In 1960, about a decade before the Quartz Crisis changed the face of horology forever, Bulova produced a watch that eschewed the traditional balance wheel in favor of a 360-hertz steel tuning fork, powered by electromagnets attached to a battery-powered transistor oscillator circuit. Designed by Max Hetzel, the Accutron made waves. It became the first wristwatch to be precise enough to be qualified for U.S. Railroad certification, guaranteed to be accurate to about one minute per month, or about two seconds per day.
The Accutron's success prompted Swiss brands to introduce their own versions of the technology. Universal Geneve released their first--and only--electric watch, the Ultrasonic, in the early 1960s. Like Universal Geneve, Wittnauer (then known mainly for their chronographs and their association with Longines) was an early adopter of this new technology.
R&D on what would become Switzerland's first electric movement began in the 1940s, spearheaded by designers André Breyer and René Besson of Ébauches SA. ESA secured the patent (numbers 345611 and 346828) for their electric movement in 1959. The movements Landeron 4750/51--were assembled at ESA's manufacture at Landeron and used WD-5 batteries manufactured by Leclanché. Unlike its American counterparts by Bulova and Hamilton, the Landeron 4750 contained no magnets. Instead, the L4750 relied on the electric impulses produced by the contact wires reacting with the steel balance plate.
The first Wittnauer Electro-Chrons with the Landeron 4750 movements rolled off the production line at the close of 1960, and debuted at Basel in April 1961. Thirty different brands utilized this movement, among them Benrus and Gruen. But it's the Wittnauer Electro-Chron--with its distinctive hands shaped like lightning bolts--that remain among the most collectible, relics of an era just a few short years before the introduction of the industry-changing Quartz technology.
Apart from containing the first Swiss electric movement, this Wittnauer has enough features to make it stand out on it's own.
36mm stainless steel case, "lightning bolt" hands, compressor style cross hatched signed crown, and a caseback featuring the famous lightning bolt and make and model.
Beautiful clean dial with simple baton indexes with the cool lighting bolt at 12`.
And those hands?? Just look at them!!
This example is in very good condition with only small signs of wear and comes on a stretch riveted bracelet.