Not your average RR Watch

Did you come by your watch in an interesting way? Does your watch come with a story? Provenance adds value ... and interest too. Tell your watch provenance story here.

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Not your average RR Watch

New postby mlaing » Fri Aug 07, 2009 8:06 am

This story starts with my Grandfather (Peter), a Greek national, who came to Australia as a young teenager around 1900. He had two brothers, one who went to the States to live and the other who disappeared elsewhere around the same time. Peter was nationalised in 1913, joined the Australian Military Forces in 1914 and fought in France during WWI. Whilst in France fighting he was introduced to some fellow Greek soldiers. One was an officer from the French Foreign Legion brought from Algeria to fight on the Western Front. This officer turned out to be his brother, the one that disappeared back around 1900. They spent the night drinking and catching up and then after that night, never saw each other again. The watch featured here is reputed to have been brought back from the First World War by my Grandfather and after finding out that its origins was from North Africa suspected that it may have been given to him by his Foreign Legion Brother. I think the watch fits the period but the connection is tenuous and assumption only.

Now the watch. The case is nickel or nickel-silver and 50mm in diameter. It has a 19th century locomotive heavily embossed on the front of the case with Ethiopian writing above and below the loco. I had it translated and was told it read as follows....above the loco reads "Franco-Ethiopian" and below reads "Railway or Rail Link". On the back, again heavily embossed are the initials CFE which I assume stands for "Chemins de Fer Ethiopiens" or Ethiopian Railways. On the dial we have "Chronometre" and below that "Panthere" which I assume is the maker's name. The rear inner cover has, in French, "Montre de Precision - Ancre 15 Rubis - Levees Visibles - Spiral Breguet" even though the movement doesn't look one of particular quality or precision - and certainly not a chronometer of a RR standard. I'm guessing that this watch may have been presented to a dignitary or to a staff member but not used by station personal.

I would appreciate any information or feedback on this or any similar watch (even if it contradicts our family history). I hope I haven't bored you too much and I apologise for my very average photographs.


Front of case
Rear of case
inner back.jpg
Inner rear case
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Re: Not your average RR Watch

New postby Irwin » Sat Aug 08, 2009 2:36 pm

Chris - Welcome to the forum.
Your watch, with that story, is crying out for verification of its origin, where it came from and who gave it to whom.
I travel quite a bit in Ethiopia and I don't recollect having seen a railroad line anywhere. I am not sure there is one, but I'll check it out with Ethiopian colleagues and get back to you.
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Re: Not your average RR Watch

New postby 4thdimension » Sat Aug 08, 2009 3:21 pm

In Kathleen Pritchard's book on Swiss Watch Makers she listed a reference to a 1923 listing for Victor Bloch Manufacture D'Horology Panthère . Prior to that (early teens) Bloch was listed with a partner as Froidevaux,St & Bloch Fabriqúe Panthere. Both listings have addresses in Porrentray Switzerland.

I googled Etheopian railroad and got plenty of hits. Construction began in 1894 and was called "CFE".
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Re: Not your average RR Watch

New postby Charlie Sides » Tue Aug 11, 2009 2:35 am

Great story Chris. Thanks for sharing the family history.
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