Monthly Archives: January 2013

Calibre 27

It isn’t often that you can identify a whole new calibre and be sure about it’s authenticity.  I have at various times identified watches that I thought might have been made by M&ST.  Many I have changed my mind about, sometimes I change my mind more than once.  It’s easy to get seduced by a Medana dial and to assume therefore that it’s attached to an M&ST calibre, especially if you have the excitement of that calibre being previously unknown.  But the reality is that Medana dials are relatively common and it’s easy for the speculative restorer to replace a missing or badly damaged dial with a Medana one.  I have to say in hindsight though that it’s rare for this to happen – after all the Medana brand does not carry any price premium.

A while ago I bought this watch

Which contained a calibre I’d never seen before

But of course, M&ST almost never marked their early calibres.  The dial side was promising

but hardly conclusive, so I tentatively assigned it a calibre number and remained watchful.  Interestingly the above watch is stem set but does not carry an MST stamp, so likely dates between 1920 – 1927, and likely on the early side of that because the 1933 parts catalogue doesn’t list it.

And then a few weeks ago, this appeared on eBay from a Romanian lister

It is rare to find M&ST watches of this time which were sold into the German markets and yet this one carries both the Swiss and German .800 silver hallmarks.  But of course that also means no hard dating.  Inside though was what you can only dream of finding.

A Medana stamp on the movement!  So confirmation that this is indeed a previously unidentified calibre.  As an added bonus, as if I needed one, the movement matches two others I had on my watch list.

At first glance these seem quite different, but the clue is in the fact that the top plate is marked out for the places where the bridges attach, so even if a bridge is missing, the punch marks for it are there.  Generally M&ST don’t classify into one family calibres where the click moves from one side of the movement to the other, as is the case here, but it does happen with the 192/226 calibres

Dating is much harder to be sure about.  These are all pin set so prior to 1920.  The oval ‘Made in Switzerland’ stamp suggests prior to 1915 as does the pocket watch type collar on the ratchet wheel instead of a screw.  The watch bottom right is hallmarked 1916 and this fits with the cut out escape wheel depth adjustment.  The other two including the Cal 27 have the older style escapement fixing so dates are probably 1910 – 1915.  The oval Medana stamp is similar to the one on my 1909 Medana, but this watch lacks the number and circular groove milled out of the dial side, so suggesting a later date.

Calibre 59

As with the Calibre 41, the 59 was a major seller for M&ST, though a fraction smaller at 12′”.  Like the 41 it is a 3/4 plate cylinder aimed initially at least at the ladies market.  Just as with the 41 it came in both pocket and wrist watch cases.  Why they would offer such apparently similar calibres isn’t clear, there only being about 1mm difference between the cases of the two.

So far I have only traced the 59 back to 1911, so it is possible that in fact it is a later calibre and certainly it outlasted the 41 at least in terms of popularity since examples dating into the 1920’s can be found fairly easily.

Starting with my earliest datable watch for 1911.

 We see a very similar dial to that used on the 41’s of the same period.  Unsurprisingly the calibre details follow the same pattern.

Plate side we see the stem retaining screw operating directly on the stem and an oval shaped text ‘Made in Switzerland.’  This oval stamp seems something specific to M&ST and so far I have not seen it used by any other manufacturer.  Dial side we see a layout much the same as the 41 with a simple steel rocker with a heel top right on which the pin for setting the time operates.  The click screw is the left of the dial foot hole (and remains there) and the escapement mounting is independent from the plate allowing adjustment.

The calibre remains unchanged until 1915.

Sometime in 1915, we see some of the same changes applied to the 41 a year or two earlier.  Plate side the only change is the text which becomes ‘Swiss Made.’  Dial side we see a new design with a new shape rocker and the balance cock now attached directly to the plate.  Adjustment to the escapement is now done by a cut out around the lower cap on the escape wheel – a change made briefly it would seem in about 1913/1914 on the 41.

I have a 1917 that is the same as the above but reverts to having the oval ‘Made in Switzerland’ stamp.  I await further evidence to see if this is ‘normal’ or could be a later service swap with an earlier plate (the pivots run directly in the plate without bushes or jewels and a plate swap would be easier than rebushing).

In 1921 the calibre became stem set with some modification to the rocker and position of the stem retaining screw.

