One of the hottest brands in the vintage market, Enicar, has a shorter history than most, all but collapsing after the Swiss quartz crisis. Although established by Ariste Racine, it should not be confused with the Racine Watch Co of Gallet collaboration fame, a close relative. It’s a bit confusing but, hey, the Racines were a watch family. It was actually Ariste’s wife Emma Racine-Blatt who suggested reversing the family name to create Enicar—an emordnilap for Racine—in an attempt to avoid confusion. Ariste and Emma began producing pocket watches in the sun room of their La Chaux-de-Fonds house with only three technicians. A short and successful three years later, the two rented a portion of Ariste’s mother’s home in Longeau, Switzerland to expand operational capabilities and, in 1918, purchased the entire property. A year later, Enicar built its first factory in Longeau with mother’s house proving to be a bit small.
Enicar cruised through the next few decades, steadily growing under the leadership of the founding couple, Ariste’s brother Oskar Racine, and, later, Ariste Racine Junior joining the firm in 1934. After successfully competing for a few military contracts through WWII, Enicar built a new and improved factory in 1953 that allowed the brand to focus on serious research and development. In this state-of-the-art facility, all Enicar movements were cleaned ultrasonically, a cutting edge practice. The word ‘ultrasonic’ led marketing campaigns and was stamped on each Enicar movement of the period. The brand’s first waterproof wristwatch was introduced in 1955 as the Seapearl; on the caseback was an image of an openmouthed oyster with its pearl—possibly a jab at Rolex’s Oyster case. Enicar was just hitting its stride in 1956 when it outfitted a Swiss expedition and their Nepalese Sherpas with Seapearls to guide them on a summit attempt of Everest. On May 22, 1956 the attempt was successful, this the second summit of Everest, and the Enicar Sherpa was born, touting this achievement in many models for the next three decades. Sadly, the company was hit extremely hard by the quartz crisis, only limping into the 1980s and officially going bankrupt in 1987. Enicar was possibly the most successful brand, previously, to not survive the introduction of the quartz watch. Hard to believe the Swatch Group never came knocking.
While most of the collector focus on the Enicar brand is centered on the models from the sixties and seventies, particularly the robust Sherpa divers, colorful GMT’s and chronographs, the brand has much more to offer from earlier in their history. The Sport line of watches seems to have been first launched in the early 40s or late 30s as a continuation of the work that the brand had been doing for various militaries. The watches are simple and place function and legibility at the top of their priority list with large lumed numerals and syringe hands. Unfortunately, full waterproofing had yet to be launched so they may not be as sporty as a modern sports watch in which being waterproof is a foregone conclusion.
As Enicar enthusiasts will know these watches were utility items when new and as such they were worn and worn well. So when looking at vintage examples, the condition is everything and patina is to be expected so just make sure that you pay attention to the details.
The stainless steel case of this watch comes in 33mm but don’t let that number deter you. If it was big enough for the soldiers in WWII then it will look manly enough on your wrist. Overall condition is good to great for its age, with scratches throughout the case but no major issues to note. The crystal is in excellent condition and could be a replacement item but is correct as is the caseback and crown.
The Dial and Hands
The dial and hands are the stars of the show on this example. Condition is great to the lovely patina and quality of the luminous material. The overall design is simple and places function and legibility at the top of its priority list with large lumed numerals and syringe hands, which we are a big fan of. All of the components are correct and thought to be original.
This watch is powered by a hand wound Enicar calibre 412 movement. The watch is running and the service history is unknown.
|Location||New York City|
|Movement||Manual, Enicar 412|
|Case Material||Stainless Steel|
|Band Material||Leather Strap|