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Thread: I'm on a roll!

  1. #1

    I'm on a roll!

    As so often happens when I have papers to grade, Ebay is my friend. Yesterday I picked up a beautiful case and today I have picked up something a bit special.




    It is widely believed that Rolex designed and produced the very first automatic and waterproof watches. They didn't. The first watch that was both waterproof and automatic was designed by William Harwood in 1924 and mass produced for him by Fortis and Schild from 1926 onwards, with Schild producing the movements and Fortis the cases and casing.

    Fortis make this point quite forcibly here:

    http://www.fortis-watches.com/upload...bilee-Book.pdf

    On page 16 and 17.

    However, after Rolex bought the patent for the waterproof cases from Harwood and combined it with the screw down waterproof crown from Dennison to make the first Oyster cases, Fortis went off on their own, producing their own hermetically sealed 'Fortissimo' waterproof cases and combining it with Schild's 1931 upgrade of the Harwood movement, the AS Cal.1171 which they renamed the Fortis Cal.250. Thus the Fortissimo watches are really significant, being both waterproof (at around the same time as the Rolex Oyster and Omega Marine standard, and using an automatic movement that was an updated version of the worlds first automatic movement.

    So when I saw this ebay auction, I was a bit pleased

    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/1816721368...%3AMEBIDX%3AIT

    With the minimum of due dilligence, a quick check that the seller had splendid feedback, I hit the $19 buy it now, just for the movement. Once I'd paid, I cycled through the pictures to see what I had got and was delighted to discover that I hadn't bought a mere movement but this:



    an entire Fortis Fortissimo in, for a watch from the early thirties or forties (depending on what you read), comparatively good condition and certainly a potentially usable watch if I can sort out the crown.

    Now I freely admit that this may not be to everyone's taste and it probably isn't worth much compared to its direct competitors, but it is an early and interesting bit of kit.

    In fact, there's another, later variation on the AS movement on ebay too...

    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Vintage-Fo...item43d7fc02c2

    and there's even a couple of relatively cheap Harwoods!

    There are plenty of cheap later versions of the watch, but this is the first, so spares shouldn't even be to bad!

    That's a slice of history, not a Harwood, but as close as you can get from the original manufacture for not a lot.

  2. #2
    The Dude Abides Nokie's Avatar
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    Very interesting. I learned something new today. Thanks!
    "Either He's Dead, Or My Watch Has Stopped....."
    Groucho Marx

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  4. #3
    Member Teeritz's Avatar
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    I'm sure you'll be able to get it looking something like this...

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    ...by the time you're finished with it, Matt.

    On a side note, a hardcover copy of Angelmaker just arrived on my doorstep. Very interesting premise and, no doubt, it may be somewhat of a head-trip for me. However, the reviews were glowing, and you spoke highly of it, so I thought I'd give it a read once I finish what I'm currently reading.
    Good luck with the restoration!

    teeritz

    (IWL Member No. 72)
    **************
    My other distractions ---> http://www.teeritz.blogspot.com.au

  5. Likes Matt liked this post
  6. #4
    Could the OP watch and the Stowa Partitio have been separated at birth ?
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    Also:




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    So funny , one of those 'shitbrix when you finally see it' pictures
    Last edited by Seriously; Feb 22, 2015 at 11:03 PM.

  7. #5
    Very cool! I'm looking forward to seeing how that turns out. I have a couple Harwoods in various states of disrepair that I've been meaning to do something with some day. I did not know about that Fortis model so thanks for teaching me something new, too!


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

  8. #6
    Undistinguished
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    That is splendid, thanks for sharing the back story as well! It was great to learn something, and it makes me appreciate the Fortis that I acquired two weeks ago all the more. Congrats on the amazing score!

  9. #7
    Member Norm's Avatar
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    I usually buy things when i have a paper to write haha


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Current and Collection:
    Rolex Submariner No-Date Ceramic, Rolex GMT Master II Ceramic, Rolex Datejust, Rolex Datejust II, Rolex Milgauss ZBlue, Omega Speedmaster Pro, Tudor Hydonaut, Tudor Blackbay, Tudor Pelagos

  10. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Norm View Post
    I usually buy things when i have a paper to write haha


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Yeah, me too. You'll be glad to know it works both ways...

  11. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Teeritz View Post
    I'm sure you'll be able to get it looking something like this...

    Name:  Longines Polaires.jpg
Views: 97
Size:  70.8 KB

    ...by the time you're finished with it, Matt.

    On a side note, a hardcover copy of Angelmaker just arrived on my doorstep. Very interesting premise and, no doubt, it may be somewhat of a head-trip for me. However, the reviews were glowing, and you spoke highly of it, so I thought I'd give it a read once I finish what I'm currently reading.
    Good luck with the restoration!
    If it's not your favorite book by the end of the month I'll eat my hat.

    However, getting it like that is a bit of an issue - the very first ones were chromed brass and it's only hen you get to the later automats that they moved over to staybright. Now the automats are dirt cheap, so buying one of them for the case is a possibility, but what do I want a pretty kinda franken or a scruffy original?

  12. #10
    Thanks for the lovely comments all, It's od, there are a few companies, like Fortis and Gruen, who were big and had an utterly central role in the Swiss story, who just seem to fade a bit.

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