Le Phare Moonphase Calendar Quarter Repeater, 49 mm, circa 1890’s

This project, for a complicated “jumbo” custom built watch case, based on a repeating pocket watch movement from the 1890’s, aimed to rehouse the original vintage pocket watch movement into a new machine-built wristwatch case.

Originally, 120 or more years ago, this watch was a rather large and rather heavy gold pocket watch, with a very complicated movement designed and made by the Swiss company ‘Le Phare’ (meaning ‘lighthouse’ in French). Unfortunately, the original gold case was lost at some point in history, taken for scrap.

The movement has a quarter striking repeater function, a full calendar, moon-phase indication, and an integrated centre-seconds chronograph. The more complications integrated into the movement, the more work there will be to do to rehouse it into the new case. There are many buttons and switches to pay attention to, and many repair procedures, tests, and adjustments to do.

Technical Data

DIAL

Type: Classic hot enamel
Signature: Unsigned
Age & Origin: Original to the movement
Indications: Hours, minutes, seconds; date, day, month; moon-phase; centre-seconds chronograph
Hands: ornate “Louis XIV” gold plated hour-minute; blued steel hands for everything else
Condition: Very good, invisible chips under bezel
Restorations:
 NONE

 

MOVEMENT

Type: Swiss lever, 20 jewels, nickel plated bridges with “Cote de Geneve” finish
Balance type: Bimetallic cut balance with screw weights, Breguet hairspring
Complications: Quarter repeating; chronograph; module with day-date-month and moon-phase 
Age & Origin: Made in Switzerland circa 1890’s, all original
Condition: Good (8/10) some wearing, mechanical status is PERFECT
Restorations: NONE

The Case Making Process

The process for creating the case was difficult indeed. We wanted to make the new case smaller than the original, so that it could be worn comfortably on the wrist, and thus a chunky piece must be avoided. The target was to design a new watch case that had maximum open face, while still keeping additions to the dimensions of the original movement to a minimum.

The stainless-steel case body was machined by lathe; the ‘olive’ pieces for lugs were machined on a smaller lathe, as were the buttons for the repeater and chronograph, and the time setting button. The slots for the calendar setting levers were hand-cut. It was not at all easy to fit a complicated 46mm movement into a 49mm case.

Here is the case while still blank and unfinished:

Take a look under the dial in the picture below, where the calendar discs are visible (note the Cyrillic letters for the Russian Imperial market). There you can see the spectacular gold moon-phase disc with hot enamel filling. The length of the switch will be adjusted flush to front bezel.

A thick 24mm calf leather strap completes the product:

If you like big watches, then you will definitely enjoy having something like this on your wrist. What a feeling to be able to wear such a complicated and beautiful machine, and no less, one that is over 120 years old!

VIDEO

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Status: SOLD (similar project available for pre-order)