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Opinions on this "triple signed" chronograph with a Cal. 285 - Lecoultre, Cartier and Universal

  1. Carlton-Browne Jul 24, 2014

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    There's been a modest discussion on the Irish watch boards.ie recently and I'd be interested in people's opinions here - I have no connection to the seller, who is operating on behalf of her elderly father, but I'm curious about the way that he seems to have spent quite a number of years attempting to gather as much information and provenance for the watch as he possibly could. Possibly not entirely without interest as to its' commercial value but apparently painstaking, nonetheless. The watch has Cartier on the dial, LeCoultre on the caseback and is equipped with a Universal Geneve cal 285.

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    It's been sent off to Cartier and, having spotted that a rather small online sales portal in a small country is perhaps not an ideal shop window, the owner is now talking to some of the major auction houses. I suspect that the price that they're aspiring to is somewhat optimistic and probably most of us here would prefer a watch with UG engraved in all three places - I have no idea whether the triple origins make it more attractive or less so I'd be interested in people's opinions here. Here's a link to the forum thread on boards.ie.

    http://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=2057224867
     
  2. dsio Ash @ ΩF Staff Member Jul 24, 2014

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    A Cartier Universal Geneve LeCoultre? definitely interesting
     
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  3. woodwkr2 Jul 24, 2014

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    It is well documented that Universal produced watches for third parties like Vacheron, Girard-Perregaux, Eberhard, Zenith, and Jaeger. In the movement picture presented above, the 285 calibre contains a very distinctive modification to the bridge, which is consistent with known Jaeger examples produced by Universal.

    A similar "Cartier" example has also been discussed previously in the forums, with some skepticism. Here.

    The problems that I have with this watch are the following:

    1) There are well known co-signed dials, the most famous being signed by Hermes. However, I have never seen a legitimate Cartier co-signed dial on a Universal, period. Nor have I seen any period advertising featuring a Universal watch, as exists for the Hermes examples. Doesn't mean it couldn't have happened, but I'm extremely skeptical. And given the premium that collectors place on the Hermes co-signed pieces, there would certainly be incentive to 'manufacture' such a co-signed dial. (See also, this).

    2) Universal produced pieces for Jaeger, who's watches were imported into the United States under the LeCoultre brand. This is problematic because a Cartier co-signed dial (if such thing ever existed) would have likely been sold in Paris... so why would it have an American LeCoultre brand? If such a Cartier co-signed dial existed--on such an incredulous triple-signed watch--it would have been European, and therefore signed Jaeger.

    3) The supposed 24 hour scale in red ink on the dial is very crudely done. Universal did also produce military versions of their chronographs, but none have a scale like that.

    In my opinion, this was a LeCoultre branded calibre 285 watch produced by Universal Geneve and imported for sale in the United States. At some point in its history someone decided to try to 'spruce up the value' of an otherwise very tired looking dial by adding crude 24 hour markings and the Cartier signature.

    As to the auction houses who are supposedly evaluating it, their opinion regarding its authenticity means very little amongst knowledgable collectors. It would be neither the first nor last time that they peddled watches with very questionable provence or downright fakes.
     
  4. gatorcpa ΩF InvestiGator Staff Member Jul 24, 2014

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    I have to agree with Woodwkr2. The only way to determine provenance would be to get a sales record from Cartier, for which they will charge $1,000.

    The JLC letter means little, since they may have sold the watch to Cartier. The pictures are so small I can't read the notations anyway.

    Otherwise, it gets the fish-eye from me.
    gatorcpa
     
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  5. ulackfocus Jul 24, 2014

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    A UniCartoultre, eh? Or is it a Jaegevetier?
     
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  6. Carlton-Browne Jul 25, 2014

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    Many thanks - I've updated the original thread and included a link to here.
     
  7. Waynepjr Jul 25, 2014

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    I know this to be fact. ANYTHING with Cartier's name has a serial number, no matter the age. I went through this with when my mother's Cartier diamond necklace from 1968 lost the clasp. And that was were the serial number was!! Think your going to walk in to Cartier and say put on another clasp for me, ain't going to happen!
    My mom, who was married to one of the VP's of advertising of Tropicana at the time, has several Cartier pieces and luckily for her she still has all the boxes and sales receipts from Cartier NYC. That helped, but since all those records are on, get this, microfilm, off it went to New York and still took 4 months to confirm before they would touch it.
    Bottom line, they don't believe it is real unless THEY can prove it. Been there, done that. Cartier will be more than happy to tell you this, give them a call. 1-800-227-8437

    Wayne
     
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  8. woodwkr2 Jul 25, 2014

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    I sure hope one of these "Cartier" owners will pony up.

    It would be fascinating to have some documentary proof, and the price of admission may be offset in the eventual sale should things check out.
     
  9. Waynepjr Jul 25, 2014

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    I totally agree and the record will never be straight on this until someone does. I doubt seriously if Cartier has one of these laying around so it will take a private individual to do so. If it were to more back legit, I have a nice a feel it would be an investment worth the entry fee.

