Alfred Lugrin founded his Swiss watch company Lugrin S.A in 1884. The company focussed primarily on high quality movements and complications such as repeaters and calendars, with a special competence in chronographs. The tradename Lemania was adopted in the 1920’s, and was branded onto watches from the 1930’s into the 1960’s. In 1932 the Lemania Watch Co joined Omega and Tissot in the Société Suisse pour l’Industrie Horlogère SA (SSIH), later to become the Swatch Group. For this reason it is understandable that Lemania movements appeared in watches of all three brands. And Lemania did not only delivered the movements, but often also the cases.
Beginning of the 1970’s one of Lemania’s star designers Albert Piquet developed the regatta caliber 1345 for Aquastar, based on their patent for a 10 minutes countdown timer. The regatta caliber 1345 is derived from the 1341 movement, and is the successor of the first regatta movement, the caliber Felsa 4000N (by the earlier 5 minutes count-down timer patent from Aquastar from the 1960’s). After the introduction of the Aquastar Regate the Lemania 1345 movement comes available for other brands as well and several case versions of the Yachttimers are sold by Aquastar and Tissot. In the 1980’s also Omega, Heuer and Lemania itself used the 1345 movement in different regatta watches.
You can read all about the caliber 1345 movement and it’s patent in the Aquastar 1970’s section here.
Aquastar, Tissot, Heuer and Omega, all four with the Lemania 1345 movement.
So, beginning of the 1980’s Lemania brings the Yachttimer on the market by themselves. The first models were housed in the Tissot case, which is the first Aquastar 2-piece-case modified with the Spanish Galleon on the caseback and the chamfered section on the lugs (also see the Tissot section here), or the one with the lobster bracelet, either with a silver or a black dial. The dial shows the Lemania-crown with the name Racing, and the Lemania models are named Regatta instead of Regate. The rotor is now engraved with the name Lemania. Like the Aquastar models the Lemania Racing Regatta is counting the seconds backwards, from 60 to zero.
Lemania Racing Regatta, with either silver or black dial. The red second hand in the right picture is as I believe non-original.
2-piece Tissot case, with the Spanish Galleon on the caseback and the name Lemania on the rotor.
Square case with lobster bracelet and either a black or silver dial.
At some point first the dials changed. The name Racing was dropped, and instead the Lemania name was put under the crown. Same cases, the Galleon at the caseback and a rotor signed Lemania.
Then the Aquastar 2-piece-case is changed for a new 1-piece version, with a new Lemania-signed inlay fixed onto the caseback. The case itself is almost equal to the one Aquastar used for their Regate Newport (Heuer 134.50X models), except for a different bezel. The bezel is fixed, rounded and very smooth.
Lemania Regatta with new case and new inlay for the caseback.
This new version has the crown more protected and is available with a matching steel bracelet with a tri-fold safety clasp, but is has the rotor signed Aquastar. No idea why.
Model: Lemania Racing Regatta en Lemania Regatta.
- Reference: unknown, different cases with black or silver dial.
- Caliber: automatic Lemania 1345 flyback movement.
- ‘Aquastar’ case size: Ø 38,7 mm / H 15,6 mm.
- Lobster case size: 39,3 x 41,2 mm / H 15,4 mm.
- ‘Lemania’ case size: Ø 39,7 mm / H 15,6 mm.
- Year: 1980’s.
Brochure for the different Lemania Regatta models.
The dial is either black or silver, with the Lemania crown and name on the dial above at 12 o’clock and the text ‘Regatta – Automatic’ underneath 6 o’clock, or the other way around, as also shown in the above brochure. The last one seems to be more rare:
The Lemania crown and name up (12 o’clock) or down (6 o’clock) on the dial.
Richard Askham ones send me a picture of a Lemania Racing Regatta he was servicing, with a different and unmarked rotor. I have never seen this version again. Was this perhaps a repair rotor?
In later pictures I saw more movements with an unsigned rotor. So I guess they were used more often.
Printed Racing Intermar and Lemania TROY on the dial.
In 1981 the SSIH-Group sold its Lemania shares to its management and other investors from outside the company. The company continued under the name Nouvelle Lemania. Since 1992 Nouvelle Lemania has belonged to Groupe Horloger Brequet, later in 1999 becoming part of the Swatch Group.
Back to the watches. In the late 1980’s Lemania goes into a partnership with Jean-Daniel Dubois and Paul Elvström, a well-known Danish competitive sailor, for a re-issue of the yachttimer.
US patent 314517 by Jean-Daniel Dubois, for ‘the ornamental design of a wrist watch’, PDF here.
This resulted beginning 1990’s in the Lemania Elvström, powered by the same caliber 1345 regatta movement but with a more modern design of the case. The model now has a rotating bezel and the tactical P.E. (Paul Elvström) system printed on the dial.
Various versions of the Lemania Elvström regatta yachttimer with tactical system.
Model: Lemania Elvström.
- Reference: several versions, with steel bracelet or leather strap, see the brochures.
- Caliber: automatic Lemania 1345 flyback movement.
- Case size: Ø 42 mm / H 19 mm.
- Year: beginning 1990’s.
Brochure for the Lemania Elvström watches, mid 1990’s.
You can download an even older brochure here.
It was Paul Elvström who introduced how the watch can be used for tactical decision-making in conjunction with a compass. Later on this features was used by many other brands as well.
Instructions how to use your watch as a tactical decision-making instrument;
You can read here how it works exactly.
At first the compass bezel was engraved 3 – 6 – E – 12 etc. (as shown in the patent and in the brochure). The later bezel is engraved 10 – 20 – 30 – 40 etc. (as shown in the ad below).
Ad for the Lemania Elvström models with mechanical and quartz movement, 1992.
At some point in time there’s a re-issue of the Lemania Elvström in a titanium case, as is engraved on the caseback. This version has the less rounded crown and pusher, and has a slightly bigger protection area just above the pusher.
Starting top left: a standard Lemania Regatta dial (without the PE-system and an Elvström logo) in an Elvström case; branded just Bucherer; with the Elvström logo at 6 o’clock and no Lemania logo. Notice the difference in the last two pictures. Most of these Elvsröm bezels have a smal black square over the N, E, S and W markings. The bezel in the picture below-left hasn’t!
I made the above compilation for the Lemania Regatta and Lemania Elvström based on my research over the last several years and looking at dozens of watches, pictures and articles. In my opinion all other configurations are non-original. But please correct me if I am wrong!
Comparison of various Lemania Regatta models in a Dutch article in magazine Zeilen, 1992.
If you want to read the entire article, klick here.
Many thanks to Kevin van der Zouwen (Some Time Ago) for scanning your brochures for me.