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Examples of Case Engravure

Engravure was much used in days past to enhance otherwise plain watch cases.  Some manufacturers - for example, Elgin - also produced watches with heavily engraved dials to good effect.  The following examples show typical styles and methods, although method is not discussed unless it is germane to the artistic aspect.  One style appears to dominate in case engraving - that of the Art Nouveau movement which persisted on watches long after the movement itself had declined in general popularity.  The later Art Deco and Art Moderne movements had more influence on case shape and on dial design than they did on case engraving.
bulova octagonal bulova octagonal
A 1920's Bulova with Art Nouveau engraving but Art Deco dial numerals!
helbros helbros
A 1920's Helbros with a simple linear pattern on a classic step-side Deco case.
elgin octagonal elgin octagonal
A 1910's Elgin octagonal case with interesting motifs that are not readily classified.
elgin recase elgin recase
A 1913 Elgin movement, re-cased into a 1930's Illinois W.C. Co "Spartan" case having an abundance of Art Nouveau engraving.
gruen tonneau gruen tonneau
A 1930's Elgin Tonneau with a Streamline Moderne pattern.
mabel champlevé mabel champlevé
A 1910's Mabel by Stadler with basse-taille enamel.  The effect of enameling over engravure is quite impressive.
pendant PW pendant PW
A modern retro pendant by North Star.  The nicely-done back is somewhat reminiscent of late 1800's/early 1900's posters a là Alfons Mucha.
hamilton A 1940's or 50's Hamilton with a plain, perhaps Deco linear motif on the bezel, terminated with triangles at the vestigial cut-corners.  However, as a contrast to the first Bulova above, the "Breguet" numerals on the dial with their curves tend more towards earlier times.
studded PW A lady's cocktail watch, perhaps 1920's, sporting circles of tiny metal "beads" bounding what are, no doubt, real diamonds.  Beading is quite often found on tank and tonneau-style cases but less so on round or cushion-style ones.
very nice JLC A quite stunning Jaeger leCoultre Reverso model, with a fine display of industrial Art Moderne styling complemented by the stark numerals and subdial - yet contrasted by the signature and the trademark.  Please note how the straight milling of the crown continues the horizontal linear motifs on the bezel.

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