Pontiac watches: the Pride of the Benelux

 In Collecting Watches

Pontiac watches are well known within the Benelux (Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg). There are many collectors in these countries. Outside of that area…not so much. I hope to change that.

Short history

A. Kinsbergen and his three brothers launched Pontiac in Belgium and the Netherlands in 1932. Mr. Kinsbergen was also an agent for Omega and Tissot. Suprécis registered Pontiac in Biel – Switzerland. Therefore, Suprécis technically made the first Pontiac watches. Until the 1970s, the logo is with the large P extended over the other letters. After that, the letter P is the same as the others.

Models

Although they mainly produced “3 hand” or “time-only” dress watches, that isn’t all they created. Pontiac also produced dive watches and chronographs.

Movements

Pontiac has used a lot of manufacturers for their movements over the years. Landeron movements are widespread in their chronographs, but Pontiac also used Venus and Valjoux movements.

Pontiac watches Landeron 148 movement
Pontiac chronograph with a Landeron 148 movement.

For their dress watches Pontiac used almost all major Swiss manufacturers:

  • ETA
  • AS (A. Schild)
  • Standard
  • FHF (Fontainemelon)
  • Peseux

However, in later models, Pontiac also used FE (France Ebauches) movements. ETA and AS movements are used the most.

Pontiac watch ETA 2390 movement
A signed ETA 2390 movement.

Stars

The theory is that the number of stars (1, 2, or 3) on the dial represents the quality/reliability of the movement and therefore the watch as a whole. Though this is sensible, it can’t be verified, and it remains somewhat of a mystery. There are different models that have identical movements, but somehow have a different amount of stars.

Also, some dress watches with a “simple” ETA 1080 movement have a dial with three stars while chronographs with a Venus 170 movement only have 1 star. This doesn’t add up.

There must be additional criteria or procedures on how many stars a watch received. At the moment, we’re only guessing at what these might be. Some theories include the degree of water resistance, case material, and production era of the watch in question.

Wrap it up

Pontiac has some fascinating pieces. They have an extensive collection of different types and models. If you’ve never heard of them, keep an eye out. They’re worth it.


Do you have a Pontiac in your collection? Let me know in the comments below.

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Showing 25 comments
  • Avatar
    Paul
    Reply

    Hi Melvin, the Pontiac chronograph >20y in my collection has a Landeron 148 movement. The watch is well running and in minty rosé gold plated condition except the crown who has lost some plating and looks like copper, but polished nevertheless beautiful too. With the orange leather strap it is a fine summer watch, witch makes me happy.

  • Avatar
    Declan Maher
    Reply

    Hi Melvin,

    Just curious to know is there a relationship between Pontiac and the Swiss watch brand Bernex? I note the same triple star logo on some Bernex watches and I recently saw for auction a Bernex watch with a Pontiac movement.

  • Avatar
    Ellen E Miller
    Reply

    Hi I have a pontiac watch belonging to my late father, l’ve never heard of them and came across your page via google, it is a gold chronological, has two stars with the elongated P, on the back of the case it says swiss made with the numbers 3000 and 8488, it seems to be over wound, l was wondering if it was worth restoring. Would I be able to send you a picture to get your opinion? Thankyou

  • Avatar
    Fred
    Reply

    Great article!! Made me think…

    I own a gold coloured Pontiac watch (small P) marked “International” with 3 stars.
    Date in a square window on the 3 o’ clock position.
    Gold colored dial (no two-tone) with black hour indication numbers.(latin, not roman)
    On the back it says 24610.
    Probably dates back to mid ’80’s. (I got it iirc for my 12th birthday)
    It’s in bad condition (big scratch in the glass) and I was wondering if it is worth restoring…
    I was searching the internet but I can’t find a similar watch. Especially one with black numbers.
    Most Pontiacs come without numbers.
    Any idea?
    Thanks a lot!

  • Avatar
    Bob Eelsing
    Reply

    hi i have a pontiac watch it is solid gold case 3 stars and date window it says memomatic and swiss made in very small letters right on the bottom of the face i don’t know how old it is but i’m quessing 70’s
    regards Bob Eelsing

    • Melvin Hollenberg
      Melvin Hollenberg
      Reply

      Hi, I’ve seen the pictures and it’s a lovely watch. You could be right about the date. It’s either from the late 60s or early 70s.

  • Avatar
    Ligtelijn
    Reply

    Ik heb een 18 K gouden chronograaf die wat afwijkt van gebruikelijk.
    De twee subdials zijn verticaal geplaatst, de 12 en de 6, in plaats van horizontaal.
    Ook is deze van goud in plaats van het gebruikelijke doublé.
    Vroeger heb ik deze ook daadwerkelijk gedragen, maar ik heb hem niet nieuw gekocht en heb geen flauw idee van wanneer deze kan zijn.
    Overigens ga ik er binnenkort afscheid van nemen. Samen met wat andere vintages zal het een investering zijn voor een eigentijds horloge.
    Ik stuur een paar afbeeldingen naar uw email adres.

    • Melvin Hollenberg
      Melvin Hollenberg
      Reply

      Sorry, I’ve missed this comment. It sounds like a Venus movement. I’d be interested in the pics if you still have them.

  • Avatar
    Jacqueline Nuth
    Reply

    Hi, can I email you with some photos of my Pontiac watch, please. Kind regards, Jacqueline.

  • Avatar
    Alexander Vandenplas
    Reply

    Hi! I recently received a Pontiac watch from my late grandfather, can’t find it anywhere though so I don’t know which model it is…

  • Avatar
    Jason
    Reply

    Hi. Thanks for the info.
    I have an 18k support choc antimagnetique chronograph.
    Has always kept great time but the chronograph has stopped working of late. Believe it was bought in the Netherlands in the 50’s or 60’s by a brother of my grandmother.

    • Melvin Hollenberg
      Melvin Hollenberg
      Reply

      That’s a great watch! It probably has a Landeron 48 or 148 movement. Will you get it repaired?

  • Avatar
    Stef
    Reply

    Hi, what a great informative site you have. I hope to learn a lot around here, lots of good reading and documentation. As for Pontiac, I have some. Pontiac*** chrono with Venus movement, Pontiac*** chrono with Landeron movement, Pontiac**** Nageur Maillot Jaune automatic, Pontiac*** hydraulica memomatic ( dress watch style). All of them are working great despite their age. I hope to get a Pontiac with Valjoux movement one day to complete this tiny collection.

    • Melvin Hollenberg
      Melvin Hollenberg
      Reply

      Hi Stef, great to have you aboard. Sounds like you already have quite the Pontiac collection. Good luck on your grail 🙂 If I come across one, I’ll let you know.

  • Avatar
    chelis
    Reply

    Beautiful article.
    I bought my first Pontiac last month, a PONTIAC JUMPING Bullhead c.872
    and it is an amazing watch, powered by a Lemania 1872 manual wind

  • Avatar
    Никита
    Reply

    Great article

    • Melvin Hollenberg
      Melvin Hollenberg
      Reply

      Thanks a lot!

    • Avatar
      Matthew James
      Reply

      Hi Melvin.. I recently found myself the owner of a Pontiac Supportchoc ‘maillot Vert’ Dialite watch and love it.. I’ve managed to piece together the connection with your de Frances ‘ green jersey’ but can’t find any info on the history ,date of manufacture etc it has three stars and a gride lined watch face.. I will send you a photo on the website you have if your interested.. As my info would be greatly appreciated .many thanks.. Matthew

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