Jump to content
  • Sign Up to reply and join the friendliest Watch Forum on the web. Stick around, get to 50 posts and gain access to your full profile and additional features such as a personal messaging system, chat room and the sales forum PLUS the chance to enter our regular giveaways.

Mentor Watches: A History Uncovered

Recommended Posts

I have just come across this brand name in a thread started by Roger (RWP) and, as promised, I have done a bit of research to see what can be written about it. Before I started working on this brand, I was not hopeful that a history could in any way be collated. But how wrong I was, and I am a bit "chuffed" with myself for being able to unravel a useful history for a brand previously ignored yet highly collectible.

I have discovered that "Mentor" is a name that has been used by more than one watch concern, but I must say that the vast majority of the post-World War Two Mentor branded watches I have so far seen have the name printed on the dial in a distinctive upper case art deco manner, implying only one main user of the name after the Second World War. Also, related directly to the use of this particular Mentor name mark, I can now give some historical information regarding the Swiss watch company that produced all the watches so-marked, in addition to some post-War watches that have a Mentor name mark in a simpler upper-case typeface.

Before I look at this main Mentor brand, I should just mention that the American Ansonia Watch Company of New York registered the Mentor name in 1912, and it seems that the Mentor brand name appears on other watches until the mid-1940s - in these cases, however, the mark is not in the same style or font as the "retro" style mark found on the bulk of post-War Mentor watches. 



An Ansonia "Mentor" pocket watch from c.1920 but note that the word "Mentor" does not appear on the watch itself (pic from cf.collector'sweekly.com):




The first conclusive connection I came across between a named post-War watch company and the "Mentor" name was a word mark filed in 1953 and subsequently registered on 6/1/1954 as a trademark for  a company supplying watches, parts of watches, and watch cases. The last holder of the Mentor name was listed as, "Bader & Hafner, Holderbank," but as this takes the use of the name up to 1995, I am not exactly sure when the use of the "Mentor" name on watches was discontinued. The earliest reference to Bader & Hafner I have found is on a NAWCC thread where a certain WT Clocks identifies a watch as being, "...a Bader & Hafner S.A. ca. 1946-1959 Mentor 18size Alarm Silver w/a pin pallet escapement. 227383". Beneath this reference, issydoro mentions that he himself owns a, "Forsythe Bader & Hafner mov brevet 227383 it has an Alarm it has a black dial, what do you will like to know? aprox 52mmin diameterx 20mm thick" [both quotes sic]. What are we to make of these references, contained in a long and somewhat confusing thread? Well, it does seem that Bader & Hafner were, at least in the earlier period of the company, responsible for at least one technical patent relating to mechanical movements, and these movements were sometimes used by other watch concerns as well as by Bader & Hafner themselves. It is known that the firm did produce pocket watches, including the alarm variety, and the references above, taken together, do indicate that Bader & Hafner was already in production soon after World War Two, adopting the brand name for its watches at about this time. The first appearance I can find of the art deco style name mark occurs in an advert from 1947 which shows a rather minimalist watch that was slightly ahead of its time.



A Mentor alarm pocket watch by Bader & Hafner from the transitional period just before the name mark was slightly altered into it's post-War form. This is a 4 jewel example, but this alarm watch format is found with different jewelleing in the movement as well as with the later mentor mark (pic from thumbs.worthpoint.com):



A wonderful advert from 1947 showing a very stylish minimalist Mentor watch, and firmly establishing the post-War Mentor mark as being from the firm of Bader & Hafner (pic from s.ecrater.com):




A stylish Mentor wristwatch with the typical post-War Mentor mark - this design is also found with the earlier version of the name mark c.1945-50 (pic from images.bidorbuy.co.za):





If we now have an approximate start date for Mentor watches of about 1945, when did the company cease trading? The latest reference to Mentor watches would seem to be in the name mark registration document, for1995, but looking at the watches bearing the typical "Mentor" designation on the dial, I get the feeling that this brand was defunct by the later era of the quartz crisis. I await a quartz Mentor watch, and it may be that the brand ended with mechanical watches only, probably before 1980. As for the Mentor trademark, there seems to have a tendency towards the end of the Mentor brand for the name mark to revert once more to the simpler MENTOR typeface. As for Mentor as a registered name mark, this seems to have continued after Bader & Hafner had discontinued watch production, but it no longer had any association with watches.



Apologies for the poor picture but this watch is most interesting as it competes in period with the first centrally arranged chronograph wristwatch claimed for Mido. This example is c.1945-50 (pic from encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com):




A pendant watch from the late 1960s by Mentor (pic from i.ebayimg.com)




A 17J hand-wind Mentor calendar dive watch from the mid-1960s with 37mm steel case and 50 metre WR (pic from assets.catawiki.nl):





Having established a start and finish time, approximately, for Bader & Hafner's Mentor brand - seemingly their only wholly-owned watch brand, what conclusions can we come to with regard to Mentor watches from the various pieces of documentary evidence and the visibly extant watches found in illustrations and their captions? I would suggest the following:

1) The earliest Mentor mark is a simple "MENTOR" on the dial, with the art deco "MENTOR" mark being in use from at least as early as 1947.

