3.09 – Clockmaking in Sweden

Last Update: 07-25-2022 @ 11:06

3.09.1 – Major Swedish Manufacturers


Carl Borgström from Svängsta was a fishing enthusiast and former employee of the Halda Fickursfabrik. When the latter was dissolved in 1920, he bought some of the machinery and stock of spare parts and watches. And with other former factory employees, he produced pocket watches until 1926, when he added fishing equipment to the production. These will eventually take up all the space, and the company will become ABU Svängsta and then ABU Garcia, now owned by an American company, Pure Fishing.


Hjalmar Andersson, a clockmaker, created Aktiebolaget Svenska Elektriska Urfabriken, the manufacture of electric wall clocks in Stockholm in 1899. But the production didn’t last very long. It ceased a year later.


In the 1930s, Brandt had a wholesale company in Stockholm, J. P. Brandt AB, producing highly ornate rococo-type clocks under the “Union” brand, resulting from the collaboration of woodcarvers, gilds, and clockmakers. The next move will be the creation of Urfabriken Union-Stjärnsund (see below).


Lars Magnus Ericsson (1846-1926) trained as a telegraph technician, and a friend, Carl Johan Andersson, opened in 1876 a small shop near Stockholm specializing in telegraph equipment repair. In 1878, they began to produce telephones, but the competition with the leaders in the field, such as AT&T, was challenging. Nevertheless, in 1883, Ericsson partnered with the engineer Henrik Tore Cedergren who created a telephone company, the Allmä-a Telefonaktiebolag (SAT). Cedergren bought all of his telephones from Ericsson. Soon the Ericsson phones were sold through Europe, and their wall-mounted telephones became so famous that they were qualified as a “Swedish pattern.” In 1896, Ericsson incorporated his company under the name Aktiebolaget LM Ericsson & Company. In addition to phones for which it was the main product in the first half of the 20th century, Ericsson also manufactured synchronous table and wall clocks and sets of master and receiver electric clocks, some of which had wooden pendulums and others invar metal. Ericsson registered the Farad trademark in 1910 with the U.S. Patent & Trademarks Office. Ericsson electric wall clocks are sought after, and hundreds of dollars are asked for them.


Exacta is a manufacturer of clock movements and assembly of cases, cases, and parts established in 1945 in Malmö, Malmohus. The firm also made complete clocks with its name on the dial.


The Halda Fickursfabrik (pocketwatch factory) was founded in 1887 in Svängsta by Henning Hammarlund (1857-1922) to produce pocket watches. At the time, he had to build the machines and the tools necessary to produce his highly engineered watches. Halda was the first watch factory in the North of Europe. His first watch, the Haldauren, was introduced in 1889. The following year, the company became Halda Fickursfabrik, A. B with the addition of investors. It then added specialized timers to its production to automatically signal the end of long-distance telephone communication. Subsequently, in 1902, it began manufacturing taximeters, replacing all foreign-made taximeters in Sweden. These taximeters also spread rapidly in Europe thanks to affiliated factories in Russia, Italy, Norway, Denmark, and London. Hammarlund ran The Halda Taximeter Company Ltd. in London. Taximeters were rented rather than sold, and Halda provided service. As the founder saw the market for pocket watches eroded at the dawn of the First World War, he began to consider the manufacture of typewriters. In 1917, following financial difficulties, pocket watches manufacturing gradually ceased until it was liquidated in 1920. It then gave way to creating the A B Halda Fabriker for typewriters and the Fabriks AB Haldataxametern for taximeters. The manufacture of pocket watches has resumed under the watchmaker’s impetus from the pocket watch factory that created the AB Urfabriken (ABU). In 1927, the A B Halda Fabriker bankrupted and was reborn under Halda AB, which eventually closed its doors. For more details, see The story of Halda Watch Company.


In 2009, an entrepreneur and engineer, Mikael Sandström, bought the rights to the Halda brand and created the Halda Watch Co. in Tullinge on the outskirts of Stockholm, a luxury watch manufacturer still in operation.


