Chronometer/ Chronometré before 1925
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  1. #1
    Member SilkeN's Avatar
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    Chronometer/ Chronometré before 1925

    By chance I found a Zenith "Tarif list" from 1914/15 for Austria- Hungary. It's very interesting about early Zenith "Chronometers". This was the aera when you can test for money in the Observatory your lever watch and take part on competitions but it wasn't a offically appointed chronometer. The term chronometer was connected to the design of the escapement as the base of the definition until 1925 on the one side. On the other side the term was used on several watch dials from a lot of producers and a bright range of movement qualities without any definition. Only since 1925 when the definition changed in switzerland and based now on the precision of a watch, universal standards, were introduced to define "Chronometer accuracy" and measurement conditions for Chronometers Class 1, 2 and 3. (These have since been adapted to the technical progress of the time again and again)
    We see, that you can buy "Chronometer" with bulletin de marche and lever escapement before these days:

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    Surprisingly for a " Zenith Chronometer with a bulletin de marche of a appointed observatory" (Translation of the title) they take an add on from 15 - 300 Kronen on top to the standard price of the watch those days. ( For comparison: Within the same publicity a standard Zenith pocket watch in a normal simple silver case cost about 40 Kronen.)
    I asked a chronometer specialist about this huge span. He explained to me that not even "Chronometer" was defined as well the scope of testing and, if desired adjustment and the observarory. The observatory did not have to be the public appointed institution like Neuchatel or Besancon. Likewise, major manufacturers as well as watchmaking schools have an observatory who created bulletin de marche. Therefore if you buy a pocket watch out of this aera chronometre or chronometer on the dial means nothing. If you're are lucky and a bulletin de marche still excist, read studious to understand what you've.

    This is very new to me. If someone owns bulletins de marche, especially an inoffical swiss one, out of the aera before 1925, it would be gread if he post it here. I'm curious for any additional informations.

    Cheers Silke
    Last edited by SilkeN; January 12th, 2018 at 18:49.
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  2. #2
    Member sempervivens's Avatar
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    Re: Chronometer/ Chronometré before 1925

    Interesting. Apparently testing was done by the observatory in Besançon. Do you think this was meant for the watches produced in Besançon, and were they exported to Austria? Or Zenith Switzerland pocket watches were also tested in Besançon?
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  3. #3
    Member SilkeN's Avatar
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    Re: Chronometer/ Chronometré before 1925

    HI Sempervivens,
    honestly I do not think until now but just amazed. Actally my collection focus is more in the past and the aera after 1900 is treated a little neglected. All I can say is that this "rate list" is printed in St.Ethienne/France by A. Waton as a commissioned work. The printing company existed only from July 1914 until the end of 1915. The brochure comes from his sample booklet. Since it is written in German and the stated currency is crowns, it has to be destined for Austria-Hungary.
    It is definetly promotion. It can be that the executive designer was also french and take a Besacon case for the print. Maybe for in-house examinaions, watchmaker schools or the observatorium cantonalde Neuchatel another boxlayout excist. I've really no idea thus why I ask here for examples.
    Besancon is really a big mystery to me. In fact you find several advertises from the year 1915 were they write about a Zenith/G.F.-J. fabrication there. Unforunately the aera of avertising begin those days and you've nearly no chance to look backwards on this track. I believe that a fabrication, whatever the size, exists earlier. It would explain a lot but I've not one single proof. Therefore its just a strong gut feeling of mine.

    Regards Silke
    Last edited by SilkeN; January 12th, 2018 at 20:04.
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    Member Tick Talk's Avatar
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    Re: Chronometer/ Chronometré before 1925

    Thanks for posting that interesting ad. This is a re-issued Bulletin de Marche from 1909, with the original test results. The Observatoire de Geneve still offers extracts for their chronometer trials which began in 1772, a few years after Greenwich started it all.
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  6. #5
    Member SilkeN's Avatar
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    Re: Chronometer/ Chronometré before 1925

    Oh thank you Tick Talk for posting this. Pateck ordered the big "1 class" testing of an puplic official observatory -). We see a lot of testings in eight positions anda eight day averange. Very interesting. I'd never thought about these things before,

