Garrett Vintage Watches: History and Iconic Models

If you want to know the history of Garrett, please watch the video here:

Galret was founded in 1466 and is known among collectors as a company with a deep history, especially its Multichron chronograph.

Just as Gallet's watches have continued to keep time as they have for centuries, the company is no longer a relic of the past, and Gallet & Co. continues to make watches in Switzerland today.

This is Garrett, but the vintage products and current products are very different.

Today, we will look back on the history of the Garrett brand and talk about watches, focusing on the vintage collection.

History of Garrett, the oldest watch brand

Garret Factory

Source: An illustration of Gallet's factory in La-Chaux-De-Fonds in 1911

Humbert Gallet founded Gallet as a watch company in 1466 while living and making watches in Genoa, Switzerland.

It was founded in 1466, so it is clear that it is one of the oldest companies in the world, even compared to Blancpain, which is generally considered to be the first watch brand to be founded.

Of course, this was a table clock, and it was not until the 1800s that true wristwatches were produced.

Although he was not originally Swiss, he received Swiss citizenship on 18 April 1466.

The next major event for the company came in 1826.

Garrett Headquarters Moves to La Chaux-de-Fonds

There are detailed records of how the family business was passed down, but the next turning point occurred in 1826.

In this year, Julian Gallet moved his company from Genoa to La Chaux-de-Fonds.

1826 was also the year the company was registered as Gallet & Cie (Gallet & Co.).

Until then, the company was named after the head of the Gallet family at the time.

Therefore, the company name at that time was "Julian Garrett Company".

After Julien's death, his sons Leon and Lucien took over the business, along with Louise, Julien's wife.

In 1855, his eldest son, Léon, took full control of the company and acquired a watchmaking company called Grumbach & Co., which expanded production.

Grambach made watches under the brand name " ELECTA ," so there are also some watches marked ELECTA Gallet & Cie.

His second son, Lucien, was closely involved in the management of the company and in 1864 opened new branches in New York and Chicago.

Lucien's cousin, Jules Racine, had been living in the United States for some time and played a part in expanding the market there.

This led to rapid market expansion in the United States and Europe.

Garrett introduced 37 new watch brands to the American market.

Rather than focusing on a specific target market, the company launched a wide range of watches at a wide range of price points.

This meant that anyone, working class or upper class, could find a Gallet watch to fit their budget.

1914: Multichron 30 delivered to the British Army

Garrett Multiclone 30 early model

During World War I, Garrett developed the world's first wristwatch chronograph, the Multichron 30, for the British military.

With a 30-minute counter and two subdials, the Multichron 30 was considerably more compact than previous pocket watches.

Although the size was smaller, it retained features from the pocket watch, such as a three-piece case, an enameled porcelain dial, and a large crown at the 3 o'clock position.

The early Multichron 30s were equipped with 13-ligne (approximately 29 mm) Valjoux or Minerva movements, which were later changed to the Venus caliber 150.

By the way, although this type was worn on the wrist, it is classified as a pocket watch as it was a "transitional" watch to wristwatches.

Subsequently, the Multichron 45, equipped with an in-house movement with a 45-minute counter, the Excelsior Park Chronograph, became mainstream.

Joint development with Excelsior Park

That same year, in 1914, Garrett won a silver medal in the chronometer category at the Swiss National Exhibition in Bern.

Four years later, in 1918, production of "Excelsior Park" watches targeting the American market began.

Garrett and Excelsior Park began to collaborate on the design and manufacture of new movements, including the Cal. 40.

The majority of these movements were produced by Garrett and Excelsior Park, and also supplied to Zenith and Girard-Perregaux when the factories had capacity.

Therefore, there is also a watch made by Excelsior Park that has the same shape as Garrett's famous Commander.

This is just my guess, but I think Excelsior Park probably provided the movements and in return Garrett made the watches.

Garrett Commander with Excelsior Park logo


The ability to collaborate with Excelsior Park allowed Garrett to continue exploring new markets, such as watches for medical professionals.

However, the Great Depression of the 1930s changed everything.

Until then, Garrett had offered a wide variety of products, but in order to survive, it was forced to narrow its product range down again.

It was from this time that the company began to produce military watches in earnest, which helped it survive through the 1930s and, by the start of World War II, had restored sales to their previous level of over 100,000 units per year.

From this point on, Garrett continued to focus on military and professional watches and never expanded its product range as widely as before.

Garrett's iconic watch

Now that you know about the beginnings and development of Garrett, we would like to introduce some of Garrett's more famous watches.

