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Our Wempe team is proud to merge our companys history with that of London: Become a part of our history and visit us in our London Watch Shop!

since 1878

135 years of Wempe

With only 80 marks at the start: 135 years ago, Gerhard D. Wempe laid the humble foundation
of a business, which was to develop into a renowned international company.
Read more about the long company history, which is at the same time a family history.

Hamburg-based family-owned company sets sail again
10. Mai 2013

Hamburg-based family-owned company sets sail again

The ship naming ceremony of the cruise liner MS Europa II took place during Hamburg’s great port festival Harbour Anniversary and Wempe Jewellers joined in the celebrations.
As on board the MS EUROPA, Wempe is also represented with its own boutique aboard Hapag-Lloyd’s new luxury cruise liner. Right from the maiden voyage to the Mediterranean Sea, cruise ship passengers may benefit from Wempe’s renowned quality of service and advice.

Wempe jewellers expand into Asia
31. January 2013

Wempe jewellers expand into Asia

Wempe Jewellers are proud to announce their first show-room in Asia.
The Hamburg-based jeweler Wempe has opened its first shop in Beijing, the 29th of the company’s branches all over the world. The new concept store, which has a business area of almost 600 square meters, is located in the ultramodern glass-and-steel pyramid Parkview Green, one of the most striking new buildings in China’s capital city. Many tourists from China have already become familiar with Wempe, as well as its outstanding expertise and comprehensive service, on their travels to Germany and the rest of Europe. In the new shop in Beijing, they will now be able to experience in a new setting the traditional values that Wempe has represented since 1878. The concept store will not only bring masterful examples of the art of German jewelers and watchmakers to China but also highlight the art of measuring time through its interactive exhibits.

OPENING OF THE FRANKFURT AIPORT BRANCH
10. October 2012

OPENING OF THE FRANKFURT AIPORT BRANCH

The 26th Wempe branch opens at Frankfurt airport in October 2012. Customers will now find fine watches and jewellery from Wempe in the new Non-Schengen area located at Terminal 1, Level 3, Gates Z.

ROLEX BOUTIQUE NEW YORK PRESENTED BY WEMPE
10. May 2012

ROLEX BOUTIQUE NEW YORK PRESENTED BY WEMPE

Rolex and Wempe open in New York City their latest joint boutique: New York City,
665 Fifth Avenue at 53rd Street.

NEW BUILDING AT THE OBSERVATORY
in 2011

NEW BUILDING AT THE OBSERVATORY

The Wempe Observatory in Glashütte, the only independent and officially certified German Chronometer testing facility and production site of the Wempe Zeitmeister Glashütte I/SA and Wempe Chronometerwerke Glashütte I/SA watch lines, has been extended by a new building. The new premises offer space for the planned extension of the Zeitmeister production. Furthermore, the production of precision pendulum clocks and mechanical ship’s chronometers is now housed there. A workshop fitted with CNC milling and engraving machines and a lathe provides optimal technical equipment and ensures short distances for the watchmakers.

DOES WEMPE NEED A MUSEUM?
27. May 2011

DOES WEMPE NEED A MUSEUM?

The answer is “yes” if you consider the presentation of exhibits as an occasion to experience the history of a medium-sized company in the reflection of great contemporary history. As of 27 May 2011, the company history is presented at the Hamburg headquarters, Steinstraße 23.

It has been Hellmut Wempe’s plan for many years to present the development of the company Wempe to employees and business partners as well as to the interested public. In 2009, a qualified team including members from the company’s watch and jewellery, construction and decoration departments started to work to turn this project into reality.

Whilst the existing company archives were newly arranged and searched for historical advertisements, photos and other interesting documents, the team looked worldwide for historical clocks, watches and other objects that would bear testimony to the company’s history, including timepieces from Swiss and German brands such as Rolex, Cartier and A. Lange & Söhne, which Hellmut Wempe was the first to sell in Germany. “I paid special attention to also reflect design changes in the field of shop fitting, packaging and advertising when selecting the items to be displayed in the museum”.
Appropriate items were not only found at antiques fairs, on the Internet and at auction houses, but also employees of the company provided jewellery items and watches from private collections. Particularly rare items were found by placing advertisements in newspapers. 735 exhibits have been obtained until today, the oldest being diamond scales from 1830.

The exhibits displayed in the museum’s 14 showcases reach from 1878 until today. “The knowledge about the entrepreneurial spirit of my ancestors accompanies me during my daily work. Tradition means that you know where you come from, where you are right now and where you head for. The museum is for me a place where the future starts,” says Kim-Eva Wempe, who has been the first woman at the head of the company since 2003.

