Men’s 1917 Racine ‘Enicar’ Compass Watch

Men’s 1917 Racine ‘Enicar’ Compass Watch

Item: W2464

Watch's origin: Swiss

Number of jewels: 15

Case: Depose

Manufacturer: Racine

Type of Watch:  Wrist

Type: Open-Face

Lug Width: 16mm

Dimension: 47mm long by 32mm wide

Composition: Silver

Other Attributes:   Military
 Wire Lug

Price: $4,995.00

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Founded in 1913 as Ariste Racine, the company that would create one of the early 20th century's most fascinating and enigmatic works of wrist art saw a burgeoning desire for wristlet timepieces during WWI and rose to the occasion. During this formative period, manufacturers didn’t know the sort of function or shape the public expected from a wrist piece; in fact they had no idea what the archetypal "wristwatch" was supposed to look like. Manufacturers like Gallet, Elgin, Waltham, Rolex and Omega did know that WWI had ushered in a newly realized necessity of having a timepiece strapped to one’s wrist and they were gearing up to fill this insatiable need. It was a clear example of the intersection of form and function, embraced during a time of freedom of artistic expression and great engineering prowess.

While the Great War raged, Racine took out a full-page ad revealing various fanciful models imagined and implemented by its team of artists and designers. There were lever and cylinder pieces; special sizes and calibers of movements. There were models with “unbreakable” glass; photographic wristlet watches, most with some sort of military function in mind. And there, featured among the styles, was a watch so beautifully designed and crafted; so ingeniously self-evident; so handsome and elegant, that it stunned an unsuspecting public. Called the "Enicar" – Racine spelled backwards – it was a hefty teardrop sterling piece with compass, featuring hinged lugs, boxcar numerals and a small compass at the base. It was so beautiful it was hypnotic.

These compass watches fascinating and well-received but uncommon. They were rare from the moment they were announced in 1917. By the time WWI ended, the model seemingly vanished. One ad in 1919 referenced the piece and as history moved into the Jazz Age, the Enicar compass became an elusive legend of spirited design.

We've been vintage watch dealers for 30 years and have had the privilege of examining, cataloguing and offering thousands of rare and remarkable works of horological art. During those 30 years we've seen and evaluated hundreds and thousands of timepieces. I can say that in all of my years of travel and acquisition, I had not found, documented or offered one of the almost mythic "Enicar" sterling compass watches – until now.

I am intensely pleased to offer to you for examination this original "Enicar" piece by Racine. Please take a moment to study the watch. You do not have to feel obligated to buy this work of art: Sometimes being allowed to study a work for its own sake is pleasure enough. It is such a handsome thing, measuring 55mm (!) lug-tip to lug-tip. The body of the watch measures approximately 47mm long by 32mm wide.

The images of the piece speak to its rich originality, from its perfect "Enicar" marked porcelain dial with red 12, shadowbox numerals and micro-graduated sub-seconds register to its sterling reeded crown and brass-ringed compass. Original hands are restored to museum quality and even the crystal is, I believe, original.

All factory markings are correct and wonderful. The piece is engraved to Frank Blackwell/Omaha, Nebraska with beautiful period flourish. Open the back to reveal its original movement, cleaned, oiled and calibrated to keep time as intended.

We have taken the liberty of fitting the piece with a two-piece black cordovan strap of the type that would have been fitted to it when new. We will, of course, custom-fit this to the client’s specifications.

Enjoy admiring and studying the piece: Take your time, do as much research as you can on the early years of Racine and this model in particular. If you have information on this model, please feel free to contact us and let us know, as we’re grateful and eager to learn all that we can.

If it is a rare, stunning work of wrist art you crave, you’ve found it.