Is It a C.H. Meylan, a Zenith, or Something Else?

Discussion in 'European & Other Pocket Watches' started by Ethan Lipsig, Apr 10, 2011.

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  1. Ethan Lipsig

    Ethan Lipsig Registered User
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    I collect C.H. Meylans. I also collect Cress Arrow-cased watches. Cress Arrow private labeled some watchs as "Cresarrow" watches, but I long ago conclude, perhaps mistakenly, that Cresarrow movements like the Cresarrow shown below were private label C.H. Meylans. Compare the first image, of a Cresarrow, with the second image, of a signed C.H. Meylan.

    This cozy view of the world was disturbed a few days back when I came accross a seemingly identical movement in a now closed eBay auction but signed by Zenith. See the last two images below.

    So who really made these movements, C .H. Meylan, Zenith, or a third party, or could they have each made such similar movements? And who made the Cresarrows?

    IMG_2718_edited (400x299).jpg IMG_6348 (400x300).jpg $(KGrHqN,!k0E2EWLN4WpBNncDP10u!~~_3 - Copy (400x360).jpg $(KGrHqN,!k0E2EWLN4WpBNncDP10u!~~_3.jpg
     
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  2. MartyR

    MartyR Moderator
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    The classic dilemma ... or in this case trilemma :D

    When is a watchmaker a watchmaker, as opposed to an assembler, as opposed to a retailer.

    Ethan, do you have any way of dating any of these movements ? And do you have a ny serial numbers (from the movements or cases)?
     
  3. Ethan Lipsig

    Ethan Lipsig Registered User
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    Here are the serial numbers of the watches in the photos attached to my first post, and two other Cresarrowss with what looks like the same movement. In the case of the Zenith, the number is hard to read in the photo, but I think I have read it correctly. All the other watches are from my collection.

    4,154 Zenith
    29,022 C.H. Meylan
    85,052 Cresarrow (not in first posting)
    85,553 Cresarrow (not in first posting)
    85,562 Cresarrow (in first posting)
     
  4. artbissell

    artbissell Registered User
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    In attempting to positively identify the Dietrich Gruen marked special p.w. models I have 2 perfect matches for Le Coultre. There seem to be many makers from Le Locle area using similar parts that look a lot alike. Meylan seems to appear most frequently. Are movements shown here 17 ligne size? I am still looking for a match for the most common D.G. 19j u.t. 17L shown here. So far believe it from Meylan or Le Coultre.
     

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  5. Audemars

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    Yes,
    4154, after enhancement.

    - I've got a range of 29+++ numbers.
    ho ho ho.

    Only very slightly more seriously, take a look at Zantke p 421.
    Not at all identical but I fancy that plate under the winder which looks a bit like a face, isn't typical Audemars either..........

    P
     
  6. Ethan Lipsig

    Ethan Lipsig Registered User
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    Art, your Dietrich Gruen looks virtually identical to the Meylan, Zenith, and Cresarrow I posted. You think it was made either by Meylan or LeCoultre. If you have any, would you post photos of LeCoultre-signed examples.

    "Audemars," you refer to a book by Zantke. I am not familar with that book. What is its title and what is on page 421?
     
  7. artbissell

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    A near zero size D. Gruen and Gruen repeater are by Le Coultre. Both with hidden LeCoultre marks. The LeRoy marked identical 0s is marked LeCoultre. Two examples not mine.

    le coultre 0.jpg lecoultre 0.jpg
     
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  8. Ethan Lipsig

    Ethan Lipsig Registered User
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    Art, I am a bit confused. Neither of these watches is like the ones I posted. If your point is that there are other types of movements with similarly tangled ancestries, I get it.

    The LeRoy, by the way, is my watch. I know, and may have said, that it resembles a LeCoultre, but if it is marked "LeCoultre" somewhere, I don't know about it. Since I have no watchmaking skills, I will have to wait until the next COA to have my watchmaker looks for hidden markings.
     
  9. artbissell

    artbissell Registered User
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    Understand your confusion since I am so confused about these fine Swiss movements as well with the variety of similar appearing, but with small variations in plate designs. I appreciated seeing your LeRoy that was one of the perfect matches for a D. Gruen. I remember you did not definitely say it came from Le Coultre. I might bet a little that it does, however.

