Junghans clocks were made from 1866 until the early-twentieth century by the German company Junghans Uhren GmbH.
The company was founded in 1861 by Erhard Junghans and his brother-in-law Jakob Zeller-Tobler, in the town of Schramberg, located in the Baden region of the Black Forest. The company initially concentrated on producing clock parts for other clock manufacturers and it wasn’t until 1886 that the two partners had raised enough capital to begin production of their own clocks.
In 1870, Junghans was taken over by Erhard’s sons, Arthur and Erhard Jr., and the company grew rapidly. By the turn of the twentieth century Junghans had surpassed all other clock makers in Germany in both quality and production. In 1890, Junghans famous eight-point star trademark was designed which is still being used today on modern Junghans wrist-watches.
By 1903, Junghans had become the largest clock manufacturer in the world. They employed over three-thousand people and produced over three million clocks each year. Junghans produced a wide variety of timepieces and cases and moreover, created a range of clocks that were marketed for a wider demographic of potential buyers.
Junghans continued to expand into the early-twentieth century and would merge with other well-known German clock manufacturers such as Gustav Becker, Thomas Haller and Lenzkirch. From the 1920s, Junghans became increasingly more concerned with the production of wrist-watches and by the mid-twentieth century production of the classic models of clocks had almost come to a complete stop.
Guide for collectors
Vintage Junghans clocks were some of the most superbly designed and well-built of any Black Forest clock manufacturer. They were commonly constructed from hardwoods, such as oak and walnut, and the most valuable and sought after by collectors feature intricately designed engravings in the wood.
There are reportedly around thirty different models of antique Junghans clocks to collect. Some of the more popular include clocks whose clock face is part of a sculpted figurine, such as the “Onion Boy”, “Monkey Business”, “Bat Boy Swing” and, arguably the most collectable, the “Elephant Swing”.
Junghans clocks are typically found at auction houses such as Christie’s and Bonhams and tend to be estimated around £300 to £700. However, a Junghans mantel clock did sell for €5,250 at Sotheby’s in 2011. Although commonly known in Europe, Junghans clocks are still relatively unknown in the United States, in which the brand Junghans is associated with wristwatches.
An early twentieth century patinated brass Junghans timepiece, in the “elephant swing” style, realised a price of $1,912 when it was auctioned at the New York branch of Christie’s in June 2004. The clock featured a gilt brass pendulum and a white enamel dial with Arabic numerals on a wooden base that was stamped with the Junghans mark.
In December 2011, a late nineteenth century copper and enamel Junghans mantel clock was sold for $1,188. The clock, which had a presales estimate of $300-$500, once belonged to Elizabeth Taylor and was sold through Christie’s, New York.
In March 2011, a nineteenth century Meissen porcelain and girl sculptural mantel clock, made by Junghans in the nineteenth century, realised a price of €5,250 when it was sold through Sotheby’s, Amsterdam.