Enicar watches | Vintage Sherpa, Ultrasonic

Discover Watch-Deal's selection of rare Enicar watches currently available online.
This selection is daily updated, add this page to your favorites if you collect vintage Enicar wristwatches. 

Enicar is a very popular Swiss brand for vintage watch collectors. Indeed, Enicar has created several sought-after models including the mythical Enicar Sherpa which embodies the "vintage" spirit. Everything is beautifully vintage on an Enicar wristwatch : the saturn logo, the dial, the design. On this page, you will find a selection of the best Enicar currently available online. 

RARE ENICAR WATCHES FOR COLLECTORS :

A selection of vintage Enicar watches

You will find on this page several interesting pre-owned Enicar timepieces currently available online. We select rare vintage Enicar like the Enicar Sherpa Guide GMT with a blue dial or the Enicar Ultrasonic AR-1035 with its gold-tone case and champagne dial. We will also select some nice Enicar Sport in stainless steel when available. We list new Enicar wristwatches everyweek so have a look to our selection from time to time if you are a collector of vintage watches. Enicar has a special place in our heart as we've always had a kind of fascination with Enicar. The style of this brand of watches, which disappeared a long time ago, seems to us quite similar to what Heuer could produce at the time (60-70's), or even to some Universal Genève watches, notably the Polerouters

The history of the mythical Enicar Sherpa

It all starts in 1913 in La Chaux-de-Fonds when Ariste Racine decides to found his watch brand. He is an original who loves crazy objects and collects multicoloured bilboquets. The date of creation 1854 is not correct, but it is true that the Racine family has been active in watchmaking since 1708. It would have been simple to call his brand RACINE but as the gentleman likes to laugh he decides to call it ENICAR, which is his own name backwards. His first client (and importer) is a Japanese, Mr Tezohdo who likes the originality of the character and his creativity. He finances his first creations: watches with the face of a politician printed on the dial, big success in Russia or watches with compass  The success is there and Ariste settles in Longeau. In this new factory, Racine starts to manufacture its own movements (AR for Ariste Racine); Enicar used previously movements from Adolph Schild AS (whose brother was the future founder of Eterna). Business is very good and Enicar exports under the name Alprosa and Chrono M to the United States. It is Ariste Jr who takes over the brand in the 50s and decides to give it a more "sport" orientation. It is also in 1953 that he switches all the watches to Ultrasonic, a modern method of cleaning and engraved on the cases, which frees him from the need for regular oiling. It was finally in 1953 that a new factory was inaugurated. Up to 70,000 movements were produced per year. High quality movements, notably the calibre 1010, which obtained COSC certification in 1954. Enicar has - above all - helped to elaborate with Ervin Piquerez SA (EPSA), specialist in water-resistant steel cases, the patent 98243 for a water-resistant case with an unusual bayonet base, a case that will be introduced in the Seapearl in May 1955. This very first model (black or white dial) has an EPSA / ENICAR co-branding, an Elsa Bidynator HM1560 movement, or an AR1034 (AS1361N).

A vintage Enicar Sherpa Guide with black dial
A vintage Enicar Sherpa Guide with black dial

 

The ENICAR Seapearl 1955:

Following the example of Rolex, at the end of the 1950s, Enicar begins to supply its watches to mountaineers, sailors and other adventurers, using them as a highly effective marketing vehicle. In May 1956, the Enicar Seapearl accompanied the Swiss expedition to the summits of Lhotse and Everest in the Himalayas. The expedition was led by Albert Eggler and included Wolfgang Diehl, Hans Grimm, Hansrudolf von Gunten, Eduard Leuthold, Fritz Luchsinher, Jürg Marmet, Fritz Müller, Ernest Reiss, Dolf Reist, Adolf Reist and Ernst Schmied. This Swiss team was accompanied by 22 Sherpas. On May 18, Mount Lhotse was reached (8,516m), and Everest on May 23 (8,848m). This was the second time this summit was reached. In 1957, the Mayflower II crosses the Atlantic with an Enicar attached to its keel. The watch survives the trip.

The ENICAR Ocean Pearl 1957 :

Waterproof case, manufacturer's movement, sporting exploits, all this will contribute from the end of the 1950s to the growing success of Enicar. The brand will surf on this one until the 80's, and it will be at the origin of the creation of its most famous reference, the Enicar Sherpa.

