Do you have a movement circa 1900-1920 marked Electa?

Thread: Do you have a movement circa 1900-1920 marked Electa?

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  1. #1
    Member David.Boettcher's Avatar
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    Do you have a movement circa 1900-1920 marked Electa?

    The first movement is the same as one of the first watches I collected, a Borgel hallmarked London import 1915/1916 with the name "Electa" on the dial, but I now have several Borgel watches with this movement. The second I have illustrated has chaton set jewels, the third an early centre seconds.

    I have identified it as being an Electa/Gallet movement on the basis of the name Electa on the dial of my first watch with this movement. But I have never been able to really prove this beyond doubt because it doesn't feature in any of the movement identification catalogues which I have, none of which have any Gallet or Electa movements at all. I would really like to nail this as a positive identification, but there is a problem. I doubt that this movement will appear in any old parts catalogues because of the story related in the other pictures I have included.

    Although Gallet say (Gallet & Co) that they acquired Electa in 1855, the Electa 1903 advert clearly shows that a company called Société d'horlogerie Electa had the registered trademark at that time, i.e. 1903. The February 1907 transfer notice shows the rights to a design registered on 1st November 1906 being transferred from Société d'horlogerie Electa to "Gallet & Co., Fabrique d'horlogerie Electa". This would appear to correspond with the entry in the Gallet timeline which says that in 1906 "The company name "Gallet & Cie, Fabrique d’horlogerie Electa" is registered to reinforce Gallet's ownership and control of the Electa brand. Under the Electa name, Gallet produces its highest quality timepieces." These two items suggest to me that Société d'horlogerie Electa were still independent on 1st November 1906, and that Gallet actually acquired Electa after this date.

    So far, so good. But now here's the problem. The 1914 announcement of "Radiations", which I believe in this context means something like "Strikings off" or "expulsion", appears to show Gallet & Co., Fabrique d'horlogerie Electa, in liquidation! The company appears to have struggled on under the administration of the liquidators because the 1923 advert shows that the Electa factory is offered for sale or to rent, including a machine shop suitable for making watch, ebauches or other parts. It would appear that this offer was not taken up because the 1926 notice advises of the dispersal sale of the Electa factory, land, and contents.

    How this story fits in with the Gallet time line on their web site is a complete mystery to me. I guess that the Electa factory was purchased as a going concern and a new division of Gallet, Gallet & Co., Fabrique d'horlogerie Electa, was formed to run it. Evidently it was not successful and the main Gallet business had isolated itself sufficiently from Gallet & Co., Fabrique d'horlogerie Electa that the liquidation of that branch did not affect the main business. And presumably Gallet could have acquired the trademark of Electa from the liquidators if they wished to carry on using it, although the last mention of Electa in the timeline is 1915 and says "Gallet supplies hand held and cockpit mounted timers to the British Air Force during WW I. Movements are produced in Gallet’s Electa workshop and marked with the Electa name.".

    This is why I doubt that Electa movement will appear in any old parts catalogues, the factory seems to have only run as a going concern for a few years, and then limped on under the liquidators for a few more years. Even if anyone had catalogued their movements, the dispersal sale would have been a final nail in the coffin and records would have been binned. So my only hope of a really positive identification for these movements is to find one stamped "Electa". If you have any further information on Gallet and Electa, or anything at all marked Electa, please let's see it!

    Thanks for any help!

    Regards - David



    The same movement with jewels set in chatons



    The same movement with centre seconds



    Electa 1903 advert



    February 1907 transfer notice



    1914 announcement



    1923 advert



    1926 notice


  2. #2
    Member AbslomRob's Avatar
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    Re: Do you have a movement circa 1900-1920 marked Electa?

    You may want to have a look through a few of my previous posts on my various Eaton's branded pocket watches, as they're mostly made by Gallet (with the odd Omega thrown in). I'm working on one right now; a 7 jewel T. Eatons branded 4 size ladies hunter which, as you can see, has many similarities to yours (sorry, didn't take a movement-side shot yet, but here's the parts):

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    I've got another one (same size, but higher grade) coming in; here's the movement shot of that:

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    The serial numbers on these would seem to line up with the ones on your movements (and also seem to be very different from the 16s Gallet movements I have). However, there are a number of design similarities between the 4s and the 16s (the keyless works are clearly derivatives on one another, and you should find that the pallet fork uses a screwed in pinion).
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  3. #3
    Member David.Boettcher's Avatar
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    Re: Do you have a movement circa 1900-1920 marked Electa?

