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Enicar is a brand that has only recently begun to gain traction among the collecting community, and yet its horological roots run deep. The Racine family (themselves cousins of the Gallet watchmaking dynasty) were already well-known in the watchmaking hub of Jura as early as the 1700s, and in 1870 Jules Racine Sr manufactured pocket watches under the family name. By the time young Ariste Racine entered the family business and wanted to start his own brand, the name "Racine" was already trademarked. So his wife, Emma, devised an clever solution: reverse the family name to "Enicar." Thus, in 1914 Enicar S.A. was established in that horological hotbed of La-Chaux-du-Fonds. Ariste Racine, with the help of his brother Oskar, grew the company steadily into the 20th century, receiving wide acclaim for their robust pocket watches that became favorites among officers in WWI.
By the 1930s, Enicar was producing wristwatches, and set its sights on building watches that could be worn in any environment. After World War II, production expanded and improved under the helm of Ariste Racine, Jr. By the early 1950s, 70,000 movements were produced each year in their laboratory, movements which Enicar boasted had been cleaned with ultrasound technology, establishing the "Ultrasonic" line of watches. In 1954 their Caliber 1010 achieved chronometer certification. Also, as Rolex did with the Explorer, Enicar turned its gaze to the highest peaks of the world.
Drawing from the needs of mountaineers and explorers, Enicar launched their Sherpa line, developing various sports models through the 1960s. Seapearl watches by Enicar were strapped to the wrists of the members of a Swiss expedition to the summit of Mt. Everest in 1956. Taking the name from the rugged, heroic Sherpa guides who escorted (and in many instances carried) European explorers to the summit, Enicar renamed their Seapearl line to Sherpa. During the 1960s, over 100 different models of Sherpa were released, for every conceivable sport.
1958 saw the launch of the Sherpa dive watches. Enicar adopted the SuperCompressor case design manufactured by Ervin Piquerez S.A. (EPSA) from the 1950s to the 1970s. The case design was used by many brands from Girard-Perregaux and Bulova to (perhaps most famously) Longines and Jaeger-LeCoultre. The SuperCompressor cases came in two sizes, 36mm (the Super Divette, featured here) and 41mm. Examples of the Longines and Jaeger-LeCoultre SuperCompressor divers (such as the legendary and elusive Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris), being among the rarest, often command asking prices of over $5000.
SuperCompressor cases are notable for their spring-loaded case backs, which actually tighten when exposed to higher pressures underwater. The dual crowns at 2 and 4 o'clock (one to set the time and the other to control the inner diver's rotating bezel) feature a distinctive cross-hatch finishing, over which many brands placed their logo. Along with the typical cross-hatch finishing on the crown, the case backs of SuperCompressor divers often bore EPSA's dive helmet logo.
While the SuperCompressor case was by no means unique among the dive watches of the period, Enicar, not to be outdone, certainly excelled at modifying and improving their Super Dives. They produced Super Dives in both the 36 and the 41mm case sizes, and even produced GMT divers. While the Super Dive lacks such dive watch necessities as screw-down crowns, the SuperCompressor case nevertheless equipped it for depths of over 600 feet. The Enicar Super Dive's polygonal-shaped case back was unique in that it fit together with a bayonet attachment system, ensuring that the threads would be stripped or crossed. This quirky, yet efficient caseback design sets Enicar's SuperCompressor diver watches apart from the others, making it an excellent and sought-after vintage diver.
The Sherpa Super Divette that we have here may be slightly smaller than its 41mm brother, but in our opinion this Super Divette wears much better on the wrist. Also, it's rarer and certainly harder to find than the larger versions. And when you consider that ours is on a bracelet, it's certainly an attractive find!
Stainless steel case is approximately 36mm (excluding crowns). Ref. 144-35-01, Enicar cal. 1145B, circa mid-1960s.
Overall Condition: Stainless steel SuperCompressor case is in very good condition overall, with some traces of use and wear in keeping with its age. Lugs are sharp and show no signs of over-polishing, but do have some scratches and tool marks. Dial is in very good condition, showing no signs of hand drag, but some slight discoloration around the outer edges. Luminescent elements on the hour plots have gained a fine even patina which is matched on that of the hands. Signed crowns; signed case back shows some light scratches but is in otherwise very good condition.
Includes 18mm stainless steel Enicar bracelet and two 18mm nylon straps from Crown & Buckle.