Belair 1960s – French American beauty (AWW 16)
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Thread: Belair 1960s – French American beauty (AWW 16)

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  1. #1
    Member Afka's Avatar
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    Belair 1960s – French American beauty (AWW 16)

    Specifications

    Name: Belair 24h 1960
    Model Reference: ?
    Movement: Lorsa P 75, manual wind, sweep second, shock resistant, antimagnetic, 18000 bph
    Time display: 24 hour, minute, seconds,
    Date: no date
    Case: all stainless steel with screw on back
    Size: 32 mm diameter without crown, 35 mm with crown, 38 mm lug to lug
    Height: 10 mm
    Face: white cream, black hour numbers, 24 on top, black minute markers, green lumed 5 min markers
    Text on dial: Belair, 17 jewels, shockresistant, antimagnetic, T
    Text on back: All steel, waterproof, shockproof, antimagnetic
    Hands and markers: steel lumed hour and minute hands, narrow steel central seconds hand with red arrowhead
    Water-resistance: waterproof
    Crown: main crown at 3
    Crystal: domed acrylic crystal
    Lug: 17 mm
    Bracelet: NATO style nylon

    Purchase

    This watch was described as:
    The watch is not running. The balance staff appears to be ok and swings freely. The watch will tick if you hold pressure on the crown. The watch is wound tight and sets fine. The case looks fine. The plastic crystal shows some scratches.
    And I got it for only $ 41 plus shipping from USA. Actually the watch was OK, only some cleaning and oiling needed, and after watchmaker’s regular service it works fine.

    Living in a distant country means often higher shipping costs. From the other side – watchmaker’s service costs here only about € 20.
    I would say that this watch is one of the best buys I have made.



    Comments

    Belair
    Belair is American company founded in 1962. Their homepage www.beltime.com proudly announces:
    For over 68 years Belair has been a highly respected manufacturer of popular priced, stylish, high quality timepieces. Belair is proud to be a family owned and operated, American company.
    Belair is a New Jersey company, but already in the 60s the Belair watches were assembled in their Virgin Islands factory.

    This is how it all works today and it was pretty much the same in the 60s:
    Belair Quartz, a Virgin Islands company, imports into the USVI watch bands primarily from the Far East, with limited supplies from Switzerland, Austria, Germany, France and Italy. Belair also imports the unassembled component parts of its movements from Switzerland. These movement parts are then fully assembled into finished watch movements in Belair Quartz’s St. Croix plant. Dials, hands, crowns, tubes, pushers, crystals, backs, links, buckles, pins, hands, discs, cases and other parts are also imported from the U.S., Switzerland, Germany, Hong Kong, France, Taiwan, the People’s Republic of China, Japan and other countries throughout the world. Belair Quartz assembles the finished watch movements with these other parts and the watch bands to produce finished watches in its USVI plant.
    Belair Quartz ships the finished watches, with their bands, to Belair Time in New Jersey. Belair Time conducts final processing of the watches, packages them for sale, and distributes them to various U.S. and foreign destinations, including Japan, the United Kingdom, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and locations in the Caribbean, and Central and South America.
    In 24hourwatch.info this Belair is dated as model from 1970s. I think it is made sometime in the 60s and as we see assembled from French components.

    Lorsa
    I found description of this watch (coincidentally pictured with exactly the same NATO strap I have at home) at goldsmithwatchworks. They couldn’t find out what movement was inside the watch and made wrong assumptions.

    After some research I can say, that this watch has Lorsa P 75 movement. The movement bridge is signed with B in circle (Belair ?). But below balance you can find signature “P 75” and even Lorsa logo as a coat of arms.

    LORSA was French watch movement producer. LORSA = L' Horlogerie de Savoie Annemasse. Village Annemasse is right next to the Geneva on the French side of border (map). And they are about as good as the neighbors. Some facts about LORSA you can find in German Watch-Wiki (Lorsa).

