A forged Wilsdorf & Davis Trench Watch?

fig697

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Hi All,

I've a 1914 trench watch that I can't quite work out if it's the real deal. The Silver Hallmarks on the case suggest the case is correctly dated as 1914 but the Wilsdorf & Davis sponsor mark is in brackets rather than in it's recognise shield written as (W&D). Also I can't identify the movement as it has no serial no or brand markings at all. I've also tried to identify the movement from other pictures but with no luck. Finally the dial has more of the '7' covered by the second dial than I have seen on any other W&D trench watches.

I'd love to hear your thoughts...

In antipation

Jamie
 

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rolandantrobus

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May 17, 2016
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Looks Swiss, maybe Aegler? I don't think its fake why would you fake the W&D yet the other marks are undoubtably genuine and a sponsors mark was definately required.
 

fig697

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Thanks for the reply there,

Yes I agree, you need the sponsor mark before the hallmarks are granted. I can't find any reference to W&D having a punch with their initials in brackets rather than the familiar shield. It's a beauty of a watch and I'd love to think it was a genuine one.
 

Cary Hurt

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The W&D marks might be correct although they are suspect. I don't see any of the usual Swiss marks. The other English marks appear genuine.

The movement is definitely not by Aegler, and by this date I would expect to see an Aegler movement. I believe the movement may be by A. Schild.
 

fig697

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Hi there,

Great thanks for the input. Yes I wonder if is the Calibre 137 although the centre bridge on mine looks a little different. Did they often change the designs of the bridges very slightly but the movements essentially remain the same. The gears seem in the right place as do the screw holes. If so then I would expect to find the letters AS under the dial then (not that I'm planning to take it apart...)
 

fig697

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I looks like like we are getting somewhere with the movement. A.Shild Calibre 137 looks like the nearest option, thankyou for that. I've put up a pick of the Calibre 137 I've found. My Centre bridge seems quite unusual along with a few other tiny details.

So the remaining mystery is the unusual sponsor punch (W&D) rather than the registered punch mark W&D in a shield.

Thanks for you're help so far...

Jamie :)
 

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tedward

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Apr 25, 2016
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Hello, I can't find a match for the movement, but it's not the Schild cal. 137. There are too many differences with your movement.

Highly doubtful it is a fake, as W&D were a fledgling company at this time. I am sure I have seen this mark before too.
 

doug sinclair

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I have long been under the impression that the upside down Omega symbol such as is shown in the case back was applied to precious metal articles imported into the British Isles, for re-sale. If this is true, then it seems to me there are a number of other stampings that are missing. Notably, the date letter and hallmark. I have never seen this movement in any Rolex from this era, before. As to this watch being dated 1914, with no hallmark or date letter, I have to wonder how this date was arrived at? The usual practice in these earlier years was to have the name Rolex on the movement- usually on the ratchet wheel. Looks very suspicious to me!
 

novicetimekeeper

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I have long been under the impression that the upside down Omega symbol such as is shown in the case back was applied to precious metal articles imported into the British Isles, for re-sale. If this is true, then it seems to me there are a number of other stampings that are missing. Notably, the date letter and hallmark. I have never seen this movement in any Rolex from this era, before. As to this watch being dated 1914, with no hallmark or date letter, I have to wonder how this date was arrived at? The usual practice in these earlier years was to have the name Rolex on the movement- usually on the ratchet wheel. Looks very suspicious to me!
Isn't the date letter the T? The only requirement, I thought. was the import mark, the date letter and the sponsor.
edit > plus the grade of silver which it has as well
 

doug sinclair

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I don't recognize a stamp that would indicate a hallmark. Therefore, the "t" you refer to doesn't appear to me to be a date letter. It is the hallmark, together with the date letter, the particular font of the date letter, and the style of shield that indicates the year.
 

novicetimekeeper

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I don't recognize a stamp that would indicate a hallmark. Therefore, the "t" you refer to doesn't appear to me to be a date letter. It is the hallmark, together with the date letter, the particular font of the date letter, and the style of shield that indicates the year.
I'm a bit lost with the terminology here. To me, a set of hallmarks will be all the required marks. We still use the name hallmark but it now refers to those marks applied by the assay office rather than the guild.

For import marks you don't get the lion, you get a number for the fineness, here .925, you get a date letter, here a lower case t, and you get the assay import mark which we agree is the London one the zodiac symbol for Leo.

I don't know what the shield shape should be for the t but I think all we don't have here is agreement on the sponsor mark.

http://www.vintagewatchstraps.com/importmarks.php
 

doug sinclair

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The astrological symbol for Leo is the one I referred to as the upside down Omega symbol? My copy of Jackson's Hallmarks does indicate this symbol is the London hallmark for imported items. It was my incorrect assumption this symbol was used on items imported to Great Britain, generally, and not just to London. It appears that was an incorrect assumption. Therefore, were all precious metal items imported into Great Britain, given that particular London hallmark? Cudos to anyone who fully understands the British hall marking system!

