This is the first of two articles about MiniMax, a Swiss watch brand with a long international pedigree. This first article serves as an introduction which deals with the unusual history of the brand.
We get to hear about many, many ambitious start-up watch brands here at Watchuseek, but few start-ups can boast of such a complex history dating back 120 years.
The Swiss-made 40mm MiniMax Evolution, which will launch in August, is the culmination of years of dedicated and often difficult detective work and determination to revive the brand by Daniel P. Hudson, the grandson of the brand’s founder.
A Tavannes Watch Company vintage watch
The origins of this family-owned marque go all the way back to the early 1900s when the Tavannes Swiss Watch Company began producing blank dial wristwatches for companies that wanted their brand name on a watch.
The MiniMax brand history proceeded to have something of an unusual stop-start trajectory throughout the 20th century. Indeed it must be the only genuine Swiss brand to have started life in Spain, be relocated to Guatemala in Central America and now be based out of San Antonio Texas, USA.
The brand started life in Northern Spain in the early 1900s, with the MiniMax marque being emblazoned onto blank dials. MiniMax was doing extremely well throughout the 20s and 30s, but it was first forced to stop production in 1940 following a devastating fire at the Tavannes Watch Company factory in Switzerland.
A vintage MiniMax watch from the 1940s
Then, after successfully being revived in 1948 by José María Suárez Richard after he relocated to the former Spanish colony of Guatemala where he was born, the thriving MiniMax brand was sadly forced into obsolescence once more in 1984 following his death.
This, of course, was in the immediate aftermath of the Swiss quartz crisis which had driven several Swiss brands to the wall. Perhaps understandably, none of the surviving Suárez family felt inclined to take up the reins of a Swiss mechanical watch company in such troubled times following the death of José María Suárez Richard.
As a result, MiniMax lay dormant for over three decades until, in 2016, Texas-based Daniel P. Hudson decided to breathe life back into the family brand once more. An Industrial Engineer by trade, with an emphasis on machine design and build, Daniel’s love of watches facilitated the entire process of design and manufacturing outsourcing.
But as is often the case in getting a new albeit long-established watch brand off the ground, Daniel soon discovered that love alone is not enough to realize the watch of your own exacting vision and ambitions.
From left to right: a vintage 1940s MiniMax, a MiniMax Entrepreneur prototype, and the new MiniMax Evolution
It took extensive and sometimes frustrating dealings with watch manufacturers and a costly trip to Baselworld (believe it, every trip to Baselworld is costly) to get the new brand satisfactorily back on course at the right quality and at the right price point. The first prototype was called MiniMax Entrepreneur, but after improvements to the look and quality of the watch, it was renamed. So now, after 32 years under the dust covers, a new MiniMax watch is about to be launched, and fittingly it’s called Evolution.
In article two we will reveal the brand new MiniMax Evolution.