Better known today for their precision grinding machines, Agathan AG are based in Switzerland, a country home to several other makers of precision bench lathes including Schaublin, Habegger, Mikron, Breguet Frères, Gem Glorious, Juvenia and Simonet. However, while Schaublin, Habegger, Mikron and Simonet produced machines in their thousands, the Agathan version must, from the very few examples surviving, have been made in very limited numbers.
Of conventional design and appearance, the Agathon was a plain-turning lathe with a centre height of around 102 mm and a capacity between centres of around 600 mm. Like some other precision lathes, instead of relying solely upon the bevelled faces of the bed's top section to locate the headstock, tailstock and carriage, the latter was also supported by a "faux" apron that contacted the bed's vertical front face. Closely resembling the compound slide assembly as used on the Schaublin 102, that on the Agathon had a 360° swivel top slide with two longitudinal T-slots to provide a variety of alternative position for the toolpost. The cross slide had its end plate firmly secured by 4 bolts (as also found, for example, on similar models from Pratt & Whitney and Waltham in the USA) and micrometer dials, finished in a non-glare satin chrome. The dials were of a usefully large diameter, fitted with narrow, knurled-edge rims, beautifully engraved and could be zeroed against a light spring loading.
A clue to the lathe's age - possibly from the 1940s to early 1950s, is given by the shape of the bed feet. While the tailstock end retained the almost traditional form used on this class of machine, that beneath the headstock was much more robust and of rectangular form - hinting that there may have been an under-driven backgeared and screwcutting version as well.
Although not known for certain, it is likely that the Agathon would have been offered with equipment to allow it to function in all three forms usual for this type of lathe: "Toolmaker'" when fitted with a headstock having a screw-operated draw-in collet attachment, a screw-action tailstock and a screw-feed compound slide rest; "Second-operation" with quick-action lever controls for movements of collet closer, cross slide, top slide and tailstock and "Turret" if fitted with a bed-mounted capstan head.
Should any reader have an Agathon lathe, the writer would be interested to hear from you..