Sunday, August 07, 2016

Kelek calibers 1369 & 1376

Keleks with calibers 1369 & 1376 introduced in 1973-4

In 1973, the Valjoux 7750 was launched which became one of the most used chronograph movements. Four years after,  the automatic chronograph pioneers El Primero, Cal. 11 and Seiko 6139 were launched.

In addition, another automatic chronograph caliber was presented by a consortium constituted by Tenor Dorly, Brac and Kelek in collaboration with Dubois Depraz who developed the chronograph module. The initials TDBK represent the four companies that were involved in its development. Tenor-Dorly, Dubois-Depraz, Brac and Kelek. The base caliber an automatic with date was developed by Brac and Tenor-Dorly, the chronograph module was subsequently added by chronograph specialist Dubois-Depraz, and Kelek were responsible for the production.

The new TDBK calibers were presented in two versions: the 1369 and the 1376. The 1369 is easily recognizable by the odd localization of subdials (running seconds at 6, the minutes register between 2 and 3 and the hours register at 11). Also the date window was placed unusually: at 9.

The 1376 is, if possible, even more peculiar: “instead of the normal group of hands, two discs with printed hours and minutes were used. To make sure the time could be read accurately, the hours were jumping. But this was not the only change to the movement. The totalizers were also different. The subsidiary seconds at 6 o’ clock was sacrificed for the date display, wich in turn relinquished its place at 9, since that is where the hour disc turned. The minute counter between 2 and 3 o’clock had to make way for the rotating minute disc. To prevent the caliber 1376 from becoming a chronograph, a 60-minute counter replaced the hour counter”. – description from Classic Wristwatches 2014/2015

This caliber was initially used in watches branded Kelek and Tenor Dorly but many other brands also started to use it: Waltham, Nivada, Precimax, Mikado, Lov, etc and, even, the historical chronograph maker Minerva.
Despite all the effort evolved in his development, reliability problems, the quartz crisis and a strong competition by the Valjoux 7750 made the success achieved by this caliber very limited and only 23000 units of both versions (1369 and 1376) were made, making it rare and collectable for the chronograph collectors.
The 1369 is a 17 jewels modular column wheel chronograph caliber which runs at 21600bph. The 1376 is a mechanical digital with a 60 minute chronograph module. The 1376 can be seen as an attempt of the Swiss watch industry to combat the onslaught of the digital Quartz watches from Japan. It is most likely to be the first world jump hour chronograph.

With a diameter of 24.8 cm and a height of 7.6 cm, they were the smallest automatic caliber on the market, considerably smaller and thinner than the Heuer cal 11/12 and Zenith 3019 El Primero counterparts. For history remains the smallest automatic chronograph ‘till date and in the following 20 years.The case from both watches has 36mm wide without crown, 45mm lug to lug and is 15mm thick.

These two watches have potential in price escalations owing to the rarity in quantities and uniqueness in watch dials placement...

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