A vintage Cortebert automatic

Thread: A vintage Cortebert automatic

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  1. #1
    Moderator soviet's Avatar
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    A vintage Cortebert automatic

    Hi all,

    I found a vintage Cortebert automatic recently and I think the movement is kind of unique.
    The watch dial is not very beautiful IMHO, but the Cortebert brand name was popular in 1950-60's in China. It is less common on the second hand market than Marvin, Mido,Zenith that were also 2nd category Swiss watches.

    Cheers,

    Zhang
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  2. #2
    Member JohnF's Avatar
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    Re: A vintage Cortebert automatic

    Hi -

    Cortebert was actually one of the older watch companies around. The company was set up in 1803 in Geneve, and the family involved entered into nobility by one of the last acts of Louis XVI, although Geneva was independent at the time. The family was very well off, having made most of their money trading furs, and there is no record of what posessed them to enter the watchmaking business. They started providing parts to the watchmaking industry in 1790, the year after the French Revolution.

    The family set up the company in Cortebert, a small town near Geneva in Switzerland, in 1803, and registered the first trademark in 1855. They produced mid-tier watches.

    In the 1920s the company turned to making thinner and thinner movements and introduced safety mainsprings (i.e. those that don't break easily). By 1940, when the company celebrated 150 years of operation, the company was producing chronograph calibres for their own brand of wristwatches. By 1944 they were producing calibres from 5''' to 22''' with an emphasis on large, precision railroad watches, which were used by the Polish, Turkish, Serbian and Egyptian railroads.

    In 1927 the company was folded into Ebauches SA, which later became part of ETA.

    The above and more can be found at here.

    The movement looks nice: it is a bumper automatic. It is the Cortebert 451, which is based on the AS 1250, is 11''' in size, with a modest power reserve of around 32 hours. Good, solid calibre from the ebauche company of Anton Schild.

    Definitely early to mid 1950s, that face has some wear. The Maltese cross is part and parcel of the Cortebert company logo: see if the crown has a 5-sided cross on it. If so, it is original.

    Enjoy your watch! I must get to China one of these days with some money, you guys seem to get quite a nice selection of vintages there!

    JohnF
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  3. #3
    Moderator soviet's Avatar
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    Re: A vintage Cortebert automatic

    Hi JohnF,

    Many thanks for the fascinating account of the company's history. Many well known Swiss brands has a long and interesting history of watch making. This one has a 200+years history! It is very interesting to know about the cultural background and technical features behind a watch brand.

    Yes, I agree that China is a good place for these vintage watches because some less well known brands could be found for very low prices.

    Cheers,

    Zhang

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  5. #4

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    Re: A vintage Cortebert automatic

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnF View Post
    By 1944 they were producing calibres from 5''' to 22''' with an emphasis on large, precision railroad watches, which were used by the Polish, Turkish, Serbian and Egyptian railroads.
    Guess what? Just by Germany's eastern border - in Poland, Corteberts are pretty popular - unfortunately mainly the pocket watches, which I'm not really into. As to the reasons of their popularity, you just mentioned them

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