Setting this innovative watch manufacturer apart from any other German watch company is the fact that Backes & Strauss fuse two crafts into one. By combining the mastery of diamond-cutting with the perseverance, skill and precision of watchmaking, Backes & Strauss creates products with a difference. Exquisite watches that never skip a beat are set with scintillating diamonds in some of the world’s most unique and refined designs.
Backes & Strauss was founded in 1789 by goldsmith, Georg Carl Backes in Hanau, Germany. To this day, it remains the oldest diamond company in the world. Before the discovery of massive diamond mines in South Africa towards the end of the 19th Century, Backes & Strauss had been experiencing great success having set up an office in London from 1814 onwards. Here, distributing jewellery throughout Europe became its core focus. Once the need for controlled diamond distributors was raised, Backes & Strauss changed their business strategy and became diamond distributes and cutters.
The interest for diamonds was already deep seated in company founder, Georg Carl Backes from an early age. Born in Steinfurth, Germany, on 12 August 1763, Backes moved to Hanau at the age of 8, home to be of Backes and Strauss. He soon found himself surrounded by the city’s prestigious jewellery centre. It was not until 1789, when Backes became registered as a goldsmith, however, that the company Backes & Strauss became official. By the early 1800s, Georg Carl Backes was a prosperous citizen who had built relationships with some of society’s elite jewellery wearers and collectors. By the time he sent his 24 year old son, Johann Franz to London, the company had the reputation and prevalence to be met with instant success. Once Backes passed away in 1819, Franz continued to take the company forward, manufacturing and trading diamonds under the new name, J.F. Backes and Co.
Although Backes & Strauss’ diamond legacy harkens back to 230 years ago, the company’s watchmaking journey is still relatively young. Up to 2006 Backes & Strauss had supplied diamonds to world-leading brands like Bulgari, Jacques Cartier and Mikimoto, but it wasn’t until this year that the company began a new venture, joining forces with the Franks Muller Group. The collaboration would open up new doors for Backes & Strauss, enabling the company to develop its own wristwatch collections that combined skills from both crafts.
Backes & Strauss developed three main watch collections in particular. Berkeley watches, Regent watches and Piccadilly watches are all named after famous London landmarks, paying homage to the company’s heritage. Each watch manufactured by Backes & Strauss is adorned with at least one diamond, meticulously embedded into its crown. This signature design code is known as the “Jewel in the Crown” and resembles the pavilion base of a diamond. For the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, Backes & Strauss was asked to create 60 timepieces belonging to a limited edition series in honour of the Queen. One remains on show at the British Museum of London, completed on one of the company’s elegantly crafted Assyrian-styled bracelets.