Ladies Sorna Jump watch

Here’s a neat Ladies Sorna model from the 1970’s – the Sorna Jump.  Another Watch Company long gone and not too much known of them.  Swiss of course and originally from Grenchen, they used to manufacture watches under the brand names of Sorna, Sorina, Sornana and a few others with similar sounding names.  From what I can find out they disappeared in 1994, though a new Sorna in Germany today also make Trias watches.  Whether they bought the name I could not say.

Sorna ladies “Jump” watch – described as “digital” though not as we know it today.

Suffice to say, this particular model was born at the same time as the Hudsons as an attempt to stem the flow of cheaper Quartz watches from the East.  By using mechanical movements as before they hoped to tempt the buyer with a digital look but using conventional components.  Once again using Ebauche movements with hour and minute disc as opposed to hands, the hour either “jumped” into view at the last minute of the hour ended or slowly slid into view, depending on the mechanism employed.  Thus providing a “digital” watch, though not as we would know it today.

Note the high contrast numerals – easy to see on a small watch.

I like this particular model as it has the Hour highlighted in white against black.  This makes it stand out better than most especially as it is a smaller sized watch.  Note this is a reasonable manual wind movement too with 17 jewels.  Many other “jump” style watches often featured simple 1 jewel movements – so this is quite a decent watch.

Neat Sorna signed Swiss 17 jewel movement in perfect as new condition.

I have another high gloss, high colour leather strap for this watch and as my Wife is as fickle as I am regarding straps and bracelets, I won’t know until I change this bracelet to see which one will get her approval.  I can see her choosing the alternative matching blue conventional leather buckle strap – but it would be dangerous to second guess her!

Well I was right NOT to second guess, so I’ll not even show the strap –  suffice to say she picked the bracelet!

Advertisements

The Hudson Instalite (by Itraco)

A few of these NOS (new old stock) models are appearing today and for a collector like me are almost a certain buy.  Watches like this from the 1970’s are slap bang in the middle of the worst period for Swiss watches as the cheap, accurate Quartz revolution from Asia hit them hard.  Often the smaller Company or suppliers could move and adapt to not only compete with this new threat but importantly still manage to utilize their existing mechanical movements.

The Hudson Instalite (by Itraco) – 17 jewel pin lever “Jump” watch.

Hence the birth of the mechanical “digital”, Digit Wheel or “Jump” watch, which managed the appearance of a Quartz digital watch, but with a more or less conventional mechanical movement.

Some were true “Jump” designs where the Hour digit only moved or “jumped” forward at the last second of the Minute Counter digit.  Others sort of gradually slid into position as the changing of the Hour approached, though these often caused a little confusion when not fully changed, being sort of stuck in no-man’s land between hours. This model falls into this category – at the hour and 55 seconds, it’s sometimes tricky to tell which hour it actually is!

Quite a few different Brands appeared at this time such as Gigandet, Damas, Lanco, Lasser and others.

The Hudson Instalite “Jump” hour – actually minimalist in construction, but very 1970’s.

The model featured here was sold for retail by Hudson for the US market, though the Brand was actually manufactured by Itraco of Zurich (Itraco, Samba & Hudson) and features the Ebauches Bettlach EB8461 17 jewel pin lever mechanical wheel digit movement with a pretty decent 40hr reserve .

The Hudson Watch Co. was registered by Antoine Castelberg of Chaux-de-Fonds and New York in 1884.  Other names were marketed via Hudson in the early 1970’s, such as Adelphi, Carlton, Gisa, Globe, J Godat Geneve and others.  In fact the list of “lost” names and Brands is extensive and to be certain of who made what, or who sold what and under what name and where and at that time is a near impossible task.

Suffice to say, this model is the Hudson logo’d Instalite model, which I consider one of the better ones.  I have also seen the same watch with “Fashion-Time” and “Secory” and apart from slight cosmetic changes are obviously the same model.  I understand that one of those variations did alter the movement to give that true “jump” hour and I have a feeling the movement was also an EB movement but calibre 8481 series.

The battery access for the “Instalite” accessed via this left sliding hatch. Access to the movement requires the back removed. The “slots” are simply grips to assist in sliding.

The term “Instalite” is in reference to the battery powered dial light which illuminates the dial digits rather well in this case and operated via the push button @1 above the central crown.  The battery is easily accessible via the dark colored plastic sliding rear cover, which is separate from the movement, which itself can be seen only with the entire 2 piece metal “snap” back removed.
Various movements from Ebauches Bettlach were used in this model depending on the year, but all are similar in operation.  It’s fair to say Bettlach E after amalgamating many of the independent Swiss makers as a defence against the Quartz revolution, were focused more on the lower end.  Historically Ebauches Bettlach SA was formed in 1926 and ended in 1980 as it finally merged into the Swatch Group under ETA, which aligned pretty much with Bettlach’s core aim from it’s inception. ( for details see under – https://www.watch-wiki.net/index.php?title=Ebauches_SA ).

