This is the second guide on the history and designs of Swiss watch case makers from the last Century. Third party suppliers have been the backbone of the industry for a long time and to better understand the world of vintage watches we got to understand case makers and their approach to the craft. This is a non-exhaustive list highlighting some of the most influential and interesting manufacturers of their time (which shall not undermine any of the left-out craftsmen).

November 22, 2023

The Guide to Watch Case Makers - The Hammer & La Chaux-De-Fonds


Marcus Siems     Marcus Siems @siemswatches
    Collector, Author, Data Analyst


Case Maker Guide - Part I Geneva - Part II La Chaux-de-Fonds - Part III Other -

This is the second guide on the history and designs of Swiss watch case makers from the last Century. Third party suppliers have been the backbone of the industry for a long time and to better understand the world of vintage watches we got to understand case makers and their approach to the craft. This is a non-exhaustive list highlighting some of the most influential and interesting manufacturers of their time (which shall not undermine any of the left-out craftsmen).


It's safe to say that the Swiss watch industry as whole has always been extremely versatile and distributed. Thus, it won't come as a surprise that not only in Geneva but all over Switzerland craftsmen were able to make some of the finest cases for the horological powerhouses. And to trace back the origin of all of those (precious metal) cases they were stamped - under the Swiss Precious Metal Act from 1933 - with the Hammerhead Poinçons de Maître and the respective number for the case maker[1-2].


6 Swiss hallmarks iconsPictograms of the 6 Swiss hallmarks - or Poinçons de Maître - found inside watch casebacks. Photo Courtesy of David Boettcher, VintageWatchStraps.


So the Hammerhead hallmark combines all case maker outside of Geneva... well that's a large crowd. Over 100 identified case makers fall under the umbrella of "producing outside of Geneva" between 1934 and 2000. To not get too lengthy we'll split the "Hammerhead" guide into several parts by city. So this is the guide to watch case makers from La Chaux-de-Fonds.


vintage 1960s Vacheron Constantin tonneau shaped watchA 1970s vintage Vacheron Constantin with a tonneau-shaped case made by Favre & Perret - hammerhead hallmark #115 - in La Chaux-de-Fonds. Photos from Goldammer Archives.


La Chaux-de-Fonds is located about 130km northeast of Geneva at the French border in the canton of Neuchâtel in the Jura mountains. Furthermore, it is a traditional capital of Swiss watchmaking and has been the production site for 58* out of 110 identified case makers (with Hammerhead) throughout the last Century[1-2]. This is a short story about 7 of them.


Hammerhead No. 105 - Jules Blum (1934-74)

Background. The numbering for the Hammerhead hallmarks starts at 101 - exceptions have been case makers with headquarters in Geneva that also maintained factories in other cities. Thus, the factory of Jules Blum (& sons) is one of the earliest registered.

Style. The manufacture came to our attention as it was providing cases to some of our bestselling watches - IWC's Cal.89 (and Cal. 83) dress watches. Hereby, the Blum cases stand out through their shark-fin and teardrop lug designs (Bombe lugs for example by Châtelain, Sandoz & Co also in La Cahux-de-Fonds, hammerhead #109). However, they further provided cases for the Hermet collection, one of the earliest sturdy dress watches from IWC with recessed crown[3].

Examples. IWC Hermet, IWC Cal.89 Dress Watch

Several examples of vintage watches with cases made by Jules BlumSeveral examples of Fils Jules Blum-made cases (hammerhead #105). Photos from Goldammer Archives.


Hammerhead No. 115 - Favre & Perret (1934-2011)

Background. Favre & Perret have been one of the most versatile, refined and influential case makers outside of Geneva over the last Century. They made cases for for example Movado, Omega, Vacheron Constantin, Rolex and Patek Philippe. For the latter they were even in the illustrious circle of case makers providing Ellipse, ref. 3940 as well as Nautilus (ref. 3700) cases. They were even the craftsmen behind the famous Nautillipse[4].

Style. As mentioned above they've been producing for various brands and references but some of their most distinct design elements have been winged lugs, slim offset lugs, tonneau shaped cases as well as the Ellipse and generally several chronograph cases.

Examples. Patek Philippe 3940, Patek Philippe Nautillipse, Movado Calendograf, Movado Datron

several example vintage watches with Favre and Perret casesSeveral examples of Favre & Perret cases (hammerhead #115). Photos from Goldammer Archives.


Hammerhead No. 117 - Gunther & Co (1934-72)

Background. The manufacture of Gunther & Co been producing cases for among others Vacheron Constantin and Rolex. They ultimately merged with Guillod & Co (see below) in 1972[1].

Style. Their creations had in common that they were all on the slimmer side, often featuring hinged lugs.

