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Bentima, Bentima


Always"watching"
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This is a strange brand, a well-known name that sounds like a European girl's first name, and one that turns up on the dials of old and new clocks as well as on some pocket and wrist watches. And yet, this brand seems to be a bit of a mystery which I cannot fully unravel in spite of some research.

It would seem that Bentima was essentially a British company, but its date of foundation is unknown to me. I recently came across a mantle clock marked Bentima dating to the 1930s, and inside it contained a brass pendulum movement marked British Made or something very similar, and there was also another mark to indicate that the clock was of British manufacture. Another 1930s Bentima clock is mentioned online, where it states that the movements at that time were made by Perivale, who before 1935 marketed the clocks as Anvil before switching to the name Bentima.

At some stage in its history - probably just after World War 2 - Bentima seems to have gone all "Swiss" while still probably remaining a British firm when it became the UK importers and agents for Oris, a relationship that might have closer than that for a while, as sister companies. Indeed, Bentima was apparently registered as a Swiss manufacturer on August 5th 1948. The company subsequently started to market Swiss-made watches under their own name, usually "Bentima Star" and the higher end Bentima watches were sometimes assembled with an Oris cal.92 movement or even by Edox with an AS1951 movement.

Mechanical Bentima Swiss-made watches seem to have been manufactured well into the 1960s and there are also some Bentima-marked pocket watches. Interestingly, there is a record of "The Bentima Company Ltd." of Western Way, Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, being incorporated on 2 August 1956. This record is tantalising because it gives no mention of that company's activities and merely announces that the company is now dissolved - is that a reference to "our" Bentima?

I thought that I had reached the end of the line with Bentima but since the name appears on modern clocks and watches, right into the quartz era to the present day, something must give the game away. In fact, it is apparent that Bentima is now a brand name used by Acctim even though there is no mention of Bentima on the Acctim web site. So the name Bentima survives, and is now exclusive to clocks, unless someone knows to the contrary.

Just to show how nice Bentima watches could be, here is a classic example dating to about 1968:

444.015.jpg

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  • 7 years later...

It turns out that Bentima never made clocks or watches. Rather, they sold items made by other companies marketed under their name! So, there never was a Bentima clockworks! Just like today when a designer like Lauren or Klein puts their name on an item they did not manufacture. And the pieces were always considered low end products. However, the beautiful Anniversary clock is still running in many households around the world. And today, October 4, 2021, it can be purchased for about $15. I’d say THAT is a steal!!! 

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@Always"watching" Since this thread has revived, I wondered what the BHI archive might tell us about Bentima. The first mention of the company that search turns up is in February 1936, when it is listed as an exhibitor at the British Industries Fair. Then in April a report of the exhibition mentions Bentima Co., Ltd., of 17/18, Bury Street, Bishopsgate, London, showing a range of "Perivale" clocks and a new "Coronet" line. The Perivale Clock Manufacturing Co., Ltd., located in Peri­vale also makes an appearance, represented by their sole agents Andrew & Co., Ltd., of 67-68, Hatton Garden, London. Perivale appears further back, in 1934, as the maker of "Anvil" movements. An article in 1946 notes that in 1940 supplies of Swiss made dashboard clocks for planes were cut off and the RAF turned to Perivale Clock Manufacturing to fill the gap.

A fuller story of Bentima's origins has to wait until October 1956 and a retirement presentation to Elias Buerger, FBHI, Managing Director of Bentima Co. following the AGM of the Watch Manufacturers Asso­ciation, of which he was Vice President. Mr Buerger, then aged 81, had come to England from Russia in 1913 as a grain merchant. He became a watch and clock importer in 1921 and invested in The Perivale Clock Manufacturing Co. Later he acquired S. Davall and Sons, Ltd., and formed Bentima in 1925. The three companies seem to have traded independently at least into the 1950s, with Bentima as the distributor of Perivale and Davall products.

According to Graces Guide, S. Davall & Sons were described in 1947 as "Clock-Makers of high grade springwound, pendulum or lever spring types in modern wood, plastic or metal cases, for domestic use." In 1968 they were making flight recorders for BEA, as part of the Bentima Group.

In Switzerland, "Bentima" was first registered as a trademark for "Montres et parties de montres" by Georges Christian, Manufacture d'Horlogerie Oris on 5th June 1924, which confirms the listing in Mikrolisk. It continued under the Oris Watch Co., until March 1983, when it transferred to Bentima, by then at 3-5 Aintree Road, Perivale. It expired in February 1989. On that basis, do we think Bentima watches were made by Oris?

Edited by spinynorman
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