CEH-206, ‘Beta 2’ Prototype
Prototype category: proof of concept
Description: Symmetric, square, nickel plated brass (see comment below) and acrylic cased (observatory chronometer configuration) prototype. Front fixed to the mid – case by four screws. Thin acrylic back, fixed with four screws to the mid – case. Two MIH (Musée International d’Horologerie, La Chaux-de-Fonds) inventory stickers with numbering fixed to case. Movement engraved with production number ‘CEH-206’ (twice). Movement press fitted into the case. White coloured brass dial with black printed hour and minute marks, ‘Swiss Made’ printed in black at ‘6’. Silver hands. Flat acrylic crystal. ‘Longines’ signed crown.
Movement: CEH-206, Beta 2, prototype, engraved movement number (twice)
Additional info: This historic piece represents one of the first wrist watch sized quartz movements ever made. This particular piece was made in August 1967, encased in chronometer configuration and it also participated to the ‘Observatory of Neuchâtel’ chronometer competition of 1967 and was ranked 4th place (n = 0.188). Interestingly the crown is derived from Longines. If this crown is a replacement, or if it was fitted originally to the prototype remains unknown.
At first glance and also feeling the weight of the piece, the material of the chronometer casing seems to be steel. James Dowling (@misterrolex) commented, that casings for mechanical movements submitted for chronometer competitions are made of aluminium as this material is non-magnetic, which is important as a magnetic material might influence the moving steel parts within the movement such as the balance spring. Another material readily used for casing movements destined for chronometer competition or chronometer testing is brass, wich is then nickel plated. As this prototype is comparatively heavy I would suggest that it is cased in plated brass.
Provenance: This piece was deaccessioned from CEH and is now part of the permanent collection of the MIH (Musée International d’Horologerie, La Chaux-de-Fonds).
Acknowledgements: Many thanks to the team at MIH for letting me analyse this historic piece!