There’s a story behind being one step ahead
In its long history, long-established company BECKER has also experienced some hard knocks ‒ and has always come away stronger from them. Just a few years after the terrible damage inflicted by the War, BECKER had three times as much warehouse space, a high turnover and a 50-strong team; and even after the severe fire in its head office in December 2005, a banner on the facade confidently proclaimed: “130 years of wide-ranging expertise don’t just vanish overnight in a fire”. Today we can be thankful and a little bit proud that we can say: “Life goes on!”
Anyone who has managed to keep their company going for 141 years and for a third generation against stiff competition will often be asked about the secret of their success. The answer is a top-quality range and service offering, the perfect selection, competent advice and a better cost-benefit ratio than our competitors. Our success proves that BECKER is the place to go in Hamburg for watches and jewellery. Find out more about our eventful history.
W. Becker & Co is founded. Albert Becker opens a jewellery shop at Niedernstraße 5 in Hamburg.
First mobile timepiece
Between 1890 and 1914, a carriage that made a regular circuit around the city of Hamburg and its surrounding area acted as an outstanding advertisement. A clock with four large dials was mounted on the carriage, and it was mainly the country folk in the Vierlande area who waited expectantly for it.
Hermann Giercke becomes a partner
Hermann Giercke, grandfather of the current owner, initially worked as a watchmaker. As he was technically adept, he quickly took over the sales function and became one of the company’s executives.
New company head office
Albert Becker had opportunely acquired a plot of land on Kattrepel, a street in northern Hamburg, for the company’s head office. Due to its proximity to the original location, Becker managed to keep its many faithful customers from the Vierlande and Marschlande areas.
Death of Albert Becker
Albert Becker did not recognise the danger of inflation in time and so the entire stock of gold watches and diamond jewellery was sold to dealers at well below value. At the peak of inflation and with his health apparently adversely affected by the prevailing circumstances, Albert Becker died of a heart attack in 1923.
Hermann Giercke took over the business.
Albert Giercke finishes his apprenticeship as a watchmaker
During his training as a watchmaker, Albert Giercke made a micrometer for measuring the most delicate watch parts as his masterpiece when he was at the school for master craftsmen in Glashütte.
The biggest stock market crash in history happened a few days before the company’s 54th anniversary. Fortunately, this event that shook the whole world had little effect on the firm’s business.
Move to Gerhart-Hauptmann-Platz
The seizure of power by the Nazis left its mark on Becker. In 1937, the National Socialists claimed the company’s building on Kattrepel for its press office.
The bell chime and neon advertising
The bell chime was a special attraction for the people of Hamburg in an era of political control. At noon sharp, it rang out the city’s official hymn. In the tradition of Becker’s creative advertising ideas, Albert Giercke installed Hamburg‘s first neon advertisement on the facade of the company’s office on Mönckebergstraße.
Fortune in catastrophe
At the end of July 1943, 700 British and American planes bombed Hamburg. After the inferno there was a scene of utter devastation. Once again the company was fortunate, as its office was still standing. Only the top half had been burned out.
Der New beginnings
In May 1945, Hamburg was occupied by the British. During this time, Becker had to sell the remaining ladies‘ wristwatches to the British soldiers well below their value ‒ a painful process for the war-damaged company. The war was over and proactivity was now called for. Entrepreneurs with vision and energy were needed. Albert Giercke acquired permission to rebuild from the officer responsible.
Ursula Giercke joins the company
The sales function begin with eight employees. Cigarette cases made from Plexiglass and metal lighters are part of the post-war range. The young Ursula Giercke joins the company, sets about her work energetically and motivates the team with her warm personality.
Start of the upturn
Albert and Ursula Giercke undertake their first joint business trips to watchmakers Kienzle and Junghans. As a result of Albert Giercke’s personal visits, a large number of watchmakers, especially in Switzerland, are acquired as business partners.
75 years of Becker
At the time of the 75th anniversary, the team comprises 53 staff. The post-war boom of the 1950s enables an upturn at Becker too. As a result of numerous refurbishments and the use of all floors in the building, the company’s floor space triples. Nicolaus Giercke is born.
The family is complete
The second son, Andreas Giercke, is born. His mother, Ursula Giercke, is not just the integrator and driving force behind her “three men”, but also a welcome figure at social events.
Becker turns 100
The number of staff has reached 97. The company’s activities and initiatives are partly in the hands of managing director Horst Lockenvitz, as Albert Giercke intensifies his focus on social policy and writing activities.
Change of management
After Nicolaus and Andreas Giercke join the company in 1972 and 1983 respectively, they both become partners in 1983 and are thus responsible for the company’s future direction.
A strong duo
The teamwork between the brothers has a positive effect on the company. Master goldsmith and technician Andreas is responsible for the jewellery section and marketing. Gemmologist and diamond expert Nicolaus is responsible for administration, controlling and the purchasing of watches, gemstones and pearls.
The company expands by adding the branch at Sachsentor in Bergedorf. This is followed in 1987 by another branch, which is housed in an art nouveau building on a corner of Hamburg’s Gänsemarkt square. In 1991, the company expands further with a branch in the Alstertal shopping centre and, finally, in Terminal 4 at Hamburg Airport.
The original facade of the head office is rebuilt. The windowsills, the covering for the bells and the awning over the shop window are overlaid with copper panelling, the bricks on the facade are retouched and the four cherubs on the windowsills are reinstalled.
Establishment of the Silverware department
The head office expands by creating an exclusive department for silverware and porcelain.
125 years of Becker
One-and-a-quarter centuries ‒Becker celebrates a brilliant anniversary that is received with enthusiasm in Hamburg, with many special prices, promotions and limited-edition watches. The success is overwhelming.
Relocation of the head office and service studio to Gänsemarkt 19.
Remodelling of the business premises. Modern design and premium materials create a pleasant ambience with feel-good factor.
After successfully completing a degree in Finance in Frankfurt am Main, Jan Giercke also felt drawn back to his roots. Like his father before him, Giercke also trained as a gemmologist and diamond grader at the Gemological Institute Of America in London. Thanks to his creativity and keen eye for detail, he quickly became a permanent fixture at the company.