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Movement identification

Copyright © David Boettcher 2006 - 2017 all rights reserved.

This page is not intended to be a comprehensive reference of watch movements, of which there are many thousands. It is a small selection of often unidentified movements that I have been able to positively identify.

I don't intend to show movements with their makers names on them, because they are already identified. The idea of this page is to try to identify otherwise unknown movements found in the type of watches that I collect, which are principally Great War era men's wristwatches with 12 or 13 ligne movements.

It is difficult to identify movements from the shape of the plates or bridges. Although some movements such as the IWC calibre 64 leap out to the experienced eye, other are less easy because of similarities between the products of different manufactures, and manufacturers altering bridge shapes for different customers. In fact, the apparently huge variety of Swiss watches is explained by this phenomenon: once the basic layout in a round movement of the barrel, train wheels, escapement and balance was arrived at, there was little scope, let alone need, to change it.

Note that the setting lever screw is an exception to the rule about screw placement, it can be in different places in stem set and pin set varieties of the same movement, or absent altogether if the keyless work is negative set.

The shape of the cocks and bridges is more of an aesthetic consideration; so long as all the pivot holes and screw holes are in exactly the same places, then bridges of very different shapes can be freely interchanged. Some manufacturers produced many different movements with the same layout and train components but different cocks and bridges. Fabrique Horlogerie Fontainemelon (FHF) was a large manufacturer of Swiss ébauches who did this a lot.

To see a clear example of this look at the section below about Eterna movements customised for Stauffer & Co. Compare the bridge shapes shown in Jobin for the Eterna movements and those seen on Stauffer branded Eterna movements. The movements are definitively identified as Eterna by their keyless work, but their top plates are different from those shown in Jobin.

The really definitive "fingerprint" of a movement is the keyless work, which is why materials parts suppliers such as Bestfit and Schwartchild often show only the components of the keyless work in their movement identifications. However, to see the keyless work requires the dial to be removed, which may not be possible. The pictures on this page can help to identify movements without seeing the keyless work, but be careful to make sure that all the features, the shapes of the plates and bridges, the placement of the screws and pivots, are exactly the same; similar is not close enough!

If you click on the pictures a bigger one should pop up in a new window. I don't mind you using these for your own personal research, but if you want to use them elsewhere such as on an internet forum, a web site, or in a publication, please read my copyright notice first.

If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to contact me via my Contact me page.


Measuring movements

Measuring movements
Official Catalogue of Swiss Watch Repair Parts - how to measure movements

The first step in identifying a movement is to determine its size in lignes. The image here from the "Official Catalogue of Swiss Watch Repair Parts" issued by the Watchmakers of Switzerland in 1948 shows how movements are measured for diameter D and height H.

Note that the diameter D is taken from the part of the movement below the widest part of the bottom plate. This is an important dimension because it determines the size of the hole in the case or carrier ring that the movement is to be put into. The widest part of the movement forms a flange that stops the movement dropping straight though the case or carrier ring. It must be there, but its diameter is not as important as the diameter D.

Swiss movement sizes are usually given in lignes. A ligne is 1/12 of an old French inch and is about 2.256mm. Measure the diameter in millimetres and then use the calculator below to convert this into lignes.

 

Photographing movements

When taking pictures of a movement, please always make sure that you get the pendant or crown and winding stem at the top, in the 12 o'clock position. This is how movements are usually shown in the reference books, and it is a lot easier to compare them if you don't have to try to mentally rotate the picture!

For some easy to follow tips on taking good close up photographs of watches and movements click on this link taking close ups.

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Beguelin & Cie SA, Damas and Tramelan

BTCo. logo BTCo. logo
BTCo. logo

The company "Beguelin & Cie SA, manufacture de montres Damas et Tramelan Watch Co." is little recorded. In "Swiss Timepiece Makers, 1775-1975" Kathleen H. Pritchard says the company was founded in 1903 although the company itself in adverts says 1902. Trademarks used by the company include the BTCo. logo shown here, BEG and a fancy M. In later years the brand name "Damas" was used prominently in advertising and on movements.

The movements shown below are all 13 ligne movements and they were all made by BTCo. The more remarkable fact is that they all use the same basic ébauche, only the shapes of the bridges and cocks are different, all the train wheels and components apart from the bridges and cocks are identical. Under the dial the similarity is revealed by the fact that they all have identical keyless work.

Beguelin supplied movements to The Rolex Watch Company that were used in Marconi, Unicorn and RolCo branded watches. They also supplied movements to Ingersoll, and possibly others. If you have a Beguelin movement with a different name on it, please let me know.

BTCo. movement
BTCo. military movement: Click to enlarge

The first movement pictured here, which I have titled "BTCo. military movement" is from a trench watch with a black dial and fixed wire lug nickel case made by Dennison. It has the British Army military property broad arrow or "pheon" and a stores number on the case back. This appears to be one of the watches officially issued to soldiers by the British Army beginning in 1917. It is slightly different from the group of movements in the section below; the click is different and the setting lever screw is in a slightly different place. But its similarity to the first of the movements in the group is obvious, the central bridge and the balance cock are very distinct shapes.

