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I have this watch probably from the 50s called Alter - maybe French or Italian and hoped someone might have heard of it.

It has a normal dial with a sub second hand, but also has the word "cronometro" written on the dial which apparently means 'stop watch'.

I thought that stop watches had a separate dial for that purpose. Can anyone help?

 

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Welcome to the Forum, Chantry.

The term, "cronometro" (Eng. chronometer) written on the dial of your watch relates to the accuracy of the watch/movement and not to any "stop watch" function. The history of the term "chronometer" is an interesting one, but to cut things short, I will say that some watches marked with this term cannot actually claim to be chronometers in the more modern sense of the word. For a watch to be a true chronometer, it has to be tested by a relevant body and reach certain standards of accuracy. Unfortunately, certain companies still like to put the term, "chronometer", on watches that have no rightful claim to be classed as such.

I am doing a rapid research binge to see if I can find out something about "Alter" watches: I will post my results here below on this thread.

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I have not been able to find much about the Alter watch brand, but I am pretty sure that it is not Swiss. I illustrate the one vintage Alter watch that I have managed to find, and note that the back of the watch has been inscribed, "Fernando Gomez" together with the astrological lion and "Leo." The seller of this mechanical hand-wind watch (Vintage Watches at sokm77wsatches.blogspot.com) thought it might be of  West German manufacture (for reasons unknown ) while I myself am leaning towards a Portugese or perhaps a Latin American origin for the "Alter" brand. Further research is needed.

 

 

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Thank you so much for taking the trouble to investigate this for me. Interesting to note, is that the guy I bought the watch from said that the guy he got it from was in Portugal, so maybe that ties up!

Once, again, thanks for all your help.

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On 24/04/2020 at 10:56, Chantry1 said:

I have this watch probably from the 50s called Alter

I found one on Ebay, sold from Finland. Automatic FE 4612 movement and from the dial made in the 1970s. Caseback has fairly standard "Fond Acier Inox"  for stainless steel back. I'd agree with Honour, unlikely to be Swiss, if only because no "Swiss Made" anywhere, but maybe one of the French makers working close to the border.

s-l1600.jpg

If you could post pictures of yours, especially of the movement, that would be interesting and might help with identification.

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Thanks for showing that watch, Norman. It seems that we are honing in on Portugal as the most likely source of the Alter brand name; in terms of a possible South American link, I would expect Brazil to be the most likely contender.

I must also welcome the fact that @Chantry1  has acknowledged the research that members do to answer queries posted on the Forum. It makes quite a difference when a thank you is posted on such a thread.:)

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30 minutes ago, Always"watching" said:

Thanks for showing that watch, Norman. It seems that we are honing in on Portugal as the most likely source of the Alter brand name; in terms of a possible South American link, I would expect Brazil to be the most likely contender.

I must also welcome the fact that @Chantry1  has acknowledged the research that members do to answer queries posted on the Forum. It makes quite a difference when a thank you is posted on such a thread.:)

I’d also like to thank you. I have no particular in this watch or many others you’ve researched, but I really appreciate the effort you put in and love reading the fruits of your labour, which often make an indistinct watch much more interesting. And of course to the owners, only make their beloved item more beloved! 
Thanks! 

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In the absence of photos from the OP, here's another Alter watch from Ebay, UK seller, with a different style of wordmark from the ones we've found up to now, and the word "Cronometro" on the dial. Movement is handwinding Lorsa 238G, so I still think the brand is French, (even if made for another market), though who the maker was is still a mystery.

s-l1600.jpg

 

s-l1600.jpg

Edited by spinynorman
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Thanks for showing that interesting watch, Norman.

These sort of attribution questions are certainly tricky, but your new evidence does indicate that the Alter watches may be French in origin although French movements were used internationally by certain watch companies. I still feel that there may be a Portugese connection ...:)

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16 minutes ago, Always"watching" said:

I still feel that there may be a Portugese connection

or South American. I agree, given "Cronometro" appeared on Waltham pocket watches destined for South America in the 1890s and Waltham used Lorsa movements mid 20th century.

I found an identical watch to the Alter Cronometro sold on ebay from Portugal, they might even both be the OP's watch. And this with a Lorsa 238, branded Leão, which is Portugese for Lion. Fascinating.

s-l1600.jpg

Edited by spinynorman
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Thanks again to everyone for showing interest in this Alter watch. The 2 pictures that you have come up with spinynorman, are in fact the actual watch that I bought from ebay several months ago.

What I now recall is the seller two times ago (in Portugal), saying he believed it was French.

Being non technical with watch movements, may I ask what sort of quality the Lorsa is like?

Much appreciated.

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1 hour ago, Chantry1 said:

may I ask what sort of quality the Lorsa is like?

I'm no expert, but from what I've picked up here and there, Lorsa won't bring tears of joy from the average watch enthusiast. You can see it's industrial in construction and not at all pretty. That said, it's well made and there's no reason it wouldn't keep good time, with the occasional service. No shock protection, though, so don't drop it. I've linked to an article on a few of the lesser known French watch brands, which also mentions the movement makers.

https://wahawatches.com/all-you-need-to-know-about-french-watches/

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Surely it can only be Portuguese looking at the day window. It shows 'TER' short for Terca , which is Tuesday in Portuguese.

There's no 'TER' day in French or Spanish.

I've got a very vague recollection that I've seen this brand advertised as Portuguese military before. In actual fact it was a NAAFI watch sold to servicemen as they did not issue military watches. The old brain might be playing tricks though :)

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21 minutes ago, eezy said:

Surely it can only be Portuguese looking at the day window. It shows 'TER' short for Terca , which is Tuesday in Portuguese.

There's no 'TER' day in French or Spanish.

I've got a very vague recollection that I've seen this brand advertised as Portuguese military before. In actual fact it was a NAAFI watch sold to servicemen as they did not issue military watches. The old brain might be playing tricks though :)

Good spot on the day. However, I don't know of any Portuguese watch makers and the only clue I have found was a reference to IWC - "as near as Portugal gets to a connection with the watch industry".

It's equally possible a French manufacturer made these watches specifically for the Portugese market. Perhaps imported by a local jeweller.

Military connection would be interesting if we could get confirmation. It's a shame the name is so generic and hard to search.

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22 minutes ago, spinynorman said:

Good spot on the day. However, I don't know of any Portuguese watch makers and the only clue I have found was a reference to IWC - "as near as Portugal gets to a connection with the watch industry".

It's equally possible a French manufacturer made these watches specifically for the Portugese market. Perhaps imported by a local jeweller.

Military connection would be interesting if we could get confirmation. It's a shame the name is so generic and hard to search.

Yes not impossible that it was built for the export market.

My somewhat tenuous link to the military is by virtue of the fact that I once bid on a Portuguese watch advertised as military. At the time my enthusiasm was tempered by the fact that upon researching it, I discovered there were no Portuguese military issued watches and as I said they were supplied to the 'NAAFI' to be purchased much like Indian and Russian military watches.

Sorry to be so vague

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I think what we'd be looking for is someone like David Jaime Kolinski, who moved to Lisbon from Poland in the 1930s and set up as a watchmaker, but also imported clocks and, later, wristwatches. Sadly the history of the Tempus Group retail chain that succeeds him doesn't mention any brands that might be in the company's past.

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