A Matile class C chronometer

Dr. Jon

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I recently bought this watch. This posts shows it and what I think I know and poses a few questions. I like H. L.Matile and was looking for a complete example and I had not seen an original class C rating bulletin before this one, which I why I bought the watch.

Here is the package.
Open parts.png
It includes the original box, the watch, a crystal and a mainspring. There are two papers in the pocket, the original Class C testing certificate signed by Hirsh the Neuchatel Observatory director, and stamped. I have made a scan and printed a copy because the original is in bad shape and the copy eliminates the need to handle the original.

The dial is a very unusual double sunk canister type. FAce open.png

It is lever set. The dail marking is for a smaller watch.

Xtal Face.png

It case is also unusual. It is very heavy, the watch weighs in at 163 grams. That is heavy even for an 18 size open face case. Part of that weight is because it has an inner cuvette and a glass cover for the movement, but most of the weight is in the case body and back cover. The spare crystal is probably for that, since the front crystal is thick flat one. The inner crystal is held in a thin gold snap bezel.

I believe the inner gold cover was put there to engrave the maker's name and mark it as a chronometer.

Here is the Neuchatel rate bulletin.
Full Certification.png

The center fold is very stiff and it has a several areas where it was taped together a long ago. This is a 30 test in two position in heat and cold in accordance with class C testing. Neuchatel had four classes: A for Marine Chronometers; B what I would call first class for pocket chronometers five position three temperatures and a long test; Class C, as described; and Class D a two week test two position and a minimal, optional, temperature test.

Tis watch passed the required tests. It had 1.99 seconds a day rate difference between dial up and pendant up. That is fewer than US railroad but a tighter tolerance.

The number on the certificate matches those on the case and movement. MVT_Fl.png
Matile also put his crest on the balance cock.
The number is also under tha dial.

Under dial.png

Here is the case marking

Inner back_marks.png

I suspect the case was made in the US and the buyer took delivery immediately rather than wait for engraving. The case has no hallmarks. I have seen this marking for 18K godl before but I do not recall what company used it and I could not find in Ehrhardts trademark book.


As received the winding crown had lost some gold so I decided to replace it. that is when I discovered that the crown was steel covered with gold and attached to a square end of the stem with a female square.

As received, with out service, it is at a close rate under 10 seconds per day dial up and about 20 seconds per day pendant up, with very strong motion.

My questions are:
Where was the case made?
How common were steel crowns with square attachment holes?
What should I do about the cracks in the box top? top.png

The front of the box is also signed by Matile.

FRont Plate.png
 
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svenedin

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Beautiful watch. I am bit surprised that there is no micro-regulation device or indeed that there is no regulator at all and it is free-sprung. Wonderful to have the box and contents!
 
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Dr. Jon

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I would like it even more if it were free sprung but it has a regulator. As with many Locle, watches the regulator pointer is off the balance cock. It is between S and F which are in a Gothic font. The grid of lines running diagonal is a form of micro regulation.
 
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Paul Regan

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Wonderful watch. The box wood appears to be Rosewood and I would leave it as is since it is part of the watch’s character. It would be difficult to close these “checks” without taking the box apart. This is a common occurrence for Rosewood. I would clean the box with a lanolin based hand cleaner (no abrasives) and wax it.
Paul
 

agemo

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Hi,
On the certification it is noted that the watch was tested (au pendant) "hanging" by its ring, so the case was made in Switzerland.
I don't see how a certified watch is not certified without its case.
For the wooden box, ask a good "restaurateur", it can be done without being visible.
If not, feed the wood to avoid the propagation of the damage.
This is a very very nice watch with the full set !!!
Amicalement GG
 

svenedin

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Well spotted Agemo about the watch being tested au pendant. An antique furniture restorer could easily restore the box. I’ve had many items of furniture (and clock cases) restored over the years with excellent results.
 

Dr. Jon

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Interesting points .

I noticed in reading the Geneva 1894 Chronometer Service report on the use of the word Pendu. I believe the meaning of the term changed from hanging by the pendant to pendant up by 1882.

The major reason is that by then those in the know knew that a watch hanging by its bow runs at a different rate due to motion imparted due to the balance motion. The bulletin words are "Position Verticale, Pendu" I believe they mean held vertical and "Pendu" is added for continuity from when they actually hung the watch for vertical. They did not write "Au Pendu". To quote one of our regulars "Words are so important" but they are not always clear.

