Enicar, a watchmaker we don’t often hear about but who comes from a rich history, dating back to more than a century, influenced by one important family. The manufacturer has produced legendary watches from very different worlds, all the while preserving its soul. Among these pieces, we have the “Graph” family, chronograph tools which have witnessed a certain come-back in recent years.
A bit of history: The Racine Family
We can’t talk about Enicar without mentioning this illustrious family. A passion for new discoveries and engineering was this clan’s focal point for the past 2 centuries from the beginning of the 20th century. This pioneer and innovative spirit would be marvelously demonstrated in its many creations. Members of the Racine family, like César Racine at the end of the 19th century, was already known in watchmaking circles.
But the individual who interests the most is Ariste Racine…and his lovely wife as well. The couple dove into the watchmaking field in 1913. Unable to file the name “Racine” for their brand as it already existed, it was an anagram (also the name written backwards) that took on the role. Enicar was born. Not having a place of manufacture at that time, the first pieces released were made in the home, and mainly for brave soldiers.
Expansion of the manufacture was made possible by the purchase of Ariste’s mother’s home in Longeau near Bienne. Following the expansion, everything fell into place and operations were well under way. From 1919, their creations were finally marked with “Enicar.” Just before the outbreak of WWII, the son of the Racine couple took on as Head of Enicar leaving his parents to retire.
After the war, Enicar would become a great supporter to exploration and extreme sports. Whether it was for an expedition on Mount Everest or on the race track, in combining functionality with marketing, Enicar would release little gems satisfying the demand.
The Enicar “Graph” Chronograph Family
This piece came on the scene in 1960 with a bang. Associated with car racing thanks to Stirling Moss, the English driver was particularly seen at Formula 1. The features of this first model, the “Mark I,” consisted of real Sword hands and an internal bezel. Afterwards, due to difficulties in the production of these hands, Skeleton and Lollipop hands made their apparitions. These hands were actually the most popular ones among clients for this model. Jim Clark would make it famous in keeping it on his wrist during prestigious car races.
Mark II models have a different logo (the small star was no longer attached to the brand), a case back with a different engraving, as well as a tachymeter that no longer notified “Base 1000.”
The latest “Mark III” models can be distinguished by a red Lollipop seconds hand, and fine Baton hands in the sub-counters. The “Mark IV” has Baton hands, and a reduced tachymetric scale.
But the most important is in the heart of the watch where a movement Valjoux 72 resides, complete with a column wheel and a very specific and patented “Bayonnet” case, often with the presence of a deep-sea diver on the case back.
The “Aqua,” “Jet,” or “Super” Graphs appeared in the middle of the 1960’s, the real change was the bezel that became external and rotating. The Valjoux 72 movement remained intact.
The Aqua Graph appeared in 1966, and still had the soul of the Sherpa Graph, with square Lollipop hands, and Arrow hands in the sub-counters. The main characteristic of the models is having a double bezel. First a large bezel graduated for 60 minutes (from 0 to 60 et not the other way around like on the Super Graph), and then a very fine and red bezel, with an arrow-type indicator located between the bezel and the glass.
We have the chance to have a model on our Joseph Bonnie shop that still has its two rotating bezels as well as rectangular Lollipop hands.
Greater variations would appear, between the graduations on the bezel (certain models would have a “GMT” graduation in order to obtain a second time zone by turning the bezel), triangular Lollipop or Baton hands. Actually, the more recent the models, the less we saw rectangular Lollipop hands.
A model, cherished for its unique bezel, graduated for 24 hours of a GMT function, and above all for its other 24-hour hand. The diameter is more imposing and the first models had the famous rectangular Lollipop hands.
But the most “popular” models (the watch remains a rare piece) are the ones with Baton hour hands and a triangular seconds hand. A Rallye hand pointed toward the bezel is relatively hard to come by, and remains the most charming one for this model in my opinion.
We had a very hard time trying to find this model for our Joseph Bonnie shop. With its magnificent Rallye hand and its double bezel graduated for 24 hours.
The movement remains Valjoux, but the 724, that we can find on certain Autavia references, and that show a little modification for the GMT function.
Relatively rare watches then, and with genuine identity. The type of piece that we don’t see every day. Their proportions are beautiful, in the image of their bezels and their superb movements.