Kieninger history

The time has come – the founding years

When Joseph Kieninger made the first entry in his cash registry on 1st of June 1912 with an investment of 1.400 Reichsmark, he paved the way for an impressive company history. After his apprenticeship as a clockmaker he had been working for the company Tobias Bäuerle in St. Georgen where he had even become plant manager. But the meanwhile 40 years old man finally wanted to be his own master. Thus, he took the chance to found his own company in Mönchweiler near St. Georgen. There, he built technical drives and timers which were mainly needed for gas lamps to light the street these days. Unskilled workers, mostly farmers from nearby, produced the parts, skilled workers assembled the movements. Right from the beginning, Joseph Kieninger placed very special emphasis on the highest quality, a feature that is typical for the whole company history. Not one single movement left the company without being inspected by himself. The reliability and quality of the products led to a fast growing demand. In January of 1913, Kieninger employed 18 workers, already.

Benefiting from waiting
Soon however, the premises in Mönchweiler became too small. An expansion was not possible. Thus, in the middle of the First World War, Joseph Kieninger decided to go to Prague in order to look for new premises.
At that time, Prague was still part of the Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy and an important center of the clock industry. Mönchweiler – Prague, the way led through Aldingen. One summer morning in 1917,
Joseph Kieninger was waiting there for his train to Prague, but in vain – because the train did not arrive. However, he resolutely used the involuntary stay and had a lookaround near the train station.
Only 200 meters away from the station in the “Saarstraße” he discovered a suitable building for his upcoming company. The site was big enough for possible expansions and the noble house had enough space for the eightchildren of the family who were meanwhile all helping in the company. On the top of the time - the Twenties Instead to Prague, the family now moved to the close and peaceful village between the Black Forest and the Swabian Alb. In 1921 they started to produce clocks in the new factory. This business area should become more and more important for Kieninger. The business was booming so that in 1927 a factory expansion with an additional building had to be built. The economic success of their hard work allowed the family Kieninger to buy their first car in 1929.

The art of precision
Like his brothers Fritz and Josef, Wilhelm Kieninger was working in the family company. Josef was a salesman, Fritz a mechanic and Wilhelm apprenticed as a precision mechanic.
His masterpiece, constructed in 1930 at the clockmaker school in Schwenningen, was the cornerstone for the current H-series, the lead product of the house. Refined and with additional features, but basically unchanged, this high-precision movement is still produced today. The invention of this movement for grandfather clocks made Kieninger the specialist for movements with quarter chime. Even at that time, the movement had an automatic strike regulation. It was protected by patent in 1931. As a real inventor and fiddler, Wilhelm Kieninger met any clock making challenge of craftsmanship precision with a lot of passion.
Thanks to him and until today Kieninger clocks and movements are incorporating a lot of technical and horological specialties. Keeping up with the times By the end of the twenties the original house
had become too small for the growing family Kieininger. Therefore, they built a prestigious new house with enough space for several generations on the company premises in 1931.

1932 Kieninger started to produce precision measuring instruments for the company Carl Mahr in Esslingen. The tolerances for these instruments had to be much more exact, which was very useful for the production of clock movements. A parts production with utmost precision made the assembly of the clock movements much easier: The individual parts do not have to be fitted anymore and thus could be mounted by unskilled workers, too. The new branch enabled the company to survive during the Second World War. As precision measuring instruments were needed for the arms industry, Kieninger was ranked as war vital industry.
After their father’s death in 1936 Wilhelm Kieninger and his two brothers Josef and Fritz took over the general management. With the intervention of Carl Mahr he could come back after only two months at the front line in 1939. Because of that the production could be kept up in spite of all the difficult conditions. In 1939 the company employed 78 people, among these 18 women. Out of the 60 men 29 were called upon - 8 of them did not return from the war or imprisonment. Kieninger tried to compensate that loss with the help of homeworkers and mandatory employment of women. In addition working hours were raised. Whilst the working time before the war was at 48 hours a week, it was raised to 54 hours at the beginning of the war and even further to 60 hours later. Until 1941 the company was allowed to produce and sell clocks for the German market.
And even until 1943 clocks were delivered abroad, mainly to Northern Europe. The general management proudly noted down in their records that - despite of several difficulties like electricity and materials
shortage - the company was always able to meet its obligations for delivery even during the war.

