Wednesday, 22 February 2017

A silver half hunter signed by J.W. Benson from 1878

This is a very rare find, in fact it is the earliest complete English three-quarter plate, going barrel, keyless I can remember having and certainly the oldest Benson three-quarter plate.

And it is a high grade watch even by Benson's standards of 50 years later.

It has significant implications for the relationship between Benson and P & A Guye  and the history of Guye which is very sparse in the books I have read so I have written that up separately but I am putting the description of the watch here to help keep that post to a manageable size.

The movement was made for Benson by P & A Guye, which is demonstrated in my post J.W. Benson and P & A Guye two London watchmakers, later effectively one?

The pin set, slow train, movement has 17 jewels including cap jewels for the pallet and escape, a true English Lever (variously described as horned, spiked or ratchet) escapement with a Breguet sprung cut compensating "Chronometer" balance with what appear to be gold timing screws, four of them Vernier. There is functional Geneva Stop Gear to control mainspring pressure.

It is about a size 10 but cased up is about the same size as a later size 14 American or Swiss watch. The movement is engraved "J.W. Benson 25, Old Bond St, London".

The English made double backed premium case with gold hinges has London Hallmarks for Sterling Silver, 1878, the mark of the Hurst Brothers of Clerkenwell, London and the same serial number as the movement which authenticates the date of manufacture to 1878/9 (the hallmarking year starts later).

A full set of photos are available on Zenfolio.

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