Robert Brandt

kurtnz

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Hi
Im new to this forum and would like a question answered on my pocket watch.
It is a ultra slim Robert Brand et Cie gold watch. The movement is only 1.5mm thick.
What i would like to know if there is some more information on this watch maker than there is in K H Pritchard who dates the maker to approx 1825
Thank you
 

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Dave Chaplain

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The Brian Loomes book dates this maker to 1825 as well.

But in addition to one watch dated 1825 and with no other description, I see additional info in the Pritchard book under "Types:" including a couple of extra thin watches with unusual movements both dated circa 1840.

Dave
 

kurtnz

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I just thought to asked some more questions about this watch.
Why was this ultra slim watch made? There is just about no information available on these thin watches. I have seen a similar at the International Watch Museum in La Chaux de Fonds. I have written to them but unfortunately did not get a reply.
I forgott to mention that the watch and the case have the same number. 681
The number is under the dial and it also has A G&G stamped next to it.
I'm putting a couple extra photos with this.
 

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Ansomnia

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kurtnz, that's a beautiful and interesting watch... hang on to that one. :D

I think the reasons why such watches were made were probably straightforward. People have been collecting nice watches just for fun ever since there were watches... since the 16C. There are recorded accounts of rich clientele who owned at least scores of watches during ages when most people never owned even a clock, let alone a fancy watch.

The one you have resembles one signed by Philippe Meylan for Robert Brandt, with a "P.M." initial on the movement, dated 1850-1860 which I also feel is more consistent with the style of dial face ornamentation on your watch.

The Meylan example also uses a male key and has a skeletonized cylinder escapement. 39 mm diameter. Gold case is finely wrought with a symmetrical enamel-filled floral-leaf centre motif on the cover.

That the watch was made by Meylan for Brandt may mean such watches were also sold under other labels. I have photos of the Meylan watch if you want to PM me.


Michael
 

kurtnz

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Ansomnia said:
kurtnz, that's a beautiful and interesting watch... hang on to that one. :D

I think the reasons why such watches were made were probably straightforward. People have been collecting nice watches just for fun ever since there were watches... since the 16C. There are recorded accounts of rich clientele who owned at least scores of watches during ages when most people never owned even a clock, let alone a fancy watch.

The one you have resembles one signed by Phillipe Meylan for Robert Brandt, with a "P.M." initial on the movement, dated 1850-1860 which I also feel is more consistent with the style of dial face ornamentation on your watch.

The Meylan example also uses a male key and has a skeletonized cylinder escapement. 39 mm diameter. Gold case is finely wrought with a symmetrical enamel-filled floral-leaf centre motif on the cover.

That the watch was made by Meylan for Brandt may mean such watches were also sold under other labels. I have photos of the Meylan watch if you want to PM me.


Michael
 

kurtnz

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Hi Michael
thank you for your reply.
I would love to see some pictures of this Meylan watch.
I have no intention of selling this watch as the watch is in excellent working condition. -1minute a day.

Thank you very much

Kurt
 

Dr. Jon

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You have a very fine watch. It was made to be a decent timekeeper and a fashion statement. It was a very expensive watch.

If you go to the Antiquorum website, Antiquorum.com and type Robert Brandt in the search window you will get several examples of Robert Brandt watches. The site used to retain high quality images and auction results but no longer. You can still get an idea of hammer price. The results can be selected by price and by successive inquires you can get a pretty good idea of value . The site also retains estimated year of manufacture.

From the results you can see that this firm specialized in very thing watches of various kinds.. always thin always elegant.
 

Ansomnia

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Kurt, my earlier information came from a Rolex catalogue regarding a 1974 exhibition of watches on loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art NYC.

I've checked some background data on Robert Brandt and Philippe Meylan. There is some disagreement between the Swiss and English literature references in my library but my Swiss references are much more detailed and long-winded. I would go with the Swiss references if you come across them. They record Philippe-Samuel Meylan's life as 1772-1845 and his name is also tacked on to this type of watch, simply called "very flat watches" or "extra flat watches". They were made in Geneva and Chaux-de-Fonds, probably by several makers aside from Meylan.

The peak of this fashion was apparently 1840. Two types of calibres were recognized: Vacheron calibre and Bagnolet calibre (invented by Meylan). The latter calibre was unique in that the dial was placed on the back of the movement with the train turning in the reverse direction. But just looking at your movement, it resembles the Vacheron calibre in arrangement and shape of the bridges/bars. Although I see the Antiquorum Brandt examples are Bagnolet. You'll have to check the direction of your movement to confirm.

Dr. Jon's reference is very good (and Swiss). It's a shame there are no longer detailed photos for older past auctions. If you don't mind waiting I can email you directly once I get my personal errands in order.


Michael
 

kurtnz

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Thank you Dave, Michael and Dr.Jon
Its great to get all this information.
Bring it on. Anything at all on these flat watches. What is your Swiss reference Michael?
Thank you again. You are so knowledgeable!!!

Thanks again

Kurt
 

Dr. Jon

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Glad to help.

Your watch is in superb shape. I am sure this is the work of a very skilled watchmaker fairly recently. Watches as old as yours do not look this good without some very skilled work.


