Friday, August 30, 2019

The most beautiful railway pocket watch case I've seen in my entire life

Made around 1920. Super crisp engraving of 'the railway wings on top of the world' covering the entire case back. The case back is pure nickel, not a soft silver. A true piece of craftsmanship that would make one speechless.

Can you guess for which national railway it was made? (If you need time to think, pause here, the answer is further down).

Second, perhaps even more important question: who was a creator of this masterpiece?
The watch bears no name on neither dial, case or mechanism itself: it comes from the era when master watchmakers were so proud of their work and had such 'pedigree' that putting the name on the dial was not even necessary. However, thanks to a company stamp on the movement, the maker could be easily identified: "Les Fils de Numa Gagnebin" - or The sons of Numa Gagnebin.

One will never too much tell the scientific and artistic influence, which was illustrated in many domains, that the family Gagnebin have had. From the beginning of the 18th century, some of its members open the first chapter of a new adventure intimately linked to that of watchmaking. In 1718, Sir Gagnebin commits himself – as testified by a document kept in the archives of the Canton of Neuchâtel – to teach the craft of watchmaking to Abraham Favre. His son became himself a watchmaker in 1737 and later, the company was be named Abraham Favre & Fils.

The works in physics and mechanics of Daniel Gagnebin, brother of Abraham the naturalist, highly contributes to the progress realized in watchmaking art. His initial medical training will not prevent him from extending his action beyond his first profession : He will invent several very precise machines intended for the manufacturing of pendulums. The history also remembers that he helped Jaquet Droz in the making of his automatons.


The following generations strive in an even directer way to the evolution of watchmaking. Some are merchants, others study the specific aspects of watchmaking art. Among them, we can especially mention Frédéric-Guillaume Gagnebin, born in 1744, who went to Paris in order to study the theory and manufacturing of spirals for watches and becomes a talented chronometers maker, François-Louis Gagnebin, born in 1820, founder and director of the watchmaking factory Gagnebin & Cie in Saint-Imier and Louis Gagnebin, born in 1847, director of the watch factory Longines in Saint-Imier. The father of the founder of G.Gagnebin & Cie, Numa Gagnebin, also creates a watchmaking factory that he names «Les Fils de Numa Gagnebin». These few examples express the close link between the Gagnebin and watchmaking art. Way more than a simple professional activity, watchmaking has become a real passion for this family, in the heart of which motivation and necessity to advance the traditional art of their region have never been faulted. The family motto « from good to better » thus perfectly corresponds to the conquering state of mind that inhabits, since long, the family Gagnebin.

(Source: Gagnebin website )

The Numa Gagnebin pocket watch was made for Swiss Federal Railways station masters. Fifteen jewel straight lever escapement with bimetallic balance wheel and Breguet overcoil steel hairspring performing to chronometre specification.

Purchased on eBay for AUD $230.

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