Carnegie Mellon University freshman Michael Kobold starts his namesake company as an entrepreneurship class project under the tutelage of Professor Jack Roseman and master watchmaker Gerd-R. Lang.
After more than two years of research and development, the Kobold Soarway case is unveiled. The first watch with this instantly recognizable case is the Kobold Polar Surveyor Chronograph, the world's first mechanical wristwatch with day/night indicator, GMT-hand, date, and chronograph function. The Polar Surveyor is developed together with explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes and master watchmaker Gerd-R. Lang.
The kobold Salute
Actor James Gandolfini and explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes star in a series of edgy advertisements featuring their fingers and thumbs. A snap-shot of Gandolfini extending the middle finger is turned into campaign's centerpiece. Eventually, the gesture is affectionally called the "Kobold salute" and becomes a sign of endearment.
SPIRIT OF AMERICA
The Kobold Spirit of America is the first Kobold watch assembled in the United States. Radio and television personality Glenn Beck promotes five Kobold Spirit of America watches to raise funds for charity.
Kobold x Burton Morris
Two Pittsburgh institution collaborate on art watches: pop artist Burton Morris and Kobold create a line of watches featuring either hand-painted or printed versions of Burton's iconic images.
SPIRIT OF AMERICA AUTOMATIC
The first "American watch" in almost 40 years! The Kobold Spirit of America Automatic features the first 100% U.S.-made watch case since the seizure of Hamilton Watch Co.'s operations in 1969. The first Kobold watch with its dial marked "Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania."
Mount Everest Summit
In 2009, Kobold founder Michael Kobold accompanies Kobold ambassador Sir Ranulph Fiennes to the summit of Mount Everest. Both men wear Kobold watches. Ten meters below the summit, Michael collects a number of rocks, which are later turned into watch dials.
Return to Everest
In 2010, Michael Kobold and wife, Anita, return to the summit of Mount Everest. For the second time, they unfold a flag depicting the U.S. Navy SEAL trident on the summit. Both expeditions were undertaken to raise awareness of and public donations for the Navy SEAL Warrior Fund (today called Navy SEAL Foundation).
Himalaya Everest Edition
The Kobold Himalaya Everest Edition, the world's first watch with a dial made from Mount Everest summit rock, is unveiled as part of the opening ceremony of a new Kobold workshop and flagship store in Kathmandu, Nepal. The company is co-owned by two Sherpa mountain guides who accompanied Anita and Michael Kobold, as well as Sir Ranulph Fiennes, on their respective 2008, 2009 and 2010 expeditions to Mount Everest.
New Kobold HQ
Merry Oaks Farm
All four Kobold founding fathers -Carnegie Mellon University Professor Jack Roseman, master watchmaker Gerd-R. Lang, explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Michael Kobold- inaugurate the company's purpose-built headquarters. The four men pay tribute the late Kobold brand ambassador, actor James Gandolfini, by extending the Kobold salute. Located in Amish Country in northwestern Pennsylvania, Merry Oaks Farm features a separate building housing the company's CNC fabrication shop.
Embrace (Mis-) Adventure
Intent on delivering much-needed fire engines to Nepal, Michael Kobold heads to Kathmandu to sign official paperwork clearing the vehicles through Nepalese customs. The plan is for a group of celebrities to then drive these vehicles through Nepal. The project is hampered as Nepal is suffering under a secret economic blockade by neighboring India.
Nepal : Kobold
During the previous two years, Kobold has undergone a period of intense turbulence following the delayed implementation of its in-house watch case-making operation, as well as due to the effects of an industry-wide crisis. Observers call this "the worst crisis in the watch industry's history." At the same time, India's secret economic blockade of Nepal is causing the worst humanitarian crisis in the country's history. Nepal's Prime Minister K.P. Oli entrusts Michael Kobold with publicly exposing India's embargo. Michael has a difficult judgement call to make: save his ailing company or help the people of Nepal in their greatest hour of need.
(Pictured: Nepal Ambassador Dr. Arjun Karki and Michael Kobold in the prime minister's residence at Baluwatar, Kathmandu, Nepal.)
Police Raid on Ex-Kobold Employees
Following the discovery of internal sabotage by former Kobold employees, Michael Kobold contacts the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Pennsylvania State Police. Subsequently, organized crime detectives raid the homes of ex-employees and seize watches, components, tools and machinery valued in excess of $300,000 at cost.
Faced with the effects of years-long internal sabotage by employees intent on running their own customization and repair business following the company's eventual demise, Michael Kobold -on the eve of his brand's 20th anniversary- has to face the prospect of shutting down Kobold once all customers affected by the sabotage receive their watches.
In 2019, the long process of rebuilding the Kobold brand begins. In addition to continuing the process of returning previously stolen, recovered watches to their respective owners, the company announces several new collaborations, including with members of the U.S. Submarine Service. Kobold also unveils a watch that has been in the works since 2015: the Richard Byrd.
Passing of a legend
The person who was the inspiration behind Kobold watches lived on her own terms: By embracing adventure.
Kobold is back!
A STAR REBORN
Despite the pandemic, Kobold returns to greatness by introducing five new watch models, including a special James Gandolfini commemorative edition of the iconic Seal.