Okay, it's a common problem. Santa impressed you, but what Santa brought just started the blood lust to simmering. So, you went back to the store, because nothing is better than getting a watch from Santa except adding to it a few days later.
Santa brought me an EBEL 1911 Automatic dress watch, which I described elsewhere. But when I realized just how good a deal Santa got, and after Santa's gift had forced me to research the history of the brand, I realized it just wasn't enough.
So, I bring you the EBEL 1911 BTR Chronograph. The BTR series was the brainchild of Thomas van der Kallen, who'd been hired by Movado to lead EBEL to preeminence as a manufacture. BTR stands for "Beyond the Roots", or, more closely to the American ear, "Back to Roots". The styling is consistent with EBEL ever since Pierre-Alain Blum, grandson of founders Eugen Blum and Alice Levy, established the style with the 1911 Sportwave in 1986, in honor of the year the company was founded. He was very successful with quartz Sportwave models, but realized that there would be a move back to mechanical watches as luxury items. So, ini 1982 he approached Zenith to buy El Primero movements, but Zenith said they'd destroyed the tooling at the request of their recently departed owner, Zenith Radio Corporation. But, in fact, one of their workers had squirreled away the tooling and designs in a storeroom, and he brought it back out when EBEL offered to buy movements from Zenith. So, Zenith resumed production of the famous El Primero, primarily to provide them to EBEL for use in the 1911, which came out with that movement in 1986. This was the watch Don Johnson has been photographed wearing in Miami Vice.
But Zenith could not meet EBEL's supply requirements, so EBEL worked with Nouvelle Lemania to create a new chronograph movement with the same dial arrangement as the El Primero. The result was the EBEL Calibre 137, which is an integrated sliding lever chronograph with a reversing rotor for winding. The Cal. 137 first appeared in the EBEL Modulor in 1995. By that time, EBEL had been bought by Investcorp who also owned Brequet and Nouvelle Lemania, and EBEL bought about 40 critical parts from Lemania and assembled the movement in house with parts of their own make. The movement was also made available to Brequet, who uses a variation of it (using the same plate) today. Blum left in 1996, and Investcorp decided to get out of the watch business. In 2001, they sold EBEL to LVMH and Brequet and Lemania to Swatch. EBEL would lose access to its critical parts source, so they arranged to purchase a five-year supply of parts from Lemania. They subsequently arranged with Dubois Depraz to make these critical parts.
Under LVMH, EBEL was constrained from making sport watches, because LVMH wanted to protect its sport watch brand, TAG-Heuer. So, EBEL concentrated on ladies watches and men's dressy watches, though some of them used the Caliber 137. During that time, they designed several variations on the 137, which ended up on the shelf.
All BTR watches are COSC-certified, and many of the 1911 models were also. Both my EBELs are chronometers.
In 2005, Movago bought EBEL from LVMH, and hired van der Kallen to run it.
Here is the 1911 BTR Chronograph, with the cal. 137 movement, on a rubber strap, bought for less than a quarter of retail at the Movado Company Store in Virginia:
This photo shows the dial design up close. The dial comprises guilloche sub-dials, wtih the second hand at 9, the minute totalizer at 3, and the hour totalizer at 6. The date is at 4:30. The hour markers are index-style with polished facets. Typical of EBEL, lume is minimal. The hands are index-style with the same design as the hour markers. The chronograph hands are all painted red. The bezel is rubber in a stainless steel case, with a sapphire crystal that has anti-reflection coatings on both sides.
Here's a wrist shot. The case is large at 44mm, but the movement much thinner than a 7750 and the watch wears smaller than its nominial size.
Now, for the movement.
The case has a display back. The first photo shows the movement with the EBEL BTR rotor design. The design of the rotor was supposed to represent architects' dividers, in keeping with their "Architects of Time" catchphrase. Notice that the screws, while not blued, are nicely polished. The one bridge that is visible is nicely chamfered, and the other bridges are decorated with Geneva stripes.
Here's anotehr view of the movement, showing the chronograph linkages (of the sliding plate type rather than the cam-driven approach of the 7750 or the column-wheel approach of the El Primero and others), the reversing wheel, the balance wheel and adjustement, and so on. The balance wheel and all the gears I can see seem to be made from Glucydur, and the jewels are rubies, rather than polyrubies. The movement has 26 rubies and a zirconia.
Finallly, here's a photo of the back as a whole, mostly provided to show the engraving applied by Movado for some of the watches they sell in their outlet stores. The MR supposedly stands for "Movado Retail". It may also read "MCS", for "Movado Company Store". These have been added to these watches to keep people from buying at wholesale in the company stores, because of the low prices. And it happens--I've seen a BTR like this one, except for the leather rather than rubber band, which sold on eBay for $800 more than what I paid at the Movado store. These watches came with full warranties--the Movado Company Store is an AD.
Rick "so, what did you buy to add to what Santa brought you?" Denney