Agamo, I am certain your Swiss French is far better than mine but I suggest that if you have not read this report, that you do so in order that you can determine whether I have this right.

The report includes descriptions of the testing going on in all the venues. It is a google ebook and I have it as downloaded and OCR'd and my translation into English (which would benefit greatly from a look by someone who knows horogical French")

Today most watches are tested and certified without the case and many watches went for testing in wood box cases and or testing cases. In fact automatic watches are tested without the autowind devices on them.

I still believe the case was made in the US:

1) As a PM wrote, the term "Warranted" is used only by US case makers
2) I have seen Matile cases made in Switzerland and they have his name and "Chronometer" engraved on them, when applicable, in English so if they cased it there they would have engraved the cuvette.
3) Matile gold cases from Switzerland that I have seen have the Neuchatel mark.
4) It is a very precise US 18 size.
I am not hard sold on this.
 
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Dr. Jon

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I have another theory about why the inner cover is not engraved.
Possibly the watch was never sold retail. As stock they may have kept its cover blank so the buyer would have the option of engraving of its chronometer status or a personal or presentation inscription or some combination. This is more likely explanation than an original retail owner keeping all of this together.
The counter argument is that this is a very heavy gold case to keep in stock
 

mosesgodfrey

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Hi Dr. Jon—a month late to the party, but I recently came across some potential Matiles and started looking them up. Which led me here.

An HL Matile from 1882 sent to America undoubtedly passed through the firm of Mathey Bros. & Mathez (“MBM”). They (and their predecessor L. & A. Mathey) were the sole selling agents for HL Matile from the 1870s until at least 1891.

1879-1880
1879-1880 mathey detail.jpg


1883-1884
1883-1884 mathey jewelerscircular.jpg


Many—perhaps most—of MBM’s watches and movements were white-labeled for other firms or marked only for their exclusive brands. Ads prove this was the case even as late as mid-December 1911 (this CB Brown Co + MBM ad now features watches by CH Meylan, who had been a partner in MBM since 1888)
1911-12-10 brown mathey meylan watch.jpg


MBM sold movements and complete watches. Whether yours was cased by them, I cannot say—I’ve never even seen one of their signed cases (anyone with an example?) However, the lack of any signature in the case may indicate that it was sold for “white labelling” by another firm, who failed to mark it.

As to the actual case maker, MBM did have close family ties to one firm. Here’s a portion of an April 20, 1921 Jewelers’ Circular article titled, “New York’s Jewelry Trade in the Early 50’s: Reminiscences of Lewis J. Mulford as to the Concerns in Business When He Entered the Jewelery Industry in 1851”:
“Prominent in the watch line, importers and dealers, there was […] Jacot Courvoisier & Co., later L. & A. Mathey, 19 Fulton St. […] Mathez & Bros., 8 John St. This party is of a different family spelling his name with a z and a brother of Fritz Mathez. He comparatively recently was a member of the firm of Mathez Bros. Mathez & Co. The firm [my note: I presume this refers back to Jacot Courvoisier & Co.] was composed of Charles Edward Jacot, who afterwards was of Jacot & Gerard, and George Courvoisier, who was the father of the head of the firm of Courvoisier, Wilcox & Co., and Louis Mathey, the father of L. and A. Mathey. J. Louis Mathey was a practical watchmaker, and August was a practical case maker. They succeeded to the concern of J. C. & Co.”

I have no info about Courvoisier Wilcox. Their marks in 1922 Trade-Marks book have some similarity, but those are all gold filled. Perhaps it’s worth looking up some solid gold Courvoisier Wilcox cases, to check?

You mention that the case is much beefier than the usual gold case. Is the outside thick enough to have been a blank, intended for the deep carving seen on some fine cases from the era? I always imagined these would have to start as much heavier cases, so they would still be usable once carved.
 
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Dr. Jon

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I am a bit late now myself, and thanks for the information.

The watch in the case weighs about 163 grams. That is a lot for an 18size open face case. I have 20 size hunter which weighs in at about 150grams. The Matile is a very close 18 size on the dial.

The case body is about 6mm wide from the opening to the outside. The back cover is not unusually thick, about 0.65mm and it is unusual in that it has both an inner cover (~0.45mm thick) and a crystal over the movement.

I think they intended to engrave "Chronometer" on the inner cover.
 

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