Princeton Chronograph
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Princeton Chronograph

Before the Quartz Crisis of the 1970s, hundreds--if not thousands--of watch manufacturers operated in Switzerland. In keeping with the industry's humble beginnings at the hearth-sides of individual households, certain manufacturers specialized in the production of a particular component of a watch. Dials would be made in one factory, while cases would be made in another, and movements--generic, unfinished movements called èbauches--would be made in yet another. 

Some of these names still stand out in the minds of vintage watch collectors. Dials made by Singer, for example, can make collectors of vintage Rolex Daytonas go absolutely crazy. Case manufacturers like Ervin Piquerez were notable for their distinctive case designs, such as the EPSA SuperCompressor.

As quartz movements increased in production and distribution, many of these operations were vastly undercut and gradually faded out of existence or were scooped up by larger, more powerful coalitions.

But while those companies disappeared, the watches that they produced remain, unfamiliar names that belie their quality construction.

One of the most well-regarded producers of unfinished movements was Venus.

Established in 1923 in the canton of Bern, Venus was soon gobbled up by Ebauches SA. Headquartered in Neuchatel, Ebauches SA was a conglomeration formed by separate entities who chose to band together in the shaky economic period following the First World War. There were so many èbauche manufacturers operating that the market was absolutely flooded, and "Swiss Made" became something of a four-letter word. 

Venus soon became the chronograph-making arm of the conglomeration, making its first chronograph movement in 1933. Their column wheel movements were used by Breitling and Wakmann, amongst others. But it's their cam-operated èbauches that still live on today, though they're known by another name.

We mean, of course, the Valjoux 7730 series, a robust hand-cranked movement found in so many chronographs of the period. It was the descendent of the Venus Calibre 188, which is found in the watch we feature here. After Venus was bought by its competitor, Valjoux, the Venus 188 was rechristened the Valjoux 7730; which itself served as the base for a number of later iterations, including the automatic winding Valjoux 7750 commonly found in chronographs today.

This particular watch is, at 38mm, oversized for the period, with beefy chamfered lugs. The dial is legible and balanced, with luminescent hour plots and hands. With a charming appearance and robust internals, this watch is the perfect entry point for a collector looking to venture into the world of dressy vintage chronographs. 

Details

SKU: TS1206

Stainless steel case is approximately 38mm (excluding crown and pushers). Venus Calibre 188 Manual Wind Chronograph Movement. Circa 1960s.

Overall Condition: Case is in great condition with only light, normal signs of wear from age and use. Dial is in stunning condition with crisp printing and lovely patinated luminescent elements on the hour plots and hands. Unsigned crown.

Includes 18mm black leather strap.

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