10 YEARS BY KIM JEWELLERY LINES
in 2010

10 YEARS BY KIM JEWELLERY LINES

In less than ten years, Kim-Eva Wempe has created a jewellery brand characterised by a consistent and recognisable identity: BY KIM.
Driven by the idea of discovering new lines and content for jewellery that keep up with fashion and zeitgeist without bending to the short lifecycles of trend, Wempe has realized creations that are proud, sensual, and beautiful — just like the people whose perspectives Kim-Eva Wempe and creative director Catherine Plouchard were trying to capture.

Discover the BY KIM jewellery lines.

WEMPE HAS MORE THAN 500 EMPLOYEES
in 2010

WEMPE HAS MORE THAN 500 EMPLOYEES

Wempe grows, both externally and internally. The expansion of the business units through a company-own watch manufactory and continuously strengthened branches leads to an important increase of the staff. And there is no end in sight for the time being.
For the first time ever, a turnover of 300 million euros is reached.

Rolex Boutique Berlin
in 2009

Rolex Boutique Berlin

Berlin, Kurfürstendamm 184.

After many years of successful partnership, Wempe Jewellers opens together with Rolex the first Rolex Boutique in Germany on 28th May. The exclusive showroom is located in a magnificent historic building on Berlin’s Kurfürstendamm.

Following Milan and Paris, Berlin is the third metropolis to see the opening of a Rolex Boutique. The Geneva interior architect of the luxury watch manufacturer Rolex provided these premises with a new, unmistakable interior design. Each detail is evidence of refinement and noblesse. Generously proportioned rooms, harmonious lines and exquisite furniture are the distinctive marks of a brand, which is deeply rooted in luxury.

“Century-old company histories, such as those of the Hamburg family company Wempe and the watch manufacturer Rolex do not only stand for a long tradition, but they stand as well for experience and competence,” says Peter Streit, general manager of Rolex Germany. “My father Hellmut Wempe was the first jeweller in Germany to buy wristwatches from Rolex. This was at the beginning of the 1950s. In view of the close ties that have linked both houses for many years and their mutual esteem, we are very much pleased that we will manage the exclusive Rolex Boutique in Berlin,” says Kim-Eva Wempe, owner of Gerhard D. Wempe KG.

> Wempe Jewellers in Berlin

KIM-EVA WEMPE IS HAMBURG ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR
29. March 2007

KIM-EVA WEMPE IS HAMBURG ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR

Kim-Eva Wempe has transformed Wempe from a retail company into an international brand, which is well established on the market. According to the judging panel “she has shown that successors can keep traditional companies up to date without losing sight of their roots”. The “Entrepreneur of the Year” award is presented by the Working Group of Independent Entrepreneurs (ASU) and the National Organisation of Young Entrepreneurs (BJU), Hamburg section. At the awards ceremony in Hamburg, Kim-Eva Wempe thanked her father, the company staff and above all, the customers. “It makes me proud to have successfully led this 128-year-old family company into the fourth generation,” she stated. Wempe employs a total of 460 people and runs 25 branches, five of which are situated in the world’s most important cities.

WEMPE presents the only currently available German-made wristwatch certified chronometer.
September 2006

WEMPE presents the only currently available German-made wristwatch certified chronometer.

High above the watchmaking town of Glashütte, 410 meters above sea level, stands the old observatory. Formerly a neglected ruin, the refurbished observatory now proudly bears the Wempe insignia. This is where we create our two new lines of watches: the WEMPE CHRONOMETERWERKE Glashütte i/SA, which is designed and manufactured exclusively for us by the NOMOS watch manufactory in Glashütte, and the WEMPE ZEITMEISTER Glashütte i/SA. These are currently the only wristwatch chronometers that have been tested according to the German DIN (German industrial standard) norm. They embody our maxim of creating high-quality timepieces that keep time with reliable accuracy. Originally built in 1910 to provide Glashütte’s watch manufactories with a reliable time signal by which to synchronize timepieces, the observatory now regains its significance as a “cradle of exact time.” Fine watchmaking no longer relies on astronomy nowadays, but even in the 21st century a good eye, patience and passion are still essential. Each Wempe watch made and chronometer-certified in Glashütte is a proud ambassador of Wempe’s dedication to chronometry and is worth discovering at: www.chronometerwerke-glashuette.de

Chronometer testing facility.
14th Juli 2006

Chronometer testing facility.

In 2005, the purchase of the now dilapidated observatory in Glashütte marked the start of a daring venture. Having had the ruined building elaborately renovated, Wempe not only installed production workshops there but – in conjunction with the offices of weights and measures in Thuringia and Saxony (LMET and SLME) – established an independent chronometer testing facility on the premises as well. An institution of this type had not existed in Germany for 37 years. Only complete watches with their final case, dials and hands are accepted for chronometer testing, based on the German Industrial Standard DIN 8319. Their movements must be adjustable to the second.

For further information, please also visit the Chronometerwerke/Chronometry-website. 

