Tuesday, 29 March 2016

The English Watch Ebauché

A typical 3/4 plate keyless movement
from a Prescott ebauché 1888
The term ebauché has had slightly different meanings over the years but in England in the late 19th and very early 20th centuries it meant a part finished movement or kit of parts, usually without jewels and with pivots and components unfinished. This would usually be finished by a different company, large or small although some companies such as Rotherham made their own ebauché.

The English trade in ebauché was, until about 1890, dominated by makers around Prescott in Lancashire who supplied small makers in London and makers large and small makers in Coventry. In 1889 the Coventry Watch Movement was formed to counter the perceived threat of the Lancashire watch Company moving to the manufacture of complete watches and threatening the supply of ebauché to the Coventry trade.

Rather than start from scratch they purchased the business of Edward Scarisbrick, a Prescott ebauché maker and moved the machinery and some key workers to Spon St in Coventry. During the start up phase they also acted as resellers of Prescott ebauché and it is usually not possible to distinguish between the makers during this period. As the English watch trade came increasingly under threat from the Americans and then the Swiss makers cooperation between the CWMC and the Lancashire trade increased again with pricing agreements between them.

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