Authentic, passionate, precise - we at Laco stand for watches of the highest quality. Our claim to quality processed products with optimal functionality and timely design has always existed. This is shown by a look at our turbulent company history. We stick to our traditions. At the same time we look ahead and create innovations that meet the current spirit of the age. With us there is no standstill, we stand for continuous development.
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How and Where Did It All Start? Laco Durowe watches was founded by Frieda Lacher and Ludwig Hummel in 1925 but was originally named Lacher and Co. The Laco factory, to this day, is located in Pforzheim, a city famous for its jewelry and watchmaking industry. In the early days, the company’s business was smooth. The company designed and manufactured watch cases in Germany, but had Swiss movements installed. But later on, Ludwig, like other watch manufacturers in Pforzheim at the time, became disgruntled with the overdependence on Swiss-made movements. Consequently, he established Durowe in 1933 to produce raw movements for its sister company, Lacher and Co., and other watchmakers in the industry, Stowa. In 1936, the business partners decided to go their separate ways, but Hummels continued to run the business under the name Laco-Durowe. On the flip side, Freida Lacher was replaced by her son Erich, but she decided to deal with precision parts for wristwatches afterward. Needless to say, business for Laco-Durowe was at a high during this period, especially with the production of the classic Fliegeror Pilot watch. There was a high demand for the Flieger even during the war – World War II. The aftermath of the war was the destruction of most watch factories in Pforzheim, including Laco-Durowe. But this didn’t deter the growth of the company for too long. With the aid of the Marshall Plan in 1949, Laco-Durowe began operation in a new 5-story factory, which later got an extension. During this period, the goal of the company was to create its watches without the influence of Swiss manufacturers. In fact, this was the goal of most German watchmakers in Pforzheim at the time. At first, it was tough, as they still needed to ship in raw movements (engines) from Switzerland. As with almost any success story, the company gradually, producing tens of thousands of raw movements per month before World War II.
The Development: Rise, Fall, and Reawakening Of Laco-Durowe Watches
Laco-Durowe saw its first takeover to US Time Corporation – Timex, as a result of a slip in sales. At the time Hummels sold Laco-Durowe, the selling pitch to the American company was the possibility of electronic and electric watches.
Behold, the Laco Electric, the first reliable German electronic watch, was released in 1961. Despite this breakthrough, Timex later sold Laco-Durowe to Swiss watchmakers, Ebauches. S. A, in 1965, but retained the company name. This is a common practice among many luxury watch brands to preserve the legacy of their brand name.
With the change of management, the running of unsurprisingly took a new turn. The new owners preferred Durowe producing exclusively mechanical movements for Men and Ladies watches. Then, they used the German company to break into the then European Economic Community, now European Union.
Ultimately, Laco Durowe continued to dominate the industry for another decade under its new Swiss ownership. The company produced about 550,000 movements in 1974.
Unfortunately, the company could barely keep its head above water with the coming of the Japanese Quartz revolution. Coming to the rescue was Andreas Gunther, Executive manager of a sister company, Erich Lacher Uhrenfabrik. He acquired the name and logo rights of Laco in 1988. With this move, the company continued making The 75th-anniversary marketing campaign of Laco was a huge success. In grand style, Laco reissued 75 of its classic Fliegers(pilot watches). In a similar fashion, the 75th-anniversary limited edition Fliegers were sold for 7,500 DEM. After going through a rough patch in the 2000s, the company went into liquidation in the summer of 2009. Soon after, Germany’s oldest watchmaker, Kienzle AG, took up the reigns of the company. The was quickly cut short, in less than a year with Kienzle Uhren filing for liquidation.
Nonetheless, the company came back small in the spring of 2010, finally settling to focus on its roots. Now, rather than focus on being in the industry, the aim was back to precise handcraft. The flagship pilot watches now saw impressive upgrades to their design and construction. Since then, Laco has remained relevant, successfully launching over 20 new models to date. What Goes Into Laco-Durowe Watches? Like with most luxurious watch brands, Laco watches pass through careful manufacturing stages that make them stand out. Unlike common wristwatches, they are made under the hands of experts in the field. Now, I will require hundreds of articles to give a clear picture of what goes into each Laco watch. A better option is to explain their general manufacturing process. In this light, I’ll go ahead and share the company’s philosophy: “Authentic, passionate, precise - we at Laco stand for watches of the highest quality. Our claim to quality processed products with optimal functionality and timely design has always existed. This is shown by a look at our turbulent company history. We stick to our traditions. At the same time we look ahead and create innovations that meet the current spirit of the age. With us, there is no standstill, we stand for continuous development.” It may seem a bit wordy for an average person, but it’s just enough for wristwatch fiends and collectors.
