Patria Trench Watch – circa 1917 -- Omega 19 Caliber Movement -- The Fatherland Watch
My first trench watch restoration project.
Just in two Patria Watch Co. Trench watches with Omega 19 Caliber movements. Patria Watches were one out of many brands that Louis Brandt & Frère manufactured. The Omega and Patria were produced at the same time and had many of the same models. After I saw other forum members with these beautiful trench watches I made it my goal to find one to restore.
Purchased at action these two watches. The one of left was not running. Later I found out the flywheel pin on the shaft was broken. I purchased it for the face. The one on the right had a nice case, hands and a running movement. They claimed it was running not real it needed a complete service.
Patria Watch Co. History
Louis Brandt (1825-1879) “Founder for Omega Watch Co.”
In 1848 Louis Brandt, only 23 years old, opened a factory for the production of pocket watches in La Chaux-de-Fonds. The models he first produced bore his own name, ie "Louis Brandt," on the dial. Louis later produced watches under multiple brand names. The one brand name that became their flagship was Patria Watch Co. and was their best seller for years. In 1877 the eldest son Louis Paul entered the business, the companies name was changed to Louis Brandt & Fils “Son”.
Louis Brandt died on July 5, 1879. Louis Paul his son in 1879 formed a partnership with his brother Cesar and relocated the company in the same year to Biel, where it still has its headquarters today. Shortly after the move the brothers renamed the company to Louis Brandt & Frère “Brothers”.
Louis-Paul and César Brandt both died in 1903, leaving four family members to inherit the brands. Paul-Emile Brant was the eldest at 23. By this time the company was producing nearly a quarter of a million watches a year. At the same time, they formed a new brand the Omega Watch Co. in honor of the Omega 19 caliber which had been introduced in 1894 and was enjoying immense success.
The Omega and Patria brands were the company most successful selling brands. Both of these watches were manufacture in the same factory in Biel. During The Great War “WW1” they manufactured many watches for many different countries military forces. Their greatest sales during this time was to the French, UK, and later USA. Shortly after WW1 the company retired the brand name Patria Watch Co. Their new flagship brand would be the Omega Watch Co.
Omega today leaves out some details about their past history of the Patria Watch Co. They do admit that is was their brand and it was a watch they sold, but not any details on why they retired Patria watches their first successful brand name watch.
Well it is simple Patria is a Latin word cognate with the Greek πατρίς (patris), both of which derive from the word for “father”, or “fatherland”. Since the company’s largest sales markets at the end of the war was French, UK, and USA and those countries harbored ill feelings about the War, Germany, and its Allies you can image that a watch called the Fatherland would not be a good marketing move or name to move forward with. They were correct in their decision. Many years later with WW2 occurring the name of Fatherland was a very negative name.
Paul-Emile led the company until 1955, when Joseph Reiser took over. During those mid-century years, Omega created or acquired numerous companies, continuing to vertically integrate wherever possible. Among those acquisitions was Lemania, which would prove valuable indeed with the introduction of the Speedmaster.
I took apart the movement and gave it an ultrasonic bath in Rubbing Alcohol. I use the alcohol because it is the safest to use, other harsh cleaners or chemical will harm the jewels and they will fall out. Plus the alcohol has a very low H2O percentage and it evaporates fast and will not cause rust problems. I oiled the movement in the proper places and it ran like a charm the first time. Only gaining about a minute or so a day. I’m still adjusting the timing but even so that is not bad for a century old watch.
I then polished the case, back, and crystal to remove scratches. Then I focused on the face to add the original luminous paint to the hands and watch face numbers and repair any hair line fractures on the face. This is the first time I added luminous paint to face numbers and I’m happy with the results.
If you find a trench watch with the original luminous paint intact you will see it has turned to a gold or brown color due to time. The original color of luminous paint was an off white-green color. That was the only color offered at the time; unlike today there are many colors offered. Many trench watches that have been restored you will see only the outlined numbers and no luminous paint within the numbers. The luminous paint on many restored watches has been removed. They still look very good but that was not the originally look of the face. Luminous paint was very new at that time and was a desired option.
Luminous paint results.
Other watch brands produced by Louis Brandt & Frère in the early years.
CASANOVA - Louis Brandt & Frère
CELTIC - Louis Brandt & Frère (USA Market)
DICTATOR - Louis Brandt & Frère
EL DEMOCRATOR - Louis Brandt & Frère
EMPEROR - Louis Brandt & Frère
GOLIATH - Louis Brandt & Frère
HIMALAYA - Louis Brandt & Frère
LABRADOR - Louis BRANDT & Frère
LIBERTOR - Louis Brandt & Frère
LIBERTATOR - Louis Brandt & Frère
OMEGA - Louis Brandt & Frère (USA Market)
PATRIA - Louis Brandt & Frère
REGINA - LOUIS BRANDT & Frère
SEAMASTER - OMEGA Watch Co. Louis Brandt & Frère (USA Market)
SIMPLICITAS - Louis Brandt & Frère
THEODORA - Louis Brandt & Frère
USA war poster 1917-- Pro Patria in Latin means for your country “Fatherland”