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The Caliber ... [I guess I get to name it, but I'm just speechless right now]
17''' experimental PW caliber; Sun, 10 January 2021 04:51
The title says it all.
The caliber database |
I checked the plates and the numbers match. This is a factory original.
Characteristic of V2:
- Marked Precision in diamond (!!!)
- Adjusted to "All Positions", marked on balance cock
- Moustache pallet fork
- Does not use banking pins
- Uses the V2 click and associated bridges
Characteristic of V3.5:
- Standard balance, not chronometer
- Serial number (!!!)
Characteristic of both:
- Can be Swiss stem set
- 19 jewels
- Can be marked Suisse
- Jewels in gold chaton settings
Characteristic of neither:
- Simple regulator (V3.5 would have a swan regulator and V2 would have a reverse swan regulator)
- Plate/balance jewel setting cut out exposes the banking plates & pallet fork (the edges are nickel plated, so it was done during the manufacturing process)
Anyone care to suggest a name?
18k Gold Alpina-Gruen Techni-Quadron
Fri, 04 December 2020 19:48
Model name: Techni-Quadron
Watches from the Guild |
Type: Duo-Dial Wristwatch
Period/date: Circa 1930-1935
Case Maker: Weber & Cie
Case Material: 18k Gold
Case Serial: 93133
Case Style no: N/A
Movement Maker: Aegler, aka Gruen Guild Factory A
Movement Serial: 1853249
Bracelet: Leather Strap, 14k Original Buckle
Very clean condition, only a few service markings in the case (in an era of less refined oils where service was recommended annually), so presumably worn for a relative short time and put away. The case does not appear to ever have been buffed or polished, with all lines remaining crisp. I am fairly confident that this would best be characterized as green gold. In natural sunlight it looks quite green. And it clearly lacks that hint of orange seen in most yellow gold. But green to yellow gold is a continuum, so it's hard to ever say with certainty. The champagne dial does not show any signs of refinishing, although given that its kiln-fired enamel print that will remain unchanged after refinishing, it's difficult to ever be certain that an early Gruen dial has never been refinished. Likewise, the movement is very clean. And note the wonderful balance guard option not seen on most Gruens. And I say "wonderful" because it allows a ham-fisted owner such as myself the ability to handle the movement with less risk of accidentally damaging the balance. I believe the buckle to be original. It's the correct style of the time. The previous owner represented it as solid 14k gold. There are no markings, but carefully looking at the edges and holes, I do believe that this is solid gold. Given the watch's apparent low mileage and the ancient crumbling strap that was attached when I received it, I don't have a hard time believing that the buckle (and likely strap) were never replaced. Another clue is the buckle's use of a notched rod through a crimped tube rather than a conventional spring bar, i.e. Gruen's patented "Mounting Attachment Means For Wrist Watches and the Like" (click for patent image).
One aspect I find interesting is the case serial number. I have never encountered a Weber serial number that did not follow a X0XXXX (often X00XXX) pattern, usually crisply stamped on the interior of the case. And this applies not only to Gruen-Weber cases, but also Alpina-Gruens with Weber cases that I've come across. For example:
This 93133 not only doesn't follow the usual Weber numerical pattern, it is engraved, and not stamped, on the back of the case. I don't have any explanation (yet), but it is nonetheless a Weber case (more on that below).
Here's a closer shot of the case hallmarks:
The top is the German Sun and Crown mark. However, it does not mean that the watch was actually imported into Germany. Swiss case makers were permitted to use this hallmark themselves rather than having the cases assayed in Germany. So, it only means that the watch was intended for possible export to Germany.
Alpina Gruen needs no explanation.
Next is the head of Helvetia, the Swiss hallmark for 18k gold.
Then there's the "72 18K 0,750" marking. The 18k and 0,750 are self-explanatory, but I had to do some digging to figure out why the number 72 was included. I've run across 14k, 0.585 cases that also had the number 56 stamped on them, so I assumed that there's no way that 72 being similar to, but just below 0.750 and 56 being just below 0.585 could be a coincidence, so it had to be related to fineness. It turns out it's a zolotnik marking. Zolotniks are an Eastern European measure of gold purity originating in Russia. Zolotniks are based on a scale of 96, so 72/96 = 18/24 = 0.750 = 18k. I would assume that the presence of a zolotnik marking as well as the German Sun and Crown hallmark means that they were keeping all options open for exporting to Germany or Eastern Europe.
Then there's the 4/10. It's not something I had seen before, but after some research, I found that it's a reference to a case thickness of 4/10mm. What I was still unclear about is why this mark was included. Forum member DRGM was able to help with that. It turns out that this is a marking championed by Eduard Gübelin, also a customer of Weber & Cie, and while not a Guild member, Gübelin had ties to at least two members (Weber and Favre). DRGM provided me with a translation of this 1935 article from the German language publication Uhrmacherkunst. In it, Gübelin tells a fanciful story of two shops with similar watches, but one is priced significantly higher than the other. His argument is that the customer will have trouble comprehending the differences in movement quality that is responsible for most of the price difference, but if the retailer can demonstrate the quality of the case, that will help to convince the customer of the overall quality of the watch. In his example, the more expensive watch has a 3/10mm thick case. The customer goes back to check out the less expensive watch, sees the thinness of its case, and returns to buy the more expensive watch. Upon appreciating the greater heft of the 3/10mm case, "she had come to the conviction that there must be a difference in the works, even if she did not understand it correctly." So, while I can say that 4/10mm makes for a sturdy, though not an extraordinarily heavy case, evidently it was a thickness worth drawing attention to.
And finally, the number 29 in the Key of Geneva. This is the responsibility mark, or Poinçon de Maître (punch of the master) for Weber & Cie. If the case manufacturer wasn't identified on the case (as it was with most Gruen-Weber precious metal cases), then this mark was required so that any precious metal case could be traced back to its manufacturer. While it's hardly surprising to find an Alpina-Gruen in a Weber case, I'm not sure I would have guessed it absent the responsibilty mark, especially due to the unorthodox serial number. Although in retrospect, I have seen examples of this same case design that were marked Weber, so it does all compute.
In summary, it's a pretty nice watch.
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