REVIEW: Kuhn: Pocketwatches with digital display of jumping hours

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Fortunat Mueller-Maerki

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Bookreview

Pocketwatches with digital display of jumping hours


Die Springziffer Taschenuhren. By Alex Kuhn. Published 2010 by Editions Simonin, Neuchatel, Switzerland. ISBN 978 2 9700573 4 5. Hardcover, 124 pages, 21 cm. Richly illustrated in color. SwissFrancs 42.- (ca. $ 45) plus postage. Available at www.booksimonin.ch.

Not all pocketwatch collectors may know that in the 1870s there was a short fad in Swiss pocketwatches: In 1884 the International Watch Company in Schafhaussen aquired the patent which the Salzburg (Austria) watchmaker Joseph Pallweber got in 1882 and 1883 for a jumping digital hour display on a watch dial. They launched such a watch and –over the next few years - over 20’000 such watches were sold by IWC. Of course other brands jumped on the bandwagon as well. That little niche product lasted less than 10 years.

For the first time this little corner of pocket watch history has now been documented in print. The author has idenfified 36 different movements by 11 different manufacturers [IWC (7models), Cortebert (6), Gedeon Thommen (4), Aeby & Landry (6), A. Kaiser (3), Durrstein / A.Lange(3), Gurzelen / Louis Brand (2), Wittnauer (2) Minerva (1), Favorite (1) and SADA (1)]. Each model is illustrated with large clear color images (movement, dial, case) and described on one to two pages. For the majority of models there are movement diagrams and/or reproduction of patent drawings as well. Short illustrated histories of the involved brands round out this publication.

If you own – or are interested- in this type of pocketwatch this is a must have book, even if the German text may be challenging to most American readers, but much of the material is presented in images, so it is worthwhile to get even if you don’t read the language. The publisher and author are to be commended for documenting a little nown and short lived chapter of horological history with a thorough publication with superb illustrations.

Fortunat Mueller-Maerki (Sussex, NJ)
Feb.25, 2010
 

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