This is a vintage 1960's Helbros, German made, Invincible 17 jewel men's wristwatch with a beautiful dial that wears its battle scars of the past 60 years very well.
While the 33 mm case, excluding lugs and cushion crown, shows a lot of surface scratches and brassing as the highly magnified photos show.
In contrast the dial is its original glossy black that contrast beautifully against silver hour and minute, and sweep second hands, bright raised silver numbers and markers and white outer chapter, under a bright new hi-dome acrylic crystal.,
The original 17 jewel, manual wind German movement sets and winds smoothly, is running well, and keeping good time.
Shockproof and anti-magnetic with a screw down back, it has been fitted with a supple new 18 mm, genuine leather, black strap with stainless buckle.
Stock code H-6
ABOUT THE BRAND:
Helbros watches were well known US watch sellers until the 1970’s.
The brand was established by the Helbein Brothers in 1913 according to later publicity.The president of the company was William Helbein. The information in this section is taken from passport applications, US census records, an obituary, and other records.
William Helbein was born in Berdichev in 1889, as Wladmir Helbein. The location was described as Russia in subsequent documents, but it is now in the Ukraine. His father, Shaya Helbein, was a diamond merchant who later moved to Geneva, Switzerland. Jewish people were subject to persecution in Russia, and the city of Berdichev was later the subject of a pogrom, and then a Nazi massacre, so leaving the area was a wise move.
Mysteriously, Berdichev, if that is indeed what his passport application says, is nearly 500kmn way from Odessa, which his newspaper obituary gave as his birth place. Perhaps it was simply seen as the nearest large city.
According to his obituary, William was educated in Russia, the Netherlands and Belgium. He emigrated to the USA in 1910, leaving from Antwerp on the Lapland and arriving on Jan 4th, 1911. The Antwerp Police Immigration Indix lists a ‘Wolf Helbein‘, born Berditscheff in 1888, and it seems likely that this is him. Another Helbein from the same town and born in 1895 is listed in the same emigration list- Baruch Helbein.
Wladimir, later William, travelled to the USA from Antwerp, to Dover, to Ellis Island. His nationality is given as ‘Russia – Hebrew‘.
I cannot trace Baruch Helbein, but a Borough Helbein arrived at Ellis Island on 3 Oct 1914, age 19 years, which ties in with the birth date of 1895 for Baruch. He travelled Antwerp – Liverpool – Ellis Island on the Saint Louis, and his nationality is given as Russian. I cannot then locate Baruch / Borough in the US, so cannot be certain that this is the brother in Helbros. William’s obituary makes no mention of any brothers, but notes that he was survived by two sisters.
Between 1911 and 1921 William lived in Chicago and New York, and became a naturalized US citizen in Chicago in 1916. In his 1916 naturalization papers, his name is given as William (Wladmir). He was staying at the Hotel Grand at the time. This was the same year that the first Helbros trademark was registered, in Geneva.
His draft card from the First World War shows him resident in Chicago, at 2135 Michigan Avenue, and working at 1316 Republic Bldg. His occupation is given as ‘Diamond Importer‘. He was single at the time, so must have married shortly afterwards. He claimed exemption from the draft, on grounds of ‘2900‘. I have not been able to identify this code.
His wife was Pearl Coleman Helbein, born in Duluth, Minnesota. I have been unable to trace the marriage with certainty, but a Lenora P Coleman married a William Helbein in Chicago in 1919. William’s birth year is given as 1889, so it seems possible that this is the marriage, and that she preferred Pearl to Leonora.
William held a US passport from 1916 onwards, and travelled extensively in the course of his work, later often with Pearl. He and Pearl appear on numerous ship passenger lists. His 1919 passport application describes him as an ‘importer of diamonds and watches’. William’s 1921 passport application notes that he spent 1919 – 1920 in France, Switzerland and Belgium. His occupation was given as importer, and his residence as New York. The reason for his 1921 passport application was so that he could visit France, Switzerland, Belgium, Holland, Germany and the British Isles.
William filed a patent application in 1944 (Des. 139,882) for a ‘new, original and ornamental Design for a Display Case for Wrist Watches and the like‘. He was ‘a citizen of the United States, residing at New York, in the county of New York and State of New York‘.
The United States Census in 1940 shows William Helbein living in Hempstead Town, Woodsburgh Village, Nassau, New York. His place of birth is ‘Russia’. His occupation is given as ‘President of Watch Co.’ and he is married to Pearl (born in Minnesota). Herman Lefferts, born in New York, is staying in the same house, and his occupation is given as ‘ Secretary and Treasurer (Illegible) watch‘. There seems no realistic doubt that this is the relevant William Helbein and his household. They had one servant.
William Helbein was the first president of the American Watch Assemblers Association. He was later a director of the American Watch Association.
William died in 1960. No mention of children was made in his obituary.
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