The economic boom time „Wirtschaftswunder“
In the first few years after the war there was a lack of everything, not only of living space but also of food, tools and material. But after the currency reform in 1948 things finally started to
become better. The economy gradually recovered. As part of the recovery program in the 50’s more than half a million new flats were built every year. People were in need of furniture - and clocks, of course.
In the first few years after the war there was a lack of everything, not only of living space but also of food, tools and material. But after the currency reform in 1948 things finally started to
become better. The economy gradually recovered. As part of the recovery program in the 50’s more than half a million new flats were built every year. People were in need of furniture - and clocks, of course.
To retain and attract staff at the beginning of the 60s the company had several houses with flats built for their employees. In the 60s the next generation joined the company.
Gottfried Kieninger, Josef Kieninger’s son, took over the commercial management in 1962, Wilhelm Kieninger’s son Gerhard Kieninger, took over the engineering and his brother Rudolf joined the company in 1969. After
apprenticing as a clockmaker he had gained working experience in Switzerland for 6 years and was now the responsible product manager for the clock business.

Turbulent times
In 1975 the company had 200 employees. Gottfried Kieninger could report about an extraordinarily successful business year 1974 at the employees meeting. However, the general economic situation started to change in 1975. For the first time after the boom years in the 50s there were more than 1 million unemployed people. The Federal Republic experienced the worst economic crisis of its existence. The era of full employment came to an end. Furthermore, due to worldwide economic problems, Kieninger had to reduce the production of precision measuring instruments. They decided to concentrate on the clock sector instead, but without knowing which fate the clock industry would meet in the future. The company still focused on refining the mechanical clock movements. They worked on improving the run accuracy and the maintaining power. But a precise measurement of time required an elaborate precision engineering with high-quality materials and was respectively expansive. In the 1970’s, when the new quartz clocks were introduced, precise time measurement suddenly was available cheaply. All of a sudden, the art of clock-making was not needed anymore for accuracy and mechanical clocks were out. Most of the clock manufacturers of the Black Forest followed the trend and decided to produce quartz clocks. However, when cheap products from the Far East flooded the market in 1975 a lot of these companies had to file for bankruptcy. Today, only a few companies are left which produce mechanical clock movements. Kieninger survived the crisis year 1976 by starting the production of electronic precision measuring instruments for the company Feinprüf in Göttingen. At the same time the company stuck to its original concept and kept producing technically demanding mechanical movements and clocks of the highest quality. Visible result was the introduction of the HT-caliber chain movement with Westminster chime on tube gongs in 1975.

A new age
Kieninger took the chance to make a big step: In the old narrow buildings no efficient production flow was possible. So Kieninger decided in 1988 to build up new premises in Aldingen’s industrial zone.
After one year of planning and another year of construction time Kieninger moved to the new premises in 1990 and a 5.500 m² large production area, all at ground level, was at their disposal. The new premises but also very high investments overcharged the clock company. In order to avoid severe consequences, the company Mahr, who at that time had been working with Kieninger for more than 60 years in the sector of measurement devices, acquired the share majority at Kieninger in 1991. Stephan Gais, a Mahr family member, took over as Managing Director. As part of a restructuring program of their activities Mahr sold Kieninger to the American company Howard Miller at the end of 1993, already. The family owned company from Zeeland, Michigan, is the world’s biggest clock manufacturer and has a high demand of clock movements itself.

Time in its most beautiful form

Johanna Folberth born. Kieninger, great-granddaughter of Joseph Kieninger
With the Kieninger clock shop I continue the watch tradition of the family. For me personally, there is nothing better than hearing the steady and lively ticking of a Kieninger clock. This accompanies me, like the beating of a heart, all day long.
Clocks are not only soothing, but they are also an expression of an old tradition. Our time today is determined by appointments, rush and an ever-faster everyday life. Immerse yourself with our clocks in a new form of time and rest.
Simply "time in its most beautiful form" - a mechanical Kieninger clock.
I am still a big fan of Kieninger clocks. For love of this product, there is this online shop.
In the Kieninger clcok shop you will find all current and deliverable Kieninger clocks, Kieninger wall clocks and Kieninger table clocks.

We are the exclusive Kieninger online shop!
You can order your dream watch online, by phone, through our catalog, or directly in the Kieninger showroom.
 
All mechanical Kieninger clocks insist on their quality, which last a lifetime.
Trust in the personal advice of the 4th generation of Kieninger. Johanna Folberth, b. Kieninger puts together with her
Stefan Folberth continues this tradition.