Ernest Borel Cocktail Watch

Ernest Borel Cocktail Watch 12/26/11 - Here is my 1957 Ernest Borel Cocktail wrist watch. These neat watches feature a disk in the center of the dial which rotates when the watch ticks, creating a kaleideoscope effect.

A variety of disks and dials, cases and movements (including desk clocks, pendants, and cuff links) were made, but the majority of the Cocktails built were women's manual-winds. Thus, it is difficult to find men's versions, more difficult to find automatic movements, and even more difficult to find stainless steel or solid gold models. I searched quite awhile for this one.

I just got the watch back from Matt at thewatchtech.com, and it looks fantastic. It received a new mainspring and crystal, as well as an oiling, regulation, and case polish. I truly am amazed at how great it looks, and the service was very affordable.

Click "full story" below...

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Borel Advertisement The Ernest Borel watch company dates back to 1856 in Neuchatel, Switzerland. Borel had a long, storied history, which you can read about elsewhere online if you desire. But by the time the mid-1970's rolled around, the oil crisis, the falling of European currencies, and—most importantly— the arrival of cheap quartz movements, many great watch manufacturers could not adapt and either closed their doors forever, or were absorbed by conglomerates. Such was the case for Borel; the Borel family sold the company in 1975 to Aubry Frère within the CYMA-group. I believe the brand is now owned by some company out of Hong Kong, and Borel still exists as a high-end namesake.

In many ways, the rapid dominance of inexpensive quartz watch movements is akin to the rise of digital photography, and those companies that either did not prepare, or could not properly adapt were doomed, such as Polaroid and Kodak. And in just my town alone, I can think of at least three photo labs that have closed. I can only imagine how many companies that made chemicals and photo paper and darkroom supplies went under as well.

Felsa 690 The Cocktail line of watches are the most collectible Borel watches, and were made from 1952 until approximately 1980. I have read that the Cocktail movements were sold on European cruise ships in the 1950's and 1960's. I have also read that these timepieces were never sold in America. In some ways they can be seen as early high-end souvenirs. Although rare, there were both 14k and 18k gold watch cases made, as well as fancy desk clocks, ala the 1960's Bulova Accutron 214 Spaceview clocks. On a side note, I do not yet own a nice original stainless 1960's Accutron Spaceview, but more on that below.

The photo on the right is the Felsa 690 Bidynator automatic movement. "Bidynator" basically means that the rotor could wind the watch no matter which way the rotor spun. This was the first watch movement to do so. As far as I can tell, the earliest Cocktail automatics containted these Felsa movements. Other manual-wind models featured a transparent back window, so that you could see the movement ticking inside the watch. Many of these had the Synchron 26 movement.

Take a look at decotini.com to see a nice assortment of some of the different styles of Cocktails that were made. At least five disk styles were made, including flower, sun, arrows, star, and wheel.

Accutron Spaceview As I said earlier, I had originally intended to purchase a late-1960's Bulova Accutron Spaceview watch instead of the Borel, but I could never really find a nice stainless steel Accutron that was in great condition at a reasonable price. The problems with the Accutrons is that they are more difficult to service than traditional watches, and the parts are more expensive as well. Since practically any vintage watch that you buy needs serviced (unless the seller serviced it prior to selling it to you), I'd have a thousand dollars in a clean original Spaceview and vintage band once restored, where as I have half that in the Borel.

Borel 1
Borel Dial
Borel Ad
Desk Clock
Borel Pendant
Borel Pendant
Clear Back
Clear Back
Circle Disk
Circle Disk

2 comments

Comment from: Steve [Visitor]
I have a Borel automatic cocktail mens watch that belonged to my step dad. Not sure of the year, not 14 or 18k gold, may be gold plated.

I have a Rotations watch winder, that does not keep my Borel wound (itdoes keep my Rolex's wound without problem). Anybody have any ideas.

Anybody know how to contact Rotations via telephone?

If you're interested in a nice Bulova, I suggest that you check out oldfathertime.com and accutron214.com both places have very nice Spacview's for sale.

All help and comments are appreciated.
01/26/12 @ 12:50
Comment from: Ann Stalberger [Visitor]
Hello, I have the circle disk, clear back Ernest Borel cocktail watch that you have pictures of in this web page. I have searched other web pages for this style and have not seen any exactly like this one. Could you tell me any thing about it? I bought it at an estate sale in 1982. Any info would be great. Thanks Ann
04/12/13 @ 05:08