**** Ulrich Bretscher's Pocket Watch Page ****


Watch with a 24 hour dial

Manufacturer: Fleurier, ca. 1925, Swiss


Watch diameter.......51 mm
Movement, Dia
Thickness of case
....12.6 mm (bottom to top of glass)
....................80 g

Indications: 24 Hours, Minutes, Seconds

Movement # 369313: Club tooth anchor escapement with 17 set jewels. Balance with white Breguet hairspring. Monometallic steel balance with screws. No temperature compensation. Plates and cocks from gold plated brass. Time setting by push piece.

Dial: Enamel dial with sunken center and sunken subsidiary second dial, fixed with two dog screws. Dial inscribed "Chronometre" and divided in 24 hours. Blued spade hands.

Case: Fleurier (FFP) 366288/414: Case from oxidized steel, with snap on bezel, hinged dust cap and back cover.

Prize : Bought February 2004 for SFr. 160.-.


Oxidised steel case

Oxidized steel cases are of typical European origin and like so many customs, originated in war time. During World War I (1914-18), countries at war soon run out of foreign exchange. So they collected all available gold of their citizens, like jewelry, wedding rings, watch cases etc. as a voluntary war loan. Germany for example, exchanged wedding rings for rings made from oxidized steel, also called "gun metal". And the watch industry, because of the emergency situation, made watch cases from oxidized steel in place of metals like brass, silver and gold which were needed for the war.

Obviously people liked the elegant-looking, black cases and continued to ask for these kind of watches into the mid-twenties, long after the war.

Oxidized steel is fairly resistant to rusting. Though when touched with salty, sweaty fingers and stored afterwards in humid rooms, rust may appear. Furthermore, the black coating is not resistant to heavy wear. A worn surface is especially prone to rust. So it's rare today to find an oxidized steel case in prime condition.

By the way, you also can find oxidized watch chains from that period.

Watches with 24 hours indication.

Watches with this indication are usually found in the navy and among airplane crews. They are useful for calculating a position in relation to Greenwich and comparing time on two way radios.

In English speaking countries the day is usually divided in twice 12 hours, indicated by the suffix a.m. and p.m. All other countries use the 24 hours schedule. Because of this, watches usually show two rings of numerals. An inner ring with numerals from 1 to 12 (usually black) and an outer ring from 13 to 24 (usually blue or red).

At first, you'd think it should be practical to wear a watch with 24 hours indication. The dial explicitly demonstrates the course of the day. So I tested it and wore such a watch for some weeks to find out if I could get accustomed to it. I did not! The division of the dial by 24 numerals is very narrow. So I never could actually tell the time at a glance. I always had to read it! And that consumes time. That's probably the reason, why 24 hour dials never were a success.