How The Laco Watches Are Built Today
Like most companies, specifically wristwatch makers, like to instill the brand philosophy into their products. We’ll find out if Laco sticks to this tradition.
Step 1: Color Hunt
Looking at the understated colors of most Laco watches, you wouldn’t think that they are carefully thought of designs. Nonetheless, they have quite a number of vibrant looking watches as well. Essentially, the design of every watch is mapped out to fit the target audience (pilot watches, squad watches. Etc.) in terms of shape, color, and so on.
Step 2: Picking Out Watch Straps
The watch straps is another part of the wristwatch that has a dual purpose in the design. When picking a strap material for Lacowatches, the focus is not just on aesthetics but also the field of application. Regardless of the watch design, the designers always use a top-of-the-line strap material, like leather, that befits a luxury watch. Even better, Laco has been quite innovative with their straps, artificially aging textile straps to give off a vintage look. In the end, Laco may not have an all-diamond strap or flashy gold chain in its inventory, but their wristwatch straps are as genuine as they come. Some of their bronze model Fleigers spot the same leather straps used by the pilots in the 1940s.
Step 3: The Winding Stem
Like the rest of the parts of Laco wristwatches, the winding stem is designed specifically for the style or use of the wristwatch. Take for instance, a pilot watch or observation watch most definitely has a different winding stem than that of a regular Laco watch. Laco now uses a lathe to craft its winding stems under the supervision of an expert.
Step 4: The Watch Case
Laco watch cases are specially crafted with precision to produce an appealing, yet fitting piece to lay the movement. Their team of expert craftsmen meticulously grind the case on a micro motor before giving it a high-grade polished finish. Just like with the textile straps I mentioned earlier, Laco gets innovative with some of its watch cases, particularly the “Erbstruck” (Heirloom) models. In a bid to fit their name, their “presentation boxes” strike artificial rust, darkening, and scratch effects that portray the image of an ancient piece.
Step 5: Building The Power House
Building a wristwatch mechanism/movement requires precision and accuracy in order to deliver a masterpiece – You can’t expect less from a pilot watch or luxury watch in general. For this reason, each and every part of the movement is closely examined under a microscope and magnifying glass for aesthetic and functional appeal. This process is compulsory before the watch can be assembled. Coupling The Parts Without a doubt, coupling components to the mechanism is the most delicate part of watchmaking, and Laco treats it as such. First, the watch dial is placed carefully on the mechanism, and then the hands are attached and placed in the watch case. Once the case is closed, another Laco masterpiece is brought to life.
Step 6: Ensuring a Masterpiece is Born
Of course, the manufacturing process doesn’t end as soon as the watch case closes or the hand ticks. The accuracy of the mechanism is further tested using a timegrapher to adjust any defects or irregularities. After this, the watch goes through a water pressure testing phase. Laco watches meant for everyday use have the least pressure capacity. On the other hand, their squad watches are built to withstand a swim session. Finally, a general inspection is carried out after every component is attached to the timepiece. Here, the focus is shifted to making sure the look and mechanics of the watch is flawless. As Laco says, “In our workshop, quality counts, not quantity.”Every Laco watch is crafted under the able hands of certified watchmakers.
Final Journey: The Packaging
The packaging of every watch brand is most times the same: tags, a manual, and a protective film over the parts. This is especially true with cheap watches But what sets most of them apart is their boxing. The everyday-use category and some mid-range Laco watches come in regular rectangular boxes. On the flip side, the “expensive” or luxury Laco watches are mostly housed in a chest-like presentation box. These are the sort of watches you’ll be eager to pass down to your next generation.
Laco Watch Collections: A Quick Assessment
The Laco GMT is one of the newest watch models released by the company. Actually, it was available on presale on September 5, 2019, for a limited period, which has now expired. This means that interested buyers now have to wait till next year to get one. As you may already know, GMT stands for “Greenwich Mean Time,” the standard time zone, before being replaced by “Coordinated Universal Times.” Enough banter about GMT. The Laco GMT is designed to display two time zones on the watch dial. That’s right, you can easily set the local time of your home location and that of your desired destination on this masterpiece. It’s mostly useful for travelers and pilots, but folks impressed by its feature swoop in at times. Unsurprisingly, Laco isn’t the only brand producing pilot watches with this feature. There are several other GMT models like Sinn GMT, Oris Aquis GMT, and Stowa GMT, of which we’ll be taking the latter for a spin.
