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Hope that my English is good enough to be understood


1)

The West End Watch Co., a little known maison (at least in Italy) that was the first to mount the antichock on an industrial scale on their watches, was among the first to adopt the water-resistant cases FB as well as having significantly contributed to the spread of Swiss watchmaking in the Far East, has often given me pleasant surprises.


West End Watch told me that the watch has been manufactured in the late '30s, presumably at the turn of 1938 and 1939




I would like to be able to tell you something about Mr. ARL Baker, Irish in Belfast




Under the caseback, I found a little surprise




So Mr. Baker was an Official of the 'Indian Civil Service in the early '40s and I went straight to requests for information both to London and India, but despite several reminders, I got only silence ..........

It remains, however, the consolation of having a discrete movement (based FHF 30)....



....
and a watch with a little of history



It is not a precious watch, but of those that I like.


2)

This is a watch that, at least initially, appeared an anomalous one to me.






Logo absent and not gone for external agents.



The movement, and so far nothing in particular, is the classic Longines 10.68Z with blued screws.




The case begins instead to be outside of the usual canons




The most that leaved me puzzled was the dial on which stood the absence of the Longines logo.

Seized from the doubt that it was an assemblage, I contacted Longines

"Dear Mr. Xxxxxx,
Thank you for your e-mail as well as for your interest in LONGINES watches.
#serial number 6’618’295, Wristwatch in steel with leather band. It has a movement caliber 10.68Z
It was invoiced to Messrs West End Watch, at that time our agents for the India, on 05.02.1944.
It is possible that the case was changed by our agent.
You can consider this watch as a original LONGINES watch.
We hope this information is convenient to you, we remain on your disposal and send you our best regards,

Frédéric Donzé
Documentaliste"

West End Watch was then allowed to mount Longines movements in other cases.

I therefore turned to the West End

"Dear Mr Xxxxxx,
Thanks for your message and interest in our West End Watches.

Before West End Watch was purchasing watches bearing its brand name from several historical brands (such as Longines, Cyma, Tissot, Mido, Omega, IWC, Aubry, etc.) West End was the only brand for which Longines was producing watches without the Longines name on dial and case. The West End Watch Co. had started in Bombay. The founder was Mr Droz, whose family company was located in St-Imier and they were neighbours with Longines. West End was also the agent for Longines in India until the late 1950s when the market was closed for the importation of Swiss watches.
The West End Watch Co. was taken over in 1973 and offices moved from Geneva to Le Noirmont (Jura). Then, again, in 2001, the company was taken over and moved from Le Noirmont to the present place Leytron (Vallese). Not all archives have followed over the decades, not speaking about the offices in India which were closed down in the 1950s and 2000 for the last one.
However, the date you mentionate is absolutely realistic; Longines has supplied West End until the 1950s.
Regarding Borgel cases, see the very interesting article under The history of François Borgel, Louisa Borgel and the Taubert family - watch case makers of Geneva, Switzerland
We remain at your entire disposal for further information
With best regards from Canton Vallese (not far away from Milano!).
WE/J. Monnat Jr - CEO"

I learned something really interesting about the relationship between Longines and the West End Watch Co, as well as between West End and Borgel.

3)

Here the "anomaly" is repeated in this watch: a West End-Multifort




Caseback marked WEW and properly coupled with the case




The movement, the classic Mido1941 based on AS, is marked WEW




Let’s compare this watch with a “classic” Mido; case and dial (except for the different spheres and finishing) are the same




Casebacks and serial numbers have the same style





The watch has been manufactured by Mido and it is registered in their archives


“Dear Mr. Xxxxxx,
We thank you for your request and for your interest in Mido watches.
All we can say about this watch is that the year of manufacture is 1942.
We stay at your disposal for any other information.
Best Regards

MIDO SA
Delphine Huot”

What does West End Watch say about this watch? Here is an excerpt of the correspondence with.

“…West End has been the agent of several brands for the Indian market. Longines, of course, was the most significant one. But West End has also been the agent of Mido from 1938 to 1951, when the Indian market was closed to importations after the independence. I have read it in the history of the brand - written by the late Mr. Foex, who has been director from 1920 to 1973! - that West End has sold several thousand (if I remember about 5,000) such automatic WE-Multifort in India, but they were suffering of weaknesses with the automatic system…
…After a few years, the owner of Mido, Mr. Schaeren, has wished to fly by his own wings on the Indian market. Mr. Foex writes that Mr. Schaeren could not sell a single watch on the Indian market without the West End support…
…I have checked in the old files and as far as we could understand, the watches were 100% supplied to West End. It means they were produced with the West End marks by Mido...”.

This is an other important testimony on how the Swiss watches has been marketed in India by West End Watch Co.




Now a touch of color, all three watches bear on the caseback the owner's name and both the Sowan and Mido come from Belfast.





 

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If I may add a lil bit.....the watch model is "Sowar" and not "Sowan". Sowar is an Urdu/Hindi/Hindustani word which means "Rider"..... in general, and mostly refers to a horse rider in the Military.


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Nice pcture. Lawrence was based in the small seaside town that I now live in for a few years. From Wikipedia:

He continued serving in the RAF based at Bridlington, East Riding of Yorkshire, specialising in high-speed boats and professing happiness, and it was with considerable regret that he left the service at the end of his enlistment in March 1935.

Anyway - this thread has the best collection of West End watches that I've ever seen. Its a pity that so many others have been 'restored' so badly as to be grotesque. I'll get a nice one some day.
 
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ahhh bridlington always go here a few times a year, but stay at flamborough these are my fav places. Great post bubba and loving your collection.
 

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Great thread with lots of good info. especially for those who my myself love west end vintage watches.
I own several and have two very similar to those in the original post.
Here they are. Longines inside a west end case and dial is always a great surprise!
Both were also issued for the CS in India.
Cheers! dial.jpg movement.jpg dial.jpg movement.jpg
 

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Hi Mr. Xxxxxxx!

Thanx for an interesting lesson in WEWCo and for sharing some pics of these three beauties. I really enjoyed it.
 

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They are truly very interesting watches. Can you tell me what has happened to there website? Can't seem to log on to it from watchuseek?
 

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Truly the best bit of information I found on the web West End watches. I particularly liked the part on "Mido on their own wings" :)

I'm currently working on a feature on my little collection of black-faced West End Watches:

I'm particularly fond of this one:

View attachment 1018420

It has the 'classic' case and the lume in its hands has deteriorated to a jade-like look I like particularly well. The black dial and red second hand gives it some 'military' appeal - I simply love it.

The second one picks up the "Datejust" look particularly well liked in the 1970s to 1990s:

View attachment 1018425

Its ETA 2824 movement runs nicely and the lume still does its job. The DJ case makes it look pretty small, though.

The crown jewel in my WEW-collection is this day-date with an ETA 2789:

View attachment 1018428

I know they are nowhere near the vintage presented in the previous postings, but I think West End did a marvellous job in combining the spirit of their history with modern watch technology. That's truly what they call "tradition".

Thanks for this thread!
 

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The movement looks in good shape so it probably needs a good service. I have a couple of these and they usually carry the indian civil service letters CS(I).
Great watch!

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