Nice thread, with extremely nice watches!
Pierce got me hooked the moment I read about them - their history gives a lot of insight into the Swiss watchmaking industry's history as a whole.
After the First World War, the Swiss watchmaking industry fell for a general crisis - overcapacities andthe resulting fierce competition drove down prices and, with them, quality. The high reputation the Swiss watchmaking industry had been striving so hard to achieve over the last thirty years was at stake. In this situation the government began to regulate the industry and supported the merge of many of the lesser manufacturers in "trusts", one of them being the Ebauches S.A.. Lévy & Frères, who had founded the company in 1888, decided not to accept this offering which they deemed a mixed blessing.
As a consequence, they were stricken from the Ebauche's customer list and were left, over night, literally, without a movement supplier. Instead of giving in, they decided to make movements on their own. In order to avoid patent infringements, they settled for often unusual solutions - for instance, they came up with an automatic calibre that was wound by a linear moving weight rather than a pendulum or a rotor. It works surprisingly nice...
They also went for a different way to operate a chronograph. In order to steer clear from any patent in possession of Ebauches S.A., they brought in fresh thinking to the chronograph clutch. Rather than using a horizontal clutch (introduced by Breitling, improved upon bei Heuer), they invented a vertical clutch, utilizing a disc made of rubber or plastic, pretty much like the disc in a car clutch.
They made two calibers. The first one, named 130, was introduced around 1936. It features not even the minute register wheel, as the 60-minute-register was driven straight from the barrel:
(The adjustment of this mechanism is a nightmare - my watchmaker needed three attempts to make it work as it should.)
The watches with a 130 are extremely rare, probably due to their bad serviceability, and possibly because not many of them were built. Here is mine:
It is in outstanding condition, as if it was never worn. Even the strap is original.
(By the way, Pierce were master-marketers as well - they equipped the Italian biking team and indviduals from other nations and thus created "brand ambassadors" at a time when this concept wasn't even thought of.)
The caliber 130 was duly superseded by the cal. 134, which drives the minute register from the clutch. It was available in mono-pusher ...
... and dual-pusher variants:
Here are the watches they belong into:
First an "RAF"-dialled mono-pusher 134:
(Note that this is not the "real" RAF dial, but one made for customers in countries with metric measurement systems - check out the telemeter-scale which reads in kilometers rather than miles)
Second a dual-pusher 134:
(Note: there are people on the www who keep telling you that 'the 130 was the mono-pusher and the 134 the dual-pusher variant'. This is not true - the only thing you can say for sure without seeing the movement is, that if it has two pushers, it certainly has a 134. Only a look into the watch will tell you what movement it really has. (Note, though, that the 130s have registers of identical size - on most (but not all!) 134s the minute register is larger than the indicator second subdial.))
(Note to myself: it was here that I saw the "copper" dial for the first time. I need to have one of those.
Most Pierces come in their standard cases with a pressed lid on the back, but Pierce made some of them also in watertight cases with screws around a lead gasket which, by all accounts, held the watch interior free from dust and moisture. So it would be very plausible if Indiana Jones wore one of these
By the way, the notion that Pierce's chronographs didn't sell well is controversial at best. Pierce sold their chronographs at the cheap end of the market and the Venus 170 and Valjoux 77 movements were introduced to mimic the Pierces' typical layout with subdials on '6' and '12'. In fact, the Pierces were deemed "Volks-Chronographs" at a time, when the really cheap chronograph carrying Landeron's cam-operated movements was still some ten years off.
If you look into the market today you'll see lots of them, at least with 134 calibers. They are fairly underrated despite them being so interesting from both a technical and a historical point of view. Grab them while they last!