“Vulliamy Pall Mall London”, Clockmakers to the Crown in 1742 to 1854.

Omexa

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Ok I have not purchased much lately, but this one caught my eye, A “Vulliamy Pall Mall London”, working movement. I thought that he was a Clockmaker. What do we know about him? Sellers Description: “Up for sale is a Vulliamy 48mm fusee keywind pocket watch movement. It does run but could use an overhaul. I believe it is 23 jewel with diamond end stones and the balance appears to be gold although I have not tested it. The hairspring is good. The dial is marked Vulliamy Pall Mall London Z- M.U.I. and has two very very faint hairlines. One at 9:30 and one running from center to 1 o'clock. The movement is marked Vulliamy Pall Mall London Z- M.U.I.. I am selling this as is for parts or to be cased.” From Wikipedia: “The family was of Swiss origin. Justin Vulliamy, an ancestor, coming to England in 1704 to study the construction of English clocks and watches, under one Benjamin Gray, finally succeeded to his master's business at 68 Pall Mall, after having married his daughter. The old shop was situated at 52 Pall Mall, (where the Marlborough Club stood from 1868 until 1953)[SUP][1][/SUP][SUP][2][/SUP] The firm obtained the appointment of Clockmakers to the Crown in 1742, which it held for 112 years.[SUP][3][/SUP]
Benjamin Lewis commenced early to make a special study of horology. Succeeding to the business, he erected clocks for several important buildings, including the victualling yard, Plymouth, Windsor Castle, churches at Norwood, Leytonstone, and Stratford, St. Mary's Church, and the University Press at Oxford, and the cathedral at Calcutta. The clock at the post office, St. Martin's-le-Grand, was one made by Vulliamy for the Earl of Lonsdale. Vulliamy was a man of considerable ingenuity, and introduced several peculiarities and improvements into his clocks.[SUP][3][/SUP]
Vulliamy was elected associate of the Institution of Civil Engineers on 13 March 1838, was auditor for the year 1842, and obtained in 1846 a premium of books for a paper on railway clocks. He was made free of the Clockmakers' Company on 4 Dec. 1809, admitted to the livery in January 1810, and five times filled the office of master. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society on 14 Jan. 1831, and retained his connection with the society till his death.[SUP][3][/SUP]
Vulliamy was a man of refined taste in art, and possessed no small knowledge of architecture, paintings, and engravings. His library was extensive and well chosen, especially in that portion which related to his profession, and he possessed a valuable collection of ancient watches.[SUP][4][/SUP] He enriched the libraries of the Clockmakers' Company and of the Institution of Civil Engineers. To the company he also gave numerous models and specimens of clocks and watches, and to the institution he presented in 1847 the works of a clock made by Thomas Tompion about 1670 for Charles II, by whom it was given to Barbara Palmer, 1st Duchess of Cleveland. On 1 March 1850 he exhibited to the Royal Archæological Institute six carvings in ivory by Fiamminge. He died on 8 January 1854, leaving two sons, Benjamin Lewis (1817–1886) and George John.[SUP][3][/SUP][SUP]”[/SUP]
Regards Ray
 

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Omexa

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Hi all, I read that "Vulliamy", used a coded numbering system; does anyone know what Z/M.U.I. means? It is on the Dial and also on the movement. Regards Ray
 

gmorse

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Hi Ray,

Very up-market! It seems that marrying the boss's daughter was as shrewd a move then as it is today . . .

Regards,

Graham
 

Tom McIntyre

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The "code" is a serial number rendered in letters. I do not believe anyone knows of special meaning for them.

Vulliamy watches are most notable for odd escapements and some fantastical compensation curbs. This watch looks like a pretty ordinary lever from the 1860's but possibly before the 1854 date.

Vulliamy also had a thriving business "modernizing" early 18th century watches by Tompion, Graham and others. Some feel that the modernizing was inappropriate. In particular he felt that champleve dials were unreadable and replaced them with white enamel dials.
 

Omexa

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To Tom and others; approx. when did Plain Gold Balance Wheels finish? I was thinking about the date of movement; "Vulliamy"died in 1854 and I am not sure the business was continued by his sons. Also when did Jewelled Mainspring Arbors first appear? The movement appears to have lots of Jewels; possibly Jewelled Mainspring Arbor. Regards Ray
 
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MartyR

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I have a Vulliamy, also with a very plain movement not dissimilar to yours. Mine dates to 1872 from hallmarks, but the movement does look earlier.

As you can see, the serial number is "uczm" which is punched both on the movement and the dust cover, and I understand as Tom does that no-one has deciphered the code.

19 1 Vulliamy.jpg 19 6 Vulliamy.jpg 19 7 Vulliamy.jpg
 

John Pavlik

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Ray, lot of cap jewels on yours.. Do you know how many? Are you thinking fusee arbor instead of mainspring arbor being jeweled ?
 

