Posted 5 years ago
I am telling the story of Georges Fredric Roskopf not only because it is a fascinating history, but to make a point to watch collectors and enthusiasts: collections of watches don’t necessarily have to be high grade, bejeweled, gold, or “high falutin’” to be interesting and collectible. A collection of Roskopf and Roskopf-type watches can be very interesting and historically important, as well as a relatively “cheap and easy” way to get into the hobby.
Many thousands of Roskopf style watches were made, and a romp through eBay will turn up several good examples. No serious watch collection should be without an original number one model Roskopf.
So what makes Roskopf interesting? In the 1860s, all watches were wound with a key. But Roskopf’s watches were wound with a crown—also known as stem-wound. It was the beginning of keyless winding.
Stem wind or keyless winding systems in watches was considered “high tech” at this time, and Roskopf’s watch was “avant guard” and ahead of it’s time. The story that follows it that of the brilliant inventor and innovator—Georges Fredric Roskopf—and his watch.
Roskopf wasn’t the first watchmaker to utilize stem-winding mechanisms in watches, but his system was simple, robust, cheaply produced, and very successful. Roskopf’s watches used the basic winding system invented by Jean Adrian Philippe in 1842. There were some earlier, unsuccessful prototypes and consequent variations of winding systems for watches. Philippe’s was so successful that Count Von Patek of the prestigious house of Patek made him a partner in the firm, but that’s another story.
Roskopf made a wise decision choosing Philippe’s system, and coupled with his own patented inventions, made his watch unique, affordable, and successful. His watch subsequently inspired a whole new area of the watch industry in Switzerland and some decades later in the United States.
Georges Frederic Roskopf was born in March of 1813 at Niderwiller, then part of the Grand Duchy of Baden, Germany. Today, the Niderwiller village is situated in the French province Alsace, bordering Switzerland and Germany.