This is a re-print/summary of some technical information I contributed at that time - after the Gnutti take-over and might be biased by my relationship with JJ Frey.
(I am do not believe that has been shared at this forum, if I am wrong, bear with and old man's failing memory):
Facts about Minerva Thu, 12 June 2003 15:42
There has been a lot of questions about Minerva, reference numbers, models etc. I will try to give a brief overview of the few facts that I know after working with Minerva from it was discovered in 1996 to the time when JJ Frey had to abandon the manufacture in 2001.
A48X - caliber 48 (sub seconds)
A49X - caliber 49 (indiret driven centre seconds)
AXX1 - case 34mm
AXX2 - case 38mm
AX - arab figures
AAX - applied arab figures (rose gold)and rose gold hands
RX - roman figures
X6 - black dial, luminous hands and figures
X8 - silverized dial, blued hands, printed figures
XR - copper (rose) dial, printed figures
There are no ref. for the different straps, they are either ostrich dark blue or tan, except for A& dial that came with a black strap with white stickes.
There are five limited editions of the last production (after 1996)
- TZ Limited edition with cal 48 in a 34mm case, black dial with luminous hands and figures in a red colour called burnt sienna, 49 pieces.
- TZ Limited edition (by Ashford) with cal 49 in a larger case, either black or white dial, applied indexes. 49 pieces of each dial version.
- Modell 2000, cal 49 in a rose gold case and croco leather strap, limited to 50 pieces.
- Anniversary, with a cal 22 pocket watch movement
- Heritage, with a Venus chronograph movement.
There have been a lot of different names for the various Minerva watches, these are the model names used by JJ Frey and the Minerva Company:
Pythagore - cal 48 in 34mm case
Pythagore 38mm - cal 48 in 38mm case
With respect to dial versions, the following names have been used for different watches:
Pilot - 34 and 38mm watch with dial A6
Jubilee - 34 and 38mm watch with dial AA8
The name Grande Pythagore has been seen used with the 38mm case in some advertising in Germany and in an article in the German magazine Armband Uhren, but this has never been used by Minerva's.
The names Pyhtagore I and Pythagore II are TimeZone inventions as far as I know. Som people also refer to the dial AA8 as Aniversary dial, probably because it looks very much the same as the dial on the limitied edition model Anniversary.
Minerva's had a total production of less than 10 000 pieces per year - of wristwatches, limited editions, stopwatches and curvimetres. In the last two years probably less than that.
Also remember that cases were bought and numbered in batches. This the case numbering does not make it possible to date a watch to more than within a time window of a couple of years.
I have seen watches with case number 736 XXX and 746 XXX that are four years apart in production.
One method of dating a Pyhtagore, however, is to look at the movement:
The first batch - no finish.
The second batch - Geneva bars except on the anchor (lever) bridge, grey balance
The third batch - glucydur (yellow) balance
The forth batch - Geneva bars on the ancour bridge
The fifth and last batch - perlage under the balance and lever
These batches are more or less one year apart.
WHAT IS A REAL (FREY) MINERVA?
In my opinion are all available Pythagores and special models "real" or Frey Minervas - to my knowledge there was no production after the Italian take-over. The last TZ limited Edition (Ashford) watches were shipped by the new management, but they were, as far as I know, all produced and assembled before the take-over.
I do not know that the Italian management ever produced any watches. I now that one of the agents got a small number of Pythagores later than jan 2001, but it is my impression that these watches were assembled before JJ Frey left the company.
OTHER MINERVA WATCHES
Before the re-launch of the Pythagore models, Minerva's had a large number of special chronograph models, all in limited numbers, called Phebus, Athene etc. All these are sold many years ago, but can be found at auction sites.
Minerva's also had a line of ETA-based chronographs, the Palladio line, in steel and steel/gold, also with 24 hour (GMT) complications.
My sources tell me that the Minerva building in Villeret has been abandoned for a long time, and that the people who once worked for Minerva's, are nolonger with the company. Remember that the two head watchmakers both were well beyond retirement age when the new ownerhip took over.
The picture at Minerva's new webpage are artists airbrush impressions, not photos of real watches. Minerva was not present at the Basel Fair this year, and has not been mentioned in any of the articles in the main European magazines for the last two years.
For a long time a fair price for a Pythagore was in the range of 2800 USD. I think that is a fair price!