Winterhalder & Hofmeier were considered the finest clockmakers in the Victorian era. They were based in several towns in Germany’s Black Forest region. The company was established in 1810 by Thomas Winterhalder in Friedenweiler, southern Germany, and was continued by his three sons Matthäus, Karl and Linus. They lived in an old house that Thomas bought from a monastery.
The family enterprise had actually begun a generation earlier as Thomas Winterhalder’s father, Nicholaus Winterhalder (1710-1743), was also an established Black Forest clockmaker, based in the nearby city, Schwarzenbach. He made quality clocks with wooden gears and stone weights.
Matthäus Winterhalder (1799–1863) took over the work rooms in 1830, and in 1850, when relative and clockmaker, Anton Hofmeier, joined the company, Winterhalder & Hofmeier was born. Towards the latter half of the eighteenth century, Winterhalder & Hofmeier produced various types of clocks that were of very high quality in their factories in Friedenweiler, Neustadt and Schwarzenbach. Note that the spelling of "Hofmeier" varies, also being listed as "Hoffmeier".
At the height of their success, satellite factories began to spring up, and by the mid and late 19th century they were producing clocks of premier quality. The entire family was involved in this industry. Hans Winterhalder founded a company called HAWINA Clock Company with 800 employees devoted purely to the exportation of Winterhalder clocks to England, Russia and America during the first decade of the 20th century. Hawina was eventually sold to the giant German clock firm of Junghans in 1925.
Hans then immigrated to Philadelphia intent on opening a clock shop, but this endeavor failed, concluding this branch of the Winterhalder business. With the crash of the stock market in 1933 the Winterhalder enterprise lost all of their assets. Due to the withering effects of Nazi Germany's racial and religious attacks during the mid 1930's the Winterhalder family was unable to obtain bank credit.
In 1937, after many years of superb quality clockmaking, arguably the finest in Germany, the firm closed its doors for good. The movements produced by this firm around the turn of the 20th century are often mistaken for English movements because of their fine quality.
W&H made Hall, wall and mantel clocks. A 1909 catalog of Grimshaw, Baxter and JJ Elliott Ltd. (fine English clock firm) shows two examples of superb W&H bracket clocks imported by Grimshaw and priced at half the price of similar English examples in the same catalog. The most common trademark was "W&H Sch"(Winterhalder & Hofmeier Schwarzenbach) registered in 1927 but used for some years prior to that. This trademark was usually stamped on the brass movement.