Comparing Laco GMT With The Stowa GMT
The Laco GMT has a more sporty and brightly colored watch strap that’s available in both leather and nylon materials. The nylon material sports a brighter shade of orange than with a leather strap. On the flip side, the Laco GMT has a rather plain black rubber strap with only the option of blacker leather strap with white stripes. The design of the Laco GMT watch dial and casing is magnificent. Unlike the Stowa GMT, it has two crowns, that helps to control the second time zone, and the local time. The Stowa watch uses a manually rotatable bezel instead. The two wristwatches have a similar titanium sandblasted casing that feels good on the hand. A clearer distinction between both watches is in their casing backs. The Stowa GMT has a clear back that displays the watch mechanism while Laco GMT has a stainless steel back. Plus, the Laco case back has a relief of a plane flying across the globe that’s also available in a “shiny” option.
Laco GMT Price
The Laco GMT and Stowa GMT are priced considerably well for their functionality. The former costs around $2,016 while the latter (Stowa) costs about $1,832.
Laco Erbstucke Collection
The Laco Erbstucke collection is the hallmark of vintage pilot watches. Even though Laco began its journey in 1925, it sprung into the limelight for its pilot watches that were released during World War II. Laco has come up with several replica antique watches in the past, but the Erbstucke collection is their latest. A rich and classy way to relive these priceless moments on your wrists. The logic behind the design of this collection is to make the watches look like the original timepieces retrieved from a WWII pilot’s cabin. For a new release watch, Laco surely does a great job of making them look a hundred years old. The Erbstucke collection includes both Type A and Type B watch models. The most striking feature of all the Erbstucke watches is the aging of their parts. They all sport rusty and beaten cases, stained watch dials, and sometimes, have scratched straps.
The Stowa Flieger limited is comparable to Laco Leipzig Erbstucke, one of the watches in the collection. The defining difference between them is that the Stowa Flieger is more or less a modernized vintage watch. Leipzig on the other hand, like the rest of the collection, has a more antique touch to it. Simply put, it is just like the real thing – A vintage watch from decades ago. Although the main difference has been pointed out, the Stowahas a Type A dial while Leipzig uses both type A and B.
Laco Erbstucke Collection Price
Like you’d expect, the Erbstucke collection sits on the top of the food chain in terms of price. Making a replica of vintage watches has always cost a fortune. The Laco Erbstucke collection watches can cost anywhere from $2,200 to over $5,000. The Leipzig Erbstuck costs 1,950 pounds, compared to about 1,000 pounds for the Stowa Flieger. If you are wondering which watch is the most precious in the Erbstucke collection, it’s the Replika 55 Erbstucke. A $6,000 Flieger with calf leather strap and hand-winding mechanism. Most of the watches look pretty similar, yet have varying prices. This is the result of a few perks that are only truly precious in the eyes of the beholder.
Laco Dortmund Pilot Watch
The Laco Dortmund Handwinding watch is one of the company’s most prestigious releases. It is a proud winner of the iF Design Awards 2015, as best discipline product. Laco Dortmund is available on the market in three (3) different designs – Bronze, Erbstuck, and the Original. They are all the same in terms of function, with the only difference being their finish. This pilot watch has a “baumuster” B dial and blued luminous hands. All Dortmund models use a calf leather strap, but in varying colors with the usual pilot’s rivets. The Dortmund Bronze, for instance, has a brown calf strap that’s close to the color of its sandblasted bronze case. Perhaps the clinching feature for its iF Design Awards victory is its hand-winding Laco 01 movement – a high-value mechanism in top-of-the-line luxury watches.
Laco Dortmund Pilot Watch Price
Without much surprise, the vintage Dortmund Erbstucke model is the most expensive for obvious reasons. It costs about $2500,that’s almost twice the price of the Dortmund Original, which is priced around $1300. The Dortmund Bronze, on the other hand, costs $2,270.
Where To Buy Laco Watches?
www.exquisitetimepieces.com is an authorized retailer for Laco in the United States.
Laco Watches: Review Wrap Up
Laco is a history-rich german watchmaker with more than 90 years of experience. A company that still stays true to its heritage with its iconic Fliegers and observation watches. Laco is no doubt one of the best luxury brands if you are looking to add a pilot watch to your watch collection.