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  1. #1
    Registered user. rstl99's Avatar
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    Default Charles Oudin verge fusée watch movement (circa early 1810's)

    My latest acquisition, from southern France: a Charles Oudin verge fusée movement.

    The movement is signed by him, and the address is given as "Palais Royal No 52", where he moved his shop in 1811-12 and remained there until ceding the business to his son in 1836. The company has continued in his name until today. Charles Oudin died in 1840.

    Charles Oudin was a close collaborator of Breguet, and worked in his shop for many years. In fact, when Breguet moved back to his native Switzerland in the years following the French Revolution, Oudin helped keep his shop operating. Breguet had even offered in 1794 to make him director of the shop in his absence, which Oudin graciously declined. Breguet apparently trusted Oudin to make his most complex watches, such was the quality of his craftsmanship.

    (See below for a translation of Oudin's response to Breguet's offer, which is a testament to the former's qualities as a human being).



    More information on Oudin and the company he created can be found here:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Oudin

    I figure this particular watch was produced early in Oudin's tenure at 52 Palais Royal. Soon after, he no doubt would focus on more "modern" escapements, which he had been producing under Breguet and in his own name for many years. Perhaps this watch was for a customer of more modest means, or who desired the rugged reliability of the verge-fusée design.

    I thought some of you may like to see pictures of this watch, which I am most proud to own, given it's from the hands of someone so close to his master Breguet.

    --Robert

    p.s. I should point out that the transcription of Oudin's response to Breguet was borrowed from an article by Jean-Claude Sabrier in the Spring 2007 issue of VOX Antiquorum entitled "Oudin - a Horological dynasty closely linked to Breguet".
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    Last edited by rstl99; 04-07-2017 at 10:17 AM.

  2. #2
    Registered User klokwiz's Avatar
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    Default Re: Charles Oudin verge fusée watch movement (circa early 1810's) (By: rstl99)

    Robert,

    I very nice watch and interesting story. Thanks for sharing it. Is the movment fuctional? I didn't notice it in the text. Joe

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    Registered user. rstl99's Avatar
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    Default Re: Charles Oudin verge fusée watch movement (circa early 1810's) (By: klokwiz)

    Thanks Joe, glad you liked the little story I wrote about Monsieur Oudin. I'm happy to own one of his early watches.
    Although all looks there movement wise, and the balance spins freely, the watch does not presently run. The fusée is all wound up (only a bit of chain attached to mainspring). Probably gummed up and in need of a good service, that I'll get around to doing when I'm more familiar working around the fusée watches. Cheers.

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    Registered user. rstl99's Avatar
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    Default Re: Charles Oudin verge fusée watch movement (circa early 1810's) (By: rstl99)

    Took the hands off to align them better, and removed a couple of pins to have a look under the dial.

    The plate is stamped "Japy" with number 5412, so I gather the ébauche came from Japy in Switzerland. I'm not that familiar with Japy but know the founder (Frédéric) died in 1813, which coincides roughly with the creation of Oudin's shop on 52 Palais Royal (1811-1812).

    One of the motion work wheels has an interesting pattern on it from its manufacture.

    The dial has markings on the back that I can't figure out at this point.

    Anyway, in case this is of interest to those who may have a look at this thread.
    Cheers.
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  5. #5
    Registered user. rstl99's Avatar
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    Default Re: Charles Oudin verge fusée watch movement (circa early 1810's) (By: rstl99)

    In reading a bit more about Frédéric Japy, I learned he is a frenchman from a small french town named Beaucourt (almost on the border with Switzerland), was trained in watchmaking in Switzerland and then returned to Beaucourt where he started up a small business producing ébauches using machines of his own invention. This influenced the swiss who developed machines and mechanized construction of watch components based on Japy's example. The plant in Beaucourt evolved in the 19th century from watch ébauches, to clock movements, french carriage clocks, coffee grinders, enamelled cooking pots, pumps, thermal motors, typewriters and other office equipment, etc.

    So this watch movement from a frenchman and close collaborator of Breguet (Oudin), features a movement based on an ébauche from another frenchman (Japy) who had a tremendous influence on the future of watchmaking in France, Switzerland and elsewhere.

    A pair of noteworthy figures and a number of interesting horological developments from the early 1800's come together in this fascinating and humble object.

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    Registered User gmorse's Avatar
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    Default Re: Charles Oudin verge fusée watch movement (circa early 1810's) (By: rstl99)

    Hi Robert,

    Japy was a major manufacturer of the "blanc roulant" movements which were installed in those French black marble clocks which still survive in their thousands today.

    Regards,

    Graham

    "Ut tensio, sic vis" - Robert Hooke

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    Default Re: Charles Oudin verge fusée watch movement (circa early 1810's) (By: gmorse)

    Thank you Graham. I don't own any of those French clocks you refer to, just a few carriage clocks.

    I also read that Japy manufactured enamelled dials so more than likely the dial in my Oudin came from the Japy factory as well.

    This leaves the question, as it does for all the fusée watches I own, of how much of a hand the actual watchmaker whose name is inscribed on the movement, had in the finishing of the watch, especially the movement, as opposed to the manufacturer of the ébauche (ex. Japy in France, or Bristol/Lancashire in Britain).

    It's probably obvious that, as the era of watch manufacturing mechanization progressed and evolved in the 19th century (France, Switzerland, America, then, reluctantly, England), individual watchmakers had less and less of a hand in crafting elements of the watch movement, with some possible exceptions.

    --Robert

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    Default Re: Charles Oudin verge fusée watch movement (circa early 1810's) (By: rstl99)

    p.s. picked this off the net (unquoted text in a forum post on watchuseek):

    "The [Japy] company was set up for the purpose of making ebauches (blanks) for watch movements in the village of Beaucourt, France. These blanks were in the form of the basic frame of a watch movement which was then sent to a finisher who gathered the other parts a watch required such as wheels, springs, screws, jewels, etc., from other specialty manufacturers. When the finisher was finished, the result was a finished watch. These watches would have had the finisher’s name on them, not Japy’s. Frederic had an aptitude for designing machines for making watch and clock parts and from about 1779 he made many of his own machine tools and was one of the forerunners in introducing mass production into Europe. During the invasion of France by the allied armies during the Napoleonic wars, the factory was burnt down. Czar Alexander, who was controlling the armies was furious as his mother’s birthplace was nearby and he had promised the locals that they would be safe under his ‘rule’. He sent an emissary to apologise to Japy and offer monetary assistance in rebuilding. Japy turned this down as he would not accept help from the enemies of France."

    Interesting historical information about the factory burning down during the wars.

    The general description above of the production of blanks (ébauches) seems to suggest that, on this Oudin watch for example, Japy may have provided the basic blank frame (plates, pillars, dial?) and that Oudin's shop would have incorporated everything else (wheels, fusée, mainspring, escapement, etc.)? Not sure that's an accurate interpretation, I would have expected the ébauche to be more complete (incorporating wheels, fusée, etc.). I suppose that as time went on, the ébauche did become more and more complete, and the maker-finisher was limited to fine-tuning the escapement, casing the movement, and putting his name on the dial or movement). So much to learn...

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