The five movements shown in the group below all have identically located setting lever screws, and all but the first have identical clicks. In all of these movements the keyless work is identical, showing that they were all made by the one company. I have only shown the keyless work once, from the last watch in the group. The bottom plate of that watch carries the BTCo. logo for a positive identification, the only one of the group that does. Thanks to Owen Gilchrist for allowing me to photograph these movements.

The similarities between the movements are as striking as their differences. The more you look the more similarities you see; the jewel holes for the third, fourth and escape wheels are in the same places, the screws that secure the bridges and cocks are in the same places, the case screws that secure the movements into their cases are in the same places. But the shapes of the bridges and cocks are so different that you might never suspect that these are essentially identical movements, which is precisely what the manufacturers intended.

The first movement in the group below has no brand name. The next is branded Rolco on the ratchet wheel, the same movement was also used in Marconi and Unicorn watches. The next two are branded Ingersoll, the first on the ratchet wheel, the second with Ingersoll "Elite" engraved on the main cock and gold filled, and the next one with 16 jewels has no brand name on it. The final picture shows the bottom plate and keyless work, which is identical in all of these movements.

BTCo. movement
BTCo. movement: Click to enlarge
BTCo. Rolco movement
BTCo. Rolco movement: Click to enlarge
BTCo. Ingersoll movement
BTCo. Ingersoll movement: Click to enlarge
BTCo. Ingersoll movement
BTCo. Ingersoll Elite: Click to enlarge
BTCo. 16 jewel movement
BTCo. 16 jewel movement: Click to enlarge
BTCo. movement
BTCo. keyless work: Click to enlarge

BTCo. calibre 40 RolCo movement

BTCo. calibre 40 movement
BTCo. calibre 40 in Jobin: Click to enlarge
BTCo. RolCo movement
BTCo. calibre 40 RolCo movement

The Beguelin "tonneau form" or barrel shaped movement shown in the first image is branded RolCo on the ratchet wheel, a truncation of ‘Rolex Company’. The RolCo brand name was registered on 15th September 1927 and, like Marconi, Unicorn and other brands, was used for watches at lower price points than the top line Rolex branded watches.

The second picture is from Jobin's "La classification horlogère" and shows the entry for this movement. The size of the movement is given as 27 x 20mm or 8¾ x 12 lignes and there is a reference "No 40", presumably Beguelin's calibre reference. The image in Jobin shows a basic grade of this movement with no train jewels but with "Bouchons" "dessus" and "dessous" (above and below), that is brass bushes instead of jewels in the top and bottom plates. The RolCo movement is fully jewelled with 15 jewels.

Watches with Rolex's "other brands" on their movements such as Marconi, Unicorn or RolCo, are often described as "Rolex watches", but this is not what Rolex would have called them. There was often no secret that they were supplied by the Rolex Watch Company, but they were not called or branded Rolex watches, they were called Marconi, Unicorn or RolCo watches by Rolex themselves and if any name appears on the dial it should be the same as the one on the movement. This is discussed in greater detail at Rolex's other brands.

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Longines calibre 13.34 movement

Longines 13.34 movement
Longines 13.34 movement: Click to enlarge

Introduced in 1910, the Longines 13.34 movement was used in many Longines wristwatches during the Great War. Often, like this one, they do not carry the name Longines visibly, but they are quite easy to identify. The calibre number 13.34 is stamped on the bottom plate and is visible next to the escape wheel. If you click on the picture and get an enlarged view you should be able to see this just inside the case screw next to the copper coloured dot that is the end of a dial foot. You should also be able to make out the B & Co. mark of Baume & Co., Longines agent in the UK for many years. Failing that, the shape of the plates and bridges is very distinctive — although there is also a variant with the same barrel bridge shape but the three individual cocks of the third, fourth and escape wheels fused into a single bridge.

The Longines 13.34 movement operates at 18,000 vibrations per hour (vph) giving five ticks per second. It has a straight line Swiss lever escapement, a cut bimetallic temperature compensation balance with gold timing screws, and a steel balance spring with a Breguet overcoil.

Even the lowest grade 13.34 movements had 15 jewels. The movement shown in the picture here, which dates to 1913, has an extra three jewels, taking the jewel count to 18. The three extra jewels are a jewel bearing for the centre wheel top pivot, and two cap jewels for the escape wheel; the polished steel setting for the top escape wheel cap jewel stands out in the picture. The visible train jewels are set in "chatons", metal settings that are fixed in place with small screws.

When jewels were first used in the eighteenth century it was found difficult to make the jewel an exact size on its outer diameter with the hole exactly in the centre, so pierced jewels were set into metal settings called that could then be turned so that their outside was the desired diameter and concentric with the hole. Early jewels were often made from small pieces of gem stone that had been cut from a larger stone in the process of shaping and polishing it. These small pieces were called "kittens" by the gem cutters, or in French "chatons", which is how these settings came to be called by this name. By the time this movement was made the techniques of jewel grinding had advanced and the metal settings were no longer necessary, but they look good and so "top of the range" movements such as the Longines movement in the picture were fitted with them. They were an expensive piece of window dressing that had no effect on the going of the watch, which is why they are only fitted to the visible top holes, the ones the customer sees; the jewels in the bottom holes were rubbed in as usual.

