William A. Gabriel’s Masterpiece: The Cutaway “Veritas Model” Illustration
Most collectors have admired this detailed cutaway drawing of the 23-Jewel Veritas at some point in time. It is almost as great a marvel as the model it represents, especially in an era predating computers. The remarkable detail immediately signals the incredible achievement of such a masterpiece.
The intricate cutaway drawing is the work of William A. Gabriel, chief designer at the Elgin National Watch Company. Beginning shortly after his new “Veritas Model” was introduced to the market, Mr. Gabriel worked for two years on the drawing, all at home in his own time.
Gabriel recognized the educational value in creating a masterpiece drawing to exhibit the functional components of the watch movement. To achieve the cutaway view, he chose to angle the perspective thirty degrees – a decision that made his objective even more challenging. The illustration is precisely drawn to scale, each minute detail being expressed through a series of forty-nine large drawings at 20:1 scale.
Next, with the use of a custom ellipsograph, the separate drawings were each projected at a thirty degree angle to achieve the exact perspective required. Afterwards, the drawings were superimposed to generate a complete view of the watch assembly.
The composite draft was transferred to a bristol board on which the final drawing was created and refined. The transfer was accomplished by a custom pantograph, reducing the large scale of the initial drawings down to a 10:1 scale. After delicate shading was applied with India ink, Gabriel’s masterpiece was complete.
The intricate drawing was used for many decades by the company in promotional materials and educational aids. The cutaway view has become so iconic that many modern publications feature the drawing to illustrate the different parts of the watch movement.