Introduced in 2005, this rectangular wristwatch from Chronoswiss admirably expresses Gerd-Rüdiger Lang’s passion for traditional values. The watch is powered with a modified and finely reworked Caliber FEF 130 mechanical movement.
As the name “Digiteur” implies, the type of time display recalls an important epoch in wristwatch history. Printed disks rotate to indicate the hours, minutes, and seconds. The hours disk jumps one increment further along after each 60-minute interval has elapsed; the other two disks rotate continuously. To support this digital display, Chronoswiss developed a unique mechanism, which is mounted on the front side of the clockwork.
Beating inside this watch is the 7: x 11-ligne Caliber FEF 130 (length = 25.6 mm, width = 17.5 mm) from Fleurier, the movement-blank specialist that was founded by Jules Jéquier and David-Louis Petitpierre in the Swiss town of Fleurier, Val de Travers in 1882.
After Petitpierre left the firm in 1888, Jéquier and his sons continued to manufacture mechanical timepieces without him. Their movement-blank division achieved independence under the name “Fabrique d’ebauches de Fleurier (FEF)” in 1920, but was soon incorporated into the powerful Ebauches SA movement-blank holding company in 1932.
This enterprise continued to produce hand-wound movements in various designs until 1979, when the “Quartz Watch Revolution” put an untimely end to FEF. Movement-blanks from Val de Travers have been nothing but history ever since.
After thirty years in production, the final hour for the FEF 130 shaped caliber had already tolled in 1963, when round wristwatches dominated the market. During the three previous decades, FEF had manufactured this caliber with either centrally axial or off-center seconds-hands. The calibers found their way into rectangular wristwatches made by numerous renowned watch producers.
After production of the calibers was discontinued, a small number of specimens naturally remained in stock in order to ensure that spare parts would be available in the future. Gerd-Rüdiger Lang is fanatically devoted to mechanical timepieces, so it comes as no surprise to learn that he discovered this treasure-trove and acquired its “shapely” contents for Chronoswiss, his Munich-based watchmaking company.
Long before quartz watches with their LED or LC displays raised a relatively short-lived ruckus in the world of timekeeping, the watch industry had already developed mechanical timepieces that digitally indicated the hours, minutes, and seconds by means of numerals printed on disks. Hard knocks and tough usage all too often shattered watch-crystals, which in those days were made of glass and were correspondingly fragile.
Little windows were considerably more robust. For these reasons, watches with digital time displays were by no means uncommon during the 1920s and Thirties. Their raison d’être came to an end with the invention of shatterproof watch-crystals.
Chronoswiss surrounds the tonneau-shaped FHF 130 movement with a rectangular case: crafted from solid yellow, red, or white gold, the case is watertight to 30 meters. A pane of sapphire crystal, anti-reflective on one of its surfaces, protects the front side of the watch. The shaped movement needn’t hide itself from view: it’s free to reveal its full beauty thanks to a transparent pane of sapphire crystal in the back of the case.
The Digiteur is a hand-wound watch that requires daily contact with the tips of its wearer’s thumb and index finger, so Chronoswiss made its crown particularly convenient to grasp. Screwed lugs affix the hand-sewn leather strap to the case.
Only a small number of FEF 130 calibers remained in stock, so Chronoswiss limited the production of the Digiteur in an edition of 990 specimens.
Model: Digiteur (MSA=Montre sans Aiguilles = watch without hands)
Wrist watch (hand winding with jumping hour, digital for minutes and seconds, limited edition
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Hours (12-hour disc), minutes and seconds
Massive, rectangular 17-part case, 45,50 x 27,70 mm, height 11,00 mm, smoothed and polished, gold bezel with non-reflective sapphire crystal, with 4 screws tightened exhibition case back eith non-reflective sapphire crystal, massive crown, screwed-on strap bars with patented Autobloc safety system, 20 mm lugs, water-resistant up to 3 atm (30 m)
Shaped caliber FEF 130, movement-blank from 1933-1963, special quality: digital hour(Heure Sautantes/jumping hour), minutes, seconds, 17,50 mm x 25,60 mm (7 ¾´´´ x 11´´´), height: 4,50 mm, 15 jewels, 40 hours power-reserve,2,5 Hz., 18.000 vibrations per hour (vph), polished pallets, pallet wheel and screws, bridges with Geneva grazed polished and perlage, individually numbered
Massive dial, 925 Sterling-Silver (si), rosé gold (rg), black (bk)