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This vintage group provided me with some great historical research on my Grandfather’s WWI trench watch. I was wondering if anyone on this page might be able to help me with some information about another watch that belonged to my Grandfather that I’m guessing might be linked to his WWII service or possibly bought after the war. The watch is lablelled “Alb. Grossenbacher” on the back with 46 7001.

A google search indicates that Optima, "founded in 1923 at Bienne, made high quality watches with automatic movements from Albert GROSSENBACHER. All pieces was made in-house and strictly controlled to keep this swiss made quality. After the first world war OPTIMA went to USA and back to Germany. At this time, OPTIMA watches were rare due to inactivity of the manufacture.”

I also found that "the movements (notably in their “Davida” line) were made made by Alb(ert) Grossenbacher, Manufacture d’Horlogerie, Grenchen, Swiss; a small respectable Swiss firm; they made movements or wristwatches for the US Army."

The watch is a 32mm case and 16mm bracelet. It seems to run perfectly. I have not opened the back and am looking for someone who might be able to service the watch as I doubt it has been opened in decades.

Thanks in advance for any information this group might have.

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I decided to open the case. It says seventeen jewels and Alb Grossenbacher. Happily ticking away and keeping good time.

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The movement is by Felsa, possibly a 365 or 366. You don't state your location, but any competent independent watchmaker in your area should be able to service it. Do not take it to a jewellery shop or a mall heel bar 'cum' battery changer outfit.

Nice watch, and the movement shouldn't need much more than a clean and oil by the sounds of it.

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Nice bracelet on it also
 

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The movement is by Felsa, possibly a 365 or 366. You don't state your location, but any competent independent watchmaker in your area should be able to service it. Do not take it to a jewellery shop or a mall heel bar 'cum' battery changer outfit.

Nice watch, and the movement shouldn't need much more than a clean and oil by the sounds of it.

Regards.
Thank you Balaton, is there a way to date the movement?
 

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This is an Optima watch. They had been active and around since the end of WWI (1918). In the year 1930, Albrecht Grossenbacher had acquired the company, following a crisis of Optima. Since then, the movements have been signed 'Alb. Grossenbacher' (Albrecht Grossenbacher), but also still Optima.

Optima had been seen at the watch fair in Basle, Switzerland in the years 1936 until 1960. After that, no more activities of the company are known. Your watch must therefore be pre 1960. It is of course much older (see more below).

The brand name had been revived in 1981 by a German owner, parallel to that, the name had been used in India, which created some confusion.

In the years 2004, the brand name came back under the flag of the Riba group, selling the watches mainly in the Near East, advertising under 'Optima, Swiss watches since 1923', which is not correct, as it is 5 years older, but this is just the use of a brand name without an historical relationship.

If the movement, as already mentioned, is a Felsa 365 or 366, then the age can be put into the 1940s already under this aspect, but the 1940s would have also been my guess looking at the dial etc.

The hands and the numbers are richly lumed with luminescent paint containing radium. Be careful with that, the glow is long gone but the radium is still there for a few thousand years. Radium – or better the radium isotope 226 as the activator has a half life of 1612 years, so very little is gone since the 1940s (only about 2.5%).

Nice watch by the way and a genuine Optima from the years when the original company was still around.
 

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This is an Optima watch. They had been active and around since the end of WWI (1918). In the year 1930, Albrecht Grossenbacher had acquired the company, following a crisis of Optima. Since then, the movements have been signed 'Alb. Grossenbacher' (Albrecht Grossenbacher), but also still Optima.

Optima had been seen at the watch fair in Basle, Switzerland in the years 1936 until 1960. After that, no more activities of the company are known. Your watch must therefore be pre 1960. It is of course much older (see more below).

The brand name had been revived in 1981 by a German owner, parallel to that, the name had been used in India, which created some confusion.

In the years 2004, the brand name came back under the flag of the Riba group, selling the watches mainly in the Near East, advertising under 'Optima, Swiss watches since 1923', which is not correct, as it is 5 years older, but this is just the use of a brand name without an historical relationship.

If the movement, as already mentioned, is a Felsa 365 or 366, then the age can be put into the 1940s already under this aspect, but the 1940s would have also been my guess looking at the dial etc.

The hands and the numbers are richly lumed with luminescent paint containing radium. Be careful with that, the glow is long gone but the radium is still there for a few thousand years. Radium – or better the radium isotope 226 as the activator has a half life of 1612 years, so very little is gone since the 1940s (only about 2.5%).

Nice watch by the way and a genuine Optima from the years when the original company was still around.
Thank you very much for the historical information.

Thanks also for the info on the radium. I actually tested the lume - nothing. I will do a bit of research but is there actually much risk? Radiant is good, radiated not so much.

Cheers, D
 

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Thank you very much for the historical information.

Thanks also for the info on the radium. I actually tested the lume - nothing. I will do a bit of research but is there actually much risk? Radiant is good, radiated not so much.

Cheers, D
Answered my own question - I'm glad I chose this as my first watch to open up:

"One study by the Public Health Service many years ago found that a person who wears a radium watch for 24 hours a day over the course of a year could conceivably be exposed to 65 to 130 millirems of radiation.

By way of comparison, the average person is exposed to about 300 millirems of background radiation in a typical year, and a single chest X-ray exposes a patient to about 5 to 10 millirems of radiation.

That means a person who owns a radium watch (and presumably isn't wearing it 24 hours a day), has little to worry about, said Dr. M. Donald Blaufox, the chairman of the department of nuclear medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx. A radium watch becomes hazardous only when someone opens one and tinkers with the dials, inhaling radioactive dust particles."
 
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