Friday, August 2, 2013

Charles Barbezat: the Chronograph maker from Le Locle

In 1888 Charles Barbezat - a watchmaker form from LeLocle - started the LE PHARE watch company. His specialty: complicated pocket watches, especially chronographs. At that time most high grade timepieces were mainly finished and adjusted by individual watchmakers, but Berbezat was in a way a pioneer of a more "industrial" approach leading to a greater output.

LE PHARE's business grew and in the 1970s it was one of the largest chronometer manufacturers in Switzerland. The brand was later 'absorbed' by Jean d'Eve which is still in business today.

Today I had the opportunity to work on a single pusher column wheel chronograph signed LE PHARE. Unfortunately the last person who 'took care of it' was not really familiar with the workings of this type of stop-watch work which resulted in a number of components being either incorrectly positioned or simply 'tensioned' in the wrong direction.

After an hour of disassembling and re-assembling, I got the chrono work ticking again. Which is rather good news because hand making any of the steel levers and retaining springs is really time consuming.

The porcelain dial is still intact, almost as good as when it was 'baked' in the early 1900s. Blue the screws, highly polished steel levers and the contrasting gold plates are what makes this Barbezat chronograph a very eye-pleasing timepiece.

The watch is now ready for a complete overhaul which would include disassembly, polishing of steel parts, cleaning, oiling and adjustment but I have no doubt that a finished job would be rewarding.

The only problem now is finding time to actually do it :-(

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