1939 Garrett Multichron advertisement

1939 Garrett Multichron advertisement

Garrett Multiclone 30M

Garrett Multiclone 30M Clamshell

* Garrett Multiclone 30M "Clamshell"

As explained in the history section, the most important watch released by Garrett was the Multichron 30, or Multichron 30M.

Early versions of this model were equipped with either Valjoux or Minerva movements.

Later versions of the same model use the Venus caliber 150 movement.

Venus Cal. 150 installed in the Garrett Multichron 30M

* Venus Cal. 150 installed in the Garrett Multichron 30M

This watch was available with a variety of cases and dials, with the most famous being the Multichron 30M Clamshell.

The name "clamshell" refers to a particularly thick case that houses the watch face.

The Multiclone 30M was first introduced in 1914, but the clamshell version was not introduced until much later, in the late 1930s.

The Multichron 30M is one of the most coveted watches by many Garrett collectors, combining stylish looks with waterproof and durable features.

Even if you do find one for sale, it will likely be priced very high (around $6,500).

1939: Multichron Petite

Gallet Multichron Petite Valjoux 69

The Multichron Petite was developed for female officers serving in technical and scientific fields during World War II.

Petit, which means "small" in French, is, as its name suggests, the world's smallest mechanical chronograph.

It is equipped with a 10 ligne (approximately 22.5 mm) Valjoux 69, keeping the case size to just 26.6 mm.

At the time, society still had a harsh view of women doing the same work as men, so only a very small number of Petits were produced, making them a rare and highly valued watch among collectors.

After World War II, Garrett shifted its focus from military to general, sports and medical use, and commercial aviation.

1938 Garrett's Flying Officer

Garrett Flying Officer

In 1939, at the request of Harry Truman (then a Senator), who would later become the 33rd President of the United States , the company was involved in the development of a chronograph wristwatch for U.S. Air Force pilots.

This was the world's first chronograph with a world time function.

The result was the creation of a watch that was later called the "Flight Officer" or "Flying Officer".

Garrett Flying Officer V150 Larchmont Yacht Club 1957

This watch was designed based on the Gallet Multichron 30M model introduced earlier.

However, the Flight Officer/Flying Officer adds new features such as a rotating 12-hour bezel.

Garrett Flight Officer/Flying Officer Catalog

Additionally, major cities are listed around the dial, allowing pilots to see the time in each time zone while flying.

As you might imagine, during World War II, Allied air force pilots relied on their Flight Officer/Flying Officer time.

However, in reality, there is no history of the watch being officially adopted by the U.S. Air Force, and it appears that it was purchased and used by individuals.

During and after the war, the watch became popular with British and American military personnel as well as civilian pilots.

Many versions of the Flying Officer were made, and it is said that there are still pilots who keep time on their flights using this watch today.

Garrett's Commander

Garrett Commander Excelsior Park Cal.42

Another iconic vintage watch from Garrett is the Commander.

This watch is equipped with a movement called Excelsior Park 42, which was designed specifically for the Commander in order to make the watch smaller.

First, a brief explanation of the movement.

The photo above shows the Excelsior Park 42 movement.

This is an early version, silver plated.

Garrett eventually switched to a longer-lasting rhodium plating rather than silver, which tarnishes quickly.

The Commander was made famous by B-26 Marauder bomber pilot Lieutenant James Richard Hoel who wore it during World War II.

The Fool is famously known for being captured after the aircraft he was piloting was shot down by the Germans (losing his watch in the process).

While imprisoned at Stalag Luft III, a prison camp run by the German Air Force , Fuhr was one of the men who took part in "The Great Escape" (the title of the 1963 film based on the attempted escape from the camp).

Their specific role in this case was to secretly excavate the mud from within the escape tunnel.

However, in the end, not enough people managed to escape to be called a "Great Escape."

76 people tried to escape the camp through the tunnels, but only three succeeded.

The rest were captured and either taken back to the camps or executed.

Nevertheless, the attempted escape was seen as an inspiring act of courage and resistance to rule.

Fur was one of those who managed to survive, simply being taken back to the camp.

He was later transferred to another internment camp with poor conditions, but he survived there as well, and was finally freed when the war ended.

Now, what do you think happened to Garrett's commander, who was lost when the plane was shot down?

It was returned to him in 2003.

A Garrett Commander believed to have been worn by James Richard Hoel

In 2003, an 89-year-old man named Tiny Baxter discovered that a watch lying around in his drawer was 60 years old.

Tiny inherited this from her mother, who had a lot of wartime items.

