While browsing through some old newspaper archives, I found some very interesting ads regarding our beloved brand. In this case the newspapers came from Singapur, mainly published in “The Straits Times”. While normally you find blog posts about the Graph chronograph series from me, this time I want to write about another and very special chronograph, that I allready teased in regard to the Sherpa Graph MKIa with the no lume hands. In the future I will stick to that path and also write about general interesting Enicar discoveries.
So lets start with this two ads I found, the left from 1961, the right from 1964. Most interesting, besides the lovely illustrations of the early Sherpa Guide, is the text at the bottom of the one from 1961:
“Enicar Watch Organization official supplier of DC-8 & Caravelle dashboard chronographs to many major airlines”
This fact was totally new to me. We knew of the existance of the the Ref. 817 CH cockpit chronograph, which is shown in the Enicar catalog of 1960. Until now, I thought this is just something you buy for your private Cessna or similar.
The second ad from 1964 shows a watch at the steering wheel of a plane. We don’t know which plane it is, but more on that later.
Lets have a look at the Ref. 817 CH in more detail. The 817 CH is a cockpit chronograph with 75mm diameter, huge in comparison to a wristwatch. The case and dial is black, as are the “Enicar” letters, which a hard to recognize on first sight. We see big arabic numbers and a 15min counter at 12 o clock. The minute and hour hands are hollow, like we see on the Sherpa Graph MK Ia. There is no lume at all, which is kind of interesting….or not, since the watch has its own, red, indirect illumination. There is also a bezel that can be moved with a white triangle (see at 8). The chrono starts by pushing the pusher-crown at 12 o’clock. The price in 1960 was 457,50 Deutsche Mark, which is an equivalent of almost a german monthly salary back than. No comment on the movement is found.
As we know Enicar was good in advertisement, the usage of that watch in the new Jet Planes of that era could be overstated. But of course we need a proof that a chronograph, possibly the 817 CH, was existant in the cockpit of a Douglas DC-8 or a Sud Aviatian Caravelle.
Lets start with the Douglas DC-8. The DC-8 was build from 1959 to 1972 and was one of the first planes of the Jet Age. 556 DC-8s were produced, most of them were used in the US, but it was also a success on export markets.
Thanks to the ETH Zurich we have High Res pics of a Swiss used DC-8. So lets have a look into the cockpit. As seen on the ad from 1964, there is a chronograph on each steering wheel of the plane. When we look closer, we see the unique hands of the Ref. 817 CH and devine the Enicar logo. I think its safe to say, that on Swiss used DC-8s the Ref. 817 CH was in use.
Lets have a look on the second mentioned plane, the Sud Aviation Caravelle. The Carevelle was produced in France from 1958 to 1972 and was one of the first Jets for short and middle range flights. It’s very similar to the more famous De Havilland Comet, the first Jet Plane ever build. Instead of 4 engines on the Comet, the Caravelle used 2 engines at the back. 282 Caravelles were produced.
To have a look at the cockpit we use the source of the ETH Zurich again. In contrary to the Douglas DC-8, the watch isn’t mounted on the steering wheel, but behind it at the interior wall. The zoom is not as good as on the DC-8, but I think the hands are very good visible, as is the pusher-crown.
The ads from Singapur delivered very well. We found the Ref. 817 CH on both planes, the plane from the ad is most likely a Douglas DC-8. This is a remarkable find, since I just have seen two of this chronographs during the last 5 years. One was basically just a movement with damaged dial and hands, the second is in my possession.
But when we think further and assume that at least 20% of the build planes used the Enicar chronograph, there have to be more than 300 watches out there. Plus the ones that were sold separatley by the stores for your private Cessna. Of course not all watches survived, but I am confident we will see more of them in the future.
Since the ads and catalog didn’t mention the build in movement, I will show you my 817 CH, which is still in restoration cause of the damaged pusher- crown (if you have one or an idea to restore it, please let me know). The movement ist the Minerva made Cal. 19/9CH, a movement first build in 1908 in pocket watch chronographs.
As allways, if you have similar stories, feedback or if you are the owner of a plane scrapyard, let me know.