Examples. Rolex 9659, Vacheron Constantin 6413

several example vintage watches with Gunther and Co casesSeveral examples of Gunther-made cases (hammerhead #117). Photos from Goldammer Archives.


Hammerhead No. 121 - Guillod & Co (1934-72)

Background. Guillod & Co merged with Gunther & Co in 1972 as a result of the quartz crisis[1,4]. However, Guillod had an extremely varied portfolio of case designs as well customers: Among others Guillod designed and produced cases for Vacheron Constantin, Cartier**, Rolex, Longines & Patek Philippe.

Style. They've been making slim dress watches and seem to have been specializing in making cases exceeding small diameter movements.

Examples. Rolex Cellini, Patek Philippe ref. 5004, Cartier Vendome

several example vintage watches with Guillod and Co cases

Several examples of Guillod-made cases from a variety of brand (hammerhead #121). Photos from Goldammer Archives.


Hammerhead No. 128 - Jung & Fils (1934-92)

Background. Jung & Fils (sons) have been the leading case manufacturer for Universal Geneve's high-end cases but also some of the Jaeger chronographs (with UG movement). These include their chronograph and sportier pieces.

Style. As mentioned Jung & Fils has been producing predominantly for Universal Geneve, hereby making the precious metal versions of several of their Compax and Compur chronographs as well as some of the more unusual Polerouter iterations.

Examples. UG Compax, UG Tri-Compax, UG Compur, UG Polerouter DeLuxe, UG Disco Volante

several example vintage watches with Jung et Fils casesSeveral examples of Jung-made cases for Universal Geneve & Jaeger (hammerhead #128). Photos from Goldammer Archives.


Hammerhead No. 136 - C.R. Spillmann (1934-88)

Background. Charles Rodolphe Spillmann founded his own case making manufacture in 1888 after spending 4 years as a partner at Spillmann & Rothen[1]. His son Jules joined him in the company and took over the reigns after the majestros passing in 1938. The Spillmann manufacture has been a close affiliate with Rolex throughout its history until in 1988 it was finally taken over by the Genevan watchmaker. The Spillmann company was executing the original Rolex "Oyster" case. Related Spillmann stamps and hallmarks can be found on several pieces as for example featuring the trademark "Fixora", Zenith watches marked "SP", as well as Rolex pieces marked "CRS" (three daggers in shield)[1].

Style. Spillmann pretty much made the integrated lug structure which visually extends the case - the classic Oyster case from the 1930s onwards - their signature design. Most of their cases will further come with a screw-down case-back. You will find these details on several Rolex but at times also Vacheron Constantin, IWC, Piaget, Longines, Audemars Piguet and Universal Geneve cases. The latter can also come with angled lugs.

Examples. Rolex Oyster, Universal Geneve Compax, Vacheron Constantin 

several example vintage watches with Spillmann casesSeveral examples of Spillmann-made cases (hammerhead #136). Photos from Goldammer Archives.


Hammerhead No. 352 - Serva (1947-65)

Background. Serva has been registered relatively late (compared to our other examples) and has only been active for a mere 13 years. However, the manufacture of Serva has been making cases for one of The best known vintage watches out there: The Omega Constellation Pie-Pan***. According to our research Serva has been making cases exclusively for Omega and during the the Pie-Pan era[5]. Nevertheless, they appear to have been making cases for other collections, like the Seamaster, as well.

Style. We're speaking best-looking (imho) Constellation cases. Those range from straight lugs (left), over dog-leg lugs (middle), to slim down-curved lugs (right). The Seamaster iterations featured beefy lugs.

Examples. Omega Constellation 2943, Omega Constellation 168.005, Omega Constellation 14393, Omega Seamaster 2757

several example vintage Omega watches with Serva casesSeveral examples of Wenger-made cases (key #1). Photos Courtesy of Sotheby's, Brevet Watches, Collectability, & Goldammer Archives.



* not at the same time. Several factories relocated and some were closed down.

** Cartier also manufactured Swiss made cases in their own workshop in La Chaux-de-Fonds between 1934-2000 (hammerhead #221).

*** The author would even go so far to speculate that the name "Serva" derives from "Observatory" - as in the Geneva Observatory, responsible for the Chronometer certification and depicted at the back of each Constellation.



[1] Swiss Poincons de Maitre; David Boettcher, VintageWatchStraps;

[2] Vintage Watch Hallmarks Explained; Felix Goldammer, Goldammer Vintage Watches;

[3] IWC Hermet - Design & History; Marcus Siems, Goldammer Vintage Watches;

[4] The Key to Master Case Makers for Patek Philippe; Tania Edwards, Collectability;

[5] Omega Constellation Reference Guide - The Pie-Pan Era; Marcus Siems, Goldammer Vintage Watches;


All rights on text and graphics reserved to the Author.

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