The human desire to see clearly beyond the limits of the naked eye and to be able to see into the distance is as old as humanity itself. In no small part, it was a fascination for the stars and planets that led to the development of mathematics and geometry in the days of antiquity. Early in the modern age, these principles were applied to the lens systems used in the very first telescopes. Most notably the first simple lens systems were built by the Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei and his Austrian counterpart Johannes Kepler. Today, binocular optics are still based on Kepler’s invention of 1611. Frequently regarded as merely a convenient, everyday device, this instrument born out of humankind’s reach for the stars in fact made the age-old human dream of achieving a near-to godlike power of vision a reality.
In 1935, Wilhelm Swarovski, son of the original founder, was 17 years of age. Already an avid hobby astronomer, Wilhelm’s passion “to be closer to the stars", as he himself described it, awakened his ambition to build his own, improved binocular. With access to the specialized glass production and finishing technologies already used to manufacture jewelry stones in his father’s factory, Wilhelm managed to develop a novel prism fabrication and grinding process that he applied in constructing his first 6x30 binocular. Wilhelm went on to found SWAROVSKI OPTIK KG in Absam, Tyrol, in 1949 thus laying the foundation stone for a sport optics company with a global reputation. His company’s first serial product, the Habicht 7x42, is still an industry standard in the field of hunting optics and continues as ever to be produced by SWAROVSKI OPTIK in the best tradition of its founder.
Wilhelm, the eldest son of Daniel Swarovski, was enthusiastic about the natural sciences and keen to experiment like his father. What gave him the idea of constructing binoculars and finally establishing Swarovski Optik in Absam?
The story of Austrian entrepreneurial history began in 1895 when, after inventing the world’s first electric grinding machine for jewelry stones, Daniel Swarovski established the family-owned company in the province of Tyrol. Since then, the name Swarovski has become synonymous worldwide with clearest crystal, precision grinding and a brilliant spirit of innovation, as the original enterprise continued branching out into additional lines of business. Today, the companies of the Swarovski Group supply the world with polished jewelry stones and crystal products, grinding and cutting tools, as well as sports optics. Even if at first glance the product range seems quite diverse, all companies in the Group share an important unifying link, namely the formidable production and engineering knowledge that has grown out of the Swarovski family’s quest for ever higher precision.