Omexa

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Hi John, you are right I meant the Fusee arbor; one does get confused sometimes. I should know I repair Fusees all the time. The seller suggests 23 jewels which is a lot for the year of manufacture? The Movement looks to be very high end; but then again at this time the maker was Queen Victoria's Watchmaker. I am really looking forward to getting this movement in my hands. I paid a moderate? amount for it and had to beat off a few other bidders. Regards Ray
 

Omexa

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Hi John, I will rephrase it to; more than I usually pay for a Fusee movement and it is in working condition. Does anyone know approx. how many movements the last "Vulliamy", produced? I have looked at other movements made by "Vulliamy", and I have yet to find one with a lot of Jewels. Regards Ray
 

Omexa

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Hi, has anyone out there got any "Vulliamy", movements or Pocket Watches? I would be very interested to see more of them. Regards Ray
 

Omexa

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Hi, I received my "Vulliamy"movement Today and I could not be more pleased; it came in a box that you could fit a size 13 pair of shoes in. The Jewel Number "23" quoted by the Seller looks to be right; it is Jeweled to the Center Wheel and has lot of "Cap Jewels". When was the first 23 Jewel movement produced and by whom? Also it runs very nicely. Regards Ray
 

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Omexa

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Hi, surely 23 Jewels in an early "Fusee" is unusual enough for someone to comment? I just wish that I could date the movement. Does anyone know what Z/M.U.I. means? Regards Ray
 

gmorse

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Hi Jon,

It could be a duplex, I've seen a few freesprung examples before. The slide plate appears to have some engraving underneath it, and two of its screws have been swapped around.

Regards,

Graham
 

UkRay

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I think the date of the watch is about the 1820's. How can you tell that 2 of the screws have bee swapped around? The writing under the pierced and engraved plate is 'London' and the code 'miam'.
 

gmorse

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Hi Ray,
I think the date of the watch is about the 1820's. How can you tell that 2 of the screws have bee swapped around?
There should be some English hallmarks in the case which will establish the assay date.

IMG_20210206_125256 (2) crop.jpg

In common with many good quality watches, some of the screws are marked to match their positions. In your example, the green screw has one 'pip' but its position has two, and vice versa for the red screw. This was sometimes done where the screws were in some way different; for instance some may be shorter although being otherwise identical, which could cause clearance problems if they protruded too far under the plate, although in many instances it was just a convention.

Regards,

Graham
 

UkRay

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Thank you Graham, very informative and of course makes sense once you know. The watch does have hall marks for 18ct gold but I can't find the date letter; I guess it has either worn down or it was poorly struck in the first place. Is it possible to determine the type of escapement without removing the movement as I am not competent enough to trust myself to take it out?

Regards
Ray
 

gmorse

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Hi Ray,
Is it possible to determine the type of escapement without removing the movement as I am not competent enough to trust myself to take it out?
Not with any certainty although the positions of the jewel holes in the top plate suggest a duplex; a cylinder is also a possibility. If it was a swing out movement in the traditional style it would be very easy to open it to see into the edge of the movement and identify the escape wheel, but this one is held in the case by the screws under the front cover, so you're wise to leave it alone. The alternative is to remove the balance, which is equally inadvisable if you aren't skilled in the task.

However, the duplex only impulses the balance in one direction, so the sound when it runs is a louder 'tick' and a quieter 'tock', which may offer a clue, whereas a cylinder has a more balanced sound.

Regards,

Graham
 

gmorse

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Hi Ray,

Thinking about the case, I wonder if it's a later re-case, since the movement is significantly smaller than the case. The fact that some of the engraving on the top plate is obscured by the slide plate also hints that the watch has been 'upgraded' at some point. There's also the detail of the regulator disc which has no function for a freesprung balance, reinforcing the possibility that this is an older movement which has been fairly extensively remodelled. Another point is that the winding hole in the hinged dome, (itself unusual in this period), cuts through the crown in the hallmark. I believe the Vulliamys did do this sort of thing for their customers, and it was not uncommon for owners of other high quality 18th century watches to have them fitted with a fashionably larger dial and case in the early decades of the 19th century. I've worked on a couple of Mudge and Dutton cylinders which have had this treatment for example.

It's certainly an interesting watch.

Regards,

Graham
 
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UkRay

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Thank you once again for the much appreciated info. I have just swapped the screws back to where they should be. Gave it a quick wind - barely turned the key and the balance started - and listened to it and I would say it has a very pleasing even sound to the tick/tock.
 

UkRay

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From what I have been able to discover about Vulliamy watches it is quite usual for there to be engraving under the plate. I had wondered about the regulator disc which I thought was only used on verge escapements.
 

gmorse

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Hi Ray,

IMG_20210206_125256 (2) edit.jpg

I know it's partly hidden by the balance cock, but could you take a picture of the marked feature from a more oblique angle in an attempt to show more of it, please?

I suppose it's not impossible that it has a spring detent chronometer escapement, although that also impulses in only one direction.

Regards,

Graham
 

gmorse

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Hi Ray,
I had wondered about the regulator disc which I thought was only used on verge escapements.
It fell out of use around 1810, giving way to the Bosely lever style regulator, and coincidentally the verge was beginning to decline by then, although it lingered on for many years following the introduction of the detached lever, but there's no direct correlation between the two.

Regards,

Graham
 

gmorse

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Hi Ray,

Not really, although it's hard to see because its underneath the the balance cock in shadow.

IMG_20210518_195813_edit.jpg

It looks like the edge of a jewel setting but I can't see why it would be in that position, right next to the fusee.

IMG_20210518_200651_edit.jpg

This relief under the balance cock table is also interesting, suggesting that this isn't the original balance, which would certainly be the case if it's an 18th century movement, because this type of cut compensated balance was only introduced around the 1820s or 30s by the Penningtons, following their earlier developments in the 1810s.

I'm also puzzled by these two pivots so close together, if they are indeed pivots.

IMG_20210206_125256 (2) edit.jpg

Regards,

Graham
 

UkRay

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Seems like its no straight forward movement. Some more pics which might shed more light.

IMG_20210518_213107.jpg IMG_20210518_213302.jpg IMG_20210518_213407.jpg IMG_20210518_213437.jpg
 

John Matthews

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My guess is a reworked duplex escapement, having compared it with the 1820 example on the left ...

1621373885136.png

The serial code change from 3 to 4 letters ~1812.

John
 
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