to do so, mechanically!
Nicolas Hojac, one of the fastest modern speed-climbers, and Ueli Bühler, legendary Swiss mountaineer and mountain guide, set-out on a mission to test both watches in the Swiss Alps. Mr Bühler took to the mountains the original Bivouac, while Mr Hojac wore his new-era Raider Bivouac 9000.
Through decades the first altimeter wristwatch by Favre-Leuba was a true companion in most adventurous mountaineering endeavors. In 1964, the original Bivouac guided Walter Bonatti up the north face of Pointe Whymper in the Grandes Jorasses, an almost vertical continuous climb. In 1975, Junko Tabei, wore a Bivouac during her Mt Everest ascend. She was the first woman on the planet to conquer the top of the world.
The reborn of the Bivouac in 2017 was a promise of new successes. And the promise was fulfilled: the Raider Bivouac 9000 became the first mechanical timepiece to measure altitude on Mount Everest and K2 in 2018 and 2019 respectively. Being an homage to its 1962 predecessor, this watch is an incredible improvement of watch engineering and technology. The most significant refinement is the increase in the altitude it is capable of measuring, from 3,000 to 9,000 meters. This required the use of innovative materials for the barometer and precise calculations for the height and diameter of the capsule, as well as a new conversion mechanism for the altimeter. Unlike the 1962 Bivouac, the new version is also watertight.
Just like the watchmaking, mountaineering is also not the same as 55 years ago. “As everywhere else, changes have taken place in mountaineering,” says Ueli Buhler. “The equipment is better and lighter, and training has become more focused. So, the abilities of professional as well as leisure mountaineering athletes has improved. However, the motivation to go to the mountains still comes from within. That is how it has always been.”
To support athletes in this passion (but also to make it safer) was Favre-Leuba’s goal all along. Being at the forefront of innovation even in something as traditional as watchmaking is what ‘Swiss Made’ is about. It is a commitment to quality, a passion to endeavor, and philosophy to pioneer.
The watch is available now from Favre-Lauba.