    With pending disassembly we may have some proof of manufacturer to report. Meanwhile I am sticking to Le Coultre and Meylan as most likely sources for the Gruen specials. Surely there are some experienced watchmakers that can answer your questions.
     
  10. Audemars

    Audemars Registered User
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    "you refer to a book by Zantke. I am not familar with that book. What is its title and what is on page 421?"

    Go to

    http://www.louis-audemars.de

    P
     
  11. Dr. Jon

    Dr. Jon Registered User
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    The Lecoultre Parts book shows several movements that look like Meylan but the largest is a 12 1/2 ligne movement numbers 450 and 488.

    I have seen seen some Nardins based on LeCoultre movements.

    I suspect that Zenith needed a size or had an order for a special they bought in from other makers. They just did that sort of thing.

    Another possibility is that whne Ebel took over C.H. Meylan they dumped movements and Zenith bought htis one.

    A very illuminating thread. Thanks.
     
  12. artbissell

    artbissell Registered User
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    Audemars:

    Go to

    http://www.louis-audemars.de

    A very interesting detailed history. Fine examples of very complicated watches. My Grandfather was also one of dozen brothers and sisters, born 1870 near Berne. Also was short on vitamins and died age 56 in U.S. The 6 boys each got about $1000. for school or emigration. Girls got nothing. Boys all went to U.S. at about age 18. It was a tough life there at that time. Remarkable how such superb detailed work and complex designing was done there 1870-90.
     
  13. artbissell

    artbissell Registered User
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    #13 artbissell, Apr 11, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2011
     

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  14. artbissell

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    #14 artbissell, Apr 11, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2011
    I am confusing Ethan's serious question and my self as to who made his movements and my own interest in who made the D.Gruen similar movements. I think we are looking at similar 17 ligne movement sizes. Showing 2 similar but not same Meylans here and a Touchon that matches the Gruen closely. Touchon image by Ethan? Who made the Touchon? More questions than answers. Repeated images here for easier comparison.
     

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  15. Sebastian S

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    Some observations regarding Ethan's initial post: I don't believe those Ch.Meylan, Gruen Dietrich, or Zenith movements were made by Ch. Meylan. I've see these same movements as private labels, and non-labeled, also remember the 'BULOVA Phantom'. What we have to understand is that even 'manufacture' companies at times purchased ebauches from other suppliers. There's been plenty of discussion in this forum about these same ebauches. This depended on a series of factors, i.e. if there was an order for very 'flat' watches that they couldn't fill because their current caliber of movements didn't go that 'flat' they'd source ebauches and fill the order. Also, different economic moments in the companies' history are reflected in if the manufacture in house or temporarily buy ebauches. Also remember that houses like Meylan or Zenith, which were 'manufacture' upon receival of ebauches could 'tweak' them as they wanted to make them slightly different. Think of 1910-1920s Ebauches manufactured PRIMARILY for Audemars Piguet. We see the SAME ebauche used on many 'Breguet' Watches, or LeRoys. And with Touchon, Audemars made private labeling these for them. I don't know who the actual manufacturer of the ChMeylan/Gruen/Zenith movement is, but it appears quite late ca 1920s and in my opinion it's not very important who it was, I.e. we all see the similarities: the same ebauche is used, but what we appreciate are the finer details of each brand's fine finishing of these movements. Here are some examples that I've seen (all pictures are not mine, but culled from the Web, or even from this website): 1) Very recent Frederique Piguet ebauche for Breguet (source:puristpro.com) 2) Bulova Phantom (Source: this forum) 3) No label movement Serial 83,XXX (Source: Fleabay) 4) Frankfeld pocketwatch (Source: Fleabay) 5) Gubelin Movement (Different than the one we're talking about but just for comparison to the next movenet)(Source: Fleabay) 6) Haas movement, see similarity to Gubelin (Source: Fleabay) 7) Robert Cart (Very similar to CH Meylan manufacture movements) (Source: Fleabay) 8) Gubelin movement: Identical to Robert Cart and to CH Meylans. (Source: Fleabay) 9) Cressarrow: Identical to some late CH Meylans (Source: Fleabay) So I think Ethan as a terrific point: We agree that there is probably one ebauche for pictures 2-4, another ebauche for 5-6, and another for 7-9. All are slightly different in their final execution: This is because we're dealing with ateliers that are very different then those of today which only put parts together... Thanks for this great thread! Sebastian PS. Dear Paul Audemars, that watch on p. 421 of Zankte is as you know manufactured in a very different period (ca. 30 years before this time as a Jurgensen cal.).

