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From its earliest days, the Swiss watch industry was a cottage industry—literally. Confined to their cottages by the snowstorms of winter, peasants and farmers would craft components of watches, which would then be sent to firms in Geneva for assembly after the spring thaw. Though the technical advances of the Industrial Revolution brought factory production to the industry, this system of établissage persisted well into the 20th century.
Chronographe Suisse is one such relic of that system.
The company was at one time a major parts supplier to a number of the big houses of Swiss watchmaking. Leading up to the quartz crisis of the late 1970s, which shuttered a tremendous percentage of the industry, Chronographe Suisse was manufacturing manual-winding timepieces for a number of retailers throughout Switzerland and greater Europe. Sometimes with they would print the brand names on the dials, but often the dials would read only “Chronographe Suisse.”
These timepieces were relatively plentiful from the 1940s-1970s and featured a variety of casing materials, movements, and dial designs. Most Chronographe Suisse models were gold plated or plain steel, but a few were produced in solid gold. They were particularly popular with tourists visiting Switzerland in the 1950s and 1960s, looking to take home a piece of fine Swiss watchmaking on a budget—budget being the key word!
Although Chronographe Suisse are relatively plentiful on the market today, this particular example caught our eye instantly, thanks in part to the condition of the case. As these chronographs were produced mainly for the tourist market, the cases were often crafted from sheet gold, which can become somewhat thin due to wear. However, this particular Chronograph Suisse was finished in solid 18K Rose Gold.
With a stunning black dial (a rarity in its own right), it makes for a very unusual and rare combination which is tremendously fetching. The interplay of the brightly-colored scales with the black background of the dial is absolutely eye-watering. Best of all, its 37mm size makes it infinitely wearable on the modern wrist.
If you've been captivated by the "oversized" chronographs from brands such as Universal Geneve, Longines, and Tissot which have become super hot on the market, you'd do well to consider Chronographe Suisse as an alternative—all the looks and vintage appeal, at a fraction of the price.
18k rose gold case is approximately 37mm (excluding crown). Landeron Caliber 148 Manually-Wound Chronograph Movement.
Overall Condition: 18k rose gold case is in very good condition with only the slightest signs of use and wear, including a slight indentation on the side of the case opposite the crown. Dial is in excellent condition with crisp printing and no signs of discoloration or hand drag. Unsigned crown. Signed case back has some faint tool marks but is in otherwise very good condition.
Includes one 20mm dark brown leather strap.