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Gallet "Electa" Wristwatch Movements

Electa%2017j%20with%20Reed%20micro-regulator
Electa 17 Jewels with Reed's whiplash regulator. Click image to enlarge

This is the movement I have found most frequently in my collection of Borgel wristwatches. Although there is no maker's mark anywhere on the movement I first identified it as an Electa movement from the name "Electa" which appears on the dial of one of the first watches I collected with this movement. Electa was a division of Gallet.

Electa movement
Electa Savonnette Movement 15 Jewels. Click image to enlarge

The first movement shown here is a savonnette layout with the small seconds on the dial at 6 o'clock. It has 15 jewels, a split bi-metallic temperature compensated balance and Breguet overcoil balance spring.

In addition to the 15 jewel type, there was also a higher grade 17 jewel version with the jewels set in chatons, with Reed's whiplash regulator adjuster with swan neck spring for precise adjustment of the regulator lever. The swan neck springs of the Reed adjuster of these movements are often broken. I am planning to make some of these swan neck springs to replace the ones that are missing from my movements - I don't expect that it will be a quick or easy exercise. . . .

I also have an indirect centre seconds version of this movement, with the seconds hand driven off the arbor of the third wheel by multiplier gearing. This is the bottom picture to the right. A full explanation of the working of the centre seconds of this watch is given on the Watch Movements page.

This movement was also available with "negative set" or "American system" keyless work.

Electa catalogue 1914
Electa catalogue 1914 Copyright © The Gallet Group. Click image to enlarge.
Electa%20centre%20seconds%20movement
Electa Centre Seconds. Click image to enlarge.
Electa Negative Set
Electa Negative Set

When a negative set mechanism is present a setting lever screw, which normally releases the stem, is not fitted, as you can see in the picture to the left. To remove the movement from the case, there is no need to undo the setting lever screw as you would do for a positive set movement, just pull the crown out to the hand set position and the movement can be removed from the case by tilting it slightly.

Electa Catalogue 1914

Confirmation that these are indeed Electa movements was provided to me by David R. Laurence, Managing Director of The Gallet Group, Inc. www.GalletWatch.com who kindly provided me with the scan of a page from an Electa catalogue dated 1914, you can see some of the Electa movements I have pictured. It's interesting that even the 7 jewel basic version had a Bréguet balance spring and temperature compensated balance. The red rubies seem to be rather expensive, presumably they were natural gem stones rather than synthetic. You can read more about Electa and Gallet on my Gallet and Electa page.

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Gallet "Electa" Pocket Watch Movements

Electa pocket watch movement
Electa Lépine pocket watch movement. Click image to enlarge

The picture to the left shows an Electa movement from a Borgel pocket watch. It is an open face pocket watch with the pendant at 12 o'clock so the movement is a Lépine layout. The fourth wheel arbor, which carries the seconds hand, is pivoted in the cock at the bottom of the picture, the one with "17 jewels" written on it. This is directly in line with the winding stem, which enters the movement at the top.

Electa Savonnette Movement
Electa Savonnette Movement
Click image to enlarge

It is a high quality movement, jewelled to the centre with 17 jewels, four set in chatons as you can see in the picture. It has a Reed's whiplash regulator adjuster with swan neck spring for precise adjustment of the regulator lever.

The bridges and cocks are decorated with stripes or bands of decoration called Côtes de Genève, and you will notice that the stripes line up across all the bridges and cocks. I often wonder exactly how they did this, the stripes must have been made with all the cocks and bridges assembled on the bottom plate before the parts were nickel plated.

The picture to the right shows a savonnette version of this movement. The similarity between the two movements is striking although they are quite different layouts. The barrel bridge is completely different because the crown wheel and ratchet wheels are transposed. Close examination shows that this results in the centre bridge being completely different too, although at first sight it looks very similar.

The similarities between the two movements have allowed economies in manufacture to be made. The layout and positioning of the train wheels is identical in the two movements, and the fourth wheel cock, the escape wheel cock and the balance cock are all identical. The use of an identical layout for the train means that the wheels and arbors in the two different styles of movement are the same.

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IWC calibre 63 and calibre 64 movement

IWC calibre 64 movement
IWC calibre 64 movement
Click image to enlarge

All early IWC wristwatches use either the calibre 63 Lépine or calibre 64 Savonnette movement. These movements were the ideal size for a wristwatch. They first appear in the IWC movement and parts catalogue "Fournitures No. 1" dating from around 1891-92. These calibres use the same basic shapes for the plates and the escape and balance cocks, but laid out differently in the Lépine and Savonnette styles. The picture to the right shows this, and if you click on it you will get a larger version in a pop-up window which is clearer. Both of these movements are from Borgel wristwatches and so don't have long stems, but I have indicated where the stem is located. When a calibre 63 is used for a wristwatch the small seconds would be at 9 o'clock, so the small seconds are usually omitted in this configuration; the calibre 64 was used when small seconds were required.

IWC calibres 63 and 64
IWC Calibres 63 and 64. Click image to enlarge.

