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  1. #1

    Default Need help identifying an antique pocket watch - Swiss Made

    Need help identifying great grandfather's pocket watch for sentimental gratification. Case is by Dennison watch case co ltd. number 641645. Actual mechanism only says "swiss made" on the inside and there are no markings on the face. I can't count the jewels without pulling it apart - which I don't want to do. Does anyone out there know anything about this watch?

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  2. #2

    Smile Re: Need help identifying an antique pocket watch - Swiss Made (RE: copernicus)

    Hi copernicus:

    Welcome to the NAWCC Pocket Watch Message Board!

    Your great grandfather's watch's movement is a modest, 7-jewel, hunting movement. Hopefully, somebody with more experience than I can provide more information about it.

    The watch case is gold-filled and was made by the Dennison Watch Case Co. It is of greater quality than the movement that suggests that it was picked out by great grandfather at a jewelry shop (probably in England - we don't hear much about Dennison cases being exported, but I suppose that a small percentage were) when the movement was bought and the two joined together at that time. This would be as opposed to a jobber or retailer joining the two prior to the sale and offering it as a complete watch. If that were so, the movement would probably have been placed in a lower grade case, more in line with the grade of the movement.

    I don't really know its age, but its overall appearance suggests the 'teens or early 1920s. I lean more to the 'teens, even with the disruption of The Great War.

    Unless you know that it has been cleaned and oiled within the last few years, and as indicated by the position of the pocket watch regulator, you should have the watch serviced before running it very much. It may be helpful for you to read the Encyclopedia article on Watch Service and its related links, especially the one to the message board thread on the subject. The Encyclopedia article on Choosing a Pocket Watch Repair Person may be useful as well.

    Having gathered and printed out information about a family watch once somebody adds information about the movement, it is a wise idea to write out as much as you know about the family member to whom the watch originally belonged - or as far back as you can go, including (and clearly identifying) what you can guess. Then, add the names and relationships of the family members who passed it down to the current holder. Make up a booklet with this and all of the watch information and try to keep it with the watch. You might even include a CD or, better yet, a USB thumb drive with copies of the pictures or information, in addition to the printouts. Even though they may not be readable 100 years from now, some more recent descendent may transfer the files to the then current format and media. This way, the watch has real family heritage instead of it just being an old family watch, the identity and relationship of the original owner having been lost in the distant past.

    Please feel free to ask about anything that isn't clear to you.

    Good luck,
    Kent
    That guy down in Georgia

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Need help identifying an antique pocket watch - Swiss Made (RE: Kent)

    Quote Originally Posted by Kent View Post
    [EXCERPT] Your great grandfather's watch's movement is a modest, 7-jewel, hunting movement. Hopefully, somebody with more experience than I can provide more information about it.

    Copernicus, your watch movement may indeed be modest, but perhaps in a different way than Kent intended. I have seen quite a few of these watches that appear to be trying to hide their true identity under a "cloak of anonymity". If there is any marking telling who made them, it would be hidden under their dials!

    Fortunately for us, they have too many characteristics that are pretty well known and tell us that they are a product of the "Fabriques d'Horlogerie Thommen" of Waldenburg, Switzerland. The firm was founded back in 1853 by Gedeon Thommen, and actually sold watches under the name Revue-Thommen, or just plain Revue.

    However, an important part of their business was furnishing movements to other watch companies, sometimes brand names, or sometimes importers in other countries. For example they, at one time, provided many watch movements that were cased in the USA and sold under the Wittnauer brand. And Rolex did not manufacture any conventional pocket watch movements, so when they needed some, they outsourced them from a few other firms, including Thommen. However, many were sold without their identity visible, like your watch. I could only speculate as to what the reason was for that apparent "modesty."

    Getting back to your watch, if the photo is enlarged, it can be seen that the watch likely has 15 jewels, though to be absolutely sure it would be necessary to check under the dial to be sure that the "lower" pivots were also jeweled. It was fairly common for lower grade American watches to have jewels on some of the visible upper pivots and to not have jewels on all the corresponding lower pivots hidden by the dial, usually resulting in an 11-jewel watch. I wouldn't expect that on a later watch like your watch, but anything is possible. However, you are probably fairly safe in assuming that it is a 15-jewel watch. The jewel count can always be checked by the watchmaker if you have the watch serviced.

    I say later, because your watch appears to have a monometallic, uncut balance, which would have been used with a self-compensating (for temperature variations) alloy hairspring, which were used earlier on Swiss watches than on American watches. I'm not at all sure when these balance/hairspring combinations were first used on "modest" Swiss watches, but it could have been sometime in the 1920s. On the other hand, there are also people who see an uncut, monometallic balance wheel, even on a fairly late Swiss watch of recognized decent quality, and immediately declare that it is a fake! Go figure! <];>)

    Larry Treiman

  4. #4

    Default Re: Need help identifying an antique pocket watch - Swiss Made (RE: Larry Treiman)

    Kent and Larry - Thank you to both for taking the time to share your knowledge.