    Wayne
     
  10. cookiepusher Jan 7, 2015

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    just found this discussion.

    there is everything you can imagine: pateks, omegas, or acutrons made by/for cartier. schwab, luxor, ...! every quality manufacturer worked for the king of jewelers. some were branded later, some produced for cartier.
    i have two of this cartier chronos. both with the vxn 285 movment. one is signed OVP instead of vxn and the 285 is missing. bridge unsigned, no "made in" present. nothing! completely unbranded movement by jäger lecoultre.

    the military steel watch is a 1938/39 if i remember right. it is marked inside the back lecoultre and two rows of numbers.
    the gold chrono is newer and inside only gold stamps, etc. cartier inc. engraved (may be later - after polisihing away that number on back).

    both watches had personal engravings on the back. on the steel it is pesent. on the gold one the engraving was removed -
    and the number stamped on the caseback too. clearly to see where both was - but who needs a number ??!!

    both of my chronos carry a number on a lug. that is the cartier register number. even without any other number they can
    find out a lot about this item.
    there was watches with three stamped lugs (i own a cartier by piaget) that has a unsigned case too - and
    has this three digit groups. or a omega that is stamped on two lugs. have much more of this branded cartier watches - more than 20 pieces. i collect them for decades! on my pic i put the red outline to the place where the number is stamped.

    the problem is always that great jewelers or goldsmiths buff and polish that tiniy numbers out. they look a little bit like
    scratches from removing the strap (as it looks if theses professionals do strap changes with teeth and hammer) - watchlovers will care about their watches and do not scratch lugs or cases !

    your pictures does not show the lug clearly. the number should be right top or left bottom - see picture attached. if nothing present the chance it is true is very smal. this double branded watches were usual in the 60ties and early 70ties. the military chronos were made in the 30ties and 40ties. my gold chrono is from 52 on. don´t know exactly.
     
    chronoback.jpg
  11. cookiepusher Jan 7, 2015

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    sorry forgott: the watch carries a wrong signature. the 30/40ties chronos had the capital signature. not the script.
     
  12. Modest_Proposal Trying too hard to be one of the cool kids Jan 7, 2015

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    This is a well thought out and excellent case. I enjoyed reading it.
     
  13. cookiepusher Feb 25, 2015

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    1) There are well known co-signed dials, the most famous being signed by Hermes. However, I have never seen a legitimate Cartier co-signed dial on a Universal, period. Nor have I seen any period advertising featuring a Universal watch, as exists for the Hermes examples. Doesn't mean it couldn't have happened, but I'm extremely skeptical. And given the premium that collectors place on the Hermes co-signed pieces, there would certainly be incentive to 'manufacture' such a co-signed dial. (See also, this).

    i attached a picture of a 196xties cartier catalogue. made for cartier new york. as you can see they printed their signature on lots
    of different brands. including iwc, patek, universal, eterna, piaget, etc.
     
    uvcaart1.jpg uvcart2.jpg
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  14. eustace Feb 25, 2015

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    I wonder how long it will be until we start seeing inexpensive Unisonics stamped with Cartier on eBay...
     
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  15. gatorcpa ΩF InvestiGator Staff Member Feb 25, 2015

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    Tomorrow.

    Which is why IMO, the extra value in these co-branded dials is zero unless accompanied by documentation from the retailer in question.

    Not necessarily. Cartier NYC sold many US cased LeCoultre watches, some dual branded, some only with the Cartier name:

    http://jlc.watchprosite.com/?show=forumpostf&fi=2&pi=5650148&ti=835378&s=0

    gatorcpa
     
  16. Argtv7 Feb 25, 2015

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    Yes, documentation.....

    I have a co-branded Universal/Hermes (see my profile pic), and I tried like hell to get some archival info from Hermes. I hit a brick wall, as Hermes' policy is: that they do not have archival records from the 1930s, and that they wouldn't supply that kind of information anyways. Understandable, as they cater to their clients and not aftermarket collectors like us. Maybe I didn't talk to the right person (people). Of course, they are a big company now, and I was probably only able to talk to someone in a cubicle that is more interested in handbags anyways.

    I also reached out to Sala, and he doesn't have UG archival info on Hermes watches.

    My watchmaker is an ancient guy from Valle Joux, Switzerland who was brought to the US by Universal. He told me that there were Universals that were co-signed Cartier, and that his wife (who also worked for UG) was responsible for those dials. But personally, I dunno....

    Since my watchmaker worked for UG, I would be happy to interview him for this forum, and ask questions provided by you guys. I could probably even video it. He must be pushing 90, and he has no idea about "collector watches." Hence, an overhaul on a chrono costs $50. Of course, I have to wait a couple of months.....I am one of two clients that he still fixes watches for. The other is a pawn shop.
     
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  17. Argtv7 Feb 25, 2015

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    Uh, and since he isn't internet savvy, he calls me and tells me the parts he needs, and I have to track them down.....
     
  18. gatorcpa ΩF InvestiGator Staff Member Feb 25, 2015

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    Um, I wouldn't be publicizing that. Seems like he's a "0" short there.

    Let's get those questions together, folks.
    gatorcpa
     
  19. Argtv7 Feb 25, 2015

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    He's a super nice old guy. And I think he knows a lot, and could answer a lot of our questions. He has no vested interest. Nor does he understand the collector market. He's just a watchmaker. He was trained in Switzerland by UG in the early 1950s, brought to the US by UG in the early 60s and was in charge of their service dept then. Geez, last week, he told me he has an 18k bubbleback case that he would be happy to sell me for melt value. Of course, I wouldn't do that to him. And of course, he can't find it.

    I'm a journalist and a publicist by trade. I've interviewed a lot of people, and I know how to build a good interview. My vested interest in this project is that doing this interview is that it would place me right in front of his bench (I've never been there before). God knows what cool things are in the drawers.....

    So, yeah, I think an interview with an old timer UG watchmaker would be pretty cool here. And there aren't many guys left that know what he does. He worked for UG for decades. I just chatted with him on the phone (now) and he's game.

    Let me know what questions you guys would like to ask. Try to keep them across the board, not just co-signed stuff. Frank knows.....

    Lemme know what you think! I'll start another thread if you guys are interested in hearing from a UG old timer.
     
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  20. Argtv7 Feb 25, 2015

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    His wife worked for UG too, btw.