Exceptional Horological Works of Art
LOT 31
Non-Magnetic Watch Co, Geneva, movement by the Association Ouvrière, probably made for the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, bought by Dobson & Son, 200 Piccadilly, London, W. Extremely rare, very fine 18K gold hunting cased keyless one minute tourbillon regulator with chronometer escapement.
C. Four-body, "bassine et filets", polished, gold hinged cuvette. D. Off-white by Willis, radial Roman numerals, outer minute track, subsidiary sunk seconds. Blued steel "spade" hands. M. 45 mm. (20’’’), nickel, Technicum, locle caliber, one-minute equidistant carriage with Grether III cage, Earnshaw type spring detent escapement, gold escape wheel, cut bimetallic compensa-tion balance with gold temperature screws, palladium balance spring with Phillips’ outer terminal curve and overbanking prevention device, wolf-teeth winding wheels. Signed on the movement Non Magnetic Watch Co, dial signed by the English retailer, and by Willis on the reverse, movement under the dial punched "Ass. ouvrière". Diam. 60 mm.
Estimate: 80,000 CHF - 100,000 CHF
Estimate: 55,000 EUR - 65,000 EUR
Grading system

C 3 D 3 - 12 - 01 M 3*
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Association Ouvrière. A cooperative enterprise founded in 1858. The founder was Frederick William Dubois, a master watchmaker who built the Château des Monts in Le Locle (now housing the Musée d’Horlogerie), and who was the teacher of Ulysse Nardin. It appears that he headed the Association until his death, when the head became William Rozat. Dubois was an excellent watchmaker and clockmaker, one of his precision astronomical regulators was chosen for the Le Locle observatory. The Association combined the forces of some of the best watchmakers in the area. The Association participated between 1874 and 1896 in Neuchâtel Observatory trials. It won numerous prizes and awards including second prize at the Neuchâtel Observatory Contest in 1881, award for Precision Horology at the Swiss National Exhibition of 1883. First class in 1890 in Neuchâtel. In 1893 Ulysse Nardin lamented that The Association beat him at the Contest. The Association was known as one of the three major houses, along U. Nardin and H, Grandjean, manufacturing marine chronometers in Le Locle. Non-Magnetic Watch Co. (1886-1895) In 1885 Paillard’s springs came to the attention of young Dresden businessman Charles W. Ward. He and his associates were impressed by the invention and decided to form a company making watches based on the Paillard patent. Charles Ward made preliminary arrangements with Charles A. Paillard, a former regulator for Patek Philippe & Co., and Louis Bornard, a former manager of Henry Capt and began arrangements to get rights to the Paillard patent. On January 1886, a draft was made for a proposal of forming the company. It was to be incorporated in Detroit, with a capitalization of $50,000, and to be called the Geneva Watch Co. About a month later it materialized. The watches were to be manufactured by L. Bornard. On February 23, 1886 the first order was given for 34 pieces including 12 with complications. On March 16, 1886 a new agreement was signed and the name of the company was changed to Geneva Non-Magnetic Watch Co., incorporated in New York with Paillard and Bornard responsible for the manufacturing. Paillard’s agency was located at 2 rue Kleberg in Geneva and the Bornard plant at 64 Grand Quai in Geneva (former Tiffany plant, as reported by Jeweler Circular in 1889). The Non-Magnetic Watch Co. office was located at 5 Quai du Mont Blanc (100 meters from where Antiquorum is today). In 1886 the company filed for the patent rights for manufacturing palladium springs in France, England, Germany, and the United States, because in Geneva Dufane Lutz had also started making palladium springs. In 1887 a new contract was signed with J.J. Badollet in Geneva and Aeby & Co. in Bienne, watch manufacturing companies, for producing ebauches. That same year an arrangement was made with Patek Philippe for their blancs to be made in the Patek factory and finished by Bornard. These were probably the highest grades of Non-Magnetic Watch Co. In the same year a new company was organized, the Non-Magnetic Watch Co. of America, in the hope of promoting the watch as an American product, for at the time these had an excellent reputation (see The Art of American Horology, Antiquorum, December, 2001). The watches were tested by Thomas Edison, Webb C. Ball, and Henry Abbott. In 1889 the Non-Magnetic Watch Co. exhibited in the Saint Louis Exhibition and in 1893 in the Columbian Exposition in Chicago, where the present watch was most likely the centerpiece of their exhibition. In 1895 Charles Paillard died; it appears that shortly after A.C. Becken of Chicago purchased the company and started selling the inventory. He contracted the Illinois Watch Co to make non-magnetic movements for him and marketed them as Non-Magnetic Watch Co. of Chicago, USA. In 1899 Becken advertised products labeled Paillard, Non-Magnetic Watch Co., Chicago, USA. The movements were made by the Illinois Watch Co. A year later in his catalog appeared watches labeled Geneva Non-Magnetic and Non-Magnetic of America. These most likely came from the Non-Magnetic Watch Co. inventory. He also stated that he was "the manufacturer of Paillard Non-Magnetic Watches", and that he had bought Non-Magnetic inventory and acquired the rights to the patent. Literature: The Non-Magnetic Watch Co, Eugene Fuller, NAWCC Bulletin, June 1990. This watch is very unusual because of its origin. The movement was made by the Association Ouvrière, then sold to the Non Magnetic Watch Co., which finished the escapement and fitted it among others with a palladium balance spring, and finally it was sold to Dodson & Son, who had the dial made by Willis, the best English dialmaker of the time. It is the only tourbillon watch known by the Non-Magnetic Watch Co. It must have been made on special order or for an exhibition. The Non-Magnetic Watch Co. used other manufacturers to provide them with special ebauches for specific, important projects. For instance their watch that won the third prize at the Geneva Observatory in 1889 was commissioned from Marius Favre Fils. Tourbillons with spring detent chronometer escapement are rare. Ones fitted with Palladium balance spring are very rare. Palladium, discovered in 1803, was used in watches by C.A. Paillard of Geneva. Charles-Auguste Paillard, who worked with Houriet, started experimenting in 1876 with gold alloys as material for hairsprings. He finally turned to palladium with which he had become familiar in Brazil where he was sent by his uncle to service marine chronometers. One of the main problems he faced there was rusty springs. Palladium, which is not magnetic and is rust-proof, was a sub-product of gold mining and was plentiful there. Balances fitted with palladium reduce acceleration. In 1886 Paillard was granted British patent No. 6367 for making his palladium (actually palladium/copper) balance spring. His springs became quite popular as soon as they appeared and were, as reported by The Swiss Horological Journal, imitated from the very beginning. They stayed popular until the invention of Guillaume’s Elinvar balance springs and Anibal as an alloy for the precision balances.
Exceptional Horological Works of Art
Sold including buyer's premium:
86,000 CHF