In Phillip Priestley's book on British case maker's hallmarks, there were many case makers who used the WD trademark, including Wilsdorf and Davis. But none of them used the brackets along with the letters W D. Without an identifying shield, plus the symbol "&", could this really be a Wilsdorf & Davis trade mark?

There are still a number of visual cues about this watch that make me suspicious as to whether it is actually a Rolex. I have seen private label watches from the era which have the dial marked with a jeweller's name, but the movement is usually marked as Rolex. I have also seen Rolex watches from the era in which both movement and dial were marked Rolex. But the only feature about the subject watch that implies in any way that it might be Rolex, is the odd W & D mark inside the case. I am suspicious.
 
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novicetimekeeper

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The astrological symbol for Leo is the one I referred to as the upside down Omega symbol? My copy of Jackson's Hallmarks does indicate this symbol is the London hallmark for imported items. It was my incorrect assumption this symbol was used on items imported to Great Britain, generally, and not just to London. It appears that was an incorrect assumption. Therefore, were all precious metal items imported into Great Britain, given a London hallmark? Cudos to anyone who fully understands the British hall marking system!

No there are other import marks for other assay offices if you look at the link I gave.

I recall one of them changing to reduce confusion but these marks are right for London, other assay offices had their own mark and their own dates.

I think the lack of any swiss marks is because it was always intended to be sent here so no point paying for marks twice. Items that arrived already marked still required an import set of marks.

I have collected flatware for years but I only started to get involved with import marks since I bought some trench watches so I'm far from expert but I think the page I linked to is correct.
 

gmorse

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Hi Doug,

Nick is strictly speaking correct, and you have here the correct London import mark, the correct date letter in the right cartouche for 1914, the correct purity mark, but an un-recorded sponsor's mark, in format but not in content. UK import hallmarks were something of a variable quantity in the early years of the 20th century, and this one may be an example of a mark which was used only briefly and escaped the registration process. It's not unknown for imported cases to lack the sponsor's mark entirely, but still have all the other necessary stamps.

David Boettcher's website is well worth reading, there's much more to it than the link in Nick's post. He has amassed a lot of invaluable information, and it continues to expand.

Regards,

Graham
 

novicetimekeeper

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Hi Doug,


David Boettcher's website is well worth reading, there's much more to it than the link in Nick's post. He has amassed a lot of invaluable information, and it continues to expand.

Regards,

Graham
That's the link I was looking for but couldn't remember! It was his site where I read about changes and it is his site I have used in the past when looking at trench watches.
 

doug sinclair

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A lot of things about how this watch is marked have been explained. But a lot of the visual cues about this watch still leave me suspicious as to whether it is actually a Rolex! Wilsdorf & Davis originally produced private label watches on which there was no Rolex identification. Cases usually marked W & D. After Wilsdorf copyrighted the Rolex name, the company continued to produce private label watches, but only the movement was marked Rolex. Cases still marked W & D. The company was also producing the same movements, but with the dial also marked Rolex, and cases marked W & D. There were many case makers who used the WD trade mark, but all with a shield of one shape or another. I remain suspicious!
 

gmorse

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Hi Doug,

I share your suspicions about the movement itself. Even the early "second line" watches were marked "Unicorn" somewhere on the movement, usually on the ratchet wheel, and that appeared to apply whoever actually made the movements, Beguelin, Aegler or others.

There were certainly other sponsors and makers who registered "WD" in the London office, but just one with possible dates at a stretch, (William Dyer, whose last registration was in 1879), and only Wilsdorf & Davis used the ampersand between the letters. Priestley records that the Rolex name was not registered for W&D until 25th August 1919.

Regards,

Graham
 

PJQL

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Just wanted to throw my two 'penneth in....

I've come across quite a number of early Wilsdorf wrist watches from this period, and without exception all the movements have been Rebberg (Aegler), with a very distinctive and recognisable bridge layout.. A few have been marked Rolex, but most simply have the W& D stamp on the case, but not like this. To me...it's a movement worthy of suspicion. However, it is also true that, as already alluded to, some may have slipped through the net.

My own suspicion is that this movement might not actually belong in that case......

Regards

Piers
 
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tedward

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In his Vade Mecum Wilsdorf says:

Despite the qualities of the Rolex name, it took twenty years of hard work to make the idea acceptable in England. At first, I ventured to inscribe it on one watch in every six; then it appeared on two, and later three, in every six. This half victory was still unsatisfactory and we knew that it would take many more years to obtain the desired result. Tired of waiting, in 1925, I decided to launch the "Rolex" trade mark by means of an intensive advertising campaign.
This shows that an early watch without the Rolex name is no guarantee of it not being a Rolex.

The movement may or may not be original to this watch. Not easy to say which!
 

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