Just several years ago, this watch was totally unknown to many collectors. Thanks to the Internet, the words have spread out, though as of today still only a small number of vintage watch enthusiasts and collectors are pursuing this cult piece.
On Nov 24, 2018, Miller & Miller Auctions Ltd in Ontario Canada sold a Rodania Geometer for CAD $25,960, a record price for such an enigmatic watch, which started to raise the attention in watch collecting community. Rodania is a Swiss watch brand founded in 1930, certainly never of top tier and still active after its ownership changed hands a couple of times. Among all the watches Rodania has ever made, perhaps the single most standout is this vintage Geometer chronograph in stainless steel, of 38mm diameter and 20mm lug width, introduced in 1954 (the Geometer is still in Rodania’s current product line today but it is a completely different watch). It’s hard to conclude the exact production numbers and years, but a good estimate is about 1000 pieces or less in total.
The Geometer is no doubt a thoroughly well made watch from inside out. The movement is Valjoux 72, arguably somewhat common in many chronographs produced during that time period. However, while most manufactures simply put unadjusted Valjoux 72 in their watches, Rodania had it adjusted to 3 positions, which was rarely done — only Rolex did this back then for the best performance. Apparently what makes the Geometer most interesting is its dial — anyone can see substantial similarity of a Geometer to Omega 2915, which was released in 1957, three years later than Rodania’s debut.
It is a mystery what really happened between Rodania and Omega. Did Omega actually borrow the idea from Geometer for the design of 2915, or it was purely a coincidence so that both watches ended up with essentially the same dial? Was there some kind of patent (quite rare for dial design particularly at that time) and settlement involved, or did Rodania and Omega happen to use the same dial maker who came up with this design and subsequently provided the dials to the watch manufactures? ……Regardless of the story, the landmark CK2915 came out along with CK2913 and CK2914 in 1957, a legendary year in Omega history.
When comparing the iconic 2915 with the Geometer, I must confess that I prefer the Omega for its overall design and look. The tachymeter bezel adds more depth to the watch (even though the tachymeter is most likely faded), the three sub-dials are slightly closer to the center of the dial and somehow this increases a little more contrast to the otherwise busy dial, and the arrow hour hand definitely makes the time reading more legible, especially from a distance. The Geometer is absolutely fantastic in close examination; the dauphine hands are crisply beautiful on top of this classic dial. However, when the watch is one meter away, it doesn’t look as sharp, albeit just to a very slight degree. And a wristwatch, after all, is to be worn on wrist, and most of time the wearer looks at it from an arm’s length away.
Many a time, one makes judgement based on certain conditions, i.e. not unconditionally. In the case of Rodania Geometer, if it were released after Omega 2915, then I would not regard it as highly. But the fact is that Geometer predated Speedmaster by three full years, and it used Valjoux 72 with three positions adjusted, as if it’s a magical mix-up of Omega and Rolex of that era, and now with the rarity factor included, makes this watch not only very interesting, but also highly collectible.
Similar to many other watches made in 1950s, as a result of how watch dials, cases and movements were produced and used, Rodania Geometer came with a few variations of dial, hands, and engravings on the case and movement:
- Dial color: black or white, with majority in black.
- Hour and minute hands: full lume or inserted lume dauphine hands; it appears white Geometer always has inserted lume hands, and most black ones have full lumed hands. The inserted lume hour hand is a bit shorter compared to the full lumed hour hand.
- Sub-dials: flat or grooved; it appears white Geometer only has grooved sub-dials.
- Small second hand: straight or pointex.
- Engraved reference number between lugs: lightly engraved “5621 H” in large font or very small font, or no engravement at all — possibly polished or worn away.
- Engraved reference number on the case back: “5621 H” very lightly engraved, below “Rodania Waterproof” circle, not found on most examples — possibly worn away.
- Engravings on the inner side of the case back: “Rodania Watch Co Swiss Made Stainless Steel” in four lines, or “Rodania Waterproof Antimagnetic Swiss Made Incabloc” in circle plus “MOD DEP Stainless Steel” in lines.
- Engravement on movement: “Rodania” and other text engraved on the bridge in various places across different examples, or under the chronograph wheel. Some but not all have “Adjusted Three Positions” engraved on bridge — not sure if those without such engravement only had two positions adjusted.
For more in-depth reading and pictures, please visit Bazamu and Fratello. Or simply Google “Rodania Geometer” and you won’t be overwhelmed by the search result. Wait for more time if you are thinking of ChatGPT right now — probably because it only still uses pre-2021 big data, it actually knows nothing about this watch at the moment yet…
Finally, for anyone who likes to own a fresh modern reincarnation of the vintage Geometer, try to get a Massena LAB Geometer, released in limited edition of 99 pieces last year (2022). Two nice subtle touches to this brand new Geometer: the original Rodania logo on the dial is transformed to a cool looking letter M (or Ḿ), and another stylized M that symbolizes the brand logo is engraved at the center of the acrylic crystal. Although the watch has been sold out, you can still find it on secondary market.