Friday, 17 February 2017

Rotherham Three-quarter plate keyless watches.

Open Faced (left) and Hunter (right) 19 Jewel Rotherham three-quarter plate
movements. All that I have had have had the curved top plate, but other
makers used a similar shape so that alone is not a guarantee it is a Rotherham.
Introduced in the very (?) late 1880s the elegant Rotherham three-quarter plate movement remained in production with minimal changes until the company stopped watch production in the mid-1930s.  
Under the dial view showing the Rotherham logo (Centre right) and the
rocking bar setting mechanism. the general layout is the same as Rotherham's
Keyless Full plate model of the 1890's and into the next century.

The majority that I seen[1] are from 1890 through to WWI with a few from the 1920s. The earliest dateable one I have seen was from 1890 and the latest, for J.W. Benson, was in a case hallmarked 1934.

An 11 Jewel Size 6 half Hunter for Rowell of Oxford. 1891.
The movement was made in many sizes from zero through to size 16 and initially at least, with many combinations of jewels including 11J, 13J & 19J.

Rotherham did not favour jewelling the centre wheel for reasons explained in another post and would go for cap jewels on the escape before jeweling the 3rd wheel and often before jeweling the fourth or the lever pallet as they did in the 11J example for Rowell shown on the right.

As time went on the lower jewel count movements became far fewer and the odd movement begins to turn up with 20 jewels.
From my sample, by far the most popular was the size 12 with 19 jewels.

A rare 19J size 0 Rotherham 3/4 plate, 1907; the only significant difference with the larger models is the
lack of a seconds hand, it even has Geneva stop work. The case is 1.5" in diameter excluding the pendant etc.

The 20 Jewel version, 1902. Very unusually it
is marked as adjusted.
All of the movements had true English Lever escapements many had Geneva stop gear and this was retained on the 19 & 20 jewel models  until well after WWI.

Almost all had steel Breguet hairsprings with cut compensating balances but a few were produced with Elenvar Breguet springs with solid gold balances. 

It is likely that the many, if not all, of the 19 & 20 jewel movements were half-chronometers but  although print advertising often made much of this it was not the custom to mark English movements as "adjusted" and only a few later models I have seen were so marked.

The most common Rotherham three-quarter plate, a size 12 19J.
This one for Reid & Son of Newcastle upon Tyne. It is now back
with a descendant of the retailer, the result of a long search!
Cases were mainly silver and solid gold, the former at least made in house, the later were much less substantial and “frequently swing out” types”, I have not seen enough of these to even guess at who made them.

A typical Silver Half-Hunter case, this one a 19J size 12 for Butt & Co
branded "The County". 1911
Filled gold cases are seen from time to time, early ones are simply marked 14K Filled Gold, later ones are fully marked by Dennison as their 14 carat Filled Gold “Sun” grade. I suspect all of the filled gold cases were bought in but have no real evidence to support that.

A Hunter in a 14 Carat Filled gold
"SUN" grade case by Dennison c1929.
Rotherham supplied a lot of the smaller 19J movements to J.W. Benson and like about 80% of Rotherham’s production the only Rotherham mark is hidden under the dial.

A fairly rare variant of the standard movement was made for dress watches, this was slimmed down by about a third compared with the standard model and had a clip on dial.

The slim variant of the 19J Size 12 in a
14 carat solid gold case, 1932.

A centre seconds variant was also produced but I have seen very few and had only one, these where not chronographs having no stop function.

A rare centre seconds variant with 20 Jewels for
retailer W.J. Storey, 1894.

 [1] I have seen just over 80 Rotherham ¾ plates from size zero through 16, some are datable, others not.

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