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.

Being in a case with Swiss hallmarks there is no direct means of dating it but the escapement runs at
16,200 Vibrations per Hour (VpH) and this had largely gone out of use by 1900 in favour of 18,000 VpH  (the main exception being J.W. Benson who stuck to the old standard for some time).

So it was probably made between c1892 and 1900 and from the serial number (20,618) by a relatively new or low volume producer.  If this had been price competitive, which I doubt given the level of finish and attention to detail, and from a volume maker then Rotherhams would have been seriously worried.

The 0.935 silver case which has the same serial number as the movement is also impressive being well made and much heavier than the norm for a Swiss case. It has gold hinges and the guard for the pin setting is also gold.

It was incredibly dirty when it came in and needed a lot of TLC but has restored very well.


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