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Bessa is listed by Andeas at Mikrolisk as a TAG-Heuer brand, with an unconfirmed association with Monnin in France. Having finally got hold of a Bessa I thought I'd share the research I've done in case anyone is interested.

Ets G Monnin was founded in 1946 by Valéry & Gérald Monnin, somewhere in the Besançon area, and remained a family business producing top quality lathe turned, and later CNC produced, watch parts and cases for high end brands. Some time before 1981 Monnin changed it's structure, to become Monnin SARL, and then in 1989, under the control of Jean-Charles Monnin, Monnin Holdings SA. was founded, which ran side by side with the original Monnin SARL. in 2001 Monnin Holdings was taken over by a consortium of three Swiss watch concerns, Patek Phillipe, the Richemont Group, & Rolex. J-C Monnin retained control of Monnin SARL until 2004, at which time the two entities were merged to form Monnin SA, which is now based in a new facility in Sonzeboz. The Director of Special Projects of Monnin SA is one Jean-Charles Monnin, who, unfortunately, doesn't seem to answer emails.

Monnin had a good ongoing relationship with Heuer during the 60's and 70's, supplying them with parts and cases, until finally totally assembling models for Heuer. I'm no expert at all on vintage Heuers, but I do know Monnin produced the 844, and more than likely the 1614, 1611 & the 1589B. as well

Like some other case makers, for example Dennison, Monnin produced watches themselves, and perhaps their location in Besançon influenced the brand name, or maybe one of the Monnins was a keen photographer, and with Voigtlander having the Bessamatic camera range, Monnin had the Bessa Automatic, which is what we have here.



The case has some wear to the gold plating on the lugs, but as it seems to be a brass case the wear is virtually unseeable whe on the wrist.







The movement is tall, whatever it is, and the case back is a Bagobloc, with the normal disclaimer.



Powering the big beastie, (36mm inc the tiny crown), is this, as yet unidentified movement. You can see from the photos that the watch was rather less than pristine condition when it arrived, which was fairly obvious from the seller's photos. I don't mind cleaning and polishing, and dirty watches means poor photos, which helps to keep the prices down for watch scrooges like myself and one or two others I could mention. I've spent a few hours going through the good Dr Roland's site hunting for the movement, but without any joy so far. I posted the movement earlier, so, hopefully some brighter spark than me might know it.





I really like the patterning on the face, which has only just a tiny amount of patina, and the pygmy crown is good too.

All in all, to pinch a phrase from elsewhere,

I'm quite pleased.....
 

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Monnin may have assembled the Heuer 844 but the 1614, 1611 & the 1589 are French made Heuers... they are even dialed as such. Maybe they acted as the contractor but they would have had to have French production facilities to have actually made the French Heuers.

Heuer and now TAGHeuer never produced their own movements until last year (they bought patent rights from Seiko for a movement that used some expired Heuer patents and reworked it into a new chronograph they are building themselves in new facilities in Switzerland). And, as far as I can tell, they didn't do a whole lot of assembly either. I suspect many of the assemblieurs in Switzerland worked for Heuer at one point or another.

Nice find but, unlike Hartmut, I find textured dials can interfere with the ability to read the time with a quick glance. Some are better than others and you don't even notice the texturing. The zig-zag lines here show up.

You and Steve (marrick) are fighting it out for King Of Unknown Brands!! :-d
 

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John,

Another rare gem again; I have the visual of Hartmut with his tongue hanging out!

Interestingly, "Bessa" has always been a trademark of the photographic equipment maker Voigtländer; when base in Braunschweig the name was used for their folding rollfilm cameras, but now as Cosina produce the new Voigtländer cameras, it is used for pretty much all of them.
 

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Hi John.

I don't know if you're still looking for informations about this vintage watch.

My Father got a "Bessa" from his grand-father. And this watch is equipped with the same that you have in your Bessa.

I was looking for a lot of informations about my father's watch and I found this thread.
So it looks like Bessa is a french watch company which made Watches near Besançon (in le Doubs near Switzerland). "Bessa" could be the contraction of Besançon and SA (= Société Anonyme = Anonymous Company). And some Bessa diver Watches really look like Heuer's 844 made by Monnin SA. That's why i read that "Bessa" could be a Monnin's watch brand. But nothing is sure.

About the movement, we posted photos on a French thread. We had a few answers. Someone told us it could be a Lorsa P72 or P75 Oto. He is a former worker of the Company l'Horlogerie de Savoie.
Lorsa = HS = Horlogerie de Savoie was a French movement manufacturer in Annemasse next to Geneva (After that they became FEMGA). But the P75 does not looks like this movement. The P62 really looks like. And the P62 Oto seems to be the automatic version. But i did not found anything about this movement on the whole internet. I think I will look for informations about the Lorsa P Oto series because i live in Annecy, and i am near Annemasse.
But we think no longer or is a Lorsa P62. We think this is a Jeambrun 23D modified in an automatic Version. Yema, a French Watches manufacturer used this same movement on a watch during the 60's.

I Hope it helped.
 

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