So the 59 spanned at least a decade of production and remained relatively unchanged throughout it’s life.  Unlike the 41 this as far as I’m aware did not have any variants.



Calibre 41

This 12.5′” ligne cylinder calibre without seconds was one of the companies largest sellers, such that more than a hundred years after it’s launch there are still to be found at least two or three for sale on eBay at any one time, though finding them can be laborious as most are unbranded.

The survival of so many and the ability to date them seems to be the result of the setting up of the UK branch of the company in 1909 (history by Kris).  Although these were cylinder watches and relatively inaccurate, they were still relatively expensive, and, cased in silver cases sold well into the UK market, which gives us dating evidence in the form of UK hallmarks.  I suspect as a result many of these when they stopped working were relegated to the bottoms of jewellery boxes along with the other unwearable items where they remained safe for generations afterwards.

In terms of dating I would offer two cautions which I try and apply as we do have to allow for some time delays in shipping and selling since this was not the world of just in time manufacturing and retail, and also service repair and replacement can mean later versions of the calibre being found in earlier cases.

The 1933 parts listing shows this calibre to be obsolete and stem set.  So far I have not found any stem set versions of this calibre so clearly I have not yet identified the period in which this calibre become obsolete.  I have organised my calibre listing page into an approximate date order, but it doesn’t really explain my rationale and understanding of the calibres evolution, so I will attempt to do that here, though that of course will change as more information becomes available – this is very much a work in progress.

One thing that I should state at this point is that M&ST were extremely inconsistent in timing of the changes that they applied to their calibres.  A design change in one calibre would not be applied to another calibre for years afterwards and this makes it hard to extrapolate dating from one calibre to another.  This can be expected to be a source of error in some of my dating estimations.

I would suggest that this calibre was intended to be a ladies calibre, but interestingly it was always available in both wristwatch and pocketwatch forms.  There is a common perception that the First World War created the so called ‘trench watch,’ but it is clear that this form of watch had been in large scale production for some years before the start of the war.

My first datable watch is in fact in wristwatch form.

1910 Wristwatch

Despite the length of stem on this example I see no evidence of conversion from pocket watch on these.  The fancy case seems common on these earlier examples.

So what of the dating?

Here are the two sides of the above watch.

On the plate side we will see only two change over the years – the position of the stem release and the text used.  Here the stem release screw holds the stem directly and the text is ‘Made in Switzerland.’  On the dial side we can see that the rocker is a simple piece of shaped steel that has a heel at the top right on which the pin presses.  We can also see that there is a removable platform to which the balance cock is attached (note the two alignment pin holes either side of the central screw for the cock as this is typical for M&ST) and the escape wheel lower pivot has a steel cap to it – no jewel as found on the other end!  Later calibres are in fact marked as one jewel so this is perfectly normal for the time.

1912 remains the same but 1914 sees some changes

The stem release screw has changed position and the text changed to ‘Swiss Made.’  Dial side the changes are more dramatic as we have a new rocker which now has a separate pin on which the pin operates and the balance cock now screws directly to the top plate.  What we see now is that there are two saw cuts which allow the height of the escape wheel to be altered if needed.  Also of note is that the cut out for the click spring has moved to the right of the dial foot hole.

Some watches as with the example above have the bottom of the 3/4 plate cut away to allow for a hinge but there seems no particular dating logic for this and as above they are also found in cases without a hinge.

What I would also draw attention to as a general note for comparability with other calibres are the mountings for the posts on which the 3/4 plate rests.


These now have a triangular section.

Now of course not all watches came in silver cases but we can apply the logic of the above dating (and I have evidence in more than one datable watch of the above changes).

This silveroid cased watch has the earlier stem release position but the 1914 dial side.

This steel cased watch has the earlier stem release position and rocker but has a cut out for the escapement adjustment.  This is the only watch I have with this (though it’s common on other calibres), so it seems that it was an intermediate design and earlier than the watch above.

More interesting however is this steel cased watch.

This has the earlier stem release position, but with a nicely pierced plate.  The escapement mounting is the earlier type, but the rocker is of a different type.  What I do note is that there is a serial/ reference number and a circular groove milled from the dial side amongst other design changes on the dial side.  These features can be found on this 1909 watch

So I have provisionally assumed that this is the earliest version of the calibre 41 that I have also with an assumed date of 1909.