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Stories from the Archive

The desire for perfection and the joy of experimentation

copyright Swarovski Corporate Archive

The beginning

Passion for improvement


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?

Daniel recognized the talents of his sons and encouraged them as best he could. In this way Wilhelm was able to bring his passion for chemistry to the development of the own glass production. However, the goal was not yet reached for him. He wanted constant quality improvement and developed bubble-free and streak-free glass, which came very close to optical glass in terms of quality. His tenacity would later prove extremely useful in optical glass manufacturing.

copyright Swarovski Corporate Archiv

Hobby Astronomer

The enthusiasm to see into the distance


In addition to the natural sciences, Wilhelm had another hobby: astronomy. The enthusiasm to see into the distance and the interest in physics gave him the desire to construct his own binoculars. The first sketches and self-calculated prototypes with optical glass from the factory's own production were made as early as the 1930s. Grinding the prisms and lenses is a fine art that Wilhelm acquired by hand. He carried out various grinding and polishing tests in his apartment. His willingness to experiment knew hardly any limits, even his wife's silk stockings were not safe from his experiments.

©Swarovski Corporate Archive
The factory in the forest is built

After the turmoil of the Second World War had subsided somewhat, the demand for gemstones in Wattens increased again and Wilhelm was able to think about the continuation of his former plans. However, there was not enough space in the company for several production divisions - even the abrasives production was already planning a move - so Wilhelm had to look for another location. Said and done! He found suitable premises in Absam. A large property with garages offered a lot of space but little comfort. Due to a general lack of material, the halls could only be renovated in the most basic way, the sanitary facilities initially resembled latrines and an open truck had to suffice as a shuttle bus for the employees. However, people were happy to have a job. Soon after the start, around 170 employees were working for Swarovski Optik in Absam.

Photography: ©Swarovski Corporate Archive, 1950
History people 1955
History people 1955
Production started

The new and changing times also went hand in hand with new market needs: the demand for consumer goods such as eyeglass lenses had increased enormously. Lucky that some of the same machines were used to manufacture binocular optics and spectacle lenses. According to the information in the trade license, which proves the founding of Swarovski Optik with “Factory production of all types of optical glasses, especially spectacle lenses and frames, as well as the associated components and optical devices and apparatus”, production could finally begin.