Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Market Update - more silver watches!

The new financial year has seen some improvement in supply, particularly of silver cased watches. For at least two years I have been struggling to get good Swiss and American movements in silver cases with the majority of watches being in gold plate, now the ratio is much more balanced.

There has also been a drop in the number of movements being sold for spares.

It would appear that the significant and steady drop in silver (and gold) prices since the high in 2011/12, when it was more than double the current price, has resulted in fewer watches being scrapped for their silver content which has to be a good thing!

Friday, 10 April 2015

How to choose a watch chain

I am frequently asked for advice about selecting an Albert chain so hopefully this post will save me some time in the future!

2nd Draft and work in progress!

Why have a chain?

A key principle is that a pocket watch should always have some sort of safety device in case it is dropped. I have had three customers in the last three months  drop their watches on the floor (whilst winding I think) and two of these watches cost over £550, and in each case they broke the balance staff, one only 2 days after purchase. 

I have managed to fix two of them and the third is on its way to me and can probably be fixed. But these users were lucky, they were all watches for which New Old Stock balance staffs are potentially available, for many watches and all English ones this is not normally the case and that makes repair out of my competency and may exceed the value of the watch.

So you need to have a chain (or similar) and use it at all times! However remember it is a safety device, clips and case bows may fail, so hold onto the watch not the chain.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery: A Swiss 17J Half Hunter c 1897.

But in the case of this Swiss watch the unknown maker should have been more confident and signed the watch. It  is the best made and finished Swiss watch I have come across, better I think than the Labrador by Louis Brandt and Frère / Omega  and at least as good as the early Rotherham it rather looks like. (Sorry Coventry Watch Museum  J also on Facebook ).

The movement was clearly made for the English market having the classic Rotherham shape, Fast and Slow markings without the French equivalent (A & R) and a true English Lever Escapement. It has 17 jewels, 15 plus cap jewels on the escape, and they are all screw set on the top  and three are on the face plate.
The Breguet sprung cut compensating balance has, apart from the timing screws which are steel to  gives finer control of the timing, gold screws which is not common in a Swiss watch. It also has a double roller and a functioning Geneva gear to control mainspring pressure.
The setting gear is particularly impressive with every piece very well finished.