The Gallet family began making watches in early 19th century Switzerland when Humbertus Gallet became an official citizen of Geneva, that is, at least, the earliest Gallet we have of record. A somewhat clean throughline can then be drawn to 1826 when Julien Gallet registered the name Gallet et Cie in the famed La Chaux-du-Fonds where he began his operation. A great reference and more detail on the political forces at play around the Gallets can be found here at galletworld.com, the best guide for the history of Gallet.
In this now world-famous watch valley, home for a time to Rolex, Patek, Heuer, and Movado, among many others, Julien expanded his book of business producing pocket watches for export all around Europe. Gallet remained a family business for another generation as Julien’s sons Leon and Lucien took the firm to new heights by acquiring a competitor, Grumbach & Co, in1855, creating an impressive amount of production space that attracted the area’s finest watchmakers. Later, by partnering with their cousin, Jules Racine, the Gallet brothers were one of the first Swiss makers to focus on the US market through Jules’s Chicago based Racine Watch Company.
Gallet was at the top of its game when they produced the world’s first waterproof chronographs. The first of their kind, the Gallet MultiChron Clamshell, remains incredibly collectible and yet somehow undervalued. The brand innovated away from the clamshell’s four tiny screws and into a more common screw-down case-back, further innovating in the space of waterproof chronographs. These screw-down models ushered in Gallet’s use of Excelsior Park movements, another highly collectible era.
Up for auction is a Gallet MultiChron Pilot with a black ‘reverse panda’ dial. This 38mm in diameter, external bezel pilot watch was introduced during the 1960s and is one of the most substantial chronographs Gallet ever produced; Gallets more commonly check-in around 35mm. It is odd that this could be interpreted as a mark against the watch but, compared to what collectors often think of when hearing Gallet chronograph, the MultiChron Pilot looks more like a Heuer or Rolex than a Gallet. Maybe this model was Gallet’s first real attempt at a commercial chronograph?
Without a doubt, this particular MultiChron Pilot is the one you want to have. It checks a lot of boxes such as the more desirable black reverse panda dial, the legendary Valjoux 72 inside, and a more pleasing “Gallet” font than other Pilot variants.
The case condition of the example for auction is in excellent to collector-grade condition with few small scratches and nicks. The original lines remain extremely sharp. This watch looks like it was rarely worn and sports its original finishing on the case’s side surfaces. The correct unsigned crown is fitted along with correct pushers, given the condition elsewhere they appear to be original.
The case-back is in matching condition to the rest of the case with light wear to the seemingly original brushed finish. This example’s bezel appears original and is devoid of any noticeable fading. The crystal shows little to no scratches.
The Dial and Hands
The black dial of this MultiChron Pilot is in good to great condition. The lume plots have aged to a light mint, or cream in certain lighting, but there is some lume loss at hour markers 9, 10, and 11. The example’s handset is in average condition and is completely correct for this reference. The lume in the hands matches that of the dial well.
The Valjoux 72 is in running condition, service history is unknown.
|Movement||Manual, Valjoux 72|
|Dial||Black, “Reverse Panda”|
|Case Material||Stainless Steel|
|Band Material||Leather Strap|