Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Omega's patent winding and setting mechanism.

The Omega 1896 design with their patent setting and
winding mechanism.
From the user’s point of view, Omega watches with this system work as a normal pendant set watch, just pull out the crown, turn to set and press back in.
The design was intended to give (and does) a more positive and robust action to setting so as to persuade railroad companies and regulators that the watch was safe for railway use, reducing the chance of the time being accidentally changed. That failed to convince in the USA (probably not helped by the fact that Webb C. Ball, a key player, had a profitable business reselling American made railroad watches), but it was accepted in Austria, Australia and a few other places that had regulations regarding the design of pocket watches used on the railways.
The UK did not have any regulations for watches as the entire railway system had signalling of one sort or another so good time keeping was not a safety issue, just an annoyance for passengers when trains were late.
Which perhaps explains a lot.

A very rare J.W. Benson "FIELD" watch made by Errington.

J.W. Benson "The Field" Watch 16J made by C.H. Errington of Coventry 1898.

A Benson made "Field" c 1899.
This was a big surprise, Benson frequently re-sold, under their own name, smaller high jewelled  watches and full plate keyless Coventry made watches by Rotherham,  but I have never seen one supplied from the Errington Watch Factory (then owned by Williamson but managed by Errington). Not only that but this is branded "The Field", a name had I thought (and so does everyone I have read on the subject) was reserved for two in house designs pervious described here.

The movement itself was almost certainly a special run for Benson and has the best finish I have seen on an Errington, which is in any case is always pretty good, this one appears to have heavier gilding, the banking pins are steel rather than brass and all of the jewels are screw set, top and bottom.

It has Errington's patented spring release mechanism, a fast train, unlike the slow train of the later Benson made Fields, 16 jewels and a true English Lever escapement with a Breguet sprung cut compensating balance.

The under-dial of the Errington made "FIELD"
showing the screw set jewels.
The watch dates from 1898/9 - the serial number on the case matching that of the movement and it has the  Benson "makers mark, although it is almost certainly a Coventry made case, probably made in the Errington factory.

It has the "Queen & Prince of Wales" Warrants only used for a brief period but fairly common on early Benson made Field movements, it is probable therefore that this watch was a stop gap measure before the Benson made Field was introduced and implies that production of the Benson Field started in 1898/9.


1. John Matthews responding to another post bought to my attention an advert from 1892 showing the "Field" watch, that states the watch was London made so in the late 1890s Benson were selling two completely different watches as the "Field".

2. Further investigation of that source found that both the "Bank" and the "Field" were mentioned in an advert in June 1890,