After an ultrasonic cleaning of the case of a lately acquired vintage wrist watch, I looked into the ugly sloop in the reservoir and swore to myself: ‘Only N.O.S., mint or near mint condition with the next purchase. That makes it more difficult and of course more expensive, but there is still enough material around.
This one here is a 1970ies ARSA watch, 50 hours power reserve (all still there), cal. AS 1802, 17 jewels.
ARSA was a brand name of Auguste Reymond SA. Auguste Reymond started 1898 at the young age of 27 in an apartment in Tramelan, Switzerland, and with a handful of watchmakers, they produced watches which bear his name ever since.
The esteemed movements, produced by Manufacture A. Reymond, became well know under the name Unitas. The last surviving movement is a caliber 6497/6498 which is still produced today by ETA.
Auguste Reymond was travelling a lot. He had his watches in a carrying case and went into the dining room of the noble hotels. He dumped his watches in a glass of Champagne and after that, he threw them through the air to the other end of the room. The waiter brought them back in perfect state. This way, he demonstrated to skeptical buyers, that his watches are indeed water (champagne-) proof and shock resistant.
Until today, Arsa is the absolute specialist for watches for blind people.
The late 1970ies brought the usual problems along with the quartz crisis and the company was liquidated. One of the former directors, James Choffat rescued the company and bought everything which was still there and continued production, although mostly quartz watches.
In 1989, the company came back like a phoenix from the ashes. Nitella bought the company, and a young man, Thomas Loosi, at the time also 27 years old, became general manager. He wanted to bring back to life the old Auguste Reymond mechanical watches, with a totally new collection.
Old Unitas movements, completely restored, had been rarities of the latest collections, like ‘Boogie’, and sold in limited quantities.
Within 25 years, the company came back as a small manufacturer to the playground of the great names and found many admirers amongst the aficionados of mechanical watches. Their models of today are inspired by terms from the Jazz music.