The Karlsborg Ammunition Works manufactured in Stockholm between 1949 and 1951, wall clocks under Holmia or Svenska brands.


B. S. Huttners A. B. was a Göteborg factory of wall clocks during the 1940s sold under the Runa H trademark. The movements were made by the Westerstrand Urfabrik, A. B. of Tureboda, Halmstad’s Halda or even Junghans of Germany.


The Karlsborg Ammunition Works produced wall clocks under the Holmia or Svenska brands from 1949 to 1951 in Karlsborg, Skaraborg.


Gustaf Wilhelm Linderoth (1816-1871) founded in 1844 in Stockholm the G. W. Lideroth Urfabrik. He had taken over the repair shop of a clockmaker, Malmström, at 28 Drottninggatan Street. The young Linderoth traveled to England, Switzerland, and Germany to study the market of clocks and watches and returned to Stockholm with new ideas and projects. He began fabricating pocket watches, pendulums, wall clocks, and chronometers, probably the first ones developed in Sweden. In 1853, after a fire at the Tullgarn Castel, he received an order from the Swedish King Oscar I to build a tower clock for the castle. He decided then to put his focus on building large tower clocks. Until 1871, when he died, he had built more than 500 of these. His wife, Betty, also a horologist, probably one of the firsts in Sweden, continued the business with her son Johan G. who took over in 1872. In 1924, his adopted son, Lars Linderoth, took over, but the production of tower and turrets clocks had been so slow that he closed down the manufacture in 1942. His wife Viran took over at his death in 1948, but it was closed in 1963.


In 1951, a Swedish engineer, Sture Örtenblad, launched the Reflexuren, a table clock capable of turning on and off electrical appliances connected to him according to a weekly program. At the time, timer clocks could only be programmed for 12 hours. The Reflexuren was marketed by the company Robot Uret.

SKANDINAVISKA URFABRIKS AKTIEBOLA (Scandinavian Clock Factory Company)

Skandinaviska Urfabriks Aktiebola produced a series of a 1 000 experimental clocks in Aby, Östergötland from 1918 to 1921.


Christopher Pollhammar, known under Christopher Polhem (1661-1751), is a scientist, inventor, and industrialist in Sweden. Very young, he was interested in mechanics and mathematics. He knew that to succeed, he had to learn Latin. So he took courses from a vicar, and in exchange, he offered him to build a clock. His reputation as a talented horologist developed rapidly. In May 1700, Polhem established himself in Stjärnsund, where he opened a factory of domestic objects, mainly clocks. Some very good horologists worked for him, notably Per Nilsson Trång and Mats Matsson Grusell, and in 1725, Anders Polhammar (1705-1767), Christopher’s nephew. Anders built a new factory and introduced new tools and new clock designs.
In 1737, a fire destroyed most of Stjärnsun, including the factory. It was rebuilt in the middle of the 18th c. and produced very high-quality watches. But at the end of that century, the production of watches was at its low, and only one watchmaker, Carl Johan Trång, a descendant of Per Nilsson Trång, was active during most of the first half of the 19th c. But in 1846, he moved to the nearby town. At the beginning of the 20th century, new owners of the Stjärnsund factory tried to resume the production of clocks with Johannes Goude, a watchmaker who kept a shop in his house in Stjärnsund. In 1906, the management opened a clockmaking shop at its own expense. Around 1927, new owners, the Fagersta Group, took over, and Gould chose to leave to make himself handcrafted clocks in Stjärnsund.


When Stjärnsund Manufackturverk closed, one of the machinists, Johannes Goud, decided to reopen in a new shop and began to hand-made watches and clocks under the models designed by Polhem. The shop nowadays continues its activities under one of the third generation of Goudes, Robert. The hand-made production is about 20 a year.


