The history of the Michelsen company began on July 1st 1909 when a young and prospective master watchmaker from Denmark, J. Frank Michelsen (1882-1954), founded his workshop and store in Sauðárkrókur, a small village in the northern part of Iceland.
J. Frank was very skilled with his hands and was curious about most things. He also worked as a goldsmith, imported and sold soap, bred pigs at Sauðárkrókur and was also the Chief of the village fire service.
J. Frank had 12 children and his oldest son, Franch, became interested in watchmaking and decided to learn the trade. J. Frank used to produce pocket watches that carried his name before the World War II but due to the bad recession during that time in Iceland, the production was stopped.
The company was at first called J. Fr. Michelsen, Watches and Jewellery. From the beginning, the Michelsen watchmakers have been one of the leading watchmaking companies in Iceland. Michelsen Watchmakers are known for their professionalism, excellent craftsmanship and ambition to improve. They are a trusted name and this has brought about their existence for 100 years. The tradition of watchmaking has not been lost and J. Frank passed the baton to his son, Franch.
Franch Michelsen (1913-2009) learned watchmaking in his father’s workshop and then went on to Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1937 to further his study in watchmaking. He was the top graduate, obtaining a mark of "ultra godt" which means "extremely good". After graduation, he worked for Carl Jonsén who was the Royal Watchmaker for the Danish Court. During this tenure, Franch repaired watches that belonged to Queen Alexandrina.
After the invasion of the German army during the WW II, Franch returned to Iceland. In 1943 Franch opened another Michelsen store, now in Reykjavík but his father retained ownership of the original shop in Sauðárkrókur.
The two shops merged in 1946 when J. Frank moved to Reykjavík. Franch was an excellent Craftsman, known for his leadership and professionalism. He was an active member of the Icelandic Chamber of Commerce and Icelandic Association of Watchmaking. He taught his trade to twelve young apprentices, including one of his sons, Frank Ú.
Frank Ú. Michelsen (1956) learned watchmaking in his family’s shop and at the Technical College in Reykjavík. In 1978, he completed his watchmaking studies at the famous watchmaking school WOSTEP, in Neuchatel, Switzerland. It was due to Frank’s time in Switzerland that the Michelsen company established a relationship with one of the world’s most famous brand, Rolex. Rolex needed a well respected company to represent their watches in Iceland during that period of time.
Three decades later, that relationship is still going strong. Upon graduation, Frank worked side by side with his father. Franch Sr. never stopped working until he had to step down in 1992 due to his ailing health. Till this day, Frank regularly attends refresher courses at Rolex to maintain the extreme high standards of quality that Rolex requires of their watchmakers. Frank has also worked for the Icelandic Association of Watchmaking for several years and was their chairman in the years 2000-2005.
With the heritage behind him, Róbert F. Michelsen (1984) continues the tradition that has been in his family for a 100 years. Róbert studied watchmaking in the Michelsen company, following in the footstep of his father and his father’s father. In 2007, after two years of waiting, he attended the Full Training Course at WOSTEP Neuchatel in Switzerland. Robert completed the course in spring 2009 and graduating as at the top student of his cohort. His final project involved designing and re-building a watch from a blank movement. This took several months to complete and this was to be the first watch designed and handmade by an Icelandic watchmaker. Today Robert lives in Switzerland where he further explored his watchmaking knowledge and now works as a teacher in an international, privately owned watchmaking school.