Marvin Hermetic - Its Place in History
by ADAM HARRIS
One cannot avoid in the passion and quest of learning and understanding the beginning of the wristwatch to bypass the story of the hermetic timepieces.
“Sealed” pieces were first patented by Francois Borgel in 1891, and the semihermetic were patented by Charles Rothen, an employee of Francois Borgel’s daughter who took over after her father died. The “fully hermetic” was originally believed to have been first patented by Jean Finger in 1921, but later it was found that it was preceded by Gruen some four years earlier (applied 1918/granted 1919). The final Rolex Oyster patent was originally patented by Perregaux and Perret on October 30, 1925, and bought by Hans Wilsdorf for the launch of the now famous Rolex Oyster in 1926. My first fully hermetic timepiece and probably the most “exotic” watch in my collection even today is my 14-kt Eberhard.
In January 1921 Jean Finger of Longeau, Berne, Switzerland, was granted Swiss patent number 89276 for a “Montre à remontoire avec boitier protecteur”—literally a watch with a protective box. The watch was placed inside a larger case with a screw-down bezel that formed a hermetic seal totally protecting the watch. Once the bezel was unscrewed, the smaller watchcase came out on a hinge to allow the hands to be set and the movement wound. Although this achieved the desired waterproof effect, it had the major drawback that the front bezel had to be unscrewed everyday so that the watch could be wound. Apart from being a nuisance to the owner, the case threads and the milling on the bezel wore quite quickly from this continuous use, so this was far from an ideal solution. However, despite the drawbacks, a number of manufacturers, including Eberhard, produced watches using this case design. It appears that Wilsdorf must have liked the design and bought the patent, because a Rolex watch called the “Hermetic” using this case design was produced from 1924, and similar designs from other manufacturers disappeared.
And lest we forget, the Gruen identical patent (more or less), applied for in 1918, was granted 1919.
So when I saw this, a variation on that Fully Hermetic, by the famous watch manufacturer Marvin, I decided to add it to my collection.
The movement signed MARVIN has a 15-jewel hand, and 3 adjustments. The case is .925 silver and is marked inside the case back Double Boitier Brevet ✞ 89276, together with the casemaker’s mark for Jean Finger. The bezel rather than unscrewing turns 90 degrees (counterclockwise) to remove and reveal the watch inside, which also has a silver case. The watch hinges out to allow the hands to be set and the movement wound.
The dial is signed “Marvin Hermetic, Swiss Made.” The dial has a faint hairline crack that runs from number 10 toward the number 4, but it still is very collectible.
Dial is signed Marvin Hermetic