It was precisely on 6 November 1956 that Enicar registered the term "Sherpa", a name that would be used commercially the following year for Enicar's "Explorer" type models. After a period of floating (at the end of the 1950s, the term Sherpa was abandoned for about two years, on the dial, but still appeared on the case back), Sherpa became the baptismal name for a wide range of more than 100 different models. In line with the water-resistant cases of 1955 and the sporting performances obtained, the Sherpa Dive range of divers was created, for example, but initially within the Seapearl range. Ariste Senior died in 1958. At that time and especially in the 60s and 70s, Enicar will decline to all sauces the Sherpa reference and its sports ranges. The calibre 1125, which appeared in 1959, was the brand's first automatic movement. In addition to its manufactured movements, Enicar used other less expensive movements, Valjoux, A. Schild (AS) and Lemania.


This is where all the creativity and madness of this brand will express itself the most. Dogen's gallery on Flickr is edifying and breathtaking. It looks like the collection of the late Noodia.

The story ends like many brands with the arrival of quartz. Enicar filed for bankruptcy in 1988 and the movements that remained in stock (caliber 160 and automatic 1145B) were sold to Chronoswiss. The name is currently the property of an Asian investor based in Hong Kong who continues to supply the market in small doses. A little like Yema, the current brand has nothing more to do with its former glory hours.

Let's now enter the world of the one-crown Sherpa, and I'm relying a lot on this excellent article from now on.

Enicar Seapearl and Sherpa wristwatches

As said, it was towards the end of 1956 and the beginning of 1957 that the Sherpa range appeared. We find in this period many models (Dauphine or Alpha needles, EPSA case or not, compressor or not, tortoise or straight horns...) bearing the double Seapearl / Sherpa marking; some of them the double Seapearl / Sherpas marking too. For example this model 3/6/9/12 with 6 and 9 open, dating from 1956:

Enicar Sherpa Seapearl

The Seapearl were water-resistant watches, like the Sherpa Dive (and other Sherpas as well, by the way). This is not the point that distinguishes them. It is essentially the change from a clear dial / Dauphine hands, to a black dial / trapezoidal or triangular indexes / stick or alpha hands / second hand usually "lollipop". The Seapearl range continued to exist (and later the Ocean Pearl), but this will be the subject of another article. By the way, the Seapearl's of that time had a very particular second hand and my faith quite funky.

1957 Enicar Sherpa Seapearl 600

Let's look at all the subfamilies of one-Crown Sherpa. First of all, there are dressed Sherpa, for example the models below, with a typical Enicar design (although the second example makes me furiously think of a Yema Underwater, with its stick indexes and red triangular second hand...).

Enicar Sherpa Diver

Then there are the Sherpa divers. In July 1958, the US Navy Experimental Diving Unit drew up a report comparing the performance of the Seapearl 600 with that of its direct competitors (in particular the Blancpain 50 Fathoms Milspec 1 and the Rolex Submariner). It is the Seapearl that is recommended when a rotating bezel is not required. Indeed, the funky second hand (say, the enooormous second hand), but also the cheap price of this diver made it a great asset. The US Navy even suggests replacing the Seapearl every year rather than overhauling them! From 1957 onwards, the Seapearl have the term "Sherpa" engraved on the bottom of the box. They now have an EPSA supercompressor box with patent 314962.

Enicar Sherpa cases

The EPSA cases used were first of the compressor type (patent 98243) and then of the supercompressor type (314962), which Enicar used in its 36 and 41 mm watches, the two dimensions that made up the 600 diver range. The supercompressor technology was patented by EPSA, making the case increasingly water-resistant as the watch reaches greater depths.

Enicar was particularly prolific in designing multiple versions of the Sherpa with a supercompressor case. Single crowns, doubles, GMT divers... There are even two models, the Ultra Dive and the Sherpa OPS which have very special crown protectors. In 1958 the Sherpa Dive included a rotating bezel.

 

A rare vintage Enicar chronograph
A vintage Enicar Sherpa Guide with blue dial

The Enicar Sherpa Diver 600 Chronograph

Again. In 1959, the US Navy examined two Enicar watches, the Seapearl 600 and the Sherpa Diver 600, which included a rotating bezel. If the Seapearl was ruled out because it did not have a rotating bezel, the Sherpa Diver was indeed retained.

