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Hello,
I am new here so let me present myself a little bit: My name is Cornel, I am 40 years old and I just love old pocket watches. I do not have a collection but hope to start one. The reason for this post is to ask for help in finding more info about this pocket watch I have from my uncle. It has an enamel dial with roman numerals, at 12 under a floral decoration it is written:

A.S.T.
Medjidie
Constantinople

The movement has an oval cartouche with DIOGENE inscription and 233103 serial written under the dial. Unfortunately as you can see is in very bad shape.
I've search the net and all I can find is that it might be a trade mark for Zenith watches and the only similar looking pocket watches were made for Turkish market under K. Serkisoff & Co. name with Billodes movement.

If anyone can give me more info it would be very nice, especially about A.S.T. Also if someone has something similar I would like to see a photo with it. I am thinking to repair it and I want to have an idea of how it looked (especially the hands, I remember they were beautifully cut but it was a long time ago - more than 25 years - and I may be mistaken)

Thank you very much.
 

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Hi,
I know nothing of the history or the makers of this watch,
if it is attached somehow to Zenith then there are members
here who will know.

Finding suitable hands for this watch would be the easy
part.
Looking at the movement, it is in a very poor state.

Obviously messed with, screws missing, mangled balance spring
and goodness knows what else.
It is a low quality, low jewelled cylinder movement and although
any watch can be repaired you might find it difficult to find a watchmaker
prepared to take this on, the mangled hairspring alone is a very expensive
repair.
Sorry to be so blunt.

On the bright side it has a nice Niello case and if you are not to concerned
about originality then your watchmaker might be able to find another movement
for you.
 

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In the old days, a Swiss company had to be named after its owner. So, when a certain george Favre-Jacot founded his company in 1865, he had to name it George Favre-Jacot. Several watchmakers got round this marketing drawback by selling under brand names. GFJ had "Billodes" (after the Rue de Billodes, where the company is located in Le Locle), "Defi" and "Diogene". Later on, he introduced another line which became so successful that in 1911, the company was named after it: Zenith. Your watch is therefore a genuine Zenith watch from before the days when the company was called that.

The movement is a Diogene Cal. 18'''-111. It is a cylinder escapement movement but one of moderate quality. It was made explicitly for export to the oriental market. "Medjidie" is possibly the name of the jewellers/watch store where the watch was sold (as is the case for "Serkisoff" in those watches marked that way). The looks of the watch suggest a date between 1870 and 1890 but the Zenith calibre lists show that this movement was used right until 1905. The exact silver hallmarks on the case should be able to date it more accurately.

I am not sure how much this watch would cost to repair. It is not the best Zenith watch I have seen (although Zenith was known for the very high quality of its overall production - so that this is a relative assessment) but a hairspring ought not to be that difficult to replace (you would want one for a balance and calibre of that size which would require a modern pocket watch spring). Screws are somewhat more difficult. Send it to Zenith and ask them for an asessment.

Hartmut Richter
 

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Great info Hartmut, I guessed you would know this watches origin.

I'm surprised that you think that re-springing a watch is not so difficult...
less so than replacing a few screws even and was wondering if you have ever
had an antique watch re-sprung.
Zenith could repair this watch, no doubt.
 

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My watchmaker had me look up this link A Day in Watch School Part 6: Hairsprings when I stated that a movement from a watch I had purchased was unrepairable. After he explained why it was repairable, he then agreed that replacing the movement with a 15 jewel Waltham model 1900, I had found, was preferable. The problem with replacing hairsprings is that very few people do it enough to be proficient. I would suspect that Zenith would have someone that is.
 

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Replacing a hairspring requires the right equipment and training, but few watchmakers will tackle such a job simply because it's time consuming and will easily cost many times the value of most watches. Obviously there are exceptions to this. First off, no one makes the blue hairsprings anymore, nor even the material they were made of. Then the new spring must be cut and pinned to the collet, vibrated to find the pinning point, and then pinned to the stud, checked, adjusted and installed. The link above tells the story beautifully, thanks to nsmike for posting it.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
In the old days, a Swiss company had to be named after its owner. So, when a certain george Favre-Jacot founded his company in 1865, he had to name it George Favre-Jacot. Several watchmakers got round this marketing drawback by selling under brand names. GFJ had "Billodes" (after the Rue de Billodes, where the company is located in Le Locle), "Defi" and "Diogene". Later on, he introduced another line which became so successful that in 1911, the company was named after it: Zenith. Your watch is therefore a genuine Zenith watch from before the days when the company was called that.

The movement is a Diogene Cal. 18'''-111. It is a cylinder escapement movement but one of moderate quality. It was made explicitly for export to the oriental market. "Medjidie" is possibly the name of the jewellers/watch store where the watch was sold (as is the case for "Serkisoff" in those watches marked that way). The looks of the watch suggest a date between 1870 and 1890 but the Zenith calibre lists show that this movement was used right until 1905. The exact silver hallmarks on the case should be able to date it more accurately.

I am not sure how much this watch would cost to repair. It is not the best Zenith watch I have seen (although Zenith was known for the very high quality of its overall production - so that this is a relative assessment) but a hairspring ought not to be that difficult to replace (you would want one for a balance and calibre of that size which would require a modern pocket watch spring). Screws are somewhat more difficult. Send it to Zenith and ask them for an asessment.

Hartmut Richter
Thanks Hartmut,
Your info completes what I already knew about GFJ and Zenith (most of it from you posts :)) . However Medjidie I think refers to a Knightly order. Here is what I found on Wikipedia:

Medjidie or Mejidie (Turkish: Mecidiye) is the name of a military and knightly order of the Ottoman Empire, and also of a gold or silver Turkish coin, worth twenty piastres. The coin was first struck in 1844, and was widely circulated in Saudi Arabia. The Order was instituted in 1851 by Sultan Abdülmecid I.


Could be a gift similar to those given to retiring railroads workers?


I would really like to have it repaired and an email to Zenith seems a very good idea. I thought of this too but I was unable to find an email address on internet. Could you help me please?


Thank you.
 

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Thanks Hartmut,
Your info completes what I already knew about GFJ and Zenith (most of it from you posts :)) . However Medjidie I think refers to a Knightly order. Here is what I found on Wikipedia:

Medjidie or Mejidie (Turkish: Mecidiye) is the name of a military and knightly order of the Ottoman Empire, and also of a gold or silver Turkish coin, worth twenty piastres. The coin was first struck in 1844, and was widely circulated in Saudi Arabia. The Order was instituted in 1851 by Sultan Abdülmecid I.


Could be a gift similar to those given to retiring railroads workers?


I would really like to have it repaired and an email to Zenith seems a very good idea. I thought of this too but I was unable to find an email address on internet. Could you help me please?


Thank you.
The address is: 2400 Le Locle, Rue de Billodes 34-36, Switzerland. You had probably better try [email protected].

I am still reasonably certain that "Medjidie" is the name of a person or watch store that dealt with the watch. This is the case with most of the "Turkish watches" like the K. Serkisoff. Dedications are more frequently seen on the case back.

As for the hairpspring, what is generally stated here is correct. It is almost always possible but always very difficult to replace a hairspring. What I meant in my reference to the hairpsring and screws is more finding the parts. It is easy to get a new hairspring of the right size as long as there are new movements of that size, at the same time, it is hellishly difficult to install them. On the other hand, finding screws of the right size, thread, etc. is rather more difficult - but installing them is a piece of cake if you have the right sized screwdriver!:-d

Good luck!

Hartmut Richter
 
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