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Ch.F.Tissot & Son Locle - a high grade Tissot for America

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Tissot... a well known lower mid-range brand, making quality timepieces since 1853.
I still remember getting my first Tissot. When I was at the begining of my way collecting mechanical watches, I got a beautiful, gold, vintage Tissot for my 18th birthday.

The mesh gold bracelet was given to me by my grandfather and it makes a valuable watch alltogether, despite the damaged dial.
I don't wear the gold bracelet, though, as it's unadjustable and not for my wrist, I wear it on a brown leather strap bought in Firenze 15 years ago. I don't wear it much, so that's still usable

Back to the point - I was 18 years old getting this wonderful timepiece and ever since seeing a Tissot brand touches me in a special way. Just like seeing Longines or (even more) Zenith logo, for precisely the same reason - these were the watches that got me into watch collecting.

The American case you see holds a real gem inside. A gem I just could not resist to buy - an early, high quality Tissot.

Disassembled first, as usual...

Let's have a closer look at some parts now:

The stem is adjusted to fit the case. The dial is snap-on type, poorly shown on the 'still cased' picture.
In fact, the watch is difficult to remove from it's case, or to be precise - to find out how.
You'll see later on (don't want to spoil it now), the movement has a hole next to the crown wheel and you'd expect a detent screw there, but there's nothing. Looking closely I did not see a thread and I decided just to stick something in there. At the point I thought this hole must have a use and there must be a way to release the stem, so I pushed, not too hard. To my initial terror, i heard a click and the dial started moving on the other side.
I was sure I just ruined something, but no - the dial just popped off the movement, revealing the setting lever that needed to be removed to take the stem out... Tricky

As for the rest of the pictures, there is the lovely polished click assembly, the setting lever, the underside of the barrel bridge stamped LB&CE (likely ebauche maker, [EDIT: I was suggested it's LeCoultre] ) and a cracked center jewel.

The next picture shows the escapement/barrel bridge mounted on the dial side, with it's three capped bearings, as well as lovely finished, gold gear train.
Before I put the gears on the plate, I should have placed the small winding stem bridge, though:

There. You can also see the beautiful, single roller Swiss lever escapement and compensation balance with Breguet overcoil hairspring.
The escape wheel bearing has a gold cap jewel setting.

The barrel arbor can be disassembled, but this requires a two-pin tool to unscrew it and I don't have one, so I cleaned it all assembled together. Thus, I inserted the spring by hand, and I think it could be too weak for a watch like this. Very soft, too pleasant to insert with just my fingers
The barrel has a tooth to positionate the cap properly, so one has to pay attention.

I placed the barrel bridge too early on the plate (obviously, the barrel can't be inserted from the dial side), but at least that allwed me to assemble the setting mechanism.

The polished pallet bridge also has a lovely golden cap jewel setting.
The barrel has a wide arbor and just one bearing on the top side.

Three screws are used to attach the ratchet wheel, and four (three+a centering one) to mount the crown wheel.

Notice the high grade 'wolf teeth' gear finish. Quite useless, but great looking and typical for quality watches of the time.
The barrel's Geneva stop works are also in place.
Most of you know - Geneva stop works on a barrel is used to cut off the very high and very low range of mainspring's tension, not allowing full winding and maintaining some 'pre-tension' when the watch stops.
To achieve the 'pre tension', tou have to wind it up a bit before installing it.

Unlike you can sometimes hear, stop works do not prevent 'overwiding' - they were used because old mainsprings had a very uneven power curve, very high when wound tight and then falling rapidly as it unwound - cutting off the extremes improved accuracy by making the watch run more consistently.


This I sometimes don't get. The staff is original, the bearings are original, all plates allign perfectly, and yet I need a washer to make it run. Why? Either the balnace cock or the dial side bridge have deformed slightly over time or maybe there is a micrometric slit left under the balance cock causing slight tilt?
I can't see it, though. I'd expect very low endshake in this watch when new, so maybe a slightest malformation causes the watch to stop?

Dial side assembled, watch recased and hands on.
The movement is cased using a very professional centering ring.
I'm also wondering about the setting lever - it's inconsistent with the other parts (crude finish) and the clutch lever has a hole for a setting pusher - I think this might be a pendant set conversion as well, which would explain the werid access to the detent stem screw...

The wonderful Keystone case has no additional screw marks. I don't know if this was an imported movement cased like this by the retailer, or if a solid gold case was sold and replaced with a cheaper gold filled one?
The date - 1915 - surely is correct for the case, but I think the movement is older (the watchobserver.fr dates a pusher set watch with twin dial and hands to 1873, no movement shot, though), which would support the second theory.
Or maybe it's a much later recase. we'll never know now.

And the movement in it's glory!

Gold train, steel escapement, Breguet hairspring on cut compensation balance, 20 jewels, Geneva stripe pattern and Geneva stop works, and wolf-teeth gears - it all account for a very high quality swiss watch of the era.
It's difficult to find a picture of a better Tissot. OK, it's 'just' a Tissot, but a wonderful Tissot no doubt.

The mystery remains - did Warren buy a Tissot or was his movement brutally thrown away to re-use his case?
A beautiful watch - no matter what.
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Updated 04-29-2017 at 04:07 AM by pmwas



  1. Dave Coatsworth's Avatar
    Nicely done, as always, Paul!