St. Georgen Black-Forest
Joseph Kieninger established Kieninger clocks in June 1912, in Mönchweiler near St. Georgen. There, he built technical drives and timers which were mainly used for gas lamps to light the street. Unskilled workers, mostly farmers from nearby, produced the parts, and then skilled workers assembled the movements.
Kieninger was from the beginning very focused on producing mechanisms of the highest quality and in fact before any mechanism left the factory Joseph personally inspected it himself. The reliability and quality of the products led to a an increase in demand for Kieninger clocks and by January 1913, the company employed 18 workers.
Very quickly the premises in Mönchweiler became too small and the search was on to find the right location which would allow the company to expand. In 1917 Joseph Kieninger discovered a site in the “Saarstraße” which would allow them to expand as the need arose. It was in 1921 that the new factory went into production and the business continued to grow with the need to add another building in 1927.
Josephs sons (Fritz, Josef & Wilhelm) were working alongside him in the company and in 1930 thanks to Wilhelm Kieninger, the company developed the H-series mechanism which although has been refined and had additional features added, is still similar to the high precision H-movement which is produced today. A significant feature of the movement produced in 1930 was that it had an automatic strike regulator.
In 1932 Kieninger started to produce precision measuring instruments for the company Carl Mahr in Esslingen. The requirement was for instruments with extreme precision and Kieninger were in a great position to be able to produce these. The extra work from this contract allowed Kieninger to stay in business during the Second World War as precision instruments were used in the production of armaments.
In 1936 Joseph Kieninger died and the running of the company fell to the three sons and despite the difficult conditions created by the war the company continued to produce clocks of high quality and by 1939 was employing 78 people. Throughout the war period Kieninger continued to sell clocks to customers in both Germany and Northern Europe.
After the war there was a shortage of materials for a few years, however, by 1948 the economic situation had started to improve. Germany was building lots of new properties and thus the need for furniture and more importantly clocks increased. Furthermore the clocks which Kieninger produced were being exported to over 50 countries and as a result by 1960 the company was employing over 150 workers.
The range of clocks produced was vast from tradition to modern designs including the first battery operated movement.
During the 60s the next generation of the Kieninger family joined the company with Gottfried Kieninger (Josef's son) taking over as the commercial manager in 1962. Wilhelm Kieninger’s son Gerhard Kieninger, took over the engineering and his brother Rudolf joined the company in 1969.
Difficult times were ahead however and although 1974 was a great year for the company which now employed 200 people, in 1975 things started to change as the German economy dramatically contracted along with the world economy. Kieninger had to reduced the precision instrument making side of the business and decided to focus on the production of clocks.
In the 1970's quartz clocks were being produced on a large scale and as a result many of the German clock companies shifted to producing quartz clocks. However, as cheap quartz movements were being produced in the Far East many of these companies were forced to close.
Kieninger managed to survive the difficult times with the production of electronic precision measuring instruments for the company Feinprüf in Göttingen in 1976 and through developing new high quality movements such as the HT-caliber chain movement with Westminster chime on tubular gongs.
Also in that year Kieninger developed the „Vienna Laterndl” cable regulator – a high-quality clock which followed closely to the design of the original Vienna clocks. This stunning clock was in great demand and very quickly 1000 of these clocks were manufactured and sold all over world.
What was significant about this mechanism, was that the weights now hung on bronze cables rather than the traditional chains. Today it remains that many of the Kieninger clocks have cable mechanisms.
In 1977 Kieninger also produced a high quality triple chime mechanism which is still very popular today. The highly polished bells are made by hand on a diamond lathe and carefully tuned to produced a delightful sound.
As production of clocks continued over the next 10 years in 1988 Kieninger clocks moved to a new purpose built factory in Aldingen, however the cost of doing this led to Kieninger being taken over by Mahr in 1991 who were a measurement device company that Kieninger had been working with for over 60 years.
This change of ownership meant that once again Kieninger were able to return to focusing on producing high quality clocks and in the preceding years have developed new and exciting movements.
The result is that today Kieninger are a strong company producing many different high quality precision clocks with both traditional and contemporary designed cases.