Fits the wrist pretty well and very readable too. I have fitted a complimentary leather strap.

I have a few of these “jump” models, as for me they represent an important yet too easily forgotten milestone in the Swiss watch history – and many are rather unique and cleverly innovative for the time.  They really provided a stopgap rescue for much of the Industry at a time where the Swiss Watch industry as a whole was under serious threat.

I hope the images show to best advantage, these intriguing watches which by the way are a delight to wear.  The size is ideal and they sit well on the wrist, even an average one such as mine (6.5″).
This watch came with an after market steel mesh bracelet, but if you read this site regularly you will know I just love changing straps and bracelets to see the effect.  It can sometimes make or break the wear-ability and often is surprising, which is half the fun!  As shown I have fitted a brown leather strap which softens the look and for me is more comfortable.

The Tressa Lux Crystal Auto

Another 1970’s variation from Switzerland is the Tressa watch.  This is a nice NOS model which as you would expect is in absolutely pristine condition, never having been worn in it’s entire life.
Powered by an AS 5206 (A Schild) Automatic mechanical movement with Day and Date, this is perfectly at home today as a day or dress watch.
Nicely finished in highly polished stainless steel case with a gold plated bezel surrounding a mineral crystal.  Lovely electric blue geometric dial decoration with quick set date via a push pin @4 and a clear Day/Date window @3.

Tressa 1970’s Lux Crystal 21J Automatic

As with many of th 1970’s watches, the watch actually came with a Tressa stainless steel bracelet, but I’ve changed it.  You may ask why and the answer is that so often mid range Brands from that period seemed to struggle sourcing decent straps and bands.  The original one whilst also NOS and infinitely adjustable, is simply NOT comfortable as it catches my wrist hairs!  So I paired it with a complimentary color leather buckle strap, as shown.

I would note that rough bracelets are not confined just to cheaper Brands, as I have a Cartier model that is just as bad (worse actually) so it’s in good company!

Stunning electric blue geometric dial decoration, makes this version noticed.

AS movements have been around an awful long time and in fact were the largest movement maker in Switzerland by 1920, though in the 1970’s after the Asian onslaught, they merged into ETA in 1979.  They were and still are very well regarded as a reliable movement with Brand customers almost from A to Z and derivatives are still used today.
Tressa on the other hand have been around for a shorter period, coming to reasonable prominence from their base in Bienne Switzerland in the mid 1960’s and over the next 20 years till 1987 sold mostly to the Eastern market.  During that time they almost exclusively used AS movements.

Bankrupt in 1987, I understand Rado took over their remaining assets though some years later (vague details only exist) under the umbrella of Zeon Watch of Basel between 2000 and 2005 old stocks of AS520x movements and watches were finally cleared from their inventory.  The main competition in their heyday prior to then was from the likes of Sicura and Orient who served the same market with similar styles (I understand the CEO of Sicura was involved in the early days of Tressa).

In my Tressa the crown/hand adjustment is a quite stiff and whilst could be a characteristic it’s more likely a lack of lubrication after some 40+ years in a box!  but it operates just fine.  The Date is changed with a pin under the crown @4 and the dial design is rather smart (reminds me of the first solar powered, but of course isn’t).  The broad Hour and Minute hands are easily seen and the sweep seconds Hand has a red marker tip.

Looks good on the wrist and already has drawn comments.
It fits my 6.5″ wrist perfectly.

I also think it has some presence and it looks good on the wrist and features a great color combination that works very well.
The Tressa Lux Crystal is quite a neat size at just 42 mm lug to lug, 36 mm across (x crown) and only 12.9 mm depth, also comes with a few different dial colours and designs and in today’s world works very well as a fashion piece.  Depending on the color you choose it can be, as they say, mixed and matched, with shirts and ties in most colours, which is a plus.  I’ve seen one in a superb green dial center which I particularly like – and seeing I’m in my 1970’s thing at the moment, I’m sorely tempted.  These are still available NOS, which is amazing after all this time and at reasonable prices too.

So it might well be worth it to seek them out as they have an individuality that’s sadly lacking with modern watches.  Of course that’s the 1970’s for you – it was a time of not only technical revolution, but also real social invention and this Tressa model was born out of that time.