    Some nice comments from other forums:
    Quote Originally Posted by john87300 View Post
    The Lorsa P62 etc, were decent French movements of the 1950's/1960's with Glucydor screw balances, and 17 or 21 Jewels. Quite modern in their construction in some ways, the design continued with modifications well into the 1970's in the P75 series. The Lorsa 62 was used by some middle ranked French makers of the 50's such as Kiplé & Chilex and the later P75 even found its way into some Swiss watches. French 17 jewel movements of the time, like the Lorsa and the Parrenin HP 90, were, in my opinion, equally as good as many of the equivalent Swiss movements. It says something that it was not L' Horlogerie de Savoie Annemasse, (and in fact many still do). The Swiss watch industry has rigourously cultivated the myth that Swiss always equals high quality, and is thus worth a premium, it's not necessarily fact though in my humble opinion.
    Quote Originally Posted by vbomega View Post
    Not necessarily, I've seen many French movements (i.e. Jeambrun) in cheap American department store brands. Even Elgin used these movements.
    In 70s LORSA merged with some other French movement producers to France Ebauches (FE).

    The stainless steel case of this Belair is also from France – made by Berco. On the inner side of case back is stamped “Berco Inc, Made in France”. I don’t know anything on French Berco. Google shows that even Berco branded watches existed back in 60s. And other brand supposedly produced by Berco was Bercona.

    Summary

    This nice American watch is assembled by Belair from French movement (LORSA) and French case (Berco) in Virgin Islands in the 60s. From the watch versions with black and white dial exist.

    I like it very much. Especially I’m happy that I got this white cream dial version. Very nice and wearable watch.

    PS

    This watch came without a strap. Occasionally I had one NATO strap here. I know that NATO and ZULU straps are popular. I don’t want to start another lengthy discussion here but definitely there is some truth what Watch Snob said (NATO straps - AskMen):
    NATO straps - they don’t belong on any watch to which a proper leather strap can be fitted.
    l3wy, peagreen and GUTuna like this.

  2. #2
    Moderator Dennis Smith's Avatar
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    Re: Belair 1960s – French American beauty (AWW 16)

    That really is a fantastic buy. What a little beauty. I don't think I've ever seen one before. At first glance it almost looks like a white dialed Early Bird without a bezel. Sweet.
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  3. #3
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    Re: Belair 1960s – French American beauty (AWW 16)

    Reminds me of the first 24 I saw back in Oct 60.

    Hummm, that just may have been it, It was $69.95 and was about selling for
    about $37 at the Base Exchange at Fairchild AFB.
    Last edited by Watchbreath; May 18th, 2013 at 19:04.
    Dennis Smith likes this.

  4. #4
    Member Grootmokum's Avatar
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    Re: Belair 1960s – French American beauty (AWW 16)

    I've recently found this black version.Really pleased with it:

  5. #5
    Member Afka's Avatar
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    Re: Belair 1960s – French American beauty (AWW 16)

    Recently I added to my collection Marcel 24h watch. I like very much vintage 60s 24h watches from diifferent, mostly American brands, like Bulova, Elgin, Belair, Pierre Marquette, Lynne Stuart etc. These watches are small, 30-35mm, but cute.

    Marcel is the same watch as Belair, just the brand name is different. My watch is in a very good condition and is keeping time.

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    Some words about Marcel watches. It is not easy to find some information about them. There are several watch brands including name „Marcel“. Two Swiss brands – „Jean Marcel“ and „Marcel et Cie“ – are not relevant here. I am pretty sure, that this 24h watch is from Marcel Watch Corporation, Seacacus, NJ.

    Marcel Watch Corp was active even recently, up to 2013, when company’s founder Marcel Drucker died (see obituary Marcel Drucker, watchmaker, 86 - Obituaries - NorthJersey.com).

    Their website was www.marcelwatch.com :
    Marcel Drucker was born and apprenticed as a watchmaker in Europe. He emigrated to the United States in 1955. Already being a certified watchmaker, worked at a company that produced and serviced aircraft clocks for the U.S. Military. In 1959, he launched the Marcel Watch Corporation, creating and designing highly technical timepieces that included dress, chronograph, and multi-alarm watches, which are offered in many specialty stores and prestigious department stores as well as various television networks.
    l3wy, elsoldemayo and Grootmokum like this.
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