    Regards Silke
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  7. #6
    Moderator at Large stuffler,mike's Avatar
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    Re: Chronometer/ Chronometré before 1925

    Great info, thanks for sharing.
    Kind regards
    Mike


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  8. #7
    Member Tick Talk's Avatar
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    Re: Chronometer/ Chronometré before 1925

    Quote Originally Posted by SilkeN View Post
    Oh thank you Tick Talk for posting this. Pateck ordered the big "1 class" testing of an puplic official observatory -). We see a lot of testings in eight positions anda eight day averange. Very interesting. I'd never thought about these things before,

    Regards Silke
    Sorry, I'm not sure what you mean about "Pateck"? If you are interested in the history of chronometers, I would most enthusiastically recommend reading The Marine Chronometer; It's History and Development by Rupert T. Gould. Written in 1923 when chronometer trials were still very important, it is perhaps the most informative book available. Today's understanding of a "chronometer" based on COSC is such a watered-down affair as to be meaningless.
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  9. #8
    Member SilkeN's Avatar
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    Re: Chronometer/ Chronometré before 1925

    Sorry I don't really read about the watch and mix up with founds in the web ..my mistake. I was keen to get the information which parameters were testet by the observation. I was surprised that something similar to the COSC or something that top these markeing things excist at the beginning of the 20 century. A bulletin de marche "light" for 30 Kronen can't be extensive if somethng like you post of an public observation. I guess for a class 1 you've to pay 150 Kronen.

    I honestly never dealt with chronometers as I come from the simple pocket watches to use and it's just a snapshot for these industrial mass products. I like more to look on the movements and especially on the escapement. To me a watch I inward accept as a chronometer is something like your marine Chronometer. I've had one day a Charles Fronsham one in my hands. I was afraid to breath. It must be great when you see and hear your watch ticking.

    Thanks for the book recommendation. Personal I'll stay in my pocket watches for everyone. They are closer to my person, affortable and the story behind the watches magnificant to me. These Chronometer "malingerers" are a new aspect. Of course I know the Chronometré and Chronometers with generic movements but I didn't know about the bulletin variations and orgins before. I think a lot of these were sold without any extensial testing as the usual regulation before selling.

    Regards Silke
    Last edited by SilkeN; January 14th, 2018 at 01:34.
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  10. #9
    Member Tick Talk's Avatar
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    Re: Chronometer/ Chronometré before 1925

    Yes, the Swiss implemented a hybrid system for mass testing of "faux" chronometers administered through the watch schools called B.O. or Bureaux officiels de contrôle de la marche des montres. This eventually became COSC we know today.

    For an illustration of the difference, take the average daily error (Ecart moyen diurne) of the watch I posted; +0.31 sec, for which it placed 48th overall. Compare that with the COSC standard of -4 to +6 sec/daily.

    With the flood of wristwatches submitted in the 1950s to 70s, the B.O. issued "collective" certificates to an entire model range based on testing only a few representative samples. Most wrists from that period claiming to be chronometers were promoted under this scheme - not by individual testing. This was exploitation of the term "chronometer" which, as much as I hate it, was a predicable development once mechanical watches were no longer relied upon for astronomy, navigation, and other scientific pursuits.
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  11. #10
    Member SilkeN's Avatar
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    Re: Chronometer/ Chronometré before 1925

    The difference between us is that you hate it and I always get rejoiced when I learn how they tricked us. " Bureaux officiels de contrôle de la marche des montres " a term I add now in my little pocketbook were I collect questions. One day I'll find such a bulletin "heavy light" . I'm curious what standards they used there...."collective certificates" unbeleaveable ...

    Of course I understand your point of view but Chronometer is just a word. I guess the movements of the real chronometers crys: "Perfection" if you look and listen. "Ecart moyen diurne" of 0,31 sec is just place Nr. 48 overall ? Overall it's really a exceptional case. I read about the effort the watchmakers operated for a competition watch. The best regulateures were summoned for balance and escapement construction externally and the watches have been a project for a team.

    Best regards Silke
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