Parts bin specials are quite common in vintage watches but no one did it better and more prolifically than Chronographe Suisse. This is a story that comes up in researching vintage again and again—back when these watches were manufactured, the goal was to offer a dependable product rather than a future collectible. Little thought was put towards creating exact reference numbers or variants. By putting together generic movements with “off-the-shelf” cases, hands, and dials, Chronographe Suisse, and the numerous brands under the same umbrella, marketed directly to a buyer who wanted a nice looking, swiss made chronograph and nothing more for a reasonable price.
Beyond simply Chronographe Suisse, we see these chronographs branded as Fregatte, Montdor, Dreffa, Ultimor, Olympic, Ascot De Luxe, as well as no brand at all, an anonymous or sterile dial. Many times the “chronographe suisse” moniker will be right alongside a larger brand name such as Ultimor but this is not always the case. When not stated right on the dial and under an obscure brand name, identifying one of these comes from experience, they have a certain vibe. Firstly, most will be gold plated or stainless-steel and the cases will be very light, to cut costs and offer the watch at a lower price point. Moving on, the dials are often very similar with even hour numerals and odd hour markers, either arrowhead or baton. Lastly, no matter the movement inside, the chronograph minute sub dial hands often have a distinctive long tipped arrow shape.
Chronographe Suisse didn’t use model names or reference numbers when producing their watches so there is no additional history or context to add around this specific watch other than the fact that it fits the mold of what a typical Chronographe Suisse watch of the era should be. The classic dial layout paired with the blue and red accents of the tachymeter scale all on an oversized, for the time, 38mm stainless steel case make for a great vintage chronograph for the new or seasoned collector. Of note on the Landeron 48 movement is the particular quirk that the top pusher only starts the chronograph and the bottom pusher is used to stop and reset. On most chronograph models the top pusher would be used for both start and stop and the bottom pusher used solely to reset it.
Case condition of this Chronograph Suisse is good, showing signs of a previous polish and a life of wear. No major flaws are seen such as deep scratches or dents. The pushers and crown are of the correct type for the era but with little information available it is hard to know if they are original to the watch.
The Dial and Hands
This example’s silver sunburst dial is in good condition. There are a few defects to note though. The first is some wearing along the edges of the dial that has resulted in the printing of the tachymeter scale being unreadable. Additionally of note is that several of the original lume plots on the hour markers are no longer present. The handset is classic Chronographe Suisse including the long tipped arrow hand on the chronograph register and is in good condition and through to be original to the watch.
The manually wound Landeron 48 chronograph movement is currently running. Service history is unknown.
|Brand||Ascot De Luxe (Chronographe Suisse)|
|Movement||Manual, Landeron 48|
|Case Material||Stainless Steel|
|Band Material||Leather Strap|
|Clasp Type||Stainless Steel Buckle|