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  1. #1

    Default Ferdinand Berthoud, Paris, 1727-1807

    I am seeking any information on Ferdinand Berthoud, clock - and watch maker, Paris, mid-1700's to 1807. His work was continued by his nephew, Louis Berthoud. Ferdinand was known for his work in the field of marine chronometers.
    I have a very old chatelaine watch signed by this maker. As best as I can describe it, heavy gold, diamonds, several enamels with enameling on the back of the watch. It's beautiful (if a bit gaudy) and quite heavy. If I am understanding correctly, this was worn by a man on his waistband.
    This watch was supposedly awarded to my ancestor by . . "the king of France". In the time period, I suspect this would have been Louis XVI. I've narrowed the time to: 1780-1791. Louis XVI lost his head (sorry) in 1792. I suspect royal or official records may have been lost due to the French Revolution.
    Thanking you in advance,
    JuliW

    I've attempted to attach a photo, hope it works.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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  2. #2
    Registered User RON in PA's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ferdinand Berthoud, Paris, 1727-1807 (By: JuliW)

    Welcome to the Message Board.

    Any chance that you might post a sharp close-up of the movement?

    The NAWCC Library has a book by Berthold published in 1757 and translated into English that is oriented to folks who have purchased clocks or watches and is full of advice on how to use and care for them. Essentially an eighteenth century timepiece owners manual.

    Also try the Search function, there may be older posts about Berthould.
    NAWCC LARC
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    Default Re: Ferdinand Berthoud, Paris, 1727-1807 (By: JuliW)

    There's a fair amount of information on Ferdinand Berthoud on the internet, some of which in French. He's discussed at some length in the usual "classic" books on horology: Chamberlain, Britten, Clutton & Daniels, etc.
    His name has become well known in part because of the books he wrote on the subject of Horology. One of which was translated into English and is posted here:
    http://www.watkinsr.id.au/berthoud.html
    And of course there is a wikipedia page which I'm sure you must have consulted already:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferdinand_Berthoud

    From the reading I have done, his nephew Louis was a more accomplished watch (and clock) maker than his uncle Ferdinand. The latter is more known for his various forays into marine chronometers, and for the books he wrote as I indicated.

    Like many of the famous clock and watch-makers of that era, there are commonly found timepieces with fake signatures on them (Le Roy, Berthoud, Breguet, etc.). I'm not suggesting yours is not genuine, I'm just giving you a bit of context on the marketplace.

    The timepiece you possess looks quite imposing, and if a genuine Berthoud, may be worth a handsome price on the open market. Especially if the provenance you alluded too can be authenticated.

    Hope this helps a bit, and good luck in finding out more about your family heirloom watch.
    --Robert

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    Default Re: Ferdinand Berthoud, Paris, 1727-1807 (By: rstl99)

    Certainly an eighteenth-century French watch, beautifully fitted. As has been said, we need to see what is inside (with the bezel opened it should be possible to swing the movement out of the case by pressing inward on a small spring at the six o'clock position), but at least there is nothing visible so far to suggest that it is not exactly what it professes to be. We eagerly look forward to some more information!

    Oliver Mundy.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Ferdinand Berthoud, Paris, 1727-1807 (By: Lychnobius)

    Thank you so much for all the replies and information. And, the welcome, too. I have done many searches on F. Berthoud over the years. There is. . and there isn't a lot of pertinent information.
    I have not worked up the courage to open the watch case. Due to the age of the watch, I am fearful of 'parts' springing forth in every direction. Other than take some really good photos and post them, what should I be looking for?
    Yes, I do believe this watch was made by Ferdinand Berthoud as his name is clearly on the face and would be of the time period, according to family legend. In addition, I can trace the watch to the ancestor to whom it was (supposedly) given. I have clear evidence that it has been in family hands every day since. One item I forgot to mention is I have its original shargreen case. The silk lining is very faded with time. It has a somewhat hourglass shape.
    Again, thank you for the pointers. I keep the watch in a bank box, so will retrieve it and try to open it.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Ferdinand Berthoud, Paris, 1727-1807

    Hi JuliW, I am not sure where people get the idea that there are parts propelled by some Demons that will pop out everywhere.
    I have not worked up the courage to open the watch case. Due to the age of the watch, I am fearful of 'parts' springing forth in every direction. Other than take some really good photos and post them, what should I be looking for?As has been said, we need to see what is inside (with the bezel opened it should be possible to swing the movement out of the case by pressing inward on a small spring at the six o'clock position)
    If you need more information about this Pocket Watch you need to put photos of the movement in the post. There are a lot of people who are expert in this type of Pocket Watch. Regards Ray
    Last edited by MartyR; 05-18-2017 at 03:49 AM. Reason: Corrected typo

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    Default Re: Ferdinand Berthoud, Paris, 1727-1807 (By: Omexa)

    The other option JuliW is for you to take the watch to a jeweller or watch repair person (if there is such a trustworthy person close to you) and get that person to open it up for you to take pictures of.

    Yes, the provenance appears quite strong on your watch, pretty remarkable that your ancestor got this from the King of France. The motifs painted on the chatelaine are all country-peasant themes, not sure if that means something.

    Anyway, you have a wonderful family heirloom, it's too bad that such nice objects have to be kept in a safety box at the bank, but I would imagine that a timepiece like yours would be worth several thousand $'s.

