Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Waltham “own label” movements.

Waltham “own label” movements are very rare in UK – I have only seen them for Russell of Liverpool and Preston’s of Bolton, but they are somewhat more common in the USA. They come in two varieties. The first have different specifications to mainstream models, such as this 1908-641 branded the Preston’s senior which appears to be a 1908-PSB with the addition of a double roller.
Waltham 1908-635 The "Russell Model"
The second more common own label, is a standard model with engraving added to brand them as “own Label" The Preston's junior is of this type as is the Russell model above which includes the Waltham name on the movement and this 1899-630 marked for jewellers Harry A Dillon of Gloversville New York but without the Waltham name although in this case Waltham is on the dial.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

A Benson signed for Queen Mary, 1922.

J.W. Benson, "Best London Make",11J, 9 carat gold, 1922.

When I first saw it on the web this watch had me fooled, being engraved “To H.M. The Queen” I initially assumed it was a Victorian movement re-cased by the maker in 1922 or that someone had the case date wrong.

Then when it arrived I realised that the engraving was not the usual “By Special Warrants to H.M. the Queen” (or by Special Warrants to her and the Prince of Wales jointly or to “The Late Queen” etc.). From over a hundred English made Bensons this is the only one I have seen with this engraving or anything similar.

The case was definitely made for this movement as they have the same serial number and it has London assay date marks for 1922/3.
When I opened the movement I found it consistent with one from the 1920s and the movement serial number has an alphabetic serial number which also indicates early 20th century. As usual the character on the top plate “K” is different to the one on the top plate “C”.

So, for some reason, Benson briefly marked at least one watch for Queen Mary even though they did not have her warrant. Having done a little research I can’t see any particular reason for it, other than perhaps for her 55th birthday or the marriage of her daughter.