Also the Antiquorum site referred to a dial very similar to yours as acid etched.

Wonderful item.
 

Ansomnia

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You know, I've been having major problems getting response from the MB the last few days. I wonder if other people are having the same problem.

In any case, I am glad to help you out Kurt. BTW, I've been meaning to ask, are you a novice watch collector or are you in the watch trade?

If you would like further information you can PM me directly. I believe you are in New Zealand so we may be 12 hours apart but I work fairly late though I may be going to bed early tonight; I had to get up very early this morning.


Michael
 

Ansomnia

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Kurt, thanks for your PM. I had to take an afternoon nap to "recharge my batteries".

Sorry if I appear a bit cautious volunteering more of my advice. Sometimes people do not appreciate it and sometimes sellers use this MB to get free marketing information in their sales ads without being honest about it.

You certainly have put some time into your hobby and I'm glad to pass on what little I know to help you enjoy your collection. The one book that provided the most information on these watches for me was an inexpensive book by Eugène Jaquet and Alfred Chapuis called "Technique and History of the Swiss Watch".

I'll PM you with some additional information.


Michael
 

Philip Poniz

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Puzzling mark, Kurt! Before you emailed me a high resolution photo I thought the mark is "A G&C" standing for "AG and Cie". In the Lord Sandberg Collection there was a bagnolet watch retailed by Lebet, Geneva, which, after I removed the dial, revealed mark "AG 794", indicating that there was a Swiss ebauche maker with initials AG making ultra thin watches in 1840s. The same mark I saw on ca 1835 unsigned quarter repeater. The "A G&C" could have been a mark of the same person. In the "A G&G" the "A" hardly can stand for a first name initial. It could, though, stand for "Atelier G&G", meaning Workshop G&G. I have seen an identical movement, also with a male keys in Jn. Fr. Bautte & Cie. watch, circa 1840. I did not have an opportunity to take the dial off.

The ultra-thin watches made in 1830-1840s are, generally, attributed to either David Piguet of whom we know from, among other sources, L. Audemars papers, or to François and Auguste Meylans.
P. S. Meylan, credited with the invention of the inverted bagnolet caliber, not necessarily made his ebauches.

There is a watch, with an identical movement like yours, signed on the cuvette by F&A Meylan, in a Robert Brandt's box. Assuming that the box is original with the watch, one might think that Robert Brandt used Meylans' ebauches or even complete watches. If this is so, maybe the Meylans subcontracted further.

Regarding Robert Brandt, who, I would not rule out, was a company of two individuals; Robert and Brandt (like Audemas Piguet or Patek Philippe), specialized in unusual watches with unusual displays and ultra-thin ones. In the above mentioned Lord Sandberg Collection there was an ultra-thin repeater signed by Robert Brandt, unfortunately without any marks under the dial. You can find their watches in a number of museums, for instance: La Chaux-de-Fonds, Rolex Museum, Le Locle Museum (similar watch to yours), Milan Museum (again like yours but with enamel on the back cover), Prague Museum of Technology (with chronometer escapement), and some others.

Philip Poniz
 

kurtnz

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Thank you Philip for your reply.
I suspected for a while that Robert Brandt where actually two names.
Pritchard mentions Robert Brandt in her book Swiss Timepiece Makers and writes that the firm was succeeded by Fritz Brandt and L.E. Robert.
You say L.Audemars was also in the business of making ultra thin ebauches.
I have Harmut Zantke’s book “Louis Benjamin Audemars” but there is no mention of ultra thin watches being produced by him.
I remembered an article you wrote for timezone a few years back about ultra slim movements when I saw a Bagnolet watch being sold on e-bay. This is why I contacted you.
For the last few days I have been searching the net for this article but just can’t find it anymore.
Anyway it is fascinating trying to get to the bottom of this.
I believe the case was made in the same configuration and decoration detail for several different makers/ateliers.
In Jaquet Chapuis’s book “The Swiss Watch” there is a photo on plate 106.
Do you know the history of why extra flat watches where produced?
Is it just because the could and that they wanted to show off their watch making skills. They don't seem to have been produced in any big quantities as hardly any ever come up for auction.
I have been a couple of times to the International Watch museum in La Chaux- de- Fonds and the one in Le Locle. That was the first time I have seen these thin watches and when there was the chance to buy one like it, I just had to buy it.
I wrote to both of the museums but never received a reply.

Thank you very much for taking the time to reply to me.

Kurt Schmid
 

Philip Poniz

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Whatever there was to be put about Audemars, and more, into his book, you can make sure Hartmut Zantke did. See pp. 62 and 199.

The thin watches were a matter of fashion, like today large wrist ones, or, in 1960s-70s ultra-thin wristwatches, etc. Human nature gets bored with the same product, especially with a new generation.

I suspect also that it was a matter of pride. Any watchmaker can make 8mm thick movement, only the exceptional few can do the same within 1.5mm space.

Philip Poniz
 
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kurtnz

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And there I was, thinking I read and studied that book.
I just looked it up.
Thank you for your help.

Kurt
 

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