Friday, September 5, 2008

Jacques du Manoir Pocket Watches

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi's one worldly possession was an Ingersoll ‘Turnip’ pocket watch, which he wore tied on a string around his waist, hidden between the folds of his dhoti. As he bent down or stopped, the watch would spring free to dangle to reflect the setting suns rays. This one sight has been recorded by many journalists and biographers

What better way to start something with mentioning about Mahatama Gandhi and that too with a thing that is least talked about among all about the Mahatama.

With this I want to share some horological advances that world has witnessed for past many centuries. The history of pocket watch probably started in late 1400s when an Italian clock maker offered a pocket clock to the Marchese di Manta. However, pocket watches first appeared in the market in the 15th century when locksmiths from Nuremberg, Germany started manufacturing portable timepieces.

Pocket watches were a norm till World War I and wrist watches were just making way for them. It was considered very girlish wearing wrist watches. But it was this period only when the officers on duty recognized the ease of wrist watches and slowly pocket watches become a thing of past.Today, pocket watches are still in use but more as decorative and antique items and signify refinement and elegance.

That said apart any sort of horology interests me to no end and I sat my eyes on a living piece of history during my regular window shopping of watches. It was The Great India Mall, Noida and I was ambling (read ogling) in the Swiss Junction outlet which offers Swiss Military watches, Wenger watches,Hanowa watches, Cover watches,AC Carbinor watches, apart from other imported Swiss Made items like caps,bags, swiss knives,toys, etc. Swiss Junction outlet is basically a part of Network India Ltd. which is a listed company in Bombay Stock Exchange.

I must say I like a lot of watches there especially chronograph steel banded watches with a lovely red plus sign. But the thing that caught my fancy most was no ordinary wrist watch. It was a gold plated brass made pocket watch from "Jacques du Manoir" sitting pretty in its box and looking magnificent inside the glass door.

After ogling long I suppressed my carnal desires and returned back. But being a self proclaimed watch aficionado I searched what "Jacques du Manoir" is all about. To my pity I couldn't find much about the brand itself as there was no official website for the brand. All I could find was that Jacques du Manoir is a well know brand of Swiss made Pocket Watches featuring genuine Swiss movement and solid brass cases.

I searched harder but to no avail. But as it is said no effort is wasted if you work it out earnestly and though I couldn't gather much information about the brand but got well acquainted about the history of horology especially Pocket Watches. Pocket watches are living pieces of history. So, I shed off my inhibitions one day and returned back to "The Swiss Junction" outlet. I enquired about the watch and the owner told me that Jacques du Manoir pocket watch will cost me Rs 3990/-. Being an Indian I asked about discount. No discount, he said. But a day earlier there was a scheme in which the company was offering 15% discount. A little bit of negotiation and he agreed to give me a back dated bill so as to avail discount. Agreed and I rushed to the ATM counter as I couldn't pay by card for availing discount and finally after spending Rs 3392/- I got to lay my hands on the prized "Jacques du Manoir" my first ever Pocket watch.

Jacques du Manoir is a brand of Bolux group based in Grandval (Suisse) Switzerland. It comes with 2 years of international warranty. The case is made up of solid brass with beautiful engravings. There is a latch which on pressing outwards opens up the shell. The opening movement itself is butter smooth.The dial is a white one with a regular 3 hand movement along with date. It is based on quartz technology (would have been better if it was a mechanical movement).Jacques du Manoir has also some wrist watches in their portfolio though they looked fairly simple but still very very elegant ones. I liked one wrist watch from their portfolio in particular with Roman numerals and the seconds hand was like as in a chronograph. I wished to buy that one too but I restricted myself to my first love that was Pocket watch (To be honest I didn't had enough dough to cough).

Most importantly it brings you to travel back into time. It reminds me of old Hindi cinema in which Pran dressed in a 3 piece suit smokes a cigar and then takes out his pocket watch out of the suit. More recently in the movie "Thoda Pyar Thoda Magic", Ajay Devegan has shown possessing a pocket watch.Horology amazes me to no end and Swiss people are master horologists. Time and again, they have been tested by Japanese and Americans but their reign is still unchallanged.

P.S:- In between Pocket watches has still left some practical use as they are used extensively in trafficking of rail roading. Another variant of pocket watches is Hospital Pocket watch. An indigenous Indian manufacturer HMT has one in its portfolio by the name of "Nightangle watch" as well as a full fledged "Pocket watch".


Ed Devin said...

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Ken Sims ( ) said...

I purchased a Jaques du Manoir pocket watch in Switzerland a limited edition only available from Jungfrau Top of Europe shop in 2014. On my return to New Zealand the winder mechanism sheared. The international guarantee proved to be useless as the agent for NZ no longer exists. I contacted J B Bolux through their website several times but received no reply as to possible repair agents.I recently returned from a trip to both Thailand and Philippines hoping to get it repaired there. The agents in both countries were no longer servicing the brand. I have come to the conclusion that the watches are manufactured in China and the guarantee is worthless. Take care if you purchase this brand. If anyone knows of a repair agant in their country I am willing to airmail the watch and pay for a new winder to be fitted.