Semper & Adhuc Rescues Homeless Vintage Movements

A new lease of life.

French startup Semper & Adhuc is making its debut with a familiar proposition: affordable, time-only watches, but with a historically conscious twist – each watch is powered by a homeless vintage movement. Also unusual is the fact that while the movements are Swiss, namely the A. Schild AS 1012, every other part of the watch, including case, dial, and hands, is made in France.

The brand was started in 2016 by watchmaker Colin de Tonnac, who spent several years at Patek Philippe in Geneva before setting up Semper & Adhuc in Bordeaux. The inaugural line-up is made up of three minimalist watches with quirky details and form cases, but the most interesting bit is the slightly romantic rationale behind the movement inside.

Saving abandoned movements

All three models are powered by the same calibre, the hand-wound AS 1012 produced by A. Schild, a Grenchen-based movement maker that was once one of Switzerland’s largest.

Produced from 1936 to 1960, the AS 1012 is an unusual movement because it is, or rather was, an oval form calibre destined for ladies’ watches, explaining the compact size of about 13 mm by 15 mm. It has 17 or 21 jewels depending on the version, and a 36-hour power reserve.

Examples of the AS 1012 and its variants

The AS 1012 was inexpensive and robust, making it popular enough that millions were produced. And after the Quartz Crisis, a good number of the movements – likely the majority of them – were in watches that were no longer desirable.

That was the result of a combination of factors, including mechanical watches going out of fashion, but also because tiny ladies’ watches were even more unfashionable. And it also became more sensible to melt a watch case for scrap when gold prices spiked in the late 1970s, peaking 1980. So there’s a large number of case-less movements floating around today – several dozen are on eBay at the moment, for as little as $10.

The AS 1012 disassembled

Being several decades old, rather than “new old stock”, the movements have been fully restored by Mr de Tonnac, and depending on the watch model, are also gold-plated and decorated.

But because the AS 1012 is a tiny form movement that’s quite a bit smaller than the case, it is only partially revealed through a small sapphire window on a circular-brushed back.

A trio of models

The watch case is offered in three shapes – round, oval or cushion – with the option of a left-handed crown. Regardless of the shape, all three styles simply styled and finished, done entirely in brushed steel. And since they all rely on the same compact movement, the cases are a uniform 37 mm in diameter at the widest and a slim 8 mm high.

The most distinctive aspect of the design is the dial, which are pared back, offbeat, and available in black, white or beige. They are sparse and modern, but livened up with an unusual layout and typography. Most of the dial styles feature a prominent minute track, with the brand name looped over the central axis. And the baton hands are short and slim, a visual match for the typeface.

Unlike many other watches in this segment, Semper & Adhuc relies on French suppliers for all its components. Cases and dials, for instance, are made in the town of Sigoulès in southwest France, while the hands are made in Morteau, located on the other side of France and noted for its watchmaking school – which is where Mr de Tonnac learnt the craft.

As a result, the Semper & Adhuc watches are pricier than the similar-looking offerings – which usually rely on low-cost parts made in China or Hong Kong. The watches start at €1,250, or about US$1,380, with customisation costing more.


Key facts and price

L’instantanée (round case)
L’inopinée (oval case)
Immédiate (cushion-shaped case)

Diameter: 37 mm (measured vertically for the oval and cushion-shaped cases)
Height: 8 mm
Material: Stainless steel
Water resistance: 30 m

Movement: Restored A. Schild AS 1012
Functions: Hours and minutes
Winding: Hand-wound

Frequency: 18,000 or 21,600 beats per hour, depending on movement variant
Power reserve: 36 hours

Strap: Calfskin

Limited edition: No
Availability:
 Direct from Semper & Adhuc
Price: €1,250

For more information, visit Semperadhuc.com


 

Back to top.

You may also enjoy these.

Timor Introduces the Heritage Field ‘WWW’ Remake

The WW2 watch reborn.