    Breguet_08.jpg Bulova Phantom 1930s Piguet ebauche.jpg 1.jpg Picture 56.jpg Picture 2aa.jpg Picture 41.jpg 231630719_o.jpg 1543_3.JPG DSC_1173.jpg
     
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  16. Dr. Jon

    Dr. Jon Registered User
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    Excellent pionts.

    One minor thing I 'd add is that the definition of a caliber in this context is a set of measurements for a lower plate. Swiss and American houses sometimes changed the bridge and cock shapes to make watches of the same caiber look different.

    Thus, the top views shown in this thread are not definitive. One really needs to look at the lower plate from the dial side, that is with the dial removed.

    During the era of these watches, circa World War I, the Swiss government had establised regulations for who could make what parts. A lot of makers put out some very lovely items but who made what gets murky.
     
  17. Ethan Lipsig

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    Knowing Jon's fondness for IDs based on lower plates, a few years ago I had my watchmaker take all my signed and attributed Meylans apart for my so that I could photograph the lower plates. Therefore, I happen to have lower plate photos for the signed Meylan and the Cresarrow I have attributed to Meylan -- two of the watches in my original post. Not being watchmaker enough even to remove a watch from its case, I wasn't watchmaker enough to learn much from the lower plate photos, but I do think these lower plates are nearly identical, which would support my attribution of the Cresarrow to Meylan. I am sure most of you are far more knowledgeable than me. I look forward to your views on this.

    The first photo below is of the Meylan. The second is of the Cresarrow. The third is yet another example of this ebauche (and perhaps a Meylan) that I just came accross in my collection. It is unsigned, but has a serial number and two Geneva seals. It is in a lovely enameled Verger platinum case, with an unsigned dial similar to ones I have seen on Cartiers and Nardins.
     

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  18. artbissell

    artbissell Registered User
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    "who made what gets murky" is best comment here, but with all the good examples I believe Ethan is right for his question, and I am further convinced the Dietrich Gruens were by Meylan or a Meylan supplier.
     
  19. Dr. Jon

    Dr. Jon Registered User
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    Here is another unsigned, but i am pretty sure C H Meylan. It also has Geneva Seals. It is a 10 ligne watch, that is very small.
     

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  20. artbissell

    artbissell Registered User
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    Appreciate seeing the 10L Meylan with which I agree. I have a maybe unique 10L Gruen 1904 gift, marked Gruen on dial, mvnt., case. It was recently apart and no makers marks noticed. I am guessing Le Coultre? not Meylan for it.
     

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  21. Ethan Lipsig

    Ethan Lipsig Registered User
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    Here are two more differently signed examples of what appears to be the same movement. The first is in a P. Ditisheim oval platinum pocket watch. The second is an Audemars Piguet movement. I saved the image from a source I no longer recall, possibly eBay.
     

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  22. Jerry Treiman

    Jerry Treiman Registered User
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    This is a very interesting thread and holds lessons for those of us who have previously focused on American watches. It has taken a while for it to sink into my head that many Swiss watches apparently have a dual attribution -- the maker of the ebauche and the finisher. Why is it that almost all descriptions I see seem to focus on the latter and ignore the former? Would it be correct to even add a third attribution, that being the customer/jobber/retailer for whom the movement was finished? For instance, we see above an ebauche (of yet to be established origin) that appears to have been finished by Zenith for Gotham Co. I have also seen examples of this movement finished by Meylan for Henry Blank of Newark (Cressarrow). I expect some of the finish details were specified by the retailer or jobber.

