The Swiss Maison celebrates its heritage this year with products that pay homage to its past and its founder. George Eberhard was born into a watchmaking family in Saint-Imier, Switzerland, in 1865, and founded his own manufacture in the Swiss town of La Chaux-de-Fonds at the age of 22. He quickly became known as a maker of high-precision pocket watches, and by the early 1900s, the company was specializing in chronometers and chronographs, something for which it is still known today.
In 1919, the founder’s sons Georges and Maurice took charge of the company, and by the 1930s began making chronographs for officers of the Italian Royal Navy. In the 1940s, the company introduced its iconic model, the Extra-fort, with its signature sliding pushbutton to measure intermediate times. In the 1950s the Extra-fort line began one of the most representative collections of the Maison and won the heart of fans and connoisseurs. By the 1960s, the company was producing high-frequency escapements, beating at 36,000 vibrations per hour for ultimate precision.
Like most watch brands, Eberhard & Co. began producing watches containing quartz technology at the beginning of the 1970s, supplementing its mechanical watch collections. In this way the Maison faced the quartz challenge, following the new trends and ensuring the continuity of its history. In 1982 Eberhard & Co. re-launched the mechanical chronograph with Replica Marine, and in 1987 celebrated its centenary with the Navymaster collection.
In the 1990s, after the presentation of the Tazio Nuvolari chronograph, created in honor of the greatest car racing legend of all times, the brand’s production was oriented towards large-sized wristwatches – like the Traversetolo, with its 43mm diameter, helping to set a trend that still continues today. In 1997 a new milestone was established: 8 Jours, with a power-reserve of 8 days thanks to an exclusive patented device, consisting of two overlapping springs which are more than one meter and a half long.
Today’s most iconic collection is the Chrono 4. Introduced in 2001, it is the first and only chronograph in the history of watchmaking with four counters arranged in one row thanks to the special module developed and patented by Eberhard & Co. on an ETA 2894-2 base (Caliber EB 200 12/12); functions include hours, minutes, seconds, date, 24-hour display, chronograph and tachymeter. The complete mechanism works on 53 rubies. Chrono 4, which is patented, revolutionized the reading of time and it was a real innovation, both aesthetically and functionally. This best-selling collection, which in 2010 celebrated its 10th anniversary, has been reinterpreted over the years through the Grande Taille Version, the Chrono 4 Géant and the all-black Full Injection model. 2012 is the year of another important anniversary: the 125 years of the Maison, celebrated with the Extra-fort Roue à Colonnes Grande Date 125th Anniversaire.
This year, the brand introduced five new models at Baselworld in March. The introduction included a new model of its iconic Chrono 4 collection proposed in three new dial versions. The Chrono 4 collection is the brand’s signature unique design, with chronograph counters lined up along the same horizontal axis. In particular, the all-black version features the silver-toned rings around the black counters, silvered Arabic numerals and tipped hands. The chronograph sweep seconds hand and the 24-hour counter are dramatically red, in contrast to the black and white composition. It is water-resistant to 50 meters. The restyling gives this revolutionary chronograph an even more sporting feel.
Also new is the Extra-fort “Ardisco non Ordisco,” one of the best-sellers of the brand, with a model that honors one of the greatest interpreters of nineteenth-century Italian literature: Gabriele D’Annunzio.
The new Contograf pays tribute to a model of the same name that was introduced in the 1960s, a precision, two-counter chronograph with a date window at 6 o’clock. It featured a fast-changing date, which was revolutionary at the time. The minute counter is uniquely divided into three minutes, originally designed to measure the duration of a telephone call. The ceramic bezel with unidirectional rotation is new with palladium treated numbers, as is the patented deployment clasp Déclic and the Chassis® steel bracelet. It is engraved on the caseback with “Tribute to Contograf – 1960s.”
Also in the novelties category is the Traversetolo, the brand’s large sized watch coupled with a manually wound mechanical movement originally launched in the 1950s which have been perfected over the years. Available also in the Vitré version, it has hours and minutes on the central dial and a small seconds counter at 6 o’clock with a snailed finish.
Rounding out the new introductions is one for ladies, Gilda, with a feminine, elliptical case set with blue sapphires on the bezel and dial. The case is in white gold and the movement is quartz. The strap is white alligator with blue stitching and the dial is decorated with a subtle floral pattern. Gilda is also available on a tailor-made bracelet studded with 12 diamonds and 380 blue sapphires; a cascade of precious stones embracing the feminine wrist.