Our history

Three entrepreneurial brothers. One great invention.

In 1933, Björn, Alvar and Arvid Kjellström invented the first ever liquid-filled compass, and our story began. Not only was it the first compass of its kind, but it also set the global standard for how navigation works upon today. Then, in 1935, we launched our first headlamp – Zeiler – and the SILVA brand was born.

Still to this day, we develop products for people who spend time on outdoor activities, regardless if the activity is high pulse like running, skiing, commuting to school or work. With our products, you can go anywhere you want, at any time of the day, and in any conditions.

1933

the beginning

Björn, Alvar and Arvid Kjellström invents the first ever liquid filled compass. When they began, compasses had no restraints to keep the needle from swinging. Their invention made it faster and easier to use and read the compass.

The protractor baseplate allowed users to take more accurate bearings from maps and the needle stopped moving in the compass liquid within four seconds as opposed to up to 30 seconds in older compasses.

1935

Our first headlamp

We expanded our business with a new innovation as we introduced our very first headlamp.

Although headlamps had existed since the early 1900s (mainly used by miners who had them attached to their soft caps) they weren’t that powerful. After 12 hours,  the lamps would produce less than 5 lumens. They also had to be checked on a daily basis for maintenance.

We named our first headlamp Zeiler and the retail price was €0,8.

1939

First mirror sighting compass

We introduced the first mirror sighting, liquid damped baseplate compass. It enabled the user to sight a direction or an object with the compass capsule visible at the same time. With the compass dial and the reference point aligned, the user could take more accurate bearings.

1955

Orienteering handbook

Björn Kjellström published a book on land navigation and the sport of orienteering – ”Be Expert With Map and Compass”. It has been sold in more than 500 000 copies and it is still available.

1955

Tray manufacturing

We are not only known for our outdoor equipment. Up until 2012, we had our own factory in Sollentuna, Sweden, and in the 1950’s and 60’s we also manufactured trays made of teak.

1960

First wrist compass

We introduced our first wrist compass, the Globe Trotter. It had an aluminium case and red/white needle with a luminous north marker. The leather strap was extra long, intended to be worn over mountaineering winter clothing.

1971

Orienteering in the US

Björn Kjellström co-founded the United States Orienteering Federation. He became an influential benefactor to and promoter of orienteering with a map and compass in the US.

1981

First marine compass

We launched our marine electronic navigation instrument.

1992

GPS with Digital compass

We launched the world’s first handheld GPS with an integrated digital compass. It had a number of different modes such as finding the current position, navigating in a particular direction, storing waypoints etc. The built-in antenna and the sensibility of the receiver, allowed the user to use it in the most difficult of situations.

2008

Intelligent Light Technology

We developed a double light beam technology that adapts to how the human eyes work in the dark. We named it Intelligent Light and it is still used in all of our headlamps.

2015

Introducing Flow light

We continued to develop our light by introducing Flow Light, a feature that enabled seamless tuning of the light image for different activities by simply tilting the headlamp up or down.

2016

First global compass

We launched our two iconic compass models, Ranger and Expedition, with a global needle. This allowed the compass to be used anywhere in the world.

2020

stay tuned

We will launch a revolutionary product. The world’s first….

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