Something a little unconventional this time, an Ernest Borel Cocktail watch.
(Click pictures to enlarge)
The Ernest Borel name has been gracing the dials of timepieces since 1899 when Ernest Borel took the reins of the family business following the death of his father, Jules Borel, who had founded the brand (as Borel & Courvoisier ) in 1856.
The Cocktail ‘kaleidoscopic’ models were patented in 1952 and introduced to the market in 1953. Being something of a niche product, initial interest was limited but sales increased dramatically during the 1960’s with the rise of psychedelic pop culture prompting Borel to produce a wider range of both gents and ladies models.
Though the company is still trading today, it is no longer a family run business. Like many others, Ernest Borel were hit hard by the quartz crisis and were eventually bought by Aubry Frere S.A. in 1975 and became part of the Synchron S.A. group along with Cyma and Doxa.
Sold again in 1997 to a group of Chinese investors who still own the brand, they continue to produce a range of both quartz and mechanical models under the Ernest Borel name. A “Cocktail Collection” still exists in their range and I’m pleased to see that the models all have mechanical rather than quartz movements as the mesmerizing kaleidoscopic effect would have been greatly reduced by a quartz ‘pulse’ rather than the smooth sweep of a mechanical movement.
Ok, back to the subject of this post. Turning the watch over, the movement is visible through a clear acrylic caseback, in this case it’s a manually wound ETA Cal. 1311 which looked to be in decent order.
Cosmetically the watch was pretty good too but as you may have noticed in the first picture, the paint on the hands had started to deteriorate and would need to be replaced, plus the whole watch was full of debris.
The case on this watch is opened by levering off the bezel and top crystal as a complete unit and the watch can then be lifted out of the lower case. The skeletonised chapter ring acts as a securing ring into which the movement is pressed.
Similar to the Zodiac Astrographic SST I wrote about a few years ago which has stacked discs rather than conventional hands, this watch has a standard hour hand, a painted brass disc as a minute hand and a patterned clear disc for the second hand.
What isn’t immediately obvious in the pictures above is that both crystals had aged quite badly and as you can see had turned opaque with age, robbing the watch of some of its colour.
The owner of this watch had also supplied a new dial to freshen the watch up, so when the hands had been repainted and the case and chapter ring had been cleaned things were starting to come together.
The movement needed no more than a routine service so once both crystals had been replaced and the watch pressed back into the chapter ring, it could finally be rebuilt.
Finally, here’s a short video showing some of the other models and the kaleidoscopic effect in action.
** Many thanks to Peter Dance for letting me feature his watch on the blog. **