Helvetia 'Stop' and 'Sport'
The Helvetia Stop and Sport were among the first chronograph wristwatches developed during the 1940s.
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Following the introduction of a range of sports, shock protected, watches in the 1930s it looks as if Helvetia decided to try to build on this market and develop watches with a built in stop watch function, possibly spurred on by similar watches being developed by other manufacturers at this time.
In 1940 they applied for a patent for a ‘Timepiece with centre seconds hand which can be set to zero’.
This was an adaptation of their 82A movement by the addition of a rocker that acted on the movement to stop and reset the seconds hand when one of two pushers were operated and was designted the 822.
The watch they introduced to utilise this movement was called the Helvetia 'Stop'.
The second hand of the 'Stop' moved constantly as normal but could be stopped by the activation of the pusher at 8 o’clock and reset to 12 o’clock by the pusher in the crown at 3 o’clock. Later models had the reset pusher moved to 2 o'clock.
Helvetia Stop Circa 1941
Helvetia Stop Circa 1942
Helvetia Stop Case Back
Helvetia 'Stop' Advert From 1941
The new watch
with independent centre second hand
General Watch Co
The famous old name
1940 Advert for Helvetia Pilots Watches & Stop Chronographs
Helvetia also supplied this movement to Orator for their ‘Stop’ and confusingly it looks as if Orator then went on to use the name ‘Stop’ for a range of their watches whether they had second hands that could be stopped and reset or not!
Orator Stop Circa 1943
Case Back With Helvetia Serial No
One other interesting variation of the Helvetia 'Stop' was the British Admiralty Pattern 3169 chronograph. The Pattern 3169 was designated as a 1/5th second stopwatch, probably for use in naval gunnery, and was supplied to the Admiralty by several different manufacturers, one of which was Helvetia. On ordering it was specified that the dial and hands be modified so that the time telling functionality was removed and only the stop watch function was visible.
Also in 1940 Helvetia applied for another patent for a chronograph watch. In this instance the patent was in regards to having hour and minute chronograph counter hands on the same small subdial. These were the early days of the chronograph wristwatch and there was no convention yet established on what they should look like.
Helvetia obviously had a watch in mind to use this patent and to complement the 'Stop' and allow the timing of events of up to 12 hours in length Helvetia introduced the 'Sport'. This used the same movement as the 'Stop' but with the chronograph function under the dial as opposed to at the back of the watch.
The 'Sport' had both hour and minute counter hands on the same subdial as per the patent (there was no seconds counter), but while it used a standard small 'seconds' type hand for the minute timer it used a larger arrow shaped hand behind it to record the hours, I presume this was to help differentiate the two readings. These counters could again be stopped and reset to zero as in the 'Stop'.
Helvetia Sport Circa 1941
By the late 1940s more advanced chronographs had been developed and the the 'Stop' and 'Sport' became obsolete. A short life for an interesting pair of chronographs.
Pattern 3169 Chronograph with thanks to Konrad Knirim. Please check out his excellent books here - Military Timepieces