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    Default Re: Need help identifying an antique pocket watch - Swiss Made (RE: Larry Treiman)

    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Treiman View Post
    ........your watch appears to have a monometallic, uncut balance, which would have been used with a self-compensating (for temperature variations) alloy hairspring, which were used earlier on Swiss watches than on American watches. I'm not at all sure when these balance/hairspring combinations were first used on "modest" Swiss watches, but it could have been sometime in the 1920s. On the other hand, there are also people who see an uncut, monometallic balance wheel, even on a fairly late Swiss watch of recognized decent quality, and immediately declare that it is a fake! Go figure! <];>)

    Larry Treiman
    That's really interesting info' Larry ( as usual....! ).

    I thought that 'uncut mono-metallic' was an automatic sign of lesser quality, not knowing the connection with the hairspring and different types of temperature compensation.

    I understand from what I read that the fake/suspect Swiss watches generally have semi cut balances, to mimic the higher quality full cut ones. Does that still hold true....or does a semi cut balance actually serve a function ?

    Regards.....Piers
    Piers Lawrence

    'In the end, time makes fools of us all...some more than others.'

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    Default Re: Need help identifying an antique pocket watch - Swiss Made (RE: PJQL)

    Hi Piers,

    Quote Originally Posted by PJQL View Post
    I understand from what I read that the fake/suspect Swiss watches generally have semi cut balances, to mimic the higher quality full cut ones. Does that still hold true....or does a semi cut balance actually serve a function ?
    Not that I can think of!

    Regards,

    Graham

    "Ut tensio, sic vis" - Robert Hooke

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    Default Re: Need help identifying an antique pocket watch - Swiss Made (RE: gmorse)

    Hmm...that's what I thought !
    Thanks Graham.
    Piers Lawrence

    'In the end, time makes fools of us all...some more than others.'

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    Default Re: Need help identifying an antique pocket watch - Swiss Made (RE: PJQL)

    Hi there,

    just to nail it down: The movement is a Revue 31. It is a variant of the Revue 30, modified for the American market to fit cases for 16-size movements with negative stem mechanism. As I have scarcely access to US versions of Swiss movements, the Revue 31 is still missing in my archive, but there are many versions of the Revue 30, giving an idea about the variety of layouts:
    http://www.ranfft.de/cgi-bin/bidfun-...2uswk&Revue_30
    http://www.ranfft.de/cgi-bin/bidfun-...k&Revue_30_sav

    Regards, Roland Ranfft
    Identify your movement here

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    Default Re: Need help identifying an antique pocket watch - Swiss Made (RE: Roland Ranfft)

    Thank you, Roland, for nailing down the difference between the Revue (Thommen) 30 and 31. For a long time I have been wondering what it was, and the catalogs I used for references didn't help. Even your site didn't mention the cal. 31 or explain how it differed from the cal.30 Since I didn't know the difference, I have avoided identifying the specific cal. I had thought that maybe one was open-face and the other was the hunting-case version. It never occurred to me that one (cal. 30) might be positive-setting (with the stem as part of the movemnent and held by a detent screw) and the other (cal. 31) negative-setting to fit American cases (with stem and sleeve as part of the case). Now, if only I can remember which is which....! <];>)

    It is no wonder that Revue, Revue-Thommen, or Thommen watches are not well known here in the U.S.A. They rarely ever show up under any of those names. I couldn't find them in a quick look through a U.S. trademark reference, though I might have missed a listing. One cannot be certain of how to look them up in a watch materials catalog. Sometimes they might be listed under Revue and sometimes under Thommen.

    However, in one catalog that I use frequently (C.&E. Marshall Handy Manual) if you look up either Revue or Thommen, it just says "See Wittnauer". That is probably because Revue-Thommen is mainly known (if at all) as a supplier of many movements to Wittnauer to be cased here and sold under the Wittnauer brand. And Wittnauer appears to have assigned their own cal. numbers to the Thommen watch movements. I have sometimes wondered if there was some sort of agreement here between Wittnauer and Thommen whereby Wittnauer would buy most or all of ttheir movements from Thommen and in exchange, Thommen would not market their own brand (Revue) here in the U.S.A. That is purely idle speculation on my part!