    I just received and am starting to read possibly the definitive book on french watches, Chapiro's "La Montre française" so may be able to offer you some other insights once you are able to provide us with some further photos. Berthoud figures prominently in this book.

    All the best,
    --Robert

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    Default Re: Ferdinand Berthoud, Paris, 1727-1807 (By: rstl99)

    http://www.lacotedesmontres.com/Enchere-No_38252.htm

    One of probably several examples of similar watches signed Ferdinand Berthoud on the internet. Auctions sites give you an idea of possible value. And the photo gives you an idea of what you should see when you reveal the back of the movement, as suggested earlier.

    I'm still learning about these ancient watches, but I usually look at the hole in the dial for the winding arbour, and expect to see them in the same place for the same maker. Not always the case, as you can see from the above watch, compared to yours.

    Also, I am wondering what is the purpose of the screw visible on the dial of yours, on the "11".

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    Registered User gmorse's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ferdinand Berthoud, Paris, 1727-1807 (By: rstl99)

    Hi Robert,

    ...Also, I am wondering what is the purpose of the screw visible on the dial of yours, on the "11"....
    This was a common way of securing the dial, and continued in use for a long time; even Breguet used it.

    Regards,

    Graham

    "Ut tensio, sic vis" - Robert Hooke

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    Default Re: Ferdinand Berthoud, Paris, 1727-1807 (By: gmorse)

    Thanks Graham, one more piece of knowledge to add to my little pile.
    All the best,
    --Robert

  11. #11

    Default Re: Ferdinand Berthoud, Paris, 1727-1807 (By: rstl99)

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    Greetings, all,
    I think I've attached photos from the inside of the watch. I hope so!
    I used a natural quill (used for sewing) as I was afraid to use anything sharp. Gradually worked the watch open and it was just beautiful inside. On the "works" itself was a number 311 which would be the production number. Right? Ferdinand Berthoud's signature is at about 6 o'clock. At 3 o'clock is engraved: A Paris. (There were also a number and two maker's marks on the inside of the gold cover.)
    Now, I was very concerned about . . "things flying about". That didn't happen but there were tiny, loose parts - a couple of wheels on stems/posts and a very tiny, fine post with a ratchet top. I'm sorry, I just don't know the names of watch parts. I carefully photo'd the watch (inside), got the clearest shots I could take, then just as I closed up the watch again, I dropped the loose parts back inside. I'm absolutely positive they will be important in the future.
    Also, since last posting, I talked with a man who is quite an expert on hallmarks. He told me that of the four hallmarks on the belt/waist clip, one is a city hallmark (Chalonz), one is an assay mark (like an appraisal mark, probably for an estate, one is undoubtedly a maker's mark (goldsmith), and the other he wasn't sure. I may talk with him again.
    I hope the photos are clear enough.
    Thank you,
    Juli

  12. #12
    Registered User gmorse's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ferdinand Berthoud, Paris, 1727-1807

    Hi Juli,

    You're very lucky that nothing worse has happened, because some of the pins which hold the movement together were missing, (nothing to do with you opening the case, this must have happened some time before!), and the movement has come apart somewhat. Please don't whatever you do try to close the plates back together again, because you might easily break some of the fine pivots. I suggest that you put the whole thing in a zip-lock bag to keep everything together, because it needs urgent attention from someone who understands these old watches.

    Incidentally, this is a repeater, which rings the last hour, and probably the quarter as well, on a bell inside the case.

    Regards,

    Graham

    "Ut tensio, sic vis" - Robert Hooke

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    Default Re: Ferdinand Berthoud, Paris, 1727-1807 (By: gmorse)

    Hi Juli,

    Looking again at the link in post #8, your watch also appears to be a "dumb repeater" and my suggestion about a bell inside the case was wrong; the hammers just tap the inside of the case so that the blows are felt rather than heard. Your watch is definitely comparable to the one in that link, which gives an idea of its monetary value, although of course yours has the additional factor of family provenance.

    You have an important watch which must be carefully handled and sympathetically restored by an expert. One very skilled specialist in the US on these complicated watches who's a member here is Doug Shuman, (user ID "dshumans"). He's well worth contacting about this via the Private Message system.

    Regards,

    Graham

    "Ut tensio, sic vis" - Robert Hooke

  14. #14

    Default Re: Ferdinand Berthoud, Paris, 1727-1807 (By: gmorse)

    This is a fantastic watch on its own but with the chateliane and original protective case - incredible! It looks like one of the repeater train wheels which has dropped out is missing teeth but hopefully there is not too much other damage. It would be wonderful to see it put back in working order but as Graham says, it must be restored by someone familiar with this sort of work.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Ferdinand Berthoud, Paris, 1727-1807 (By: JuliW)

    A really nice watch and of some importance. I have repaired a number of similar watches, and could probably get yours running and repeating again if all the parts are there. Here is a pictorial record of some of my work. I have worked on many chain drive fusee repeaters and I can frequently repair damaged parts, but if some critical parts are missing that could be a problem. If you want to contact me, e-mail dshumans@gmail.com as I do not frequently read messages here. Important - Do not open and close the movement part of the case much because very small parts can be bent or broken when caught between other parts or the plate and case. I would leave it as is until it can be repaired.
    Regards,
    Doug

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