Monday Morning Find: An Unusual 1940s Art Deco Skeleton Watch
Sometimes vintage watches are downright weird. This is one of those.
This Marvin dates to the 1940s and has an unusual skeletonized structure. The case is 35mm, which is much larger than the manually wound movement powering the watch. This itself is not uncommon at all—in fact, many collectors look for this and prize watches whose movements fully fill out the case as a result—but Marvin chose to do something strange with that extra space. Instead of covering it with a dial, they left it open, keeping the dial the same size as the movement.
Skeleton watches were a trend at this year's Baselworld trade show, but none looked like this. Instead of cutting out the actual movement and allowing the wearer to see into the mechanics, Marvin cut out the dial and case on this watch. The center portion of the dial is perfectly ordinary, but around it the Roman numerals appear to float above the steel caseback, which is nicely finished on the underside to provide an even viewing surface (and the branding stamp and "Brevet +" trademark logo are both hidden under the movement).
If you look past the novelty factor, everything about this watch screams 1940s style. The markers set into the crystal are architectural Roman numerals and batons, complementing the open O-style hour hand and long, thin minute hand. The small sub-seconds dial is a little tough to read because of the reduced size, but it's not a huge problem.
The dial has two markings worth noting: "Non Magnetic" and "Mod. Deposé." The former is pretty straightforward. This watch has a protective cover over the movement to protect against magnetic interference, a new feature that was being heavily promoted in the ’40s. The second is short for modele deposé, which roughly translates to "registered design." It's Marvin bragging right on the dial that this is a design unique to the company.
While many brands featured on Monday Morning Find are long out of business, Marvin has been resurrected in recent years. The new Marvin makes mostly entry-level mechanical sport watches and a few larger, modern dress watches. A watch modeled after this vintage find wouldn't look out of place in the current collection at all.
This Marvin skeleton watch is available from Private Eyes for 198,000 yen (about $1,650).