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.
THE INFLUENCE OF THE 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
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.
A FAMILY OF WATCHMAKERS
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.
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