Many of these calibre 63 and 64 movements were supplied to Stauffer & Co. of London who put them into wristwatch cases, and the movement in the picture is from one of these watches with a Borgel case. In this application they are made pin-set, that is they use a separate push piece to put the keyless work into the hand setting position, so were ideally suited to the Borgel case with its split stem which allowed the movement to screw into and unscrew from the case. Note that it is not the "S&Co. under a crown or " PEERLESS" stamped on the movement underneath the balance which identifies this as an IWC movement - those are trademarks which belong to Stauffer, Son & Co. and also appear on movements sourced by Stauffer from other manufacturers.

I first identified the movement pictured as an IWC calibre 64 by comparing the shapes of the plates and bridges with diagrams in IWC " Fournitures" catalogues, and the IWC museum have since confirmed that it is a genuine IWC calibre 64 movement listed in their records. However, because it was supplied to Stauffer as a bare movement, IWC will not issue an "extract from the archives" for the watch as they did not supply the case.

There is more about IWC in general and the calibre 63 and 64 movements on my IWC page.

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Stauffer & Co. Eterna movements


Eterna cal. 520 showing keyless work

Eterna cal. 520 with Stauffer ram
Thanks to Ventura Mijares for the pictures


Eterna 520 from Jobin 1936

Stauffer & Co. also obtained movements or watches from Eterna. The picture here shows an Eterna calibre 520 movement with the Stauffer trademarks on the barrel bridge of the intials S & Co. under a crown inside an oval shield, and the Stauffer trademark name "Peerless".

Stauffer & Co. Eterna movement
Eterna 520 with Stauffer trademarks. Click image to enlarge
Thanks to Marc for the picture

The movement shown here is a customised version of the Eterna calibre 520 movement with none standard bridge shapes. The picture from Jobin's "La classification horlogère des calibres de montres et des fournitures d'horlogerie suisse" 1936 edition shows the usual form of the barrel bridge and train bridge of the Eterna 520 movement, which are quite different to the Stauffer branded version, although the balance and escape cocks look very similar.

It seems likely that Stauffer asked for these changes to be made so that the movement appeared to be unique to them and not be easily recognised as an Eterna calibre. These bridge shapes were also used for other calibres that Eterna supplied to Stauffer, including a version of the Eterna 600 calibre.

I also have an 18 ligne pocket watch movement with the same bridge shapes that I have also identified as an Eterna from the keyless works.

It was quite common thing for the Swiss ébauche factories to make variants like this of a basic movement. The vast majority of the components, including the bottom plate, remained exactly the same, but by changing the shape of the bridges and cocks while still leaving all the pivot holes in the same places, a movement could be given a very different appearance. Makers such as Fontainemelon (FHF) and A. Schild often produced several variants of a basic movement with different shaped bridges and cocks, and sometimes with different finishes to the visible surfaces such as gilding, perlage or Côtes de Genève.

The setting lever cover plate and spring detent remain the same for all versions of the Eterna 520 calibre and are the "fingerprint" of the movement. In the picture showing the keyless work I have included the footprint picture of the Eterna 520 from a Bestfit catalogue.

At least some, perhaps all, of the Eterna movements supplied to Stauffer have the Stauffer ram logo doing under the barrel bridge as shown in the third picture here. This was a registered trademark belonging to Stauffer and so they could insist that it was applied to any movements that were supplied to them, just as they did with IWC. Does this mean that there was any connection between Eterna and IWC? I don't think so, other than that they both supplied movements or watches to Stauffer.

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Tavannes calibre 330/331/332/333 13''' - 3B movement

Tavannes movement
Click image to enlarge
Tavannes 13-3B Jobin
Tavannes 13'''-3B in Jobin
Click image to enlarge

This is a Tavannes Calibre 330 series 13''' - 3B movement from a Borgel wristwatch. Although this particular movement has the legend "Tavannes Watch Co" engraved on the ratchet wheel, these movements are often seen without any reference to the manufacturer. The shape of the main cock (not a bridge) holding the pivots of the centre, third and fourth wheels is very distinctive.

This particular movement is in a Borgel screw case watch hallmarked 1928/29. The plates and cocks are decorated with Côtes de Genè, or Geneva Stripes. This movement is seen in several grades from basic 15 jewel with no decoration to movements with extra jewels, jewels set in chatons, and decoration including Côtes de Genè as here, and perlage.

The insert to the right shows the entry in the 1936 edition of Jobin "La Classification Horlogère des Calibres de Montres ... Suisse". It shows that the movement is a 13 ligne calibre. Given the four references below the calibre size the meaning of the "3B" is not clear.

The entry in Jobin indicates that this movement was made in both savonnette (Ref 330 - 332) and Lépine (Ref 331 - 333) forms. The movements shown in the photograph and the picture from Jobin are both savonnette, I don't recall seeing it in Lépine form.

Sometimes the name Admiral, a Tavannes brand, or Admiral Tacy (a combination of TAvannes and CYma) appears on the watch. I have also seen this movement with the brand "Stayte" on the distinctive central finger as shown in the picture below.

Tavannes US patent 1904
US Pat 24 May 1904, no setting lever screw.