Tiny sent the broken clock for repair.

Once the watch was repaired, I was able to track down Hoole, with the help of Peter Cooper, call him and let him know I had the watch, and return it to him.

The place chosen to return the watch was the very spot on the River Meuse where the plane had been shot down.

As such, Garrett watches have played an important role in history, and there are many amazing stories behind their dials and movements.

1965: Excel-O-Graph

Garrett Excel-O-Graph

introduces the Excel-O-Graph, a pilot's watch.

The chronograph's rotating bezel was fitted with a slide rule, allowing navigational calculations to be made even during flight.

By the way, this watch also exists in both Garrett and Excelsior Park versions.

The 1970s saw the quartz crisis, but Garrett's watches were not greatly affected because they were mainly mechanical watches for professionals that were not affected by trends.

As explained in the history section, having experienced world wars and the Great Depression , the company targeted customers in the military industry and those interested in tool watches.

But when Excelsior Park went bankrupt in 1983, Garrett took over all of the remaining inventory in order to continue providing maintenance services to Excelsior Park customers.

Marathon Brands

1990s Marathon Garrett USAF Navigator Watch

In 1984, Garrett signed a contract with Canadian watch distributor Wein Brothers to develop a rugged wristwatch for the U.S. government.

The watch was then branded as "Marathon," a trademark that had previously been owned by Garrett.

In 1990, Garrett supplied 30,000 Marathon Navigators for use by the U.S. military in Operation Desert Storm during the Gulf War.

Prior to delivery, prototype testing confirmed that the Marathon Navigator met the rigorous U.S. government standards and demonstrated its accuracy and functionality under the harshest combat conditions.

Wein Brothers changed its name to Marathon Watch Company and still sells Marathon brand military watches today.

Garrett Watches Today

Garrett has been around for centuries and continues to exist today.

The service department still repairs and maintains second-hand watches.

Bernard Garrett, who took over the business in the early 1990s, developed a strong friendship with the Neresheimer family, and eventually Walter Hediger of the Neresheimer family succeeded Garrett as CEO in the early 2000s.

The prestigious family business will finally be out of the hands of the Garrett family.

More recently, in 2018, the 100th Anniversary Racing Heritage Chronographs were released to commemorate 100 years since Garrett chronographs (both wristwatches and stopwatches) were used to time the Indianapolis 500 auto race.

Garrett's collection of vintage watches

Many Garrett watches are rare and highly priced, so you will probably end up purchasing them at a premium price.

The price range is at least 200,000 yen, with chronographs in good condition regularly commanding around 600,000 yen.

Garrett Vintage Watches

Three vintage Garrett watches lined up / Dan S (

If you come across an authentic Garrett watch in good condition for a reasonable price, we recommend that you consider taking the plunge and purchasing it.

Garrett watches are built to stand the test of time, and even though they may show signs of aging, most will still look as beautiful and work as they did decades ago.

Finally, a word of caution: there seem to be many products and replacement parts on the market that are questionable as to whether they are genuine.

It may indeed be difficult to officially verify this, as there are very few certificates to prove that a Garrett product is genuine.

When purchasing an expensive vintage Garrett watch, it may be a good idea to make an inquiry online.

Garrett Quick Chronology

Here are some key milestones in Garrett's history.


Garrett produced the Multichron 30, the world's oldest wrist-worn chronograph.

This watch was made for the Royal Air Force.

The Multichron 30 is also the first water-resistant watch.


Garrett manufactures the first yacht timer stopwatch.


Garrett's Flying Officer is the first watch to feature a rotating bezel.


Gallet produces its first watch targeted at the women's market, the Multi Chron Petite.

With a diameter of just 26.3mm, it was the world's smallest wristwatch at the time.


Garrett introduces the Multichron Navigator GMT, the first 24-hour watch that also includes a compass hand.


Garrett has launched the MultiChron Yachting Wristwatch, the world's first watch equipped with a regatta/yacht race countdown timer.


In this article, we explain some of the representative models from Garrett's history.

Despite many twists and turns, Garrett has a deep history spanning more than 550 years.

Although they are not as popular as they once were, even for us today, their design and careful craftsmanship give them an overwhelming sense of quality that is greater than that of watch brands that only have a brand name.

Looking back at its history, Garrett has had a great ability to build synergistic relationships with people and companies and to identify and implement new innovations.

Garrett contributed to the establishment of today's International Watch Museum and the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry, and although the Swiss watch industry went into decline at one time, it is no wonder that it has continued to thrive to this day.

"Galle Flying Officer