    I recently acquired another example of this movement (right-hand movement in the attached photo), finished by an unknown atelier for H.W. Matalene, another Newark casemaker and partial contemoporary of Blank/Cressarrow. So how do we establish who made the ebauche and who finished it? I have the impression that the serial numbers on the movement must be given by the finisher. On my movement the serial number on the pillar plate (under the dial) is the same as the visible number on the barrel bridge. If this is from the finisher then perhaps it was finished by Zenith? None of the other examples shown above have serial numbers anywhere near the numbers on these two. Another possibility is raised by comparison with my Bulova Phantom movement (on the left) which, aside from the uncut barrel bridge, is virtually identical and also has a serial number in the low thousands. Bulova told me a number of years ago that the Phantom movement was made for them by one of the Piguet houses. Might it be a Piguet ebauche then? Who might have done the finishing - Bulova or Piguet? Does the Geneva seal tell us anything about who might have finished this movement (and some of Ethan's)?

    I also wonder - did somebody like Henry Blank order their movements for his Cressarrow Co. from Switzerland directly or were there agents for the finishers here in the U.S. who would provide the movements?

    I believe my Phantom dates from the early to mid 'twenties. The Matalene/Geneve watch dates from 1924-1927 so the number could be in sequence with the Phantom. I was surprised to measure my new watch and find the movement measures 16 lignes.
     
  23. Jerry Treiman

    Jerry Treiman Registered User
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    Looking at Ethan's under-dial photos, one can see the similarities between his Meylan and his Cressarrow. Taking the Cressarrow as an example (on the right in my photo below), one can certainly see some very basic similarities to my Matalene (on the left), but also some differences - most notably in the setting mechanism. The differences would have been necessitated, in part, by the fact that my movement was cut down to 16 ligne. Would the configuration of the setting mechanism have been the responsibility of the finisher? [I need to get my Phantom and photograph the under-dial configuration].
     
  24. Jerry Treiman

    Jerry Treiman Registered User
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    I retrieved my Bulova Phantom and took a photo of the configuration under the dial. Here it is next to my recent acquisition. Aside from the hanging barrel on the new one they look to be the same ebauche to me. Judging from the winding parts could one say they were also finished at the same factory? (These are the same movements as in post #22).
     
  25. Thojil

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    More or less by accident I found out who produced the top of the line "Dietrich Gruen Ultra Thin" movements. Long it was believed these were maybe sourced from Meylan because of the similarity in design, but there was even no evidence that Meylan produced these. I found a document called "Les Successeurs, Les Descendants de Louis-Elisée Piquet" (page 131) that proves these movements were actually manufactured by "Les Fils de Louis-Elisée Piquet, Le Brassus", later known as "Frédéric Piquet" now part of "Blancpain".

    Ebauche maker Piquet was very well known for their "Grande Complications" and extremely thin minute repeaters (as thin as 3mm), which they produced for various "établisseurs" but also Audemars Piquet & Cie was one of their customers. A famous movement is the "La Fabuleuse" produced for for Audemars in 1899 and finally finished by Gubelin Lucerne in 1982.

    The document refers to the production records "Grand livre de fabrication", which are kept in the "Archives Cantonales Vaudoise". From 1912 Gruen ordered a 3.2mm thin 17''' movement, which the document beliefs was the "Dietrich Gruen Ultra Thin". The production record shows that for instance in 1918 out of a total production of 2029 movements there were only 534 pocket watch movements produced of which 288 were for Gruen (36 per month!). Production stopped in 1920.

    The reason for the similarity with the Meylan movement is now confirmed as Piquet supplied the same 17''' base movement to Meylan Watch Co., Le Brassus and also to Agassiz Watch Co., St. Imier. Agassiz and Meylan sold these movements mostly on the North American market. In a listing called "Répertoire des clients des Fils de Louis Elisée Piguet et Frédéric Piguet entre 1925 et 1960 environ" also Zenith and Audemars Piquet are listed as customers. Although no reference is made to any specific calibers for Zenith and Audemars I'm convinced they originate from Piquet because of the similarity in design.

    This is also the only caveat as far as Gruen is concerned that I cannot confirm with 100% certainty whether all "Ultra Thin" versions were produced by "Les Fils de Louis-Elisée Piquet" until I have checked the serial numbers in the production records.