The Federation of German Retailers (HDE) honoured Hellmut Wempe for his life’s work.
18th October 2005

The Federation of German Retailers (HDE) honoured Hellmut Wempe for his life’s work.

Hellmut Wempe was presented with his award on 18 October 2005. At the ceremony, Dr. Jörn Kreke, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Douglas Holding, stated: “Your entrepreneurial visions have become reality, and you have achieved something very rare – turning the Wempe company into an international brand. Thanks to your accomplishments, the purchase of a watch or a piece of jewellery at Wempe is a special experience for your customers, and it makes them feel good.” On receiving the award, Wempe said he was both surprised and proud. “This prize puts us in the category of major companies,” he stated, “and it will spur us on to even greater achievements in the future.”

WEMPE Chronometerwerke celebrates its 100th birthday.
10th October 2005

WEMPE Chronometerwerke celebrates its 100th birthday.

Wempe Chronometerwerke celebrated its 100th birthday on 10th October 2005. In homage to the company’s loyalty to the traditional watchmaker’s craft, renowned Swiss and German manufactures released special-edition wristwatches – available starting in October 2005 exclusively in all Wempe branches. 

WEMPE presents the largest special collection in the company's history.
in 2003

WEMPE presents the largest special collection in the company's history.

Originally founded with just 80 deutschmarks, in its anniversary year of 2003, the company Wempe employed more than 460 people in 25 branches worldwide and generated turnover valued at approximately 170 million euros. Kim-Eva Wempe had long relied on lines of jewellery when jewellery was also rediscovered by the big fashion brands in the anniversary year of 2003.

Designers conquered jewellery as a new field of activity for fashionable creativity. This goes to show that Wempe has always been a nose ahead.    

The jeweller on board.
in 1999

The jeweller on board.

The grand opening of a shop aboard the Hapag-Lloyd cruise ship „MS Europa“,
Here in collaboration with the Gebr. Heinemann KG, and the grand opening of a subsidiary in Madrid in September 2000.

WEMPE on the shopping boulevards Kärntner Strasse & New Bond Street
in 1997

WEMPE on the shopping boulevards Kärntner Strasse & New Bond Street

Expansion continued with the opening of a branch in Vienna’s Kärntner Strasse.In 1997 Hellmut Wempe fulfilled a long-cherished dream by opening a shop in London’s prominent shopping area on New Bond Street.

WEMPE expands to the Eastern German states.
in 1991

WEMPE expands to the Eastern German states.

This was an era marked by drastic changes. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, stores were opened between 1991 and 1996 in Leipzig’s Mädler-Passage, at Dresden’s Altmarkt and on Friedrichstraße in the centre of Berlin. After the Glashütter manufacturer A. Lange & Söhne was sold by the fiduciary and subsequently revived, mechanical watches objects d’art were once again produced in the highest quality.Wempe was among the first authorized points of sale. During this period, US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright became known for wearing brooches at public appearances. When one head of state called her “The Snake,” she countered by wearing a snake-shaped brooch to her next meeting with that same representative. The US press promptly christened strategic move “brooch diplomacy.”

Kim-Eva Wempe entered the company.
in 1987

Kim-Eva Wempe entered the company.

Kim-Eva’s official entered the company in 1987. Five years later, at the age of 30, she debuted as a jewellery designer with the very successful line “Il Mondo” line. This was followed in 1993 by two collections: “Shan – the Golden Dragon” and “Amore”.

Signature Watch Collection by WEMPE.
in 1982

Signature Watch Collection by WEMPE.

Hellmut Wempe launched the “Fifth Avenue” Watch Collection in 1982, created by his own craftsmen.The company’s next successful investment took the Wempe business to the River Seine in Paris. Step by step, Wempe took over the renowned Cérésole family business in Paris, opening a showroom near the Place de la Concorde.

The kick-off for international expansion.
in 1980

The kick-off for international expansion.

Hellmut Wempe established his first shop abroad, on Fifth Avenue in New York City, in 1980. This was a milestone for the company despite the worst recession since the end of World War II. The price of gold had risen by 150 percent, and the city that is home to Tiffany’s had no need for a new jeweller from Germany. Hellmut Wempe knew about the market very well and his expansion into the US was purely strategic; he had enough patience to be in it for the long run.

The Only Way Is Up!
in 1970

The Only Way Is Up!

Hellmut Wempe expanded out of the northern German market and opened a shop in Frankfurt in 1970. This move would ultimately bring renown to the Wempe name on some of the most glamourous shopping boulevards in Germany and around the world.To set himself apart from traditional jewellers and other competitors, Hellmut Wempe brought his company’s strategy in line with the slogan “The only way is up!” He oriented his business toward top brands like Tiffany and Cartier and gradually established shops at the top locations in major cities. The new focus was on exclusive lines of jewellery, watches and Wempe’s own creations. Advertising was intensified, and Wempe shops became venues for exhibitions and receptions.Hellmut Wempe’s daughter Kim-Eva, who would ultimately assume the responsibility for implementing Wempe’s vision and business strategies, was already waiting in the wings.

