Aurore Chronograph
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Aurore Chronograph

Make no mistake, the Swiss watch industry has evolved. From its early years in cottages scattered across the valleys, to the mechanized factories today, the industry has experienced exponential growth. And perhaps the greatest period of growth was in the 1920s, due to the formation of a group called Ebauches SA—ancestor of today’s Swatch Group.

Collaboration between individual brands or watchmakers wasn’t necessarily a new thing in the industry. Even from its roots, there were watchmakers who made certain parts of a watch, and ones who assembled all the individual parts in a factory. One such factory was established in Fontainemelon in 1793, and would go on to become a component of Ebauches SA. 

By 1816, Fabrique d’Horlogerie de Fontainemelon or FHF was devoted fully to the production of blank movements or ébauches. Throughout the 19th century, FHF harnessed the power of the nearby River Suze—and, later, steam power—to produce over 24,000 èbauches a year. It was FHF that would lay the groundwork for the rapid expanse that the industry would undergo in the next hundred years.

A. Schild—another component of Ebauches SA, founded in 1896—was, like FHF, formed specifically for the production of blank movements.

FHF and A. Schild dominated the industry in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, producing millions of watch movements a year. 

But such rapid expansion led to an industry that was fractured and chaotic. Surplus movements would be cased in inexpensive watches and sold abroad, while overall prices were falling. Many companies failed.

The very future of the industry was threatened, and so in 1926 A. Schild, FHF, and another entity—Adolphe Michel SA—united to form Ebauches SA. Members of the group, though remaining autonomous, would pool resources—including product development—and reduce competition. As in the early days of the industry, each independent manufacturer would concentrate on making the products it made best, whether blank, unfinished movements or complicated ones like chronographs. Soon, many other well-known names in horology joined. Indeed, the roster of Ebauches SA members reads like a veritable who’s who of the Swiss watch industry circa 1930, with names like Venus, Landeron, Bovet, and Valjoux standing out.

Aurore, who made the handsome chronograph we offer here, was itself a subsidiary of Ebauches SA member Fabriques d’Ebauches Bernoises.

This chronograph’s 36mm steel case is typical of 1960s chronographs, but the real standout is the dial. Its smoky, gradient dial is similar to those found on Zenith El Primeros, particularly the A385. Though found on many watches in the 1960s and 1970s, it wasn’t until recently that H. Moser & Cie revitalized the style using the name fumé—or smoke.

Though it’s perhaps this newfound popularity that makes fumé dials so desirable, one thing is undeniable: it radiates with an attractiveness that is simply timeless.

Details

SKU: TT01226

Stainless steel case is approximately 36mm (excluding crown). Valjoux 7734.

Overall Condition: Case is in very good condition with some signs of use and wear. Dial is in very good condition with crisp printing and some signs of age, including patina to the luminescent elements. Unsigned crown.

Includes one 18mm black rally style strap.

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