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Record Watch Company

The Record Watch Company was founded in 1903 in the Swiss municipality of Tramelan in the canton of Bern. The company was formed by a group of businessmen who wanted to manufacture a specific type of timepiece known as the Sector watch, a triangular pocket watch with a retrograde display. The Sector watch displayed the time using a 120º section of a circle (a “sector” in geometry). The hours and minutes were marked on the dial in two separate rows moving from left to right. The upper row displayed the minutes. The hands moved from left to right to show the time and when they reached the furthest markers to the right, jumped back to the start, in what is known as a retrograde action. In French, the term retrograde means to move backwards, have a backward motion or direction, retire, or retreat.

The Sector watch

The Sector watch was a highly unusual design at the time.  This watch was based on Swiss patent no. 27.961 which Giovanni Sgherlino of Turin registered on April 9, 1903. The businessmen acquired the rights to the patent and formed the “Record Watch Co. SA.” on December 16, 1903. They registered the patent for the sector watch in the US on May 2 1905. Because of its unusual design, the watch was difficult to manufacture and only a few thousand were ever made. In addition to the Sector watch, the Record Watch Company were known for producing high-quality pocket watches. Typically, the watches they produced were fully jewelled, with 15 or more jewels.

Record Dreadnought Watch Co. S.A

In 1916, Record merged with several other companies to form the Record Dreadnought Watch Co. S.A. They produced a broad range of clocks, watches, and movements. The company opened a London office in 1919. The company moved its headquarters from Tramelan to Geneva in 1924. They had additional offices in Tramelan-Dessus, La Chaux-de-Fonds and Les Pommerats.

Record Watch Company pocket watch.
Record Watch Company pocket watch.

Record is probably most well-known for the Dirty Dozen military watches they produced in 1944. The Dirty Dozen watches were a series of military-grade watches commissioned by the British Ministry of Defence during World War 2. Twelve Swiss companies were tasked with producing the watches. In 1949, the original name, Record Watch Co. S.A., was registered again, to what end is unknown. In 1961, the company was acquired by Longines through a majority purchase of shares. Subsequently, watches were produced with the double signature “Record Longines” and were made with ETA calibres. The production of Record watches continued until 1991 when the company was closed.

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The Record Watch Company at the British Museum.