Mortima/Cattin - a short illustrated history
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  1. #1
    Member john87300's Avatar
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    Mortima/Cattin - a short illustrated history




    Now that Chris (Howards4th), has joined the Mortima crew I thought maybe some people might be interested to see a little of the Mortima history.

    Mortima was founded in 1926 by Emile Cattin (b 1904) in Morteau, in the Doubs region of France. The production of the 20's and 30's seems to have used bought in movements in what were regarded as basic "working mans" watches. By the end of the 1930's Mortima was producing over 30,000 watches a year, and had around 90 employees, a good few of which were outworkers. With the success of Mortima Emile Cattin bought a hotel, l'Hotel de Terrasses on the rue d'Helvétie in Morteau. He did this in 1939, not good timing for a watch maker! This photo of the hotel seems to date from war period, note what seems to be a German officer in the photo.



    In 1947 Cattin decided to use the hotel as a new manufacturing plant and in conjunction with Martial Vuillemin constructed a factory on the site to start producing watch movements branded Cattin.



    Mortimas from now onwards virtually all used in house movements, all variants of the one basic pin pallet movement. At this time Cattin also opened a workshop to produce watch faces, all bearing the already well known French Cockerel logo. Cattin must have been highly motivated and to some extent a driven man, as by 1950 he had also managed to open a Horological Factory School for the disabled. By 1960 Mortima was thriving to the extent that Cattin was awarded the French l'Oscar de l'Exportation by the French government. Cattin was quoted as saying that Mortima were now producing nigh on 2 million watches each year.

    Emile and his wife Juliete at this time




    Mortima had by now totally outgrown their manufacturing facilities and by 1963 had constructed a new factory on a green field site at la Guron.





    With the advent of the new production facility, other than cases, which were produced by Ets Burdet at Damprichard, hands, which were outsourced to Mortima specifications, jewels and springs, all manufacturing was done in house.

    From the mid 1950's Mortima had been known for its innovative and sometimes outrageous designs, but from the mid 1960's onwards the variety of watches produced grew hugely. The Superdatomatic for example had countless variations, from dress watch through to worldtime divers, there was also the Mayerling, and at least two other brands, Modia and Milca.



    The post 1947 Mortimas were virtually all powered by variations of the C66 movement with 1,15, or 17 jewels.



    The extra 2 jewels of the 17 jewel version served no real purpose other to allow Cattin to produce faces marked 17 jewel. I have also seen photos of a 21 jewel Superdatomatic with what seems to be a C66, what the additional 4 jewels were supposed to do I don't know!

    In 1964 Cattin produced it's first ladies movement, the pin pallet C64, which enabled ladies watches to finally be produced. Cattin died in 1979 and without him Mortima, like most of the French and Swiss makers failed totally to deal with the quartz revolution, producing only one more modern movement, the C81 ladies quartz, and was struggling by the end of the 1980's and was finally sold to Kiplé in 1990. At the same time Kiplé took over LIP, and the huge problems at LIP eventually bankrupted Kiplé.

    Cattin is still highly regarded in Morteau, to the extent that he has an important road in the town named after him, alongside such notables as General De Gaulle, Albert Camus and Louis Pasteur.

    If anyone has any more to add I'd be pleased to read it as I'm really short of information about the pre WWII production.

    Thanks for reading if you got this far
    John
    Watch Website: www.chambresdebelair.com/watches.html last update 07/11/2012

  2. #2
    Member Sparcster's Avatar
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    Re: Mortima/Cattin - a short illustrated history

    Thanks for spending the time to do this very interesting and informative thread!

    Good work John,

    Marc
    A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away...

    Antoine de Saint-Exupery

    Twitter: quickpicmarc

  3. #3
    Member Marrick's Avatar
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    Re: Mortima/Cattin - a short illustrated history

    Quote Originally Posted by Sparcster View Post
    Thanks for spending the time to do this very interesting and informative thread!

    Good work John,

    Marc
    +1. That really is nice to have in the forum. Great work!
    Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects."

    Will Rogers (1879 - 1935)


    Please don't PM me to ask for a valuation - I won't attempt one.

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  5. #4
    Vint. Forum Co-Moderator Mirius's Avatar
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    Re: Mortima/Cattin - a short illustrated history

    I foresee the need for a something more consolidated soon as you are fast becoming the resource for French watches and the information is starting to get scattered across the forum!



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    Re: Mortima/Cattin - a short illustrated history

    A ladies art deco watch that I have.

    Movement is a 17J AS340 marked Cattin Aubrey
    My new sig -----

    Over the years I've collected all sorts of movements and "project" watches ... mainly inexpensive vintage pieces.

    These days I've widened my gaze to include modern pieces (including quartz with analog or analog + digital displays) but with those I'm generally looking for models in solid steel cases.

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    Member howards4th's Avatar
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    Re: Mortima/Cattin - a short illustrated history

    Great write up John, Not just the write up but the time you spent really makes me feel welcome. It's things like this that really make watch collecting GREAT! I really do appreciate it. Sorry to get all sappy on you guys but it's true.
    Benjamin Barrera likes this.

  8. #7
    Member Sparcster's Avatar
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    Re: Mortima/Cattin - a short illustrated history

    Quote Originally Posted by howards4th View Post
    Sorry to get all sappy on you guys but it's true.
    I think someone needs a hug!
    A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away...

    Antoine de Saint-Exupery

    Twitter: quickpicmarc

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    Member mike184's Avatar
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    Re: Mortima/Cattin - a short illustrated history

    Thanx for that interesting post! I love it to get informations about the history of the persons and company behind the watches.
    Benjamin Barrera likes this.
    Best regards, Mike

  10. #9
    Member john87300's Avatar
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    Re: Mortima/Cattin - a short illustrated history

    Quote Originally Posted by bjohnson View Post
    A ladies art deco watch that I have.

    Movement is a 17J AS340 marked Cattin Aubrey

    Is this one from Cattin & Cie/Catorex in Switzerland?
    John
    Watch Website: www.chambresdebelair.com/watches.html last update 07/11/2012

  11. #10
    Member howards4th's Avatar
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    Re: Mortima/Cattin - a short illustrated history

    Quote Originally Posted by Sparcster View Post
    I think someone needs a hug!
    Bring it in Marc, you know you want to!

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