2) Bader & Hafner were clearly interested in technical aspects of their products and were responsible for some interesting watch complications in Mentor pieces. Their alarm pocket watch, which seems to have been an early success, was followed by a centrally arranged chronograph hot on the heels of the Mido version.  It is not clear how technically skilled the company was from the mid-1950s but there were certainly glimpses of this ability in the later period. The firm produced a relatively high number of  alarm wristwatches but, for some reason, chronographs with subdials seem to be absent.

3)  Bader & Hafner were not ebauche manufacturers, and the movements found in Mentor watches are not in-house items. Various Swiss movements appear in the watches, including examples from Baumgartner. However, they are apparently not always easy to identify, and ETA calibers are certainly absent from the watches whose movements are stated. The only possible exception to out-sourced calibers might be the original Mentor alarm pocket watch but I am not sufficiently clued up as to just how far Bader and Hafner were involved in actual in-house manufacturing.

4) The span of the market covered by Mentor watches is surprisingly wide. Bader & Hafner were certainly sourcing the lower tier of the watch market from the beginning of the Mentor name, and it is likely that this was then forced to continue when the Swiss watch industry began to suffer from the early 1970s. Nevertheless, there are some very interesting Mentor watches right through the period of production, and Mentor products were by no means always on the cheaper side of good quality. Note should be made of Mentor dive watches, some of which had 25J movements and steel cases - I have even come across an alarm dive watch by Mentor

5) It does seem that even though Bader & Hafner tended to concentrate on watches for the mass market (and there are certainly many survivors), the company had a quite advanced attitude to style. From the early elegant minimalist Mentor time pieces to the comprehensive 1970s range of mechanical watches with digital display, the firm was certainly up to date stylistically, both in their ladies' and gents watches. It is therefore all the more sad that Mentor watches disappeared as a brand, and were gone probably just before the beginning of the 1980s. 



A stylish mid-1950s Mentor 15J handwind wristwatch, with picture acknowledgements to our own SbryantGB (pic from sbryantgb.com):




Mentor 1960s De Luxe Calendar dive watch with tritium lume and powered by a Baumgartner automatic caliber (pic from i.ebayimg.com):




Mentor hand-wind digital display wristwatch from about 1970 - one of a number of Mentor mechanical jump hour style watches made in this period, including the "Mentor-Racing" model in different versions (pic from wristwatchocean on i901.photobucket.com):




Mentor stopwatch, perhaps for UNICEF, with a Swiss caliber 417 hand-wind movement, c.1970s (pic from img0.etsystatic.com)




Mentor alarm watch from about 1970 with a 1J movement stamped BADER LTD and RL (pics from 3.bp.blogspot.com and 1.bp.blogspot.com):





A rare and late Mentor digital jump-hour 17J mechanical hand-wind wristwatch of large size for the period (44mm across X 40mm) and probably representing the last throes of Mentor before the quartz crisis hit the Swiss in full throttle, c.mid-1970s (pic from retrowatches.co.uk):




Unusual and desirable mid-1970s digital jump hour Mentor watch powered by a 17J automatic movement. This is essentially the automatic version of the Mentor Racing digital display watch - both feature an analogue running seconds register (pic from c1.staticflickr.com):





  • Like 7
Link to post
Share on other sites

Honor, as ever, your topics are so well researched - - and damned annoying at the same time :yes:

That'll be me looking for MentoR on the bay of evil next week then :whistle::tumbleweed:

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Great write up Honor :thumbsup:, good to know a little more history since I own one :yes:.


It's a shame I can't be certain of the age of it. I was under the impression it was from the 70's.... but who knows it might a 57. A birth year watch :thumbsup: 

Edited by SBryantgb
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 5 months later...
  • 2 weeks later...

Hola Amigo,

if you go to the first forum page "Watch Discussion Forum" there are two tutorials on posting images.

Lo siento, yo no escribo bien en espanol. En la primera pagina del forum, hay dos seccions (in Ingles) por enviar imagenes - - es sencillo despues el primero exito! :biggrin:

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 years later...
  • 1 month later...

I have a Mentor pocket watch that used to belong to my gran father. Just for curiosity I am trying to find out a little history of this watch but I was not able to find any picture of similar one. My gran father was from Portugal and moved to Brazil around 1900. I am not sure when he did acquire it. The engraving in the back looks like hand made and the name mentor is not written in capital letters. Inside the watch there is an engraved dog, a symbol 0.800 and a number (maybe a serial number) 598469.

I really appreciate If anyone has any information about it.


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a Mentor pocket watch that used to belong to my gran father. Just for curiosity I am trying to find out a little history of this watch but I was not able to find any picture of similar one. My gran father was from Portugal and moved to Brazil around 1900. I am not sure when he did acquire it. The engraving in the back looks like hand made and the name mentor is not written in capital letters. Inside the watch there is an engraved dog, a symbol 0.800 and a number (maybe a serial number) 598469.

I really appreciate If anyone has any information about it.


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 month later...

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Create New...