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Object Record

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Object Name Watch, Pocket
Catalog Number 1997.20
Collection Watch
Other Name Hermetic Watch
Date c. 1960
Description Brief description: Rectangular electroplated case covered with a black leather skin. Winding is achieved by the opening and closing of the case. Detached lever hermetic (purse) watch.
Square white metal dial with gold batons, no seconds, calendar at 3 o'clock, mounted in a steel case; the time and calendar are revealed by pulling each side apart. Marked MOVADO, SWISS.
Crown at "12" on dial also winds, sets hands, and date.
Producer name: Movado Watch Co.
Production date: Circa 1960
Made in: Europe, Switzerland
Dimensions: 40 by 10 millimeters (case)
Movement: MOVADO
Case (inside):

Curator's comments:
Movado means "always in motion."
This style of watch, launched in 1926 by Movado, was called the "Ermeto," which comes from the Greek for "sealed" (against the ingress of dust and water).

The Ermeto is contained in a rectangular case. The movement capsule, composed of movement, dial, winding, and hand-setting mechanism, forms an autonomous unit that is enclosed by a two-part metal case, like curtains, to reveal the dial. Of course, this requires two hands. When the two halves of the outer case are closed, the movement capsule is protected.

The Ermeto was developed by Huguenin Freres, Le Locle, and patented in Germany on October 12, 1926, German patent number 443,555. The English patent No. 278,669 of October 11, 1926, details the construction and performance of the watchcase made in two halves, which closed to seal the watch.
Huguenin offered his idea for production to numerous watch manufacturers but only Movado took it up and launched the Ermeto on the market with a lavish advertising campaign in 1926.

Originally, the Ermeto was manually wound only from the crown at 12 o'clock; by about 1927 the modification to include a winding mechanism that was operated by the opening and closing of the case was very clever and reliable. As the two halves of the outer metal case are moved back and forth, two racks, one fitted in each half, engage a pinion on the winding stem and cause the latter to turn. Because the mechanism is completely enclosed, the winding crown, as if by magic, turns by itself. A single opening of the case provides sufficient winding of the mainspring to run for four hours; therefore, if the case is opened six times, the watch will run for 24 hours.

The German patent for the rack winding was issued to Movado on February 29, 1928, the equivalent Swiss Patent No. 127,820 on October 1, 1928, and the English Patent No. 296,721 on September 6, 1927. (See NAWCC vertical files "HERMETIC.")

This "Ermeto Calendine" was launched in 1960s as an "homage" piece to the original design. It is fitted with a 17-jewel caliber 155 movement.

For more information, see The Movado History by Fritz von Osterhausen, pages 74-89.
(See also NAWCC object ID: 86.37.3, 2007.5.2, 2007.5.3, 2007.5.4, 2007.5.5, F553.99.)

There were four different sizes of Ermeto: the largest was called the "Pullman," then the "Master," then the "Normal," and finally "Baby."

Hermetic, from the French word hermetique, means sealed.
This style of watch, also known as the purse watch, was introduced in the mid-1920s. These hermetic/purse watches were enclosed in a protective case (shell). Although total numbers produced were small, many styles and innovative methods of opening the cases exist.
They are now regarded as both timepieces and art objects. The watch movement is usually Swiss made.
The hermetic was developed to create a completely sealed watch that could be carried anywhere in a pocket, purse, or handbag. The movement and dial were contained within the two halves of the case, which were pulled apart to reveal the watch. One disadvantage of the early versions was that they required both hands to open and close it.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: The Movado History by Fritz von Osterhausen
Maker Movado Watch Company
Place of Origin Grenchen, Switzerland
Notes ²²²²²²²²²²²²²p. 275-299
Serial Number(s) none