U.S. PAT 24 May 1904

These movements often bear a reference to a US patent "U.S. PAT 24 May 1904" or "U.S. PAT 24 MAY. 1904" (the stamp is poor in the P and it often looks like "U.S. FAT 24 May 1904"). This is a reference to patent US 760647 for a negative set stem winding and setting mechanism (keyless work) granted to Sandoz on that date, a US version of a Swiss patent CH 28243 granted to Sandoz in 1903.US Pat 24 May 1904, US PAT 24 MAY 1904.

Tavannes "Stayte" branding
Tavannes "Stayte" branding.

When this legend appears on the movement it shows that the keyless work was designed on the "negative set" or "American system" principles. These movements are seen with either normal or negative set mechanisms. In Britain the negative set versions are usually in Dennison cases, which is not surprising given that the Dennison watch case company was set up to make cases for imported American Waltham movements.

If negative set keyless work is present in one of these movements, the setting lever screw, which normally releases the stem, is not present and the legend "U.S. PAT 24 May 1904" is stamped where the setting lever screw would be. The movement shown in the photograph above has a setting lever screw, which you can see just above the crown wheel, slightly off to the left towards the screw that holds the barrel bridge in place. The barrel bridge shown in the picture on the immediate does not have a setting lever screw, which would be about where the "19" of the "1904" part of the legend is. I have inverted this photograph compared to the main one above to make the legend U.S.Pat.24 MAY.1904 the right way up.

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Tavannes Calibre 370/371 13''' - 7 Movements

Tavannes movement
Click image to enlarge
Tavannes 13-3B Jobin
Tavannes Calibre 370 in Jobin
Click image to enlarge

The pictures show a Tavannes Calibre 370 savonnette movement from a Borgel wristwatch. Thanks to Marc for providing the photo.

The insert to the right shows the entry in the 1936 edition of Jobin "La Classification Horlogère des Calibres de Montres ... Suisse". The entry shows that this calibre was size 13''' (13 ligne, about 29.3mm diameter). I don't know what the "-7" means, perhaps it was the seventh 13''' calibre they made. The entry also shows that the same basic movement was made in two layouts, calibres reference 370 and 371.

  • The Ref. 370 is a savonnette movement, the type used in savonnette or hunter pocket watches with a metal lid to protect the crystal, and also in open face wristwatches with the small seconds at 90° to the crown, that is with the crown at 3 and the small seconds at 6.

  • The Ref. 371 is a Lépine movement used in open face pocket watches, with the small seconds opposite the crown, that is with the crown at 12 and the small seconds at 6.

Most of the parts, the wheels, escapements, spring barrels, etc. of these two movements are interchangeable, but the two main plates are different for the two layouts. The savonnette version is the one most often seen in wristwatches; pocket watches with either calibre and the Lépine version of the movement are much rarer, I have never seen one.

On some of these movements, the calibre reference is stamped on the top of the bottom plate, visible underneath the balance.

The movements in both pictures have a simple form of engine turning called damascened or damascening (pronounced with a soft "c" like "damaseened"). Damascening is the art of inlaying different metals into one another to produce intricate patterns, the term comes from a perceived resemblance to the rich tapestry patterns of damask silk.

Damascening is different in appearance to the Côtes de Genè (Geneva Stripes) or perlage seen on other Swiss movements such as the Tavannes 13''' -3B and the Schild Calibre 137 on this page, although the process for making the patterns was similar. The style of damascening on the movements pictured here, individual straight or wavy lines rather than overall decoration of the plates with a repeated pattern, was principally used by American manufacturers, and in America is called damaskeened or damaskeening. It was done either by hand or machine, and in the highest grade of America watches was much more elaborate than the simple version seen here. Decoration such as damasceening was particularly important to American manufacturers at the time when movements and cases were selected separately by the customer at the point of sale; a movement needed to catch the customers eye.

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Fontainemelon Movement 1

Fontainemelon movement
Fontainemelon movement 1. Click image to enlarge

This movement was made by Fabrique d'Horlogerie de Fontainemelon (FHF), a big Swiss ébauche manufacturer that was set up in 1793 to supply the Swiss watch industry with ébauches (bare movements) for finishing and casing to reduce reliance on the supply of ébauches from France, principally Japy. There is now a page about Fabrique d'Horlogerie de Fontainemelon.

Fontainemelon FHF logo
Fontainemelon "FHF" logo

The number 1 is my number, not the Fontainemelon calibre number. I have been unable to identify this movement in Jobin or any other reference. The 1936 edition of Jobin indicates that Fontainemelon movements are stamped on the bottom plate with the FHF logo shown here, but this movement is earlier and does not have that mark.

In 1891 FHF registered a trademark of an arrow through an apple, a reference to William Tell, the folk hero whose defiance of the established order led to a rebellion and the formation of the Swiss Confederation, and this trademark can be seen on the bottom plate when the barrel bridge is removed. You can see the apple with an arrow through it in the bottom left corner of the picture, I have indicated the barrel bridge screw which fits in the screw hole shown in the cut out.

Sometimes these movement have a reference number for a Swiss patent, CH 51482, stamped on the bottom plate under the dial. This patent for a "Mécanisme de remontage et de mise à l'heure" (a mechanism for winding the watch and setting the hands, i.e. a "stem set" or "keyless"mechanism) was granted to Fabrique d'Horlogerie de Fontainemelon. It has a priority date of 3 May 1910 and was published 1 September 1911.

