A curious 1892 Vanguard

Discussion in 'American Pocket Watches' started by Mark UK, Mar 18, 2017.

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  1. Mark UK

    Mark UK Registered User

    Apr 13, 2015
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    This arrived today, having made a fair offer to the seller and being assured of a no quibble return/refund. It's pendant set in a Dennison 20year G/F case which shows no other screw marks so fairly confident is likely to be original to the watch, which leads me to believe it was originally a UK sale.

    Two curiosities.... firstly the Ohlson regulator. I have seen Kent mention that this regulator has been seen intermittently on Vanguards in the 11M and 12M serial range. Does anyone know why these appeared early (before the patent date), or maybe these watches were finished late? I checked the balance plate and it has the same serial (12502178) as the watch so nothing odd there.

    Secondly the dial.... I have always believed that a double sunk dial was standard for the higher grades. This Roman numeral dial with Waltham U.S.A. is quite common on UK model 1899/1908's so when I first saw this I went to my spares box and did a test fit of a 1908 dial on an 1892 dial plate and low and behold the feet positions are a perfect match and the hole for the seconds pinion lines up, but a 16s dial looks odd on an 18s movement. Digging further into my spares I found a 'frankenstein' PSBartlett with the exact same 'oversize' dial i.e. too big for a standard 16s case but fits an 18s case perfectly. So my question is... is this oversize dial just an accessory that allows a customer to fit a 1899/1908 into a larger than usual 16s case (I have regularly come across this on Swiss watches of the period) OR could it possibly, remotely, be a dial intended to fit the 1892 and is peculiar to the UK market?

    As luck would have it I have a good dial (I believe period correct?) that I can put back on the Vanguard... but I am curious how this UK dial ended up on this nice movement. Should I keep the watch asis or add my spares dial?
     

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  2. Ron DeGenaro

    Ron DeGenaro Registered User

    Aug 22, 2013
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    I like the dial that's on the watch.
     
  3. richiec

    richiec Registered User
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    Feb 24, 2007
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    Mark, if this watch was retailed in the UK, that dial may have been on it. The UK kept using the roman numeral dials long after the US stopped. The fact that it has USA on it leads me to believe it is original.
     
  4. musicguy

    musicguy Registered User
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    Jan 12, 2017
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    Nice watch.

    Rob
     
  5. Jerry Treiman

    Jerry Treiman Registered User
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    Aug 25, 2000
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    I agree with the others. The case and dial go together and indicate an export movement that was dialed and cased in England. It should definitely be kept as original. I think this adds interest to the watch.
     
  6. Mark UK

    Mark UK Registered User

    Apr 13, 2015
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    Very interesting to get the positive comments above.... I must admit that the early Dennison case combined with the dial have a very 'classic' English look to them but, and here's my concern, the dial is extremely common on 7j and 15j 'traveller' grades of model 1899/1908 here in the UK, and with the feet pattern being the same then this could so easily be a replacement dial.

    Now I am starting to feel a little guilty as I sent several messages to the seller convincing him that the dial was wrong and why he should accept my lower offer :whistle:
     
  7. richiec

    richiec Registered User
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    That dial won't fit a Traveller, it is 18 size, not 16 size.
     
  8. Mark UK

    Mark UK Registered User

    Apr 13, 2015
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    Rich, as per my original post they do fit, a 1908 dial sits nicely in an 1892 dial plate and the seconds pinion aligns as well (and conversely an 1892 dial sits in a 1908 dial plate) . My experience working on lots of Thomas Russell swiss watches is that it was common practice for them to fit 18s dials onto 16s movements and put them into oversize cases... I guess the English market still had a preference for the larger watch at that time.

    Aside from this Vanguard, I have found another identical 18s dial on a 16s PSBartlett 1908 in my spares box but alas it isn't cased, but I do have a couple of Thomas Russell movements in Illinois 18s cases purpose made for 16s movements. So I'm just exploring the possibility that my Vanguard dial could have come from a 16s movement once housed in one of these larger cases.
     
  9. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    Aug 24, 2000
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    Many, if not most, Waltham watches that were cased and dialed in the UK have single sunk dials. That is especially true when they are in the "crystal" style case that was used in the UK, but not in the states. I have been told that the double sunk dial was too high for that style of case. The differences are very small but may be significant.
     
  10. Mark UK

    Mark UK Registered User

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    Thanks Tom, a good answer and one that I hadn't thought about. With the hinged front bezel closed I could probably just manage to slide a piece of 80g/sm paper between dial and bezel but if a d/sunk dial were fitted it would be a snug fit and one that could damage the dial or compromise the click shut of the front.

    I am so accustomed to seeing on this site a huge variety of photo's of the most beautiful double-sunk dials that I lost sight of the fact that us british have a history of being rather more 'reserved' in our tastes hehe, thank heavens for the 60's!

    As Jerry and Rich have also noted, it has all the hallmarks of an export for the UK market so I shall enjoy it for what it is and save my spare dial for another day :)
     
  11. Kent

    Kent Registered User
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    I thought that I'd address the regulator, which is curious. Up to this point, nobody has pointed out that the balance cock was originally made to accept the star of a Church star regulator. The recess appears to have been filled in with a disc.

    As Mark stated, I once posted that this appears intermittently on model '92 movements of this era. Before replying tonight, I went back and checked the data base that Ed Ueberall and I maintain of surviving exam[le of railroad watches. Thus, I can confirm that, intermittently, reported model '92 movements throughout the 12,000,001 - 16,000,000 range have their balance cock's recess for the Church regulator's star filled in with a disc and have Ohlson regulators.

    For the subject watch (serial number 12502178), it is from a mixed run (21 & 23 jewels) 12500001 - 12502500, of which 29 surviving examples have been reported/recorded. Of these, 15 of the reports indicate the regulator type. Only the subject watch has been reported as having an Ohlson regulator; the others are all reported to have star regulators.

    The appearance of the Ohlson regulator "before its time" was discussed in a thread several years ago, but I don't think that an explanation for it was arrived at. I don't believe that the Ohlson regular was used before 1908, but that some model '92 movements remained in inventory in the gray and that when they ware eventually finished, they were given Ohlson regulators. Of course this is just supposition on my part, I have nothing with which to back up this belief.
     
  12. Mark UK

    Mark UK Registered User

    Apr 13, 2015
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    Thanks Kent, as always your insight is very much appreciated. The watch will eventually get stripped down for a full service so if there is anything else I can add or confirm for your/Ed's records let me know.

    When discussing the early appearance/late finish of watches with the Ohlson regulator did anyone link the setting mechanism? My Vanguard is pendant set so would have been falling out of favor as new railroad regulations came into effect, could this have led to the delay in finishing? Maybe that was also why it was exported... diminishing sales on the home market as the 16s railroads gained in popularity?
     
  13. Kent

    Kent Registered User
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    A quick look at the "early" application of Ohlson regulators to model '92 movements shows a mix of pendant and lever-setting examples, with the majority being lever-set.

    At the date indicated by the serial number (12502178), about 1904 give or take a year or so, it was far too early for 16-size models to have had a serious impact upon the sales of 18-size movements. So, I don't think that it was probable to have been the cause for a four year delay in sales, or for the watch to have been earmarked for export. A more likely cause might have been an economic downturn in 1903. This would have had more impact on the sales of high grade watches across the board.
     
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