In December 1923, Otto Arvid Jansson, 25, founded Svenska Urdepoten in Malmö. At first, he sold cheap watches and parts by mail order by advertising in newspapers and magazines. In 1927, it became a limited company, added AB to the name, and created the ASU brand with its acronym. He opened his first store in 1930 in Malmö and later several others, including a workshop for watch parts and manufacturing tools. Over the years, other shops have been opened in several cities. Gradually, in addition to its products, the company has been tying watches from well-known brands such as Nivada, Rolex, Borel, etc. In 1930, it began making watches using German movements inserted into Sweden-made cases. In 1945, the production of completely Swedish watches began with the Exacta factory’s opening. The post-war years flourished with the export of clocks to the Americas, Portugal, and Belgium and the addition of other factories and companies in Norway and Finland. The monthly magazine Urnyheter was published between 1945 and 1972. But in the end, several stores and boutiques add to be closed. In 1983, there was only one store in Malmö, and a shop in Lund The only remaining store in Malmö closed its doors in 1993.


When Westerstrand went bankrupt (see below), six employees took over the mechanical part of the company. It continued to build watches, clocks, and spare parts for the original Westerstrand clocks and watches. They used the name of Töreboda Ur, A. B. Nowadays, they continue to sell to private owners and clockmakers. Their office and manufacture are situated in Norra Västergötland between Vänern and Vättern.


The Union-Stjärnsund clock factory aimed to mass-produce a new high-quality wall clock in the 1940s, based on the ancient traditions of Christopher Polhem’s time. J. P. Brandt of Stockholm contacted Johannes and Bertil Goude in Stjärnsund to develop a quality movement worthy of the golden rococo cases that his company had designed. These two clockmakers applied for patents for the movements they had developed.
Brandt decided to start a new factory at the end of 1943 under Urfabriken Union-Stjärnsund, which he set up in a former rectory in Stjärnsund, now the Polhem Museum. The following years were devoted to the factory’s assembly and the manufacture of prototypes. Mass production of wall clocks did not begin until 1946. Brandt orchestrates a real marketing campaign with the help of an advertising agency that produces a small booklet recalling the origin of the history of clockmaking in the city and a flyer. There is even a conference in Hedemora celebrating its 500th anniversary, which brought together watchmakers from the country and representatives from Switzerland.
In 1946, Bertil Goude quit his job and returned to his artisanal practice as a clockmaker in the Polhem tradition. In 1947, Brandt’s new factory became limited liability under Urfabriken Union-Stjärnsund AB‘s name. He was the principal shareholder. In 1948, he moved to Hedemora on larger premises. In 1949, the Rococo style gave way to a more modern and less ornate style. He then developed a floor clock. The company experienced profitability problems in the 1950s and closed in 1960. It will have produced more than 12,000 clocks of some 90 different models and some floor clocks. Around 1970, an individual bought what was left of the factory and the stock of parts and clocks, but profitability was still not at the rendezvous, and the bankruptcy would prevail in 1984.


Yngve Westerstrand opened in 1906 a clock shop in Töreboda, Skaraborg, where he produced turret and guardian clocks, and in 1936, wall clocks and floor clocks. In 1941, he built a new factory in Skövdevägen to make industrial electro-magnetic timers and chimes for large public clocks. In 1944, the company became a limited liability company, the A-B Westerstrand – Sons, Urfabrik. In 1946, the production of watches was 50,000 copies. In 1950, alarm clocks were briefly made there. In the 1970s, German movements were also imported with the Westerstand logo and the country of origin engraved. After multiple attempts to diversify in the 1960s and 1970s, in watches, televisions, gramophones, radios, loudspeakers, and even fishing reels, the company went bankrupt in 1983. It will be split in two, one taken over by employees to make wall and floor clocks under Töreboda Ur, the other taken up by Bjorn Johansson of Örebro. He will develop large billboards of time and information for public, industrial, commercial, or sports communication under the name of Westerstrand.

Sweden Wall Clock
Westerstrand Wall Clock
Image ID201 – All Rights Reserved, Bordloub

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