Jaquet-Droz Chronograph (Landeron Cal. 149)…
Another rather tired looking vintage chronograph on the blog, this time from Jaquet-Droz.
(Click pictures to enlarge)
Regular readers may have a sense of déjà-vu here as the case on this watch is one that was supplied to a number of manufacturers over the years and I’ve written about two such examples before on the blog, a Rotary and a Le Cheminant Master Mariner. Here are a few more examples of watches which share the same case; values vary and some are easier to find than others.
This is however the first time I’ve seen such a chronograph from Jaquet-Droz. The history of Jaquet-Droz is very interesting but rather than repeat myself, I’ll direct any interested parties to this blog post about another J-D chronograph in which I covered their background.
The watch in this post is still in the possession of the original owner who had it bought for him as a 21st birthday gift in 1968. At that time the brand was enjoying the early years of its first rise from the ashes before the quartz revolution came along and wiped them out, along with many others. Watches from this period are easy to recognise as they all have the ‘arrow’ logo on the dial.
Inside the watch is a Landeron cal. 149, a cam-lever chronograph and one of the few Landeron calibres with a traditional operation ie. the top pusher starts and stops the chronograph and the lower pusher performs the reset. The more commonly used 48, 51, 148 and 248 calibres were designed such that the top pusher starts that chronograph and the lower pusher is used for both the stop and reset functions.
Although the movement was in decent condition, you may have noticed in the first picture that the hand for the chronograph minute register had fallen off and was rattling around at the bottom of the dial.
Once the movement had been disassembled the cause was immediately obvious, the lower pivot for the chronograph minute runner had been broken off. Though the hand may have stayed in place initially, with no clearance above the dial it wouldn’t have taken long to work its way off the shaft in daily wear.
Being the 45 minute rather than the 30 minute version of the chronograph I expected to have some difficulty in finding a new part, but that wasn’t the case (which made a pleasant change .. and even more pleasant, the owner found it for me!), so a replacement was ordered from overseas while I serviced the rest of the movement.
From a cosmetic perspective, despite having had many years of use, the case was still in decent condition but the bezel had lost some most of its markings and the crystal was cracked. The bezel pip was missing too and so was the filling in the minute sub-dial hand, both of which would need to be re-lumed to match the rest of the (original) lume.
Once the replacement minute runner arrived, the movement could finally be rebuilt and regulated/tested. In the meantime, the bezel pip and hand had been re-lumed, the case cleaned and given a light buff to restore the shine, a new crystal fitted and the bezel markings re-painted.
I’ve restored quite a few of these watches now and I’m always impressed with how well they clean up, this one being no exception. With a case diameter of 38mm (40mm including the crown) they may be considered quite small by today’s standards, but with prices still being relatively modest on most models, they are a good entry into the world of vintage chronographs.
** Many thanks to John Dawes for letting me feature his watch on the blog. **