Record was founded in 1903 in the Swiss town of Tramelan in the Bernese Jura. The company was formed by a conglomerate who wanted to acquire and realize the patent of the Sector Watch, a triangular pocket watch with retrograde display – a highly unusual design at the time. Record once enjoyed a reputation for high precision and was therefore chosen to provide various armed forces around the world with service watches.
Many of their timepieces were provided with an official chronometer certificate, while the company was also known for its moonphase calendar watches (look out for the beautiful Datofix models at auction) and chronographs. The company produced its own movements (its first automatic was released in 1944), but used Venus hand-wound calibres for its chronographs.
US vintage watch dealer Robert Maron, writing on his website about a Record rattrapante chronograph from the 1930s that passed through his hands, described its Calibre 179 movement as “on a par with some of the finest chronograph movements we have ever seen, regardless of manufacture or price… built to the same quality as a comparable Patek Philippe movement.”
In 1961 Record lost its independence when it was acquired by Longines (based in the neighbouring municipality of Saint Imier) through a purchase of shares. Subsequently, watches were produced with the double signature “Record Longines”, and were made with ETA calibres. Record limped along until 1991 when production finally ceased.
However “new” Record watches live on, in a manner of speaking, through the Zeno watch company of Basel, which uses old Record pocket watch movements in its limited edition models. General Record service watches from the 1940s and 1950s with a typical military aesthetic (black dial, broad arrow, lume-filled hands etc) can be picked up fairly easily from vintage shops and eBay for $500-1000 alongside similar models from the likes of Cyma, Buren and Timor.