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A. Schild -  Historical Movement Manufactures


In 1896, Anton Schild – brother of Urs Schild, founder of Eterna and of movement giant ETA – began to make his own movements known by his initials. The AS movement was born.

Anton Schild recognized the advantages of mechanized watch production at an early stage. It would deliver the precision needed to be able to readily exchange all parts. When he joined forces with British watchmaker John Harwood in 1926, the business of automatic movements was born. Following long negotiations, powerful A. Schild SA with a workforce of 2,000 merged in 1926 with the Fabrique d'Horlogerie de Fontainemelon (FHF) and Ad. Michel SA to become Ebauches AG. With 330,000 units sold between 1970 and 1974, the AS 1931 hand wind movement is a truly rare commodity.

Blinded by the undeniable success of its mechanical movements, the rather conservative movement maker missed the necessary transition from mechanical to electronic watch.

In 1978 AS saw no other alternative but to merge with ETA, a sister company of Ebauches SA. In its wake the range of available movements was narrowed down. In 1983 when the demand for mechanical watches hit bottom, AS completely disappeared from the scene. Left behind are hundreds of movements and the legacy of the role played by a true pioneer in the field of automatic movements and wrist alarms.

Believed to be the most successful alarm movement of all times, the 111⁄4 ligne1475 with two barrels was launched by Grenchener ASSA in 1954. More than 781,000 units were sold to a variety of watchmakers until 1970. The alarm sounded for ten seconds, the balance rotated every hour at a conventional18,000 A/h. In 1970 AS increased vibrations to 21,600 A/h to improve precision. In the process, AS 1930 superseded AS1475 while AS 1568 became AS 1931.

AS did not develop its automatic alarm overnight. When it was finally introduced to the marketplace in 1973, industry analysts believed it was already too late. Mercilessly, market forces put a stronghold on production. When quartz mania began to hit western consumers, alarm timepieces were sold for nearly nothing.

The opportunity to make a profit by selling mechanical alarm movements vanished almost overnight, a bitter pill to swallow for AS. Machines ran for almost four years until the Grenchen movement maker reluctantly ceased production in 1977 of its fine Brain-matic 5008 (30.0 diameter x 7.6 mm thick with push piece-activated date and day displays). With 180 parts a piece, some 175,000 movements were made during this time period.

The AS movement is the only movement in which a rotor winds both the watch and alarm. In later years, ball bearings were added to the conventional shaft rotor while the number of jewels rose from 17 to 31.