CEH-204 ‘Prix Guillaume’

CEH-204, Beta 2, ‘Prix Guillaume’, 14. February 1968

Prototype category: (proof of concept) – ephemera

Description: Rectangular laid paper sheet (yellowed) with black printing, topped by the coat of arms of the canton of Neuchâtel. Template printed by L .- A. Monnier, Neuchâtel. Typewriter printed text with description of the monetary prize content of ‘400 CHF’ (ca. 1300 CHF today) and the person winning the award (name covered, as per request of the family of the prize winner). Also mentioned is, that the prize concerns a ‘chronometer quartz wrist watch’. The ranking is declared by means of the precision factor ‘n = 0.330’ (n = 0 meaning absolute precision). Original, blue ball point signatures of prize committee representatives.

Size: 210 x 155mm

Associated Watch / Movement: CEH-204, Beta 2, prototype

Additional info: This is a very rare certificate for the ‘Prix Guillaume’ issued every year to master watch regulators adjusting and regulating watches and subsequently reaching excellent results during chronometer competitions at the ‘Observatory of Neuchâtel’. This certificate is even more historically important, as it concerns one of the first wrist watch sized quartz movements ever made, specifically CEH-204, which reached rank 12 in the category of quartz wrist watches during the most important chronometer competition at the ‘Neuchatel Observatory’ in 1967. As the results of the 1967 competition were published in February 1968, the certificate is dated 14. February 1968. As no more observatory competitions were held in the wrist watch category after 1967, this was one of the last ‘Prix Guillaume’ certificates for wrist watches to be issued.

When asked involved engineers upon their participation to the regulation of the pieces submitted to the observatory competition in the category of quartz watches, some reported that they did not personally finalise the regulation of the movements built by them for the competition, but that one specialist ‘regulator’ would work on all movements and optimise their performance. To acknowledge the hard work of senior engineers developing these quartz watches, their name was assigned to some submitted movements they developed and built, declaring them ‘wrongly’ as regulators, so to allow them to be mentioned in case of a good enough ranking and win a monetary prize. As a consequence, it is not possible to be sure of the correctness of the attribution of the ‘regulator’ to the corresponding quartz watches in the official observatory bulletins. The only sure extractable information is, that the mentioned engineer was greatly involved in that movements development and construction.

This very democratic repartition of honours is confirmed for submitted quartz watches (also other than wrist watch sized), but it is unlikely that the mentioned procedure was also custom in the submission of mechanical pieces.

Some mechanical movements were repeatedly finished and optimised to chronometer specification and submitted over several years by ‘regulators’, some of which became famed for their work and repeated wins at chronometer competitions.