The History of the Iconic Calibre 11 (and its Evolution)

1969 was a progressive year for watchmaking with the appearance of the automatic chronograph with three unmistakable tasks introduced all the while. Fifty years down the line, Zenith has been celebrating the 50th commemoration of the El Primero with incredible exhibit, Seiko commemorates 50 years of automatic chronographs , and TAG Heuer honors its 50-year symbol, the Monaco . It is currently an ideal opportunity for Dubois-Dépraz to honor a development that fueled the absolute most notorious games chronographs: the Caliber 11 or Chronomatic. 

The first wrist chronographs showed up in the mid twentieth century however these were fueled with hand-twisted developments for quite a long time. During the 1960s, watchmakers left on a certifiable competition to develop the first self-winding chronograph. Three gatherings began to develop their own activities, each with its own benefits and its own specialized vision.

  • Zenith with the code-named 3019 PHC type, otherwise called the El Primero – The development of this high-recurrence coordinated chronograph was started in 1962 with the objective of introducing the development in 1965 to agree with the centennial of the brand. The type was additionally named “Datron HS 36” at Movado, which commercialized the development under the Zenith-Movado-Mondia consortium.
  • Seiko with the type 6139, a 27mm incorporated, section wheel chronograph with vertical coupling and beating at 3Hz.
  • The Chronomatic/project 99 Consortium joining Heuer-Léonidas SA, Léon Breitling SA, Hamilton-Büren and chronograph expert Dépraz & Co. This joint-adventure considered the Caliber 11 (or Chronomatic, contingent upon the brand utilizing the development), a measured development dependent on a miniature rotor Buren development and a Dépraz chronograph mechanism.

The Chronomatic consortium and Project 99

Above: Gerald Dubois, Hans Kocher, Jack Heuer and Willy Breitling

The history of the Caliber 11 beginnings toward the finish of 1965. As Büren had spearheaded the creation of miniature rotor developments, Gérald Dubois (of Dépraz & Co., a chronograph trained professional) sorted out that these eventual slim enough to be the base for a particular chronograph development. Dubois contacts Hans Kocher of Büren Watch Co. SA. Needing commercial accomplices, they figure out how to persuade first Jack Heuer and afterward Willy Breitling to help the task. On February second, 1966, an understanding is agreed upon. The four-party Chronomatic consortium is conceived, including two adversary brands collaborating to develop their own automatic chronograph. For secrecy purposes, the development is code-named Project 99.

Büren is accountable for the base type. Dépraz of the chronograph instrument. Three brands – Heuer, Breitling and Hamilton (who gained Buren during the development interaction) – will fit the development inside their watches. A patent application for the Caliber 11 is recorded in September 1967. Toward the finish of 1968, around 100 pre-creation developments are gathered in prevision of the 1969 Basel reasonable. On March third 1969, the development is formally introduced, all the while in New York and Geneva. After a month, the three brands present their first chronographs at the 1969 Basel reasonable. With the common sense and comfort of automatic winding, the chronograph becomes a staple of motorsport… the Caliber 11 is utilized to control notorious watches by Heuer (Carrera, Monaco, Autavia), Breitling (Chrono-Matic) and Hamilton (Fontainebleau). Also, later by different brands like Bulova, Kelek, Zodiac, Elgin, Stowa…

The Caliber 11

The Caliber 11 is a 17-jewel particular chronograph estimating 31mm x 7.7mm. This secluded engineering suggests first a base development, a miniature rotor automatic type made by Büren, responsible for the timekeeping part. Beating at 19,800 vibrations each hour, it bragged 42 hours power save. Produced by Dépraz, the switch chronograph module is gathered on the posterior of the base development. This development has a bi-compax show, with a 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock and a 12-hour counter at 9 o’clock – no running seconds sub-dial. The date is shown at 6 o’clock. The unordinary crown position, at 9 o’clock at something contrary to the chronograph pushers, is a mark highlight of the movement.

The Caliber 11 and its evolutions

Like most developments, the Caliber 11 has been enhanced a few times over its lifetime. As ahead of schedule as 1969, a barrel spring giving less force is utilized. The date bounce system is adjusted. The sliding pinion is changed and made in steel.

In 1971, a variation running at 21,600 vibrations each hour and named Caliber 12 is presented. It becomes the primary result of the type family. It utilizes a more grounded barrel spring. The stuff train and equilibrium wheel are adjusted. The chronograph hammer is altered to improve stun resistance.

The Caliber 13 is developed to coordinate a little seconds sign in the outskirts of great importance counter however won’t ever be commercialized. In 1972, the Caliber 14 adds a GMT work and the Caliber 15 adds a little seconds to the Caliber 12, situated at 10 o’clock, supplanting the elapsed hours sub-counter.

In 1974, another development, the Caliber 7740, is dispatched. This development includes similar presentation and similar capacities as the Caliber 12 since the chronograph module is indistinguishable. Nonetheless, it relies on an alternate base type. Produced by Valjoux, it is currently hand-wound, it runs at 28,800 vibrations each hour and the winding crown is traditionally situated at 3 o’clock. It is utilized, among different watches, in the last forms of the Heuer Monaco, for example, the PVD-covered “Dark Lord”. This development will likewise be the last one to utilize this particular chronograph module.

For more data, about Dubois-Dépraz, you can peruse our starting article about the company and their new coordinated chronograph development here .