Favre-Leuba, recognised for its pioneering prowess, brought together two eras during which the brand achieved global firsts: the 1960’s – an era of exploration and new beginnings; and the second decade of the 21st century– a time of high-tech and even crazier discoveries.
In 1962, Favre-Leuba created the Bivouac, the first mechanical wristwatch with an inbuilt altimeter (measuring up to 3,000 meters) and barometer, and a technological revolution for almost half a century. In the second decade of the 21st century, Favre-Leuba created another world-first with the Raider Bivouac 9000 – a mechanical timepiece that can measure altitude up to an astounding 9,000 meters.
As part of the brand’s 283rd anniversary both watches were put to the test in the Swiss Alps by two mountaineering legends – Nicolas Hojac, one of the fastest modern speed-climbers, and Ueli Bühler, a seasoned and celebrated Swiss mountaineer and mountain guide. Both took to the mountains with a Favre-Leuba watch, Mr. Bühler with the original Bivouac, and Mr. Hojac with the new-era Raider Bivouac 9000.
“Being able to celebrate 283 years of Favre-Leuba is remarkable and being at the forefront of innovation even in something as traditional as watchmaking is what ‘Swiss Made’ is about. To accurately support adventurers and athletes in this passion (and also to make it safer) has been Favre-Leuba’s goal all along. It is a commitment to quality, a passion to endeavor, and a philosophy to conquer frontiers.” – Philippe Roten, CEO, Favre-Leuba
The creation of the Bivouac in 2017 was a promise of new successes and was fulfilled when the Raider Bivouac 9000 became the first mechanical timepiece to measure altitude on Mount Everest and K2 in 2018 and 2019 respectively. Paying homage to its 1962 predecessor, this watch is an incredible evolution of watch engineering and technology. The most significant refinement in the new model is the increase in altitude it is capable of measuring, from 3,000 to 9,000 meters, and required the use of innovative materials for the barometer and precise calculations for the height and diameter of the capsule. A new conversion mechanism for the altimeter was also required.
The Raider Bivouac 9000 is water-resistant to 30m, safeguarding it from moisture and snow in high altitudes. In addition, housing the aneroid barometer capsule, this new edition is extended to other explorers, adventurers, and everyday users too. For example, the ability of the watch to indicate the changing air pressure is an extremely helpful tool for not only mountaineers and parachutists, but also to sailors to learn of approaching weather changes.
Just as Favre-Leuba has demonstrated with these two models, watchmaking and mountaineering are not the same as they were 55 years ago.
“As with many things, changes have taken place in mountaineering,” said Ueli Buhler.“The equipment is better and lighter, just like the new Bivouac 9000, and training has become more focused. So, the abilities of professional as well as leisure mountaineering athletes has improved. However, the motivation to go to the mountains still comes from within. That is how it has always been.”
Nicolas Hojac agreed: “The history of both watches and their success in conquering frontiers is impressive. The Bivouac 9000 for today is exceptional – it works completely mechanically, so I didn’t have to worry about a battery, and with the integrated barometer, I could read the exact height and be aware of the upcoming weather change. As a bonus, not only is it a perfect tool in the mountains, but also looks stunning in everyday life.”
A true companion to the most adventurous mountaineering endeavors for decades, Favre-Leuba’s first altimeter wristwatch guided Walter Bonatti up the north face of Pointe Whymper – an almost vertical continuous climb – in the Grandes Jorasses in 1964. In 1975, the Bivouac accompanied Junko Tabei up Mount Everest, when she became the first woman in the world to conquer the mountain.