In 1925 Ébauches SA was formed as an association of 26 ébauche makers, including Fontainemelon, A. Schild, ETA (at the time the movement division of Eterna), and a number of other Swiss ébauche makers.

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Fontainemelon movement 2

Fontainemelon movement
Fontainemelon movement 2. Click image to enlarge
Mallory movement
Movement from Georg Mallory's watch © Rick Reanier/Jochen Hemmleb, used with permission. Click image to enlarge.

This is another movement by Fabrique d'Horlogerie de Fontainemelon. The number 2 is my number, not the Fontainemelon calibre number which I have not yet discovered. This movement was identified by the patent number 51482 stamped on the bottom plate under the dial (See entry above for explanation). Thanks to Marc for providing the photo.

It is virtually identical to the Fontainemelon Movement 1 pictured above, apart from the shape of the centre bridge and the click that stops the ratchet wheel reversing.

George Mallory's watch

George Mallory's Borgel wristwatch has the same Fontainemelon movement but with a higher degree of finish. The plates are decorated with perlageCSS Tooltip calloutA circular graining decoration that looks like pearls, produced by lowering a spinning wooden peg charged with abrasive paste onto the surface. Also called engine turning. and it has cap jewels for the pivots of the escape wheel as well as the balance. The click is different from the one on the first movement shown in this section, but it is identical to the click on the movement pictured above. You can read more about Mallory and the watch at a Borgel on Mount Everest.

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Fontainemelon Movement 3

Fontainemelon movement
Fontainemelon movement 3. Click image to enlarge
Fontainemelon movement
Fontainemelon movement 3. Click image to enlarge

This is another movement by Fabrique d'Horlogerie de Fontainemelon, identified by the William Tell mark of an arrow through an apple on the bottom plate under the barrel bridge. The number 3 is my number, not the Fontainemelon calibre number which I have not yet discovered.

The second picture shows the bottom plate, which is usually covered by the dial. The visible mechanism at the top is the keyless work that allows the watch to be wound and set by the crown. The shape of the cover plate work that holds the yoke and return spring in place is very distinctive.

This movement is from a Borgel watch so it has a pin set mechanism for setting the hands. Instead of a setting lever, the steel part held in place by the setting lever screw and the screw with a large head on its left hand end is fixed, holding the short movement stem in place. When pressed by the pin set the yoke pivots around the screw on its right hand end to move the sliding pinion down into the hand setting position. When the pin set is released the return spring pushes the yoke and the sliding pinion back into the winding position.

If you have a movement like this, don't just look at the centre bridge because A. Schild made a movement with a very similar centre bridge.

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Fontainemelon Movement 4

Fontainemelon movement
Fontainemelon movement 4. Click image to enlarge
Fontainemelon movement
Fontainemelon movement 4. Click image to enlarge

This is another movement by Fabrique d'Horlogerie de Fontainemelon, identified by the William Tell mark of an arrow through an apple on the bottom plate under the barrel bridge and by the keyless work.

The number 4 is my number, not the Fontainemelon calibre number which I have not yet discovered.

The first image is a movement from a Borgel wristwatch, you can see the carrier ring around the movement. The two copper coloured pins sticking up from the bottom plate in the gaps between the bridges are the dial feet, the upper one is missing the screw that should hold it in position.

The image of the bottom plate is from another movement with identical top bridges. The keyless work cover plate is the characteristic shape that identifies all these similar movements by Fontainemelon. This one is stamped with the B & Co. mark with three stars, the trademark of Baume & Co., the longtime British agent for Longines. Obviously this movement has nothing to do with Longines and shows that Baume also imported watches with Fontainemelon movements.

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Fontainemelon Movement 5

Fontainemelon movement
Fontainemelon movement 5. Click image to enlarge
Fontainemelon movement
Click image to enlarge

This is another movement by Fabrique d'Horlogerie de Fontainemelon, identified by the keyless work. The number 5 is my number, not the Fontainemelon calibre number which I have not yet discovered.

The shape of the cover plate over the keyless work that holds the yoke and return spring in place is very distinctive. This movement is from a Borgel watch so it has a pin set mechanism for setting the hands.

Instead of a setting lever, the steel part held in place by the setting lever screw and the screw with a large head on its left hand end is fixed, holding the short movement stem in place. When pressed by the pin set (red arrow) the yoke pivots around the screw on its right hand end to move the sliding pinion down into the hand setting position.

The plate is marked Stewart Dawson & Co. Ltd. This business was established in London as a jewellery wholesale and retail business in about 1869 by David Stewart Dawson, later opening branches in Australia and New Zealand. The business was incorporated in London as Stewart Dawson & Co. Ltd. in 1907.

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Fontainemelon Movement 6

Fontainemelon movement
Fontainemelon movement 6. Click image to enlarge
Fontainemelon movement
Fontainemelon movement 6. Click image to enlarge

This is another movement by Fabrique d'Horlogerie de Fontainemelon, identified by the keyless work. The number 6 is my number, not the Fontainemelon calibre number which I have not yet discovered.

The shape of the cover plate over the keyless work that holds the yoke and return spring in place is very distinctive. This movement is from a Borgel watch so it has a pin set mechanism for setting the hands.