Kim-Eva Wempe is born.
in 1962

Kim-Eva Wempe is born.

WEMPE expands further.
in 1960

WEMPE expands further.

Hellmut Wempe opened new shops in Lübeck, Bremen, Berlin and Hanover during the 1960s.Jewellery was again very much in demand. Richard Burton gave Liz Taylor, whom he married twice, the “Taylor-Burton Diamond”, which was then worth about .1 million, the 33-carat “Krupp Diamond” and the legendary “Peregrina Pearl”.The 1960s also marked the beginning of Hellmut Wempe’s plans to expand beyond Germany’s borders. But first, he won the right to market the exclusive Rolex watch brand in Germany.

Things are looking up again.
in 1953

Things are looking up again.

When the first revolts against the communist regime in East Berlin were forcibly suppressed in 1953, Wempe owned five stores in Hamburg.

The business is turned over to a fiduciary.
in 1945

The business is turned over to a fiduciary.

Beginning in 1945, Herbert Wempe was obliged to hand over the company’s management to a trustee for five years, but was rehabilitated later on.His 13-year-old son Hellmut assumed a number of responsibilities, officially joining the firm in 1951. Business boomed again after the currency reform of 1948.

Chronometerwerke Hamburg: The aesthetics of precision
in 1938

Chronometerwerke Hamburg: The aesthetics of precision

Herbert Wempe bought the Chronometerwerke Hamburg in 1938. The company had been founded in 1905 by German shipbuilders from Hamburg and Bremen. Wempe developed a patent for an all-in-one chronometer in 1942, this item is still being produced in Hamburg today.

New Wempe headquarters on Steinstrasse.
in 1923

New Wempe headquarters on Steinstrasse.

Herbert Wempe bought a building on Hamburg’s fashionable Steinstrasse in 1923. Popularly known as “Gülden Gerd,” it became the company’s headquarters. In 1925, Wempe’s good connections with the Swiss watch industry bore fruit: the company received exclusive rights to sell the Swiss watch brands Omega, Longines, Movado and Zenith in the city of Hamburg.

The opening of the first store on Schulterblatt, Hamburg.
In 1907

The opening of the first store on Schulterblatt, Hamburg.

Gerhard Wempe made a daring decision in 1907: he founded his “flagship store” at the fashionable address of “Schulterblatt 141” in Hamburg. An enormous clock with three dials on the store façade was a magnet for customers.A mere seven years later, Gerhard Wempe had already opened four more stores in Hamburg. By the beginning of World War I, the company was producing several best-sellers: “GDW” watch chains (named after the founder’s initials), 25 different models of wedding rings, starting at a price of just eight marks; and Wempe’s reasonably priced “Möwe” watch. Herbert Wempe, had not been recruited to the front in World War I due to his poor health and was therefore able to attend to the business in the evenings. The company’s founder, Gerhard Diedrich Wempe, passed away on 4 May 1921.

Gerhard Wempe founds a quickly expanding business in Oldenburg.
in 1894

Gerhard Wempe founds a quickly expanding business in Oldenburg.

The ship-building industry in Elsfleth was undergoing through a structural crisis. Gerhard Wempe decided to leave his hometown and set up a store in Oldenburg, where his business continued to flourish.Meanwhile, the creations of Parisian jeweller René Lalique were revolutionising jewellery. It was the “fin de siècle” in the French capital; the Spanish dancer Agusta Carolina Otéro, “la belle Otéro,” was the sex symbol of this era, courted simultaneously by the Russian czar, the king of Belgium and the shah of Persia.

Gerhard D. Wempe establishes himself in Elsfleth, Germany
in 1878

Gerhard D. Wempe establishes himself in Elsfleth, Germany

On 5 May 1878, when 21-year-old certified watchmaker Gerhard Diedrich Wilhelm Wempe founded his own company with a starting capital of 80 deutsche marks, no one could foresee that this company would grow into a large international business. The foundations of the modern German state were laid during the same period: 1878 marked the formulation of the anti-Socialist laws by Otto Bismarck.
Konrad Adenauer, the man who would lead Germany to economic revitalisation after World War II, was born in 1876. As things turned out, Gerhard Wempe had a special talent in marketing and merchandising, displaying his watches on velvet-covered trays that he had built himself. He constructed large shop windows and display cases which effectively turned his aunt’s living room into a jewellery showroom. Mr. Wempe was soon able to hire an assistant, indulge in his taste for fine clothes, and even buy himself a “big-wheel” bicycle, which was a status symbol in those days. In his leisure time, the entrepreneur practised gymnastic exercises at the local sports club.