Stauffer or Atlas - c.1927 Sterling Silver Trench Style Watch - Also Has Charles Nicolet Swiss Import Marks
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A Beautiful Silver Trench Style Watch with Multiple Hallmarks which read 'CN' (Charles Nicolet), 'Double-F' Glasgow Import assay mark, .925 (Sterling Silver) and 'e' for 1927 and movement signed 'Atlas Swiss Made'.
This is a beautifully preserved part of Swiss watchmaking history which made its way across the Channel thanks to a certain Charles Nicolet of Stauffer Watches, a long-running prestigious Swiss watch house. Mr. Nicolet imported Swiss watches to the UK, many of which were commissioned in this 'trench-watch' style for higher-ranking officers in the First World War. It was common for Swiss agents to set up shop in the UK to oversee the assaying and import of foreign solid silver items, and Stauffer quickly became successful and reputed amongst British horologists, not just for the Great War timepieces. Larger than some trench watches at 33mm, the case sits proud on the wrist and makes for an eye-catching dress watch with a rich provenance.
Under the direction of Charles Nicolet, the Stauffer factory became an important producer of chronographs used at sporting events, including supplying the chronographs used during the Gordon Bennett Cup series of motor races. The London branch of the company also began to buy watches from other Swiss manufacturers including IWC, Eterna and Patek Philippe. The name Stauffer, Son & Co. was also well known in British markets. Watches from IWC and Eterna, unknown names at the time, were stamped with Stauffer trademarks and were to all appearances Stauffer products, which has caused confusion amongst collectors. To add further to this confusion here we have a watch with multiple 'Stauffer' branding but then is also hallmarked for Glasgow but we can find no information to suggest that they had any connections to Scotland! If anyone can shed light on these anomalies then please do get in touch! It is therefore impossible to guarantee the provenance of this watch entirely. Detailed enquiries and research around the movement and the watch case may reveal more so perhaps an interesting piece for someone to buy and research further? One thing's for sure: it was made by a talented Swiss watchmaker and is the product of the finest horological craftsmanship from that time.
As we said above, the movement is signed 'Atlas'. The name Atlas was registered by Stauffer in London in 1885 and in Switzerland in 1892. Atlas was the name of their factory in La Chaux de Fonds and watches produced there were regularly imported into the UK. The three triangles within the Atlas logo refer to Stauffer’s third quality watches. Third quality watches were in fact their best top of the range watches (not the worst as we would think nowadays).
What's on offer
Typically of trench watches, the enamel dial has meant that ageing and discolouration has not occurred, and the watch face looks beautifully trapped in time. It must, however, be mentioned that there is a hairline fracture between the central hand pivot and 1:00, though this is hardly visible until reflected in direct light. The blued steel hands are sharp and shiny as ever, contrasting well with the jet black arabic numerals and bright red '12'. The solid silver case does show slight marks, but nothing of note or seriousness and a 'tram line' mark on the case back where a strap was originally fitted! Not bad at all for a watch that is approaching 95 years old!!
Case: .925 Silver
Dial: White, enamel.
Bracelet: a black or brown adjustable leather strap with metal buckle.
Condition: Good, with signs of light wear.
Model reference: Trench Watch
Year of issue: circa. 1927.
Sold with 6-month guarantee.
Width (without crown) 33mm
Height (lug to lug) 37mm
Wrist size: Adjustable- strap.