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A. Schild movement Calibre 137

ASchild movement
Click image to enlarge

This is an A. Schild 13 ligne Calibre 137 Reference 1333 movement.

The movement is in a 1917 British War Department officially issued wristwatch. The watch has a screw back and bezel nickel case made by Dennison.

The movement was identified as an A. Schild movement by the factory mark of AS in oval on the bottom plate under the dial. The exact calibre and reference was determined from the 1936 edition of "La Classification Horlogère Suisse".

The decoration on the plates is called "perlage", which is form of engine turning produced by pressing the end of a rotating wooden peg charged with abrasive powder repeatedly onto the surface to form a pattern of overlapping circles. (Engine turning done with a machine which cuts a fine pattern into a moving surface with a stationary cutting tool using a machine called a rose engine lathe is called "Guilloché." This is often seen on dials and cases but not on movements.)

The Schild family, along with the Girards, set up the first factories making ébauches (bare watch movements) in Grenchen, and this became the principal industry in the area.

Adolph Schild was the younger brother of Urs Schild who founded Eterna in 1856. Adolf Schild set up A. Schild & Cie with Stefan Zimmermann in Grenchen in 1896. The intention was to make high quality ebauches with all parts being interchangeable, and the company did much research into tooling to achieve this. In 1914 the company won a gold medal at the Swiss National Exhibition in Berne for the interchangeability of its parts.

ETA logo
ETA logo: Manufacture Horlogère Suisse

A. Schild supplied ébauches to many watch "manufacturers", including Gruen and Girard Perregaux, and made the movements for John Harwood's revolutionary self winding wristwatch.

In 1925 Ébauches SA was formed as an association of 26 ébauche makers, including A. Schild, Fontainemelon, ETA (at the time the movement division of Eterna), and a number of other Swiss ébauche makers. Each member of the association had a logo based on their initials within a common shield. The separate companies were acquired by ETA over the years and today the whole company is called simply "ETA S.A. Manufacture Horlogère Suisse". The logo includes the statement "depuis 1793", a reference to the oldest company in the group, Fontainemelon.

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Helvetia GWCo. Movement
Click to enlarge

Helvetia: General Watch Co. movement

The photograph here shows a 13 ligne movement from a Borgel wristwatch dated to 1918/1919 by London Assay Office import hallmarks. This movement was made by the General Watch Company, who used the brand "Helvetia".

This movement is a savonnette layout, used in hunter pocket watches and open faced wristwatches because the winding stem at the three o'clock position allows a small sub-seconds display on the dial at the six o'clock position. This movement was also made in a Lépine layout for small open face pocket watches with the stem at 12 o'clock and the sub-seconds at six o'clock. If a Lépine movement was used in wrist watch, the seconds display would be at nine o'clock so would usually be omitted.

This is a fifteen jewel movement with a straight line Swiss lever escapement, bi-metallic temperature compensation balance and Breguet overcoil balance spring.

The General Watch Co. was founded as "La Generale" by the Brandt brothers shortly after they moved their business Louis Brandt & Frère, which subsequently became the Omega Watch Company, to Biel/Bienne in 1880. The General Watch Co. was created to manufacture watches with cylinder movements aimed at the lower end of the market. In 1895 a number of trademarks including Helvetia were transferred from Louis Brandt & Frère to La Generale. In 1906 Louis Brandt & Frère withdrew from involvement with La Generale and the company went its own way, soon diversifying into better quality watches with lever escapements.

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Marvin movement
Marvin movement from Borgel watch. Click image to enlarge
Dimier Frères et Cie movement
Marvin calibre 362 from Bestfit book

Marvin series 362

The photograph is of a Marvin movement from a Borgel wristwatch. Thanks to Marc for providing the photo.

The movement was identified from the picture in the Bestfit parts catalogue, the main bridge is a very distinctive shape. Rather than calling it a calibre the catalogue calls it a series and shows several variations of keyless work setting lever, yoke and cover plate. This is most likely because the movement was available in at least two variants, stem set and pin set.

The position of the setting lever screw is different between the image of the movement from the Borgel watch and the illustration in the Bestfit book. This is because the Borgel movement is pin set whereas the one illustrated in the Bestfit book is stem set, so the two sets of keyless work are different.

Marvin was a brand name used by the firm of Didisheim of St Imier, later of La Chaux-de-Fonds.

In 1850 the brothers Marc and Emmanuel Didisheim established the company of M & E Didisheim in Saint-Imier to manufacture pocket watches. In 1889 the firm was renamed Albert Didisheim & Frères of St Imier as Marc's sons, Henri-Albert, Charles, Edgar, Hyppolite and Bernard took over. Hyppolite, known as Hipp, moved to New York in 1893 where he became a resident importer of Swiss watches.

The Marvin brand was registered 1893, apparently at first as "The Marvin Watch Co. of Springfield" with a view to exporting to Swiss watches to America with a brand name that would appeal to American customers, or perhaps even fool them into thinking that they were buying an American watch.

The use of American or English sounding names was common practice amongst some Swiss manufacturers in the nineteenth century, no doubt hoping to overcome any prejudice against imported "foreign" items and taking advantage of the reputation of English and American watch manufacturers, which was generally high. It was effectively stopped on imports into Britain by the 1887 Merchandise Marks Act which barred items with English sounding names if they didn't also carry a clear statement of the country of manufacture, which gave rise to the Swiss national brand "Swiss made".

