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24 hour centesimal dial pocket watch, help needed "Click" to Login or Register 
posted
I have been lucky enough to put may hands on a very strange and surprising Donat Fer pocket watch. Not only the dial has 24 hours, but the watch is a centesimal one, and the seconds hand will complete one revolution in 36 seconds, instead of 60. The minute dial is also divided in 100 parts, and "Hora Universal" (in Spanish) is writen on the dial.
Any clue on the use or intention of this watch? Any information on the maker? Help Wanted!

 
Posts: 3 | Location: Elda, Alicante in Spain | Registered: October 09, 2009
IHC Life Member
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Picture of Tom Brown
posted
Any chance of a photo of the movement, several of the pocket watches I have seen with that name are Swiss made movements.

Tom
 
Posts: 5107 | Location: New Mexico in the USA | Registered: January 27, 2007
posted
Donat Fer is the watch maker's name, and as Tom suggested, the watch was probably made in Switzerland. The dial is so interesting! The 24 hour dial itself is unusual, but the 36 second second hand is really interesting, at least to me. I've never before seen a dial graduated in decimal units like this. There may have been industrial applications where a decimal dial would have been very useful, or even required. Very cool watch, Ricardo!
Best,
Mike
 
Posts: 803 | Location: Knoxville, Tennessee in the USA | Registered: September 02, 2009
IHC Life Member
Site Moderator

Picture of Tom Brown
posted
Ricardo

I agree that is a very cool dial, I can't wait to see the movement.

I think you watch measures Deci-Time.

For example the photo of your watch looks like it should read about 1325 hours & 35 seconds, in deci-time that would be 13.42638888, which is basically what your dial shows, 13 on the hour hand, 42 on the minute hand & 63 on the second hand.

At least that is my guess, not that I even really understand deci-time.

Tom
 
Posts: 5107 | Location: New Mexico in the USA | Registered: January 27, 2007
posted
Hola Ricardo!

Welcome to the IHC 185

A very interesting pocket watch !

As Tom said the trace leads to switzerland. Watches with the 'Donat fer' signature are made in (La) Chaux-de-Fonds near Neuchâtel. I found a Mr. Donat Fer together with the names Tissot and Jeanhenry in 'La Liberte' Jan. 13. 1894. Very likely he was watchmaker.

Watches with decimal minutes and seconds are rare. They could have been used for the measurement of intervals in decimal of hours for easy calculations, eg. in laboratories or to calculate production time, output numbers or other time related numbers in industrial production. If you read the start and stop time in decimals you can calculate without the conversion of hours, minutes and seconds.

Hasta luego
Gerald
 
Posts: 742 | Location: Wertheim in Germany | Registered: February 21, 2009
posted
Many, many thaks to all for your interest and help. I'm posting now a picture of the movement. I didn't do it before because I don't see how to attach more than one picture at a time.
By looking here and there, both on books and on the Internet, and asking my watch makers friends, I came across a hystoric event that can have something to do with my watch.
After the (unsuccesful) French Revolution attempt to stablish a Decimal Calender in 1792, they made a new (less known) attempt some 100 years after, in 1897. The "Commission de Décimalisation du Temps", with the mathematician Henry Poincaré acting as a secretary, proposed a system retaining the 24 hour day, but dividing each hour into 100 decimal minutes, and each minute into 100 seconds, exactly as my watch does. The plan did not gain acceptance on the international community, and was again abandoned in 1900. This watch then, could have been one of a few "model" or "demonstrator" used by that Commission. It also would be consistent with the dial showing "Hora Universal".
Maybe my theory is a little crazy, What dou you think?
Many thanks again,
Ricardo.

 
Posts: 3 | Location: Elda, Alicante in Spain | Registered: October 09, 2009
posted
Well, Ricardo. One thing can be said, 1897-1905 for such a movement is quite reasonable: a pin set (and pin setting didn'y last too much after 1900 nor started too soon in 1800), lever escapement, 15j, stem wound, and I think bimetallic balance wheel with adjusting screws do fits in the picture. A really nice and interesting piece, compliments
 
Posts: 277 | Location: Cardano al Campo in Italy | Registered: March 29, 2008
posted
Congratulations Ricardo

I think you've got it!

Nice to see that even a low cost watch (I found the auction) could be a great find.

Just one link to decimal time

Regards,
Gerald
 
Posts: 742 | Location: Wertheim in Germany | Registered: February 21, 2009
posted
Ricardo

There is a person Alain Fer (La Chaux de Fonds); watchmaker since 1996; maybe he will help to find information about Donat Fer.

check 'alain-fer.com'

Gerald
 
Posts: 742 | Location: Wertheim in Germany | Registered: February 21, 2009
posted
Donat Fer:

born jan 30. 1836 Aubonne
died apr 16. 1912 La Chaux de Fonds

father Philippe Charles Louis Fer
mother Fanny Veuve

manufacturer of watches Chaux de Fonds
head of the assay office

made political career leading to 'member of the national council' (1893 - 1895); was accused of peculation and had to quit in 1895.

Gerald
 
Posts: 742 | Location: Wertheim in Germany | Registered: February 21, 2009
posted
Dear friends, many thanks to all of you for your help and interest, and in fact I'm a little shamed to have atracted so much attention.
I have sent a mail to Mr. Alain Fer and await response. If he is a descendant of Mr Donat Fer, I hope he will respond with some (interesting) information. At the same time I have checked "La Liberte" and found an article taken from L'Impartial (a newspaper fron La Chaux de Fonds), about Mr. Donat Fer having something to do with the import-export taxes aplied to watches coming from Switzerland into France, wich makes me think we are on the right track. Somebody else is making me a traslation of the article from the french languaje. Maybe my feeling of the watch being related to Poincaré and his "Commission de Decimalisation du Temps" is not that bad, but still we need evidences. I will keep you informed of any news regarding this interesting investigation.
Best regards,
Ricardo.
 
Posts: 3 | Location: Elda, Alicante in Spain | Registered: October 09, 2009
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