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Albert Wittnauer immigrated to New York City in the 1870s to work for his brother-in-law, an importer of fine Swiss timepieces like Jaeger-LeCoultre and Vacheron & Constantin. In 1885, at the age of only thirty-one, he established the A. Wittnauer Company. Soon after the company's establishment, Wittnauer became the distributor for Longines watches in the United States.
Together with Longines, Wittnauer gained a reputation for their excellent aviation instruments and chronographs. Aviators such as Amelia Earhart piloted their planes with instruments made by Wittnauer. Daredevil aviator Jimmy Mattern wore a Wittnauer AllProof in his aborted flight around the world in 1933.
Longines formally bought Wittnauer in the 1950s, and the brand continued to produce exceptional chronographs at a more competitive price point than their Swiss contemporaries. But like so many watch brands, Wittnauer was forced to fold in the face of budget crises in the mid-1980s - caused in large part by the proliferation of Quartz - which lead Longines to dissolve their relationship with Wittnauer. Still, their watches remain, a testament to the brand's ingenuity and elegance.
This watch, the Reference 3256-228T, has everything you could want in a vintage chronograph. Perhaps the most interesting and unique feature of this watch is the dial. With a distinctive, exotic color scheme that just screams 70s, the dial plays off the elegantly tapered lugs, softening the strong retro vibe it exudes. It's also powered by a dependable movement, the 14Y, a modified Landeron 249 produced especially for Wittnauer.
We've been touting Wittnauer chronographs for years, and for good reason. They combine sturdy steel cases with fun and interesting designs and a history that's just as reputable as other horological heavy-hitters like Universal Genève and Breitling. And, combined with a distinct design language, this vintage chrono is sure to garner some attention...
Stainless steel case is approximately 35.5mm (excluding crown and pushers). Wittnauer Reference 356-228T. 14Y Manually-Wound Chronograph Movement. Circa 1970s.
Overall Condition: Stainless steel case is in very good condition with sharp bevels and no signs of over-polishing. Case does have signs of use and wear in keeping with its age, including some slight scratches and dings on the sides of the case near 9 o'clock, in between the crown and start pusher, and on the lugs. Dial is in very good condition with crisp printing and no signs of major discoloration or hand drag. Luminescent elements on the hour markers at 7 and 8 o'clock have been professionally relumed; all others have gained even patina over time. Wittnauer crown; Wittnauer case back does show some scratches and tool marks but is in otherwise good condition.
Includes one 18mm blue leather rally strap and two 18mm nylon straps from Crown & Buckle