    Roland, since the negative-set (cal. 31) movement that is the subject of this thread is in a Dennison case, it is likely that it was intended for the U.K. market. Maybe "copernicus" can confirm where the subject watch was found. Also, perhaps some of the other posters who are in the U.K. can comment on the availability there of Revue-Thommen branded or private-label watches there. On this U.S. based message board, the majority of the Revue-Thommen pocket watches (including private label) that I have seen were apparently in the U.K., though I don't know how many in the U.K. were in American model, negative pendant-set cases. However, perhaps you will find that a cal. 31 is more accessible than you thought. By the way, I can't recall ever seeing one here myself!

    Good luck,

    Larry Treiman

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    Default Re: Need help identifying an antique pocket watch - Swiss Made (RE: Larry Treiman)

    Hi Larry,

    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Treiman View Post
    Now, if only I can remember which is which....!
    On the dial side the differences are of course obvious. On the back side there is just a minor difference: The Revue 30 has a setting lever screw, the Revue 31 not. Else both look completely identical.

    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Treiman View Post
    .... it just says "See Wittnauer". That is probably because Revue-Thommen is mainly known (if at all) as a supplier of many movements to Wittnauer to be cased here and sold under the Wittnauer brand. And Wittnauer appears to have assigned their own cal. numbers to the Thommen watch movements.
    Well, Wittnauer-Revue watches are rare in Europe, but I've seen many when browsing the American ebay. Some got a Wittnauer designation, some not like this:
    http://www.ranfft.de/cgi-bin/bidfun-...2uswk&Revue_73

    However, outside Switzerland Revue was almost inbvisible as brand. They supplied movements to many manufacturers, sometimes signed witg G.T, in an oval (Gédéon Thommen), but mostly unsigned. Only in the UK they were resonably present with the brand "Vertex". As many of these movements had Dennison cases, there might have been a special arrangement - who knows? Maybe this arrangement also lead to OEM products which were sold unsigned or with private lable.

    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Treiman View Post
    Roland, since the negative-set (cal. 31) movement that is the subject of this thread is in a Dennison case, it is likely that it was intended for the U.K. market.
    No idea. The above mentioned relation usually brought watches with Siwss stem mechanism, i.e. Dennison made cases without integrated stem for these watches. On the other hand Dennison made many cases for U.S. movements, and probably any unknown maker popped a Revue 31 into them.

    Finally, Reveue (or GT) movements are too widely spread and too often anonymous to get all relations sorted.

    Regards, Roland Ranfft
    Identify your movement here

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    Default Re: Need help identifying an antique pocket watch - Swiss Made (RE: Roland Ranfft)

    Hi, again, Roland,

    I searched and found a previous thread on some interesting Thommen cal. 30 and 31 watches with the private label Limit No. 2 on the dial and another, mkd. Limit No. 2N, also on the dial, for the U.K. market. There was a lengthy discussion on these watches, and others, and I was having some fun with the subject. I now realize that the N in the Limit No. 2N name likely stands for negative setting, which it has. Ed Ueberall posted a particularly attractive example on the second page of the thread.

    I couldn't successfully post a link, so I bumped it back to near the top of the first page....it was started back in 2009! If it gets lost before you get to see it, a search here on the MB for Limit No. 2 should find it again!

    The thread is titled "Info on Limit No. 2 pocket watch" and was started by namvet69.

    Larry
    Last edited by Larry Treiman; 09-22-2013 at 02:55 PM.

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    Default Re: Need help identifying an antique pocket watch - Swiss Made (RE: Roland Ranfft)

    Quote Originally Posted by Roland Ranfft View Post


    However, outside Switzerland Revue was almost inbvisible as brand. They supplied movements to many manufacturers, sometimes signed witg G.T, in an oval (Gédéon Thommen), but mostly unsigned. Only in the UK they were resonably present with the brand "Vertex". As many of these movements had Dennison cases, there might have been a special arrangement - who knows? Maybe this arrangement also lead to OEM products which were sold unsigned or with private lable.
    I recently had this one through my hands.....

    Piers
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails DSC_5151.jpg   DSC_5154.jpg   DSC_5156.jpg   DSC_5155.jpg  
    Piers Lawrence

    'In the end, time makes fools of us all...some more than others.'

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    Default Re: Need help identifying an antique pocket watch - Swiss Made (RE: Larry Treiman)

    Hi Piers,

    Quote Originally Posted by PJQL View Post
    I recently had this one through my hands.....
    Wow, and this one has even the calibre signature "31". I've never actually seen it, since Revue almost never applied it back then.

    Hi Larry,

    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Treiman View Post
    I now realize that the N in the Limit No. 2N name likely stands for negative setting, which it has
    Likely yes, since both layouts differ only refering the setting lever screw.

    I read the thread cursory and noticed that someone had doubts due to different pallet-lever bearings. But actually both werde made: A cock together with banking pins and a bridge with integrated banking:



    Regards, Roland Ranfft
    Identify your movement here

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