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I discovered something quite interesting about an oddity in my collection.

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  • I discovered something quite interesting about an oddity in my collection.

    Well over a decade ago, I specialized in collecting split-seconds (rattrapante) timers. Here is a shot of most of the good ones I owned around 2002:

    Most of the significant brands & manufacturers were represented--Minerva, Omega & Meylan (Lemania), Hanhart, Breitling (Valjoux), Guinand, even Junghans and a Russian brand. I felt they were a really cool complication that was available for little money. There was so little on-line information about them, it was a challenge to learn much. After a while, I felt the urge to move on, and I sold most of them, but I kept one that had little historic significance, but looked wonderful and just felt special. It's a Paul Vallette, probably from the 1920s-1930s:

    The crispness of the enamel dial is spectacular and the blued hands are in excellent shape as well. Such character!:

    The movement is pretty nice also, but I had never been able to determine who made it. It looks a bit like a Minerva 9, but with a chrono bridge shaped more like a Venus and a balance cock like a Lemania. Puzzling!

    ...until I saw this:


    Image above from

    It's clearly based upon the same caliber as my timer. What manner of movement is it?

    Only the most celebrated family of high-beat mechanical timers in history:


    Introduced in 1916 by Ed. Heuer & Cie., the Mikrograph was the first mechanical timer able to record 100ths of a second. The movement images above and at bottom are of the 1/50-sec Semikrograph of the same period. The development of these timers led to Heuer being selected as official timer of the 1920 Olympic games.

    I knew that Paul Vallette was a brand name owned by the partnership of Heuer (Switzerland) and Freund Brothers (NY) in that era--along with Rose Watch Co. and Jules Jurgensen--but I had previously never found evidence that it was actually produced by Heuer (Ref. 540, see follow-up post below), rather than outsourced and branded for distribution by them. Knowing my watch has a movement based upon a very famous caliber has raised it in my estimation...though I already thought so much of it that it formed my user avatar for a while many years ago.

    Thanks for your time,

    Below image from
    It appears to have Swiss patent numbers 73392 and 73393:
    Last edited by Watch Carefully; 07-12-2018, 10:44 AM.
    Time is Money, except on Dark Side of the Moon

  • #2
    That is so cool. I love this type of thing, but know less than nothing about it even though it interests me. I ways always afraid to get into old timers and pocket watches because I need another hobby that takes time,not to mention tons of cash, up like I need the proverbial other hole in my head lol. But that does not stop me from staring at it in fascination...
    sigpic Let the music be your Master, will you heed the Master's call?


    • #3
      I never knew timers would be something those well known watch makers would fiddle with - outside of maybe making a very few for special sports events. That one you kept is definitely cool.

      I need a new watch


      • #4
        Beautiful piece Brad, and very interesting history regarding split second timing prior to the electronic age, thanks for sharing.


        • #5
          But wait, there's more!

          I discovered some catalogue page son Jeff Stein's site that show my timer and movement (note the movement SN shown below is quite near to that of my watch--within 500 units).
          These pages are from a 1936 Heuer catalogue, but the Ref. 540 (not branded) is identical to my Vallette (sans brand name):

          Heuer 1936 Ref 540 timer.jpg
          Heuer 1936 timer movement page.jpg
          Translation into English of the text above:
          Heuer 1936 timer movement page2 (2).jpg
          Images procured from
          Time is Money, except on Dark Side of the Moon


          • #6
            This uncommon complicated Heuer is now for sale in the Trading Post, to help fund some other purchases (possibly a new daily driver...).

            UPDATE: This timer has been sold.


            Last edited by Watch Carefully; 09-16-2018, 09:11 AM.
            Time is Money, except on Dark Side of the Moon