    Quote Originally Posted by AbslomRob View Post
    You may want to have a look through a few of my previous posts on my various Eaton's branded pocket watches, as they're mostly made by Gallet (with the odd Omega thrown in). I'm working on one right now; a 7 jewel T. Eatons branded 4 size ladies hunter which, as you can see, has many similarities to yours.

    The serial numbers on these would seem to line up with the ones on your movements (and also seem to be very different from the 16s Gallet movements I have). However, there are a number of design similarities between the 4s and the 16s (the keyless works are clearly derivatives on one another, and you should find that the pallet fork uses a screwed in pinion).
    Thanks: the keyless works are certainly very similar. I guess yours is stem set whereas mine, in a Borgel case, has to be pin set, which could account for the difference at the plate edge.

    The pallet fork pinion is a bit beyond my reach though . . .

    Regards - David

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  5. #4
    Member AbslomRob's Avatar
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    Re: Do you have a movement circa 1900-1920 marked Electa?

    Quote Originally Posted by David.Boettcher View Post
    Thanks: the keyless works are certainly very similar. I guess yours is stem set whereas mine, in a Borgel case, has to be pin set, which could account for the difference at the plate edge.
    The shipper spring and retaining bracket are pretty distinctive, and that wouldn't happen by accident. Since mine are jobbers, they have an american style negative set mechanism designed to work in generic american cases (the stem is part of the case, and fits into a square hole in the movement). More interestingly, they have a stem set lock screw (you can see it in the movement shot of mine above the crown wheel). It looks almost like a regular swiss stem release screw, but it actually serves to hold the stem lever up, preventing the watch from being set even if you pull the crown out. This feature is in all the Gallet watches I have (and in no other watch that I've worked on). It would be interesting to know if this was a Gallet design or an Electra design.
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  6. #5
    Member David.Boettcher's Avatar
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    Re: Do you have a movement circa 1900-1920 marked Electa?

    Quote Originally Posted by AbslomRob View Post
    The shipper spring and retaining bracket are pretty distinctive, and that wouldn't happen by accident. Since mine are jobbers, they have an american style negative set mechanism designed to work in generic american cases (the stem is part of the case, and fits into a square hole in the movement).
    Negative set keyless work would have been ideal for Borgel cases, but was very rarely used, I guess because Swiss manufacturers didn't make it as standard and weren't going to change just for M. Borgel!

    Quote Originally Posted by AbslomRob View Post
    More interestingly, they have a stem set lock screw (you can see it in the movement shot of mine above the crown wheel). It looks almost like a regular swiss stem release screw, but it actually serves to hold the stem lever up, preventing the watch from being set even if you pull the crown out. This feature is in all the Gallet watches I have (and in no other watch that I've worked on). It would be interesting to know if this was a Gallet design or an Electra design.
    OK, now I have to admit total ignorance here. I don't understand the stem set lock screw, surely the idea of stem set is that you do pull up the crown to set the watch: why have a lock screw to prevent it?

    Regards - David

  7. #6
    Member AbslomRob's Avatar
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    Re: Do you have a movement circa 1900-1920 marked Electa?

    Quote Originally Posted by David.Boettcher View Post
    OK, now I have to admit total ignorance here. I don't understand the stem set lock screw, surely the idea of stem set is that you do pull up the crown to set the watch: why have a lock screw to prevent it?
    It effectively provides the same value as a lever-set system, in that it prevents you from accidentally setting the time when you're winding the watch. Ironically, several of my Eatons watches are in swing-out style cases, where the lock screw becomes useless (you have to tighten it when the crown is down, which you can't do easily in a swing out case).
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  8. #7
    Member David.Boettcher's Avatar
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    Re: Do you have a movement circa 1900-1920 marked Electa?

    Quote Originally Posted by AbslomRob View Post
    It effectively provides the same value as a lever-set system, in that it prevents you from accidentally setting the time when you're winding the watch. Ironically, several of my Eatons watches are in swing-out style cases, where the lock screw becomes useless (you have to tighten it when the crown is down, which you can't do easily in a swing out case).
    OK I understand how a lever set works, but how would a user set the time on your watch?

    Regards - David

  9. #8
    Member AbslomRob's Avatar
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    Re: Do you have a movement circa 1900-1920 marked Electa?

    Quote Originally Posted by David.Boettcher View Post
    OK I understand how a lever set works, but how would a user set the time on your watch?

    Regards - David
    By unscrewing the stem lock (it's held between the plates, so it can't fall out); that allows the shipper lever to be pushed to engage the setting mechanism when the crown is pulled.

    About half of my Gallet's are missing this screw, I suspect because it either got broken by unfamiliar watchmakers or was deliberately removed to make the watch easier to use.
    My growing collection of "affordable" vintages: http://www.abslomrob.com

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