There are few names in the golden age of watchmaking as revered as Vénus, which produced some of the best chronograph movements of the 1940s. But the history of this small Swiss company is not well documented, and the story reveals the surprisingly-connected world of watchmaking at the time. Vénus rose and fell in just a few decades, but the legacy of their chronograph movements, especially the legendary rattrapantes used by Breitling, lives on.
I hope that this somewhat-pointless research project into Dulfi, Mulfi, and Henri Müller helps illustrate my approach to learning about the history of the watch industry and my reliance on primary sources for information. We can trace the foundation of Henri Müller & Fils with confidence and can definitely know the dates of establishment of Mulfi and Dulfi. We even have some images of ads and watches that came along the way.
Chronographs are so popular that cheap fashion watches today often feature bogus subdials with non-functional hands and pushers. But once upon a time, a chronograph was a simple tool seen more as an advanced stopwatch than a true complication. What was once a utilitarian tool for soldiers became an upscale choice for doctors, then an iconoclast choice for young people, and now a sign of fine watchmaking.
Automatic watches were hot in the 1950s, and chronographs were cool in the 1960s. But bringing these technologies together was not at all straightforward! Three different automatic chronograph movements were launched in 1969, and the story of their creation reflects the state of the industry at that time as well as the inevitability of technological progress.
What exactly does “Montbrillant” mean? Although the word has been associated with Breitling for over a century, the answer might surprise you! Montbrillant is not a person or even a place, really. It’s an idea, and represents brilliant marketing a century in the making!
The Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève ceremony took place yesterday, November 12, 2020. Although attendance was limited to winners and helium-filled balloons, the ceremony once again proved both the importance and self-importance of Geneva as a center for the luxury watch industry. Although most of the prizes went against my choices, some were well-deserved and no one asked for my vote in any case!
Today I’m wearing another watch I’ve previously written about here. I bought this Breitling Datora as a bit of a “fixer-upper” back in 2014 and promptly sent it out to be serviced. It’s now a fairly regular “wearer” in my watch box.
This is a web site about grails: Watches people spend their lives looking for. Approximately zero people will spend their lives looking for a beat up, common, 1970’s Breitling like this Datora 592. But I bought it, and I thought it might be interesting to my readers to know why and what I’m doing next.
Here is a lovely early 1970’s Breitling “Co-Pilote” 7651 watch with the famous Chronomatic movement. It was seriously huge at the time, but today 48 mm is simply “large”. This makes it eminently wearable, not just a safe-queen. The black PVD bezel is cool, but the replacement bracelet is unfortunate.