The early Diver 600s have trapezoidal indices and large stick hands, and a second hand in the style of the Seapearl and Sherpa of previous years. The Enicar logo is embedded in the planet Saturn. Later, the stick hands become thinner, and the second hand more classic.

In 1965 Enicar uses the word "star", and the Star Diver succeeds the Sherpa Diver, although the term Sherpa remains engraved on the case back.

The Enicar aqua-lung 1000ft

US Divers was a manufacturer of suits and diving suits, just like Heathways, Dacor, Voit or Swimaster. In the 1967 catalogue of this company, appears an Enicar Super Dive Aqua-lung, but nobody has ever seen this model in real life. However, there are some models marked "aqua-lung 1000 feet", but they are only Sherpa Diver 600 with a different dial, dating from 1967.

The Sherpa Dive : a classic Sherpa watch ! 

The oldest known "classic" Sherpa Dive dates back to March 1958. It belonged to Captain Bo Cassel (1920-2004), who in April 1961 brought to the surface the Swedish warship Vasa, which had been under water for 333 years.

There is a later version, with 33 rubies, wide baton hands and a fine second hand, trapezoidal indexes filled with lume. A fine achievement, in our opinion.

The Sherpa Mini Dive

The Mini Dive has a Sherpa 300 supercompressor housing, but is only 27 mm in diameter. The rotating bezel has no dots but lines, the dial exists in black or white, the hands are stick-shaped, the second hand is thin; the AR 765 movement is automatic allowing manual winding.

The Sherpa Divette

The Divette is an intermediate model, between the Mini Dive and the Diver (therefore, between 27 and 36 or 40 mm). Powered by the AR 1034 caliber, the Divette has mostly stick hands, large indexes, and various forms of second hand.

The Sherpa Star Diver

This model is very special, original, successful. The Sherpa Star Diver was introduced at the end of the 1960s. It has an asymmetrical cushion shape, 42 mm in diameter, in steel or PVD, and is powered by the AR 167D calibre. The case references are 147-05-01 and 147-05-02. The dial is generally black, does not have the Saturn logo (but the case back does). The bottom includes the Seapearl oyster and indicates Sherpa Star Diver. The indexes are applied, the day is at 6 o'clock and the date at noon. The hands are short arrows, and the second hand is a white lollipop. The bezel is bi-directional. 

The GMT Enicar Sherpa

Yet another single-crown model! The Sherpa GMT has Dauphine hands and triangular Divette-type hour-markers. The rotating bezel of the Divette has been adapted for the Sherpa GMT. The oldest models are marked from 1 to 24 hours, later models additionally include cities of the world. The GMT hand is a red arrow. The movement, the AR 1126.

The Sherpa Time

This is the predecessor of the World Time Sherpa, the Sherpa Time. Unlike the first one, this one has no dated complications. The cream dial, the Dauphine hands, are enhanced by a rotating bezel on which the major cities of the world are noted.

The Sherpa World Time

To go beyond the GMT function alone, we needed the cities of the world. The Sherpa World Time has this purpose. Here is an example, with its red pointer (absent in the previous case, unfortunately) :

The Sherpa Steward

The Steward and Stewardess models were introduced in 1960, with an inverted rotating bezel (countdown timer after take-off), in a case that is still a supercompressor. Sherpa with caliber AR 1125 Rubyrotor installed (Supertest, pink gilt, 30 stones) 

The Sherpa Electric

Finally, Enicar produced electric Sherpa in supercompressor boxes. The 1961 version with a Landeron 4750 is as expensive as the Sherpa Graph of the same period, at the Valjoux 72.

The Collector's Grail : the Enicar US Navy Diver 600

The US Navy Diver 600 has been produced in 1,000 units. Tested in 1958 alongside the Blancpain 50 Fathoms and the Rolex Submariner, it is the Sherpa that is preferred. Its use by the Navy during the Vietnam War made this model very difficult to find.

We hope you will find this guide of Enicar Sherpa useful. 

What is the worth of a vintage Enicar watch ?

As there are a lot of collectors of vintage Enicar, the most interesting models are gaining value year after year. For example, a vintage Enicar Sherpa Guide with blue dial will be found around $800 on the online market. On the contrary, you will be able to get a vintage Enicar Ultrasonic without spending too much. Should be also easy to find an Enicar Aquagraph. Of course, it all depends of the condition of the watch and how many collectors are wanting it.