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The Illinois Watch Co. used some very fancy dials on some of their dress watches. This dial is on a 12-size grade 439. The silver dial is finely engraved and has inlaid enamel numbers and linework. It is marked on the back by Stern Freres (Swiss) who I am told also made dials for Patek-Philippe. The 18K case isn't bad either, with white and black enamel details. The movement is a 21-jewel Extra-Thin 1st model. Most of these 1st model extra-thin watches (17j grade 435, 19j grade 437, and 21j grades 438 and 439) came in elegant cases and were very high quality. Frustratingly, I have not been able to find any period literature or advertising about these watches, which were marketed for only a brief time before being superceded by later models. These 1st model extra-thin Illinois are one of my pet research projects, and I would appreciate hearing about any other examples, in any of the grades.
This is another silver Stern Freres dial for a standard 12-size Illinois model. It is hand-chased and also has enamel-filled numbers and linework. I found it as a loose, unused dial and put it on a grade 410 movement that needed a good dial.
|IHC Life Member
Wow Jerry, nice dials. I'm especially fond of the second one as I too have a nice 410 that would benefit from a spiffy dial. Were these dials contracted by Illinois, or was this some enterprising aftermarket maker that saw a niche?
IHC Member 25
IHC Life Member (L6)
Larry, I really don't know the answer to your question. I have seen many Illinois dress watches with fancy dials that do not have any name on the dial at all -- most of these are factory-cased and all original. I think my carved dial may be from the same era. I acquired it about 30 years ago in a small group of new-old-stock dials from a retired watchmaker. Most (if not all) of these dials were factory dials and not aftermarket items. I am attaching here a picture of the grade 410. This is the scarcer 3rd model with the jeweled barrel rather than the motor barrel with the visible jewel in the winding wheel.
Also, for those curious about the grade 439 movement --
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