Gold Audemars Piguet retailed by Bittmann, St. Mortiz, vintage wristwatch, made in 1918
A rare, early and fine 18ct gold square manually wound wristwatch
This is a very early square cased wristwatch manufactured towards the end of the First World War in 1918. Made by Audemars Piguet, the watch was supplied to the luxury jewellery and watch retailer, Bittmann, in St Moritz, Switzerland. Bittmann retailed many important Audemars Piguet watches, including unique and complicated models. Such was Bittman’s standing that their name is not only marked to the dial but also to the movement itself, alongside that of Audemars Piguet. At a time when long established and famous jewellers were often more well-known than even the finest watchmakers, it was not uncommon for the jeweller’s name to feature on the dial of a watch either in addition to or instead of the watch manufacturer themselves. A similar arrangement, for example, existed between Gübelin and Audemars Piguet. Numerous examples of this ‘co-signing’ are illustrated in the excellent historical study of Audemars Piguet: Brunner, G., Pfeiffer-Belli, C, Wehrli, M., Audemars Piguet, Second Edition, 2000
The manually wound movement is an Audemars Piguet calibre HPVM which is beautifully finished with Geneva stripes across the surface of the plates. Another example of the HPVM calibre movement, dating to the same year as the present watch, is illustrated in Brunner, G., Pfeiffer-Belli, C, Wehrli, M., Audemars Piguet, Second Edition, 2000, p.177, pl.144c. Indeed, the aforementioned book illustrates 3 watches from the same year with the HPVM calibre movement, all of which are in tonneau-form cases and one of which bears a Cartier signature to the dial.
Almost 100 years old, the silvered dial is in good condition for its age, in part due to the quality of its construction. The dial plate would have been engraved for the minute track and Arabic numerals, these would then have been filled with black enamel paint and fired in a specialist kiln. This type of finish was afforded to the highest quality watches and helped to ensure the longevity of the tracks and numerals. The 18ct gold watch case has lugs that are typical of early wristwatch design and are screw-set with fixed bars.
For an example of a complication watch made by Audemars Piguet for Bittmann, St Moritz, see: Brunner, G., Pfeiffer-Belli, C, Wehrli, M., Audemars Piguet, Second Edition, 2000, p.138.
Audemars Piguet HPVM calibre manually wound movement with lever escapement, 18 jewels, bi-metallic compensation balance, 18,000 A/h; silvered dial, black enamel Arabic numerals and minute track, blued steel moon hands; 18ct yellow gold square case, snap-on back, screw-set fixed bar lugs, winding crown a later replacement; case and movement signed, the dial and movement further signed for the retailer
Width excluding winding crown: 24mm
Length including lugs: 32mm
Depth to centre of crystal: 7mm
Lugs gauge/strap width: 17mm
All Black Bough vintage watches have been fully serviced and overhauled and are sold with a one year guarantee and detailed Black Bough certificate. This watch is accompanied by a Black Bough leather watch pouch and card presentation box.