    There were two different "Dietrich Gruen" signed Ultra Thin movements with different bridge design. Calibers "UT/UUT" with 19j (below on the left) and one simply called "Dietrich Gruen" with 23j (below on the right). From the serial numbers that I have collected the UT calibers are all in 149k-150k range, UUT has serials 449k (I only have one...) and the "Dietrich Gruen" are 41k-42k range (like the "Power Reserve", which has the same bridge design). The Meylan bridge design is more or less identical to the Dietrich Gruen, but Agassiz has different bridge designs again. This would suggest that Piquet was supplying different designs of the same basic ebauche.

    When I get around checking the production records I can confirm which serial numbers were allocated to which manufacturers. To be continued...

    UT-UUT 19j.jpg Dietrich Gruen 23j.jpg
     
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  26. Ethan Lipsig

    Ethan Lipsig Registered User
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    Thoji, thanks so much for your great work! I look forward to the next installment. Let me add that in addition to the Dietrich Gruen, Zenith, Meylan, Audemars Piguet, Bulova Phantom, Matalene, and unsigned examples of this ebauche discussed in this thread, I have also seen examples signed by Frankfeld, D. Nicole, and Koehn or Ekegren, and I understand that there may be LeCoultre-signed examples.
     
  27. ticktack

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    #27 ticktack, Feb 28, 2017
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    Hi Guys,
    Does anyone wanna share the documents with me you're talking about;
    "Les Successeurs, Les Descendants de Louis-Elisee Piquet" and,

    "Repertoire des clients des Fils de Louis Elisee Piguet et Frederic Piguet entre 1925 et 1960 environ"

    It looks like I also found some evidence that Louis Elisee Piguet et Fils developed the 17''' calibre for the collaboration CH Meylan and Niton (Manufacture des Montres Niton S.A.).

    See also the book (in French); "Louis Elisée Piguet, six générations d'horlogers de la Vallée de Joux".

    Sincerely,
    Sanders
     
  28. artbissell

    artbissell Registered User
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    Thanks for reminding me of this fine thread. art
     
  29. ticktack

    ticktack Registered User

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    Dear Thomas, thanks for responding and sorry for late respons.
    My email adress is ticktack@live.nl
    Sanders
     
  30. Nachtmotte

    Nachtmotte Registered User

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    Dear collectors,
    would it be possible to share these documents with me, too?
    "Les Successeurs, Les Descendants de Louis-Elisee Piquet" and,

    "Repertoire des clients des Fils de Louis Elisee Piguet et Frederic Piguet entre 1925 et 1960 environ

    PM appreciated. Thanks a lot!
    Antonios
     
  31. eri231

    eri231 Registered User

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    #31 eri231, May 13, 2017
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 31, 2017
    But these are not documents but two paragraphs in the book "Louis Elisée Piguet" by Fritz Von Oesterhausen
    regards enrico
     
  32. ticktack

    ticktack Registered User

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    Thx! But please do share with me. And where can I find these books? Are there also books that show pictures of Louis Elisee Piguet of Frederic Piguet calibers?
    Sincerely,
    Sander
     
  33. ticktack

    ticktack Registered User

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    #33 ticktack, May 15, 2017
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 31, 2017
    Isn't the titel;
    "Les Successeurs, Les Descendants de Louis-Elisee Piquet" and,
    "Repertoire des clients des Fils de Louis Elisee Piguet et Frederic Piguet entre 1925 et 1960 environ"

    I have already the book by Frits but the titel is; Louis Elisée Piguet, six générations d'horlogers de la Vallée de Joux

    Sincerely,
    Sanders

    - - - Updated - - -

    Thanks Antonios !
     
  34. Ethan Lipsig

    Ethan Lipsig Registered User
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    I am resuscitating this old thread to show a new acquisition, a platinum-cased signed-C.H. Meylan with a movement just like the ones discussed in this thread, except ladies' size, 25mm cased. The photos below show it next to a "normal" 10-12 size C.H. Meylan with the same movement, 42mm cased. Both movements were adjusted to five positions. The big movement has 18 jewels. The little one has 19 jewels.

    DSC05308.JPG DSC05309.JPG
     
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