Of all the stories in the watch business, and there are plenty, the story of Oscar Waldan could be the most incredible. Born in the 1920s in Poland, Oscar was persecuted for his religion when Poland was invaded by the Nazi’s and imprisoned at the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany. While there, he befriended another watchmaker named “Manek”. Since they repaired the watches for the guards, they were useful to them and were given special treatment and spared some of the horrors that others were subject to. Watchmaking literally saved his life!
Upon liberation, Oscar realized he had lost everyone and everything he ever knew. He moved to Switzerland for a time and eventually moved to the United States where he worked for a small watch shop in New York.
Looking to further his education he then went back to Switzerland and worked for a number of well known watch brands. Then moving back to the United States, Oscar built up quite the resume having worked for Tissot, Universal Geneve and even with the legendary Gerald Genta.
In 1979, Oscar finally decided to strike out on his own and founded Walden International. Interesting timing indeed as this was the beginning of the quartz revolution in the watch industry. Companies were starting to move to quartz movements and away from mechanicals. Oscar saw this as an opportunity and bought up as many great mechanical movements as he could at great prices. This would be a real windfall for the brand as mechanical watches started to gain favor again, Waldan was well positioned to supply just what collectors were looking for!
Oscar even ended up making watches for Tiffany’s, Cartier, Tourneau, Neiman Marcus and Ulysse Nardin. (and many others) Today, Waldan International is one of the very few companies that can offer a watch with the famous Zenith El Primero movement. Now run by Oscar’s son Andrew, Waldan International continues to make beautifully made pieces that are a tremendous value. Stay tuned as the younger Waldan has some big plans for the future!