Monochrome Watches
An online magazine dedicated to fine watches

Weekly Watch Photo – Cornelius & Cie Dragon Gate Legend

| By Frank Geelen | 3 min read |

The last Weekly Watch Photo of this year shows the Cornelius & Cie Dragon Gate Legend, probably the most beautiful engraved watch I’ve ever seen.

The Dutch master engraver Kees Engelbarts is the man behind Cornelius & Cie. His impressive skills are already well known in the watch industry; he did his magic on watches of Peter Speake-Marin and Van Der Klaauw Watches. And his Tourbillon Dragon has already featured as Monochrome’s Weekly Watch Photo.

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The Dragon Gate Legend has a 49 mm red gold case and is equiped with a Calibre AS 690, a movement Cornelius & Cie use in their Chronosome XY46 collection.  These movements are developed and produced by the A. Schild company in Grenchen, Switzerland, in 1935. The movement beats at steady/classic frequency of 18.000 bph. (beats per hour).

When the strong main spring is fully wound, the movement has a power reserve of 8 days! Other watches with such power reserve have two (or sometimes three) coupled mainspring barrels. The large and very strong main spring is inside an eccentrically positioned barrel, which is immediately evident by the shape of the case between the 5 and 6 o’clock position.

The Dragon Gate Legend

The dial of this extraordinary watch tells the story of a carp that saw the top of a mountain and decided he was going to reach it. He swam upstream, climbing rapids and waterfalls, letting nothing get in the way of his determination.

When the carp finally reached the top he found the mythical “Dragon Gate” and, when he jumped over it, he turned into a dragon. Several waterfalls and cataracts in China are believed to be the location of the “Dragon Gate” and the Dragon Gate legend is often used as an allegory for the drive and effort needed to overcome obstacles and achieve success in life.

Apart from the position of the barrel, the movement features two other interesting construction details. There is a pusher located at two o’clock that disconnects the  crown from the winding mechanism so that the crown can be used to turn the hands. The other feature is a special  shock absorbing system to protect the balance. A. Schild used a rather unique leaf spring shock absorber.

Every single part of the movements is taken apart and adorned by hand by Kees Engelbarts; skeletonised, engraved, rhodium or gold plated, and of course there are possibilities for personalised engravings of movement. The movement has 17 ruby jewels (13 from the original movement and 4 were added by Cornelius & Cie), which are precision set in polished sinks highlight the axels of each wheel and ensure the longevity of function. After that the movement is placed inside the unique case, with a flat sapphire crystal on both sides.

Cornelius & Cie has acquired a sufficiently large quantity of the AS 690 calibres to manufacture at least 100 watches with this movement and still have anough spare parts to guarantee future servicing and repairs.

Credits for the gorgeous photos go to Curtis Thomson who runs a small forum dedicated to independent (or artisan) watchmakers called Tempered-Online.

For more info please contact Kees Engelbarts through the Cornelius & Cie website.

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