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Dimier Brothers / Dimier Frères et Cie

Dimier Frères et Cie movement
Click image to enlarge

This is a movement from a Borgel wristwatch marked with D F & Co., a trademark of Dimier Frères & Co. I used to think that Dimier Frères et Cie, the Swiss branch of the company, had a factory and manufactured watches, but I now believe that they were simply import and export agents moving goods between Switzerland and Britain and vice versa and that they had no manufacturing facilities of their own. For more about Dimier Brothers see my Sponsors Marks page.

This movement was made by one of the specialist Swiss ébauche factories such as Fontainemelon or A. Schild, I am not sure which.

The Borgel case of this watch is the usual one piece case, where the movement screws in from the front, but there is no pin set for hand setting. This is very unusual for a Borgel screw case, because usually the stem has to be split to allow the movement to be unscrewed from the case.

The movement has "negative set" or "American system" keyless work. In this system there is a "case stem" in the pendant (stem tube) of the case which engages with a short stem in the keyless work when the movement is put into the case. In this system there is no setting lever, which is why there is no setting lever screw.

Setting of the keyless work into winding or hand setting position is achieved by moving the crown and case stem in the familiar way, the case stem being held in either the winding or hand setting position by a detent in the pendant. In this Borgel watch there is a third position which allows the case stem to be withdrawn clear of the movement so that it can be unscrewed from the case. Adaptation of this mechanism for Borgel watch cases was the subject of a patent by Dimier Frères et Cie in 1914.

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Mystery Movement 1

Mystery movement
Click image to enlarge
Mystery movement
Click image to enlarge

This movement has me baffled. I thought at first glance that it was the same as Fontainemelon 6 but closer examination showed that the top plates were quite different from that movement, and the keyless work is different too.

There are no identifying marks on the bottom plate. Perhaps something will be revealed when it is taken apart for cleaning.


Mystery Movement 2: Vacheron?

This movement has me baffled. The one shown in the first three images is from a Borgel wristwatch with London Assay Office import hallmarks for 1915 to 1916.

Mystery movement
Upper side of plate. Click image to enlarge
Mystery movement
Bottom plate. Click image to enlarge
Mystery movement
View from above. Click image to enlarge
Mystery movement
Image courtesy of and © Frank Yuk Fung Ho. Click image to enlarge
Mystery movement
Image courtesy of and © www.ww1watch.com. Click image to enlarge

This is a normal standard of movement for a Borgel wristwatch, which were always fitted with good quality jewelled Swiss lever escapement ébauches with at least 15 jewels. The Borgel case was expensive so it was only used with top quality movements.

The cut bimetallic temperature compensation balance is fitted with gold mass screws that can be moved to adjust the compensation, the balance spring has a Breguet overcoil. The train is jewelled to the third wheel for a total of fifteen jewels.

The components are nicely finished and the plates and bridges are frosted and gilded, a traditional English finish that was designed to appeal to British buyers.

This is a good quality Swiss jewelled lever movement, capable of good timekeeping even by today's standards. However, it has no exceptional features; e.g. there is no micro adjuster for the regulator, no end stones for the escape wheel bearings, and the screw heads are polished but not blued, so although it is very good, it is not the highest quality.

There are no identifying marks on the top plate or the bottom plate under the dial. However, when I took the movement apart for cleaning I found the tiny "KF" trademark on the top side of the bottom plate as shown ringed in red in one of the images. It is placed where it is normally underneath the barrel bridge and completely invisible until the movement is dismantled.

The first KF that springs to mind is Kurth Frères of Grenchen who made watches under the brands Grana and Certina. There was also a company called Kocher & Froideveaux and another called Kummer Freres, but I have not been able to tie the trademark definitively to any of them.

The other two pictures of what appear to be the same movement but with "Vacheron" on the barrel bridges are ones that I found on the internet, thanks to their respective owners as noted. These are a complete mystery to me. The Vacheron mark is quite crudely done in both cases, they are also completely different and in different places. These don't look like a mark that the Vacheron factory would make, but on the other hand they do both appear to be underneath the gilding, which suggests they were put on when the movements were being made. It is difficult to envisage a forger taking the movements apart, making the marks, and then having the plates re-gilded

Mystery movement
Vacheron mark registered in England in 1881

Owen Gilchrist pointed out to me that the oval logo with the four stars is shown in the "Watch Trademark Index of European Origin" by Karl Kochmann. It is recorded as being registered in England by Philippe-Auguste Weiss, the director of Vacheron Constantin, in December 1881, which ties the mark to the company.

I posted a picture of my watch on the Vacheron Constantin "The Hour Lounge" forum in 2010 but no one there thought that it was a Vacheron ébauche.

If you have any idea who the KF trademark belonged to or why the second and third movements have Vacheron on their barrel bridges, please get in touch with me via my Contact me page.


If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to contact me via my Contact me page. Back to the top of the page.

Copyright © David Boettcher 2006 - 2017 all rights reserved. This page updated February 2017. W3CMVS.