Lemania: History and Follow Up

As a follow up to a previous article where I discussed the connection between the Omega Speedmaster manual movements, and the Vacheron Constantin 1141/1142, and the Patek Philipper CH 27-70, since they all used the same Lemania based caliber, I also 

thought it’d be a good idea to give some more background on who Lemania was and is, especially their intimate connection with Omega via the SIHH.

Lemania was founded in 1884 by Alfred Lugrin. Lugrin had acquired his expertise at Jaeger LeCoultre, who are considered one of the greatest movement makers of all time. The quality of Lugrin’s movements were also outstanding and received numbers awards at  various exhibitions, including an exhibition in 1906 in Milan, and then again in 1914 in Bern. His specialty was chronographs, stopwatches and repeaters.

Lemania was not the initial name of the company, though. Until 1930 it was actually called Lugrin S.A. at which point  Ligroin’s son-in-law created the brand name Lemania Watch Co. Its headquarters were in L’Orient.

In 1932 Lemania joined forces with Omega and Tissot. Together the trio formed the SSIH group. It was in this group, with very close collaboration with Omega did many legendary chronograph calibers get created.

In particular, the Lemania caliber 2310/2320/2612 and later the caliber 1873, went on to power some of the greatest watches of all time. This included the legendary Speedmasters, the Patek Philipper 5070, and of course the Vacheron Constantin 5000T, which was recently revamped.

With the advent of Quartz technology in the 1970’s, sales of mechanical watches suffered everywhere. This was dubbed the “Quartz Crisis”. Nearly impossible to stay afloat, in 1980 creditor banks issued mandate to break up the SSIH, at which point Lemania was bought out in 1981 and renamed Nouvelle Lemania. In 1992, Nouvelle Lemania was again sold, this time to Breguet (Groupe Horloger Breguet), where a new shop was set up in L’Abbaye in 1996.

Fortunes remained dim, not only for Lemania, but for Breguet as well and in 1999 Breguet and its assets were purchased by The Swatch Group. This time; however, the Lemania name was replaced with Manufacture Breguet. Since then, the company formerly known as Lemania primarily produces calibers for Breguet, yet many of its other products are used by other Swatch Group brands (Omega of course, is also part of The Swatch Group).

What is interesting in all of this is the fact that despite being part of The Swatch Group, Manufacture Breguet (or Lemania as it pertains to this article), was never absorbed or merged with the conglomerate ETA, which is also now owned by The Swatch Group.

Besides the caliber’s mentioned above, Lemania of course is responsible for many great movements:

 

Manual Chronograph

  • 1270/1275/1276/1277 - cam switched, 30 minute counter and 60 second subdials
  • 1280/1281 - cam switched, 30 minute and 12 hour counters and 60 second subdials
  • 1872 (1961) - cam switched, 30 minute and 60 second subdials
  • 1873 - cam switched, 30 minute and 12 hour counters and 60 second subdials, optional 24 hour display (aka Frank Mueller 1870, Omega 861/863, Universal Genève 84)
  • 1874
  • 1877 - Breitling Calibre 12
  • 1883 (1983) - cam switched, 30 minute and 12 hour counters and 60 second subdials, date and moon phase
  • 1888 - (aka Ulysse Nardin UN 53)
  • 5200/5250 - pillar wheel
  • 2310/2320/2612 (1942) - pillar wheel, Patek Phillipe 2872 (2310) and CH 27-70 (2310), Omega 321 (2310), Vacheron Constantin 1141 (2320)

 

Automatic Chronograph

  • 1340 - cam switched, 60 minute and 12 hour counters and 60 second subdials, quickset date, 24 hour display
  • 1341 - cam switched, 60 minute and 12 hour counters and 60 second subdials, quickset date
  • 1343 - cam switched, 60 minute and 60 second subdials, quickset date
  • 1350 (1994) - cam switched
  • 5100/5012 (1974) - pillar wheel, 60 minute and 12 hour counters and 60 second subdials, quickset day and date, 24 hour display, hacking
  • LWO 283 - ETA 2892 with Dubois-Depraz chronograph module - BM 13283

 

Automatic Time-Only

  • 8810/8815 (1991) - date and seconds (aka Ebel 080, Longines 990.2, Robergé MMR 3213)
  • 8811/8816 - seconds
  • 8812/8817 - date
  • 8813/8818 - time only (aka Longines L987.2)
  • 8831 - jumping hour
  • 8840 - perpetual calendar
  • 8875 - (aka Robergé MMR 3243)
  • 2010 (1978) - Lassale