Vintage Chronograph Movements Part-2

Last week I started discussing vintage chronographs and I have highlighted the biggest two players back in the days; today I will continue what I’ve started and I will mention some of the very famous chronograph movements as well as the less known ones.

3- Lemania

In 1884 a young watchmaker Alfred Lugrin, who had acquired his expertise as a laborer at Jaeger-LeCoultre, has started his own movements’ manufacturing under the name A. Lurgrin S.A.
Alfred had specialized in the production of chronographs, stopwatches and repeaters.
Because of the outstanding quality, Lugrin received top awards and gold medals at exhibitions in 1906 in Milan and 1914 in Bern.

Lugrin passed away in 1920 passing his company to his son in law Marius Meylan.
Till 1930 the factory had the same name until Meylan established the brand name Lemania Watch Co. with headquarters in L’Orient.

In 1930 SSIS [Societe Suisse pour l’Industrie Horlogere] was formed when Omega and Tissot joined forces. By 1932 and while the business was declining Meylan approached SSIH to purchase Lemania and save the company.
This proved mutually beneficial as Omega started to have access to Lemania’s great chronographs, and also Lemania was free to continue producing watches under its own name.

As a result of this merger, Omega was able to obtain the official timing for the Summer Olympics 1932 in LA. Also this was a very important step for the development of one of Omega’s most important sports’ watches the famous Omega Speedmaster Professional Moon watch in 1957
source: https://www.omegawatches.com/watches/speedmaster/moonwatch/
One of Lemania’s landmarks is the caliber 27-CHRO-12 released in 1942, this caliber was designed by Albert Piquet one of the company’s star designers who shined at Lemania for more than 40 years.
source: http://iwmagazine.com/2011/07/the-lemania-legacy-2/
Working in conjunction with Omega, Piquet further refined this movement to include shock protection and an antimagnetic balance spring. On 1947 the new enhanced Omega caliber was introduced, Cal.321
source: http://www.fratellowatches.com/omega-speedmaster-professional-145012-1967/
In 1980 Nicolas Hayek, SSIH CEO at the time was mandated by the creditor banks to reconstruct the group, accordingly Lemania was separated by SSIH and changed its name to Nouvelle Lemania.

From early to mid 1980 Heuer was actually owned by Nouvelle Lemania, and thus Heuer watches at this time was powered bu Lemania movements till Heuer was acquired by TAG in 1985.
source: http://chronomaddox.com/heuer/articles/carrera_article/_carrera_pt4.html
Two years later in 1987 Investcorp Group purchased Breguet from Chaumet Jewelers, and the new owners formed GHB [Group Horloger Breguet] which quickly established strong ties with Lemania for their excellent movements.
In 1992 GHB acquired Nouvelle Lemania to ensure the uninterrupted movement supply, as at this time Lemania was supplying movements to a lot of watch manufactures in Switzerland and Germany.
source: http://www.breguet.com/en/timeline/1970-1998/milestones/type-xx-line-7604

 In Sept. 1999 Swatch group purchased GHB, However Breguet has removed all vestiges of the manufacture’s Lemania roots, but its legacy remains strong in the numerous Lemania watches collected as well as inside the magnificent Breguet watches made today.

4. Landeron

There isn’t much information about Landeron on the web, I based most of my research upon Lang/Mei’s book on Chronographs – “Wristwatches to stop time”
The company was founded in 1873 by Charles Alfred Hahn and his brother Aime Auguste, and they started producing movements as well as complete watches.
When Hahn died his son Charles took over in 1875; and in 1925 Charles acquired Anatole’s Breitling’s Monbrillant patent and start producing chronograph movements using these patents.
A beautiful example for a Monbrillant was sold on ebay last year for $ 4700

Around this time the movement arm of the company was split off and named by the company location, Landeron. A year later it merged with FHF [Fabrique d’horlogerie de Fontainemelon] which was another huge movement manufacturer.
2 years later the joined firm joined ASSA and AM to form Ebauches SA.

For the next 30 years Landeron continued designing and manufacturing chronograph complications, one of their landmarks was Calber 39, which was heavily used in World War II by both sides.

This movement was adapted and deployed within a lot of Breitling watches at this time.

source: http://www.watchprosite.com/?page=wf.forumpost&fi=17&ti=829648&pi=5609473

The Caliber 39 was updated and Caliber 48 was released which was a big hit and it is believed that they had sold thousands of those movements across the world.
Then this was updated to Caliber 49, then finally to Caliber 52.
The “52” was the last column-wheel chronograph they sold, this caliber is considered one of their best movements, and looked at the same level as the Valjoux and Venus; or even better.

Landeron’s most important contribution to the history of chronograph wristwatch was the introduction of the cam-operated chronographs.

Their caliber 47 has 3 pushers, one to start the chronograph function, one stopping it and the third to reset it. This made additional stopping function. This was followed by caliber 48 with 2 pushers, which again was the company’s most successful movement.

It is not clear exactly when the last movement was manufactured or when exactly ETA decided to kill the Landeron name, but worth mentioning that there is a watch site operating under their name selling pre-owned and referbished watches, so probably the name was even sold as well.


5 Lapanouse / Cimier / REGO

In 1925 the first ads of a company called Lapanouse SA appeared, featuring Swiss watches under the brand name CIMIER.
The company was founded by the watchmaker R.Lapanouse in Holstein, mainly producing the so-called “Roskopf” watches, the movement wasn’t their own design; But they were very robust and exceptionally cheap, featuring vertical standing steel pins instead of the usual stone palettes for time scaling.

source: http://www.mcbroom.biz/forum/read.php?5,2931,2931,quote=1

They also produced watches under the name REGO;
In the 1950’s they start producing affordable watches with striking designs, and they were big success.
In the 1960’s they introduced the pin lever chronograph with seven stones; this movement had two pushers for controlling diverse functions.

Those are not very desirable watches among collectors, but they are considered historic time pieces; maybe less complicated than their more expensive Swiss counterparts, but they proved to be strong workhorses that are still ticking today.


Worth mentioning that Cimier is still in business today, and producing mainly quartz watches, they managed to pass through the quartz crisis while most of the big players failed to.

5- Russian Chronographs

The first Russian Chronograph movement is believed to be produced by the 1st Moscow Watch Factory, and it was called Caliber 3017;  this was around late 1950’s.
The Cal 3017 is a very lofty column wheel chronograph based on the Swiss Venus 150/152.

source: http://www.russian-watches.info/

The production equipment of the Venus Caliber with the corresponding drawings and know-how was imported from Switzerland to the Soviet Union in the mid fifties. The Cal.3017 is believed to be manufactured on this equipment. The first watch was released under the Poljot name in 1964.

source: http://www.strela-watch.de/company/strela-history/

In the 1970’s Valjoux sold their machinery that once produced their Cal 7734 to the USSR, this resulted into the production of the Caliber 3133 which is more or less identical to the Valjoux 7723.

source: http://www.strela-watch.de/watch_movements/3133-maktime-poljot/

The Cal. 3133 is a 23 jewel, cam controlled chronograph. It has a running second at 9 O’clock and a “30” min counter at 3. It has a sweep second counter and a quickset date mechanism.

Poljot continued to produce Cal. 3133 up until the end of 2004, then the machinery was purchased by Maktime in south Moscow and resumed production in June 2005. Due to the machinery life span and low sales, the production stopped in 2011. As of now, new movements continue to be available in remaining retail stocks, however they are now nearing extinction.

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