Mike Stuffler, Watchuseek moderator and German watch expert, and I visited the Ickler factory during our visit to the Black Forest region. Ickler has remained a family business for 90 years in Pforzheim and has four watch brands covering a wide spectrum. Along with the background information of case and watch manufacturing, we will share pictures of their impressive Archimede flieger watches.
Karl Ickler founded the Ickler family business in 1924. He had previously worked as head of the manufacturing department for foreign companies. With this treasure of experience, he founded his own watch case manufacture. In 1947, his two sons rebuilt production, which had lay fallow during the war.
Today the company is managed by the third generation – Thomas Ickler. He is supported by his daughter Lisa and son Raphael, who help manage various watch brands within the Ickler company – Archimede, Limes, Autran & Viala and finally, Defakto. The Ickler GmbH also manufactures high quality watch cases for international customers – and all that is Made in Germany.
Since 1924 Ickler manufactures premiere quality watches and watch cases, made to the highest quality standards, for a demanding international clientele – all made in Germany.
Assembling and controlling
The cases are crafted in-house, from solid blocks of stainless steel, pure titanium or 18 carat gold. The highly-experienced employees use the latest high tech CNC machinery, which is guaranteeing ultimate precision. When it comes to polishing the surfaces, assembling parts and complete watches, and thorough quality control, Ickler relies on the careful human touch.
Each watch made by Ickler is continuously quality controlled along every step of the manufacturing process. From turning and milling, to polishing and assembling of the multi-part cases, from the mounting of the movements, dials and hands, to the final quality check. Every time piece is thoroughly tested before it leaves the factory, and carries an international two-year warranty.
Ickler watches will accompany its customers for decades and each glimpse onto the watch is a pleasing moment. That’s why the designers of Ickler renounce stylish trends in the design and put such great emphasis on valuable classic and premiere quality.
With the beginning of the new millennium planning and designing of the ARCHIMEDE brand started. In 2003, the first models were released.
Soon it became clear that the basic model ARCHIMEDE “Pilot” which provided excellent value for money ratio would become a promising brand. With different case sizes, different dial versions, automatic, manual and even historical movements (like Junghans JH 687), the “Pilots” have found many customers all around the world. Also, the other families of like Klassik, Marine, SportTaucher and OutDoor became popular in the world of watch enthusiasts. Cases are available in stainless steel (some hardened) and bronze.
Here’s a variety of pics taken during our visit.
Pilot 45 KS Bronze
Pilot 45 A Bronze
Pilot 42 GMT
Recently sold out Pilot 250 with historical Junghans JH 687 movement (LE of 50 pieces, no. 01/50) The heated steel blue hands look fantastic!
Flieger Chronograph, which I had to order right away. I will write an in-depth review of why I think this is one of the best flieger chronograph your money could buy. Hint- it has to do with the construction of the case.
Pilot 42 R / W PVD
In the pipeline: Pilot 42 Blue in stainless steel and bronze.The blue dial Flieger in stainless steel or bronze case, 42mm, will be available when Ickler family is back from vacation in August, but realistically expect September, October delivery.
Bronze Marine/Deck watch. Again, the quality of the case and steel blue hands must be appreciated in-person. A very tempting proposition, but thankfully Mike took the watch away from me for taking pictures, otherwise resistance would have been futile.
The Ickler company started to produce PLB (private label watches) in 1990. After some consideration, Thomas realized why not produce a watch for themselves. The planning for the LIMES brand started some years later in the 90’s. LIMES is a funny watch brand name in English, it is pronounced has “Lee mez” (similar to Hermes).
With a fascination for fine, mechanical watches crafted mainly by hand, the concept was born: High quality mechanical movements combined with top grade Ickler made cases.
The LIMES collection includes the elegant Pharo family, the exclusive Chyros models and the sporty Endurance instrument watches. In the early days of LIMES, I had my eye on their Nighflight and Cartouche watch models. They have now returned to the new lineup with cues from the original design.
So here we go. Please note that Chyros models will get a face lift/case lift in very near future. The cases will then will look like the one on top:
Pharo Cartouche Hand Wound
Pharo Cartouche Date (I am writing my Dear Santa letter already)
Pharo Big Date Power Reserve
Endurance divers watch
Mr. Ickler pointed out that they will enlarge the production of thermally blued hands step by step. Stated aim is to provide the option to choose heated blue hands with every watch Ickler offers. However, this may take some time, so please do not expect this to happen next Friday. This may be possible by end of the year.
There’s only one thing left to say, thank you to the Ickler family for being excellent hosts. We really enjoyed spending time with the family (and family dog Oskar).
Eat – Sleep – Buy Flieger – and Repeat
Editorial and Photography Credit: Mike Stuffler and Bhanu Chopra
Feature image by Scott Sitkiewitz, and Historical Pictures by Lisa Ickler