Chronographe Suisse – The Story Behind a Mysterious but Productive Chronograph Brand and Supplier

By rolex
May 28, 2021
7 min read

It’s normal for watch brands to re-appropriate cases, developments, precious stones, lashes, and so forth to gather at their base area, and afterward stamp their name on the dial and consider it their own. Not everything companies can work without any preparation and even significant extravagance brands use ETA developments and different reevaluated components. Harking back to the 1940s, a brand known as Chronographe Suisse (Swiss Chronograph) gave cheap “nonexclusive” chronograph watches and parts for brands to receive and add their name. Indeed, even neighborhood gem dealers marked these watches as their own. It sold watches with in-house “Chronographe Suisse” marking also, adding some disarray in with the general mish-mash.

Popular in the European market as (generally) modest Swiss watches for vacationers, Chronographe Suisse turned into a huge income hotspot for little, often forgettable brands and a significant number of these watches are collectables today. At its top, more than 500 workshops were delivering watches with provisions from Chronographe Suisse. This effective plan of action flourished from the 1940s to the 1970s, before the quartz transformation unleashed destruction on the business generally speaking. How about we investigate this to some degree failed to remember section of 20th century watch history.

The Brand Itself

It’s hard to truly nail down the foundations of Chronographe Suisse. It often helps me to remember companies like Seiko (generally talking, obviously), which gives developments and parts to different brands, for example, the Seiko type NH35A utilized by numerous miniature brands. Those brands don’t have Seiko on their dials and a similar development powers Seiko’s very own significant number pieces. That is not an altogether precise comparison, in any case, as Chronographe Suisse didn’t deliver in-house developments. The vast majority of its watches, regardless of whether self-marked or received by others, had Swiss Venus, Landeron or Valjoux movements.

These companies gave top caliber, solid yet moderately modest developments – along these lines as Seiko or ETA today (understanding that Seiko isn’t Swiss, yet you get the thought). Large numbers of its chronographs were up-to-date and top of the line in appearance, utilizing steel or slight gold-plated cases (sometimes strong 14k or 18k gold) and extravagant dials. The ideal temptation for a vacationer looking for a moderate Swiss watch. Strong gold cases were meager to lessen material expenses and corners were often sliced to build creation, however they were all things considered mainstream tokens. They weren’t all modest, in any case, with some better quality models selling at set up brand prices.

Commonly utilized developments for Chronographe Suisse incorporated the cam-worked Landeron Caliber 48 (over 3.5 million were delivered), which included a traditional two-button format after the three-button Caliber 47. It was somewhat curious as the pusher at 2 o’clock began the seconds, while the one at 4 o’clock both paused and reset it. It was a hand-twisted development with 17 gems, 18,000vph (2.5Hz) and a 42-hour power hold. Landeron returns to 1873, yet it wasn’t until 1924 that the company created chronograph developments (and 1925 when it passed by the name, Landeron).

The Venus Caliber 170 was another common Swiss development for Chronographe Suisse watches. Set up in 1923, Venus created its first chronograph development in 1933, the Caliber 103. Its section wheel chronograph developments were praised as among the best at any point created, including the Caliber 170, a hand-twisted development with 17 gems, 18,000vph (2.5Hz) and a 40-hour power hold. Venus likewise delivered self-marked watches into the 1970’s.

Movements from Valjoux, for example, the Valjoux 92, were additionally seen in Chronographe Suisse watches. Like the others, the Swiss hand-wound development had 17 gems, 18,000vph (2.5Hz) and a 39-hour power hold. Landeron, Venus and Valjoux were all well known development producers that some top of the line brands used, and they set up Chronographe Suisse’s standing as a quality yet reasonable Swiss option in contrast to set up brands.

Alternate Branding

You can discover a ton of Chronographe Suisse watches out there with dark names on the dial from since a long time ago failed to remember brands. Dreffa is one of the better-known companies (not that it’s generally perceived) that marked Chronographe Suisse dials with its name. Set up in 1874 in Geneva, Switzerland by Armand Dreyffus, Dreffa turned into an extravagance watch brand that drove itself into the US market during the 1940s under the name, Dreffa Geneve. A large number of its models were Chronographe Suisse pieces, often with both company names on the dial (Dreffa Geneve and Chronographe Suisse). Jacques Maguin gained the Dreffa brand in 1985 and adjusted the logo, and it was procured again in 2014 by TGX Holdings, with creation proceeding in both Geneva and Glashütte.

Other brands like Ultimor and Olympic appeared on Chronographe Suisse watches, just to vanish as the quartz emergency demolished more modest brands. An enormous level of these companies existed exclusively due to the Chronographe Suisse supply, which permitted get together and straightforward dial adjustments to be the significant necessities for the presence of a watch brand. Not an awful set-up for persuaded entrepreneurs.

Chronographe Suisse Collecting

Watches today, regardless of whether marked with Chronographe Suisse or a name you’ve never known about, are famous with first-time vintage watch purchasers and even prepared authorities. 18k gold models can sell for over EUR 3,000, despite the fact that it’s not elusive gold (and particularly gold-plated) models for well under EUR 2,000. I found a gold, 37mm model from the 1950s in great corrective and mechanical condition for under EUR 1,000. It has a Landeron Caliber 48 and two sub-dials at 3 and 6 o’clock. Not awful for a vintage Swiss chronograph.

Keep as a main priority that the gold case is bizarrely flimsy with empty hauls, so you’re getting less material and power than what more settled brands offered. The Landeron development can likewise be costly to support. Many steel Chronographe Suisse watches can be found for under EUR 500, so you don’t need to spend a fortune in case you’re interested by the brand. My recommendation, particularly if spending north of EUR 1,000, is to get a new assistance history and clear photos of the development (if purchasing on the web) before committing.

Chronograph Suisse in the 21st Century

A little restoration of Chronograph Suisse watches occurred around 2010 with the Chronographe Suisse Mangusta Supermeccanica Stupenda (sounds Italian, yet it’s Swiss). Different offshoots of this model were delivered and it’s a cutting edge return to the mid-20th century. Not at all like the design centered firsts with acrylic gems and smallish cases, the new watches have sapphire gems, hefty steel cases around 45mm in width and water-obstruction up to 200m. Developments in these models (called Caliber 26 automatics) are likely ETA 2894-2 programmed types with 37 gems, 28,800vph (4Hz) and a 42-hour power save. Costs began at USD 5,000 and finished out at around USD 8,000. They can be discovered today for around USD 3,000 or less for clean examples.

Choosing between “another” Chronograph Suisse or vintage partner resembles picking between a 1955 Volkswagen Beetle or a 2010 model. Altogether different ideas for various individuals. I’d actually pick a vintage Chronographe Suisse with a Landeron Caliber 48 in steel. I find that combination the most fascinating and pleasant models will not use up every last cent. Regardless of whether I pick a dark brand on the dial or just “Chronographe Suisse” would rely totally upon how stylishly satisfying the watch is.

Actual marking on the dial is immaterial to me (they’re all Chronographe Suisse pieces), in spite of the fact that I know there are gatherers who might wholeheartedly oppose this idea. The years and years of Chronographe Suisse are certainly not a notable piece of horological history, particularly in North America, however the large tons of watches delivered not just give a fascinating knowledge into pre-quartz watchmaking yet give vintage watch gatherers something reasonable to acquire.