Timor, best known as one of the 12 watch brands that supplied wristwatches to the British Ministry of Defence (MOD) during the Second World War, is making a comeback with the Heritage Field, a faithful remake of its most famous timepiece that’ll be offered on Kickstarter in mid February.

Widely known as WWW, short for “Watches Wristlet Waterproof”, the British army-issue watches were dependable, no-nonsense instruments that have been reproduced by other revived brands, but the Timor remake is probably the closest to the original.

The WWW

Now being brought back to life by British entrepreneur Benjamin Briggs, Timor was originally a trademark of J. Bernheim & Co. of La Chaux-de-Fonds, which like many other small- and medium-sized watch brands of the time, assembled cases and movements produced by specialist suppliers and sold watches under its own brand name. The Timor WWW, for instance, was equipped with the cal. 6060, an AS 1203 made by A. Schild, once one of Switzerland’s leading movement makers.

The remake (left) and an original WWW

But like much of the Swiss watch industry, Timor went bust during the Quartz Crisis in the 1970s. Now it has returned, but Timor is not alone.

With the values of vintage WWW watches having risen to a level where remakes are viable – it is hard to sell a reproduction for more than the original – Timor is not the only resurrected brand making a WWW. Timor’s revival follows that of British brand Vertex, another supplier of the WWW, which unveiled its remake – actually a modern take on the original – in 2017.

While the original dozen WWW watches look identical at a glance – they were after all made to the same military specification – they do differ slightly from one another both cosmetically and technically. The case material, for instance, differed between brands: some WWWs, including the like the Jaeger-LeCoultre version, had chrome-plated brass cases, while others, including Timor, had steel cases.

The reproduction

The Heritage Field watch is an aesthetically authentic reproduction, but with a couple of refinements. At 36.5 mm wide, the case is the exact same size as the original, with the same sandblasted finish, but fitted with a slightly wider bezel. And because of the modern movement inside, a sub-dial that sits slightly further from the edge of the dial.

As with the original, the numerals “5” and “7” intersect with the sub-seconds, although the overlap is slightly greater on the remake. The rest of the dial is almost identical to the original, featuring luminous markings for the hours and pencil-shaped hands filled with luminous paint.

Notably, the remake is offered with two Sellita movement options: either an automatic SW200, or a hand-wound SW216. Both movements have been modified to do away with date display, and the reconfiguration of the seconds to the sub-dial at six o’clock. Being the same as the original, the hand-wound version is naturally more historically accurate, but both versions cost the same.

The SW216, which is derived from the ETA 2801


Key facts and price

Timor Heritage Field

Diameter: 36.5 mm
Height: 11 mm
Material: Stainless steel
Water resistance: 50 m

Movement:  Sellita SW200 or SW216
Functions: Hours, minutes and seconds
Winding: Automatic, or hand-wound

Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4Hz)
Power reserve: 42 hours for hand-wound; 38 hours for automatic

Strap: NATO-style canvas; addition strap modelled on AF0210 webbing strap issued with the original WWW

Limited edition: No
Availability:
 Pre-order on Kickstarter starting February 20, 2020
Price: £650 (rising to £950 after crowdfunding)

For more information, visit Timorwatch.com


Correction February 5, 2020: WWW is short for “Watches Wristlet Waterproof”, and not “Wrist Watch Waterproof” as in an earlier version of the article.

Back to top.

You may also enjoy these.

Longines Introduces the Cushion-Shaped Heritage 1969

Cushion-shaped and modestly proportioned, the Heritage 1969 is a departure from the typical Longines historical remake.

Chopard Introduces the L.U.C Heritage Grand Cru, a Tonneau-Shaped Watch with a Fitting Movement

Powered by the finely constructed calibre L.U.C 97.01-L.

Humism Introduces Self-Winding, Kinetic Art Watches

Affordable timepieces featuring animated dials.

Welcome to the new Watches By SJX.

Subscribe to get the latest articles and reviews delivered to your inbox.