Friday, 21 November 2014

Waltham 1908-640

This is one of a series of posts illustrating the main grades of Waltham size 16 watches, primarily the 1899 & 1908 models.

The 1908-640 grade is rare; only 5,000 were made all were open faced, 4,000 were lever set and 1,000 pendant set of which the watch shown is one.

It is essentially a Royal but with the addition of a steel escape wheel, a double roller and with the more precise screw type micro adjuster replacing the simpler star type.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

November Market Update:

The first paragraph was published on the web site on October 19th and is repeated here for background:

Following some months with very limited availability of high quality English watches I have managed to find a few really nice ones in the last few weeks but supply of watches generally has been difficult and I am now attacking my rather long back log of medium to good quality Swiss watches and revisiting some watches that previously proved... recalcitrant when I did not then have time to investigate in depth.


It is now the middle of November and the supply situation has gone from bad to worse, there is little on offer and despite more aggressive bidding I am getting in between a quarter and a third the number of watches I would expect at this time of year and prices have increased significantly - a Swiss made watch for Benson and a Waltham have both just sold for 50% more than I would expect and an Omega for double my maximum bid which normally would have stood a reasonable chance of winning.

I had hoped that sellers were holding back for the Christmas market and that might still be the case but if so time is running out. A few (expensive) solid gold watches may become available in a week or two and I still have a backlog but it will not last forever!

Friday, 14 November 2014

A Family affair: Two pieces by Harrison

The Harrison family (alas probably not those of the Longitude prize fame) appear to have been in the clock and watch business for close to two hundred years from the early 17 hundreds until at least the late 1800's, they moved about the North East between Hexham, Stockton-On-Tees, Morpeth, Warkworth, Houghton-l-Spring and Chester-Le-Street, some individuals moving several time and are marked "restless" in Loomes.

The long-case clock is a family piece and is a chiming 8 day movement in an oak and mahogany case by W. Harrison of Hexham probably c 1825.

So when I saw the pocket watch signed by W.E. Harrison of Stockton-On-Tees I had to get it although it looked a poor candidate for restoration with a comment in the eBay listing saying "unable to test as I have no key", of course it is a keyless movement - that excuse usually means trouble.

Indeed it is not restorable because some oaf has been inside it with a blunt instrument and the balance staff was trashed, the hairspring largely missing and the cock for the escape wheel had been heavily bent breaking the staff. How someone could achieve that I had no idea.

The watch itself is interesting, signed on the size 16 movement by Harrison it has 11 jewels and a Breguet sprung cut compensating balance. It is a centre seconds movement rather than a chronograph having no stop function and the very dirty but sound case is hallmarked 1882.

If the date for the clock is right then W.E. Harrison appears to have been either the son or the nephew of W. Harrison.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

An early Ehrhardt crown set watch based on a Waltham idea.

The watch is by William Ehrhardt for "The London Manufacturing Goldsmiths Co Ltd of Nottingham" and signed by them and dated from the hallmarks to 1895.

It is an early (for an English Watch) crown negative, pull to set, movement when most English keyless watches were pin set.

It is laid out as an English Lever with a Swiss style club tooth escape wheel and lever, again this was an early adoption by Ehrhardt as a half way house to the full Swiss Lever.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Coventry made "Own Label" watches

Rotherham 19J 1903 keyless branded
"Time O Day"
by Russell of Liverpool
After an exchange of Facebook messages and posts with the Coventry Watch Museum I have been doing an analysis of the watches I have handed recently to see how many Coventry watches were signed by a third party. I looked at three of the large Coventry makers - Rotherham, Errington / Williamson and Wm Ehrhardt  who although based in Birmingham is normally considered to be part of the Coventry trade.

The analysis will understate the number signed by third parties because although many are signed on the movement and/or dial many are signed only on the dial and as explained in my blog post "Why the blank faces? some of these will have been done using a fragile transfer print process which over time can be lost.

 This is what I came up with:

Total # 3rd party signed
Rotherham 70 69%
Errington 44 73%
Ehrhardt 24 63%

I suspect that the Ehrhardt percentage would have been at least as high as the others originally but they produced a cheaper watch which was more likely to have a transfer printed dial signature than a more expensive enamelled version, for this reason and the sheer numbers involved I have excluded from the Errington sample  the Williamson 1905, 1910 and other late model which were widely sold under other names.

It is also revealing that apart from J.W. Benson there are very few "repeaters" in the list with most of the names being small local companies, indicating that, as I expected, relabeling Rotherham and other Coventry made watches was a widespread practice.