Vintage Calatrava Center Seconds with black Dial

Hi Hour Loung users, 


I am trying to dig some information about this watch. I understand that production date goes back to the early 30s, and though I m not familiar with the caliber, it seems that it counts with Victorin Piguet s center second adaptation from an independent second hand at six.  It is definitely Patek's Ref. 96 brother, holding same dimensions. 

Dial is a truly nice black specimen with gilt printing over the lacquer. 


Any input will be highly appreciated. 


Archive papers have been requested, will update the post as soon as I receive them, 


Thanks in advance. 





Interesting watch Nicolas
01/14/2016 - 06:58

I don't like to comment on cropped photos because important clues may have been omitted, but I will go so far as to say the dial closely resembles several  V&C models with central and sub-seconds from 1936 - 1938, such as photo ref 3800.

The movement is most surprising as I've never seen that modification for center seconds from V&C.  The base resembles a 9-ligne caliber 458:

Antiquorum photo

Now the 458 was itself was given central seconds with the caliber 466, but this aint that!

dshao1 photo

There is a crude friction spring for the central jewel which is unneccesary with that bridge placed over the second and third driving wheel.  Since the spring is there, I question the purpose of the center pivot jewel on that bridge?  The layout just doesn't make sense to me :-(  What is the history of this watch, do you suspect this was a modification from some time in the past or a recent fabrication?

Interesting watch Nicolas

This is how the friction spring should function to secure the center pivot jewel, here on the cal. 1002:

Interesting watch Nicolas

The dial is rather thickly painted and, if this piece was modified from sub-seconds, the original dial would have to have been replaced or modified and repainted.  Many other thoughts cross my mind but I will refrain until you can share complete pictures with us.

Interesting watch Nicolas

The 30s was a wild and difficult time for the Manufacture and many old movements were cased-up for a quick sale.  Your movement number is quite a bit earlier, late 1920s, and the case number mid-1930s, so the info you receive from VC's Heritage Department may be informative but, even if the numbers match up, they may need to examine it directly to confirm authenticity.


Re: Interesting watch Nicolas
01/14/2016 - 11:40

Thanks for the thorough reply even with the poor images I provided. I ll take better pics so we can take a better look at the watch. 

This watch was bought from an estate and spent several decades in a safe. It did not cross my mind that it might not be original considering that I am well aware of the provenance. But the plot thickens as you made some interesting points, which are worth serious consideration. Once again I appreciate your respone. 


WIll update with further images. 



Agreed with dean
01/14/2016 - 13:30

First time I see this kind of central seoncd on such on old caliber.Like Dean, don't believe the dial is original, but very inspired by the 96 "Margraf" that was sold at christies some years ago (the 96 "time only" that fetched the highest price in auction afaik)Very appealing design but not all original imho.


Re: Interesting watch Nicolas
01/14/2016 - 14:15

Dial shows a notch at 3, which indicates it had some work done on it. However I see that lacquer presents intense signs of ageing, if refinished it was really a long time ago. However, under certain light angles, lacquer still keeps a nice mirror finish. I had a rare Rolex Explorer dial which had a factory notch on its plate, so would not take it as %100 indicator of outside-of-the-factory refinish. Will take the watch to macro shooting for a better definition of the writings. 

Minute hand shows rainbow effect on the gold, and the case has dirt from many years. Springbars are also original.

Regarding movement, I am definitely not knowledgeable enough to analise it. What I can say is that the bridge which appears on top, shows the same finish pattern than the main plate, so the whole movement has an even texture. Plus the anglage is the same in all the parts who carry it here. 

Case is 3 body with a very thin bezel. 


This is a piece with more questions than answers
01/14/2016 - 17:03

I agree the finish of that over-bridge (more correctly, a seconds cock) nicely matches the rest of the finish.  Still makes no sense; you can have the friction spring or the cap jewel, but not both!  Is there any way you can remove the seconds cock so we can see what is going on under there?

This is a piece with more questions than answers

It bears repeating the illustration of cal. 466 to show how V&C actually achieved center seconds with the base 458:

This is a piece with more questions than answers

"SWISS" appeared at 6 o'clock on the dial of the ref 3800 of 1938 (same dial, different case shape), and I would expect it here too.  

This is a case where the collective wisdom of the Heritage Department watchmakers would be very helpful.  Alex, is there any way you could inquire if this arrangement has been seen before?

Re: This is a piece with more questions than answers
01/14/2016 - 17:18

I do follow, and would like to understand what s the logic on this layout. will have my watchmaker remove the seconds cock and take a look

Great, looking forward to it
01/14/2016 - 17:56

and in response to your pm, here is photo reference 3800:

Great, looking forward to it

Re: Great, looking forward to it
01/14/2016 - 21:19

When seconds dock is removed movement stops. Finish of the part matches VC quality for what I can see quickly. 


Watchmaker says that the way this part fits the movement and makes it start again is calibrated in a fine fashion, very precisely. Also if the screw is slightly tighter than a certain point, movement won t start smoothly. 





Its pretty amusing actually
01/14/2016 - 22:46

One has to admire the determination of whomever performed this modification indecision.

Its pretty amusing actually

Its pretty amusing actually

Looks like the original screw wasn't sufficient to secure the added cock so a crude notch was cut into the bridge to accomodate another screw.  Where there used to be the center pivot jewel we have a pinion dropped into the oversized hole and, rather than a proper bushing, a roughly made spring is used as a shim to keep the pinion in contact with the gear wheel.

Its pretty amusing actually

The cock is well-finished except for the half-circle cutout which has the appearance of uneveness.  It may have been modified from another caliber.


Re: Its pretty amusing actually
01/14/2016 - 23:01

I see. 

So the part has anglage and satin finish matching the rest of the movement, but a clumsy hole for a screw is made with no care. Sounds like some information is missing, does not make sense. 

Thanks a lot for the insight, will update the post once extract arrives.