The A Closer Look At series explores second tier watch brands that have been producing watches for decades, often centuries, but for whatever reason, aren’t as well known to the general public as they could be. This week’s article features Swiss watch brand Eberhard & Co.
Manufacture d’Horlogerie Eberhard & Co was founded in 1887 at Le Chaux-de-Fonds by a young Georges-Emile Eberhard. Originally, the company specialised in producing an array of technical watches that were innovative and groundbreaking for the time.
The early 1900’s saw the release of the first pocket chronograph, which was followed in 1919 by the launch of the world’s first wrist chronograph. In 1935, it released the first double pulsating chronograph that offered stop and start functionality without having to reset the watch to zero.
Three years later the company would go onto launch the first chronograph watch to feature an hour counter. This early tradition of innovation is undoubtedly what helped Eberhard & Co cement itself as one of the largest Swiss watch manufacturers of the early part of the twentieth century.
By 1939, the company continued to innovate in the world of watch making by releasing a new chronograph wristwatch that was equipped with a fly back device, which would enable dual timekeeping. During World War II Eberhard supplied Chronographs to Regia Marina (Italian Royal Navy) officers and not long after the war had ended it released its first ladies wrist watch, which also signified the start of its jewellery collection.
The 1950’s saw the launch of the Extra Fort, which would prove to be a real benchmark for the rest of the watch making industry at that time. The Extra Fort featured a sliding push piece that would activate the re-zeroing of the seconds hand.
During the 1960’s, Eberhard & Co would continue to create groundbreaking watches and the decade would feature two significant milestones in the company’s watch making capabilities. First would see the release of its first device to feature a simultaneous date setting. The second of these milestones occurred from 1968 when all Eberhard & Co Chronographs would now perform at 36,000vph, which would make them among the most precise timepieces in the world. In 1987 the company celebrated its centenary with the launch of its Navymaster collection.
From 1996 onwards, Eberhard & Co seem to have veered more towards producing larger sized sports models and its Traversetolo collection is a good example of this measuring 43mm in diameter. In 2007 the company celebrated its 120th anniversary and is still responsible for producing innovative chronographs today.
Originally launched in the 1950’s, the Extra Fort (Extra-Strong) is an automatic chronograph that would prove to be a huge influence on a whole era of watch making and signified one of the most important chapters in the brand’s history.
The year 2000 saw the brand release a new contemporary version that featured either a steel or solid gold case, with an anthracite or silver dial. The Extra Fort also has a sapphire crystal, screw down crown and is completed by a crocodile leather strap. The watch is available from £2,000 to £3,500.
The Tazio Nuvolari Collection
One of Eberhard & Co’s most distinctive collections is dedicated to the great Italian racing car driver Tazio Nuvolari. The mechanical automatic chronograph has a screw-in crown, black dial and sapphire glass. The bezel is said to have been inspired by the instrument panels found on vintage racing cars. The version pictured here is model number 30047.5/C and features a rose gold case, with luminous Arabic numerals on the dial.
The Chrono 4
First launched in 2001, the Chrono 4 is the first chronograph watch to arrange its counters in a row. As well as being aesthetically and functionally innovative, the watch is also revolutionary from a technical view point. What was a totally new arrangement, when the Chrono 4 was released no other watch had ever positioned its small chronograph counters horizontally next to one another before. The Chrono 4 has since been released in a variety of different styles and flavours. The one pictured here is from the Chrono 4 Bellissimo range (model no 30060.1). The rose gold sapphire crystal case measures 40mm in diameter and features a pearly white dial with index hour markers. In 2011, Eberhard & Co released the limited edition Chrono 4 Geant.
Chronographe 120eme Anniversaire
In 2007, to mark the company’s 120th anniversary, Eberhard & Co released this sumptuous chronograph. The watch features the automatic ETA 7750 movement, complete with EB400 module. The watch also contains 27 jewels and beats at 28,000vph. The rotor features the number ‘120’ and has a circular wave and 5N gilded finish. The polished 18K red gold case measures approximately 42.5mm in diameter. The white dial features Arabic numeral and 5N hour markers. The chronograph has 3 counters with 12hr, 30min and continuous seconds displayed at the positions of 6, 3 and 9 o’clock respectively. A date window can also be found at 12 o’ clock.
8 Jours Grande Taille
The 8 Jours is one of most famous timepieces produced by Eberhard & Co. This legendary watch is so called because its patented winding mechanism has autonomy of eight days. The Grande Taille is a modern take on what is a classic timepiece. A porthole on the back of the watch reveals part of the mechanism that shows an incredibly long (123cm) second winding spring in all of its working glory. The movement is an Eberhard & Co hand wound 896.1.15 calibre which is on a Peseux 7001 base. The case is pink gold and measures 44mm diameter. The water resistant crown has been personalised with the ‘E’ insignia. The dial itself is white and offers a choice of white Arabic or Roman numerals on an azure background, depending on which version you go for. The power reserve can be found at 9 o’clock, with a small second’s indicator at 6 o’clock.
Champion V Grande Date
2012 saw the release of the Champion V Grande Date a stylish, yet sophisticated sports chronograph. Measuring 42.8mm in diameter, the steel case, which houses the automatic LJP 8210 calibre movement also has an anti-reflective sapphire crystal and a caseback which has been secured by 6 screws. The tachymetric scale occupies an aluminium and steel bezel and displays km/h. A large date window (a first for Eberhard & Co) can be found at 3 o’ clock. The dial comes in white, black or blue and features luminous Arabic numerals and blue, black or red rimmed hourmarkers. The chronograph displays 60 minute, 12hr and a small second counter at the positions of 12, 6 and 9 o’clock respectively. The watch is finished with a choice of either a black leather strap or steel Chablis bracelet.