An unloved English Repeater

Dr. Jon

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I bought this at very good price because it has been re-cased. It was re-cased over 100 years ago by an excellent ENglish casemekr in a purpose made case,which as I hope to show was a masterful work.

I have a few ideas on how when this was made and I would like to get some expert opinion

The photos are form the recent Jones-Horan sale and they have agreed to let me post these.

Obllique face.jpg


The hands were one of the first features that drew me to it.

This is spring detent escapement with a half quarter repeater.

It rings in a bell rather than gongs being what I called a BB repeater (Before Breguet who is reputed to have invented gongs)

Inner cover.jpg


The casemaker, Thickbroom, achieved several things,
- Getting the winding square lined up,
- Tight case
- Alignment and function of plunging pendant repater
- placing and mounting the bell
Bell.jpg


Note the bell hole for winding.

The movement is very unusual

More to come when server responds again
 
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gmorse

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Hi Jon,
The casemaker, Thickbroom, achieved several things,
- Getting the winding square lined up,
- Tight case
- Alignment and function of plunging pendant repater
- placing and mounting the bell
Was this Alford or his brother James? I suspect the former because James is listed as a pendant maker. Alford Thickbroom was a very high quality casemaker and making a case like this to fit a repeater with a bell would have been an everyday job.

Alford is recorded as working from 1843 to 1877. Priestley comments that "Alford Thickbroom and Fred Thoms, in their respective times, were prestigious watchcase makers". Thoms took over the business from Alford's son in 1889 on the latter's death and the premises were subsequently occupied from 1940 by AT Oliver, another very fine casemaker.

The hour hand is probably original, and rather fine, but I'm not so sure about the minute hand.

Regards,

Graham
 

Dr. Jon

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I could not complete my post which I will do later.

I beleive it is unloved because it is a recase. I have wanted a good recase sice I was the Martin Mathews video.

I'll post the case marks later.
 

Dr. Jon

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Here is more information.

First, the case marks, also a Jones- Horan photo



That mark is George J Thickbroom.



1651629127256.png


Here is the movement . No signature or ID mark on the dust cover

1651629161832.png


I do not know the rationale for the numbering from 5 to 30 but I saw anotehr example in Cuss's book on English watches.

Another Jones Horan photo
1651629229762.png


I am sure the balance is also replaced, for two reasons:

1) This style of winged balance is much later than the movement, which I suspect it is before 1800

2) The regulator has two sets of regulating pins, with the inner ones going through a slot now being the active set.

I found a Fisher in Leicester square with dates of 1769 to 1815 in Brittain, and I think he is the signer but I doubt he did much of the work. He is listed as being n the knife making guild and doing watches on the side.

The balance cock is very similar to an example in Cuss's book, signed by Wright, but attributed to Thomas Earnshaw. If this is movement is pre 1800 attribution to Earnshow is very solid since he was the only maker of Earnshaw detents then and his shop was using flat springs. They were doing similar ornate balance cocks with very large diamond end-stones, similarly set in blue steel.

With repeating works, it the escapement is very hard to see.

Here is one of my macro shots

1651629691111.png

the hammer is below the gear wheel and the detent foot is above it. A friend identified this as the type Pennington used and he called it a right angle detent.

The Pennington examples I found are free spring with much more modern balance cocks.

I asm open to suggestions on this. If an 1886 replacement I think it would have a simpler type. It may have been replace after some problems by Pennington, before the balance was replaced.

Here is a look into its interior

1651630499734.png


the red arrow points to the escape wheel. The escapement is definitely and Earnshaw type spring detent. It has a very strong motion and has kept good time but I have not fully wound it and may never do so. Overhauling this watch would be very difficult.

I am tentatively dating this to about 1785 with a replaced balance and case from 1886, based on the case hallmark.


Here is the video Jones-Horan made on it showing the case back and its repeat function.



I would like some ideas on who did the repeat work. There were not many doing this in London in this era 1785-1810.
 
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gmorse

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Hi Jon,

A very interesting piece. I think George James Thickbroom was probably Alford's son who succeeded him in the business; Priestley surmises that he was named after his grandfather.
A friend identified this as the type Pennington used and he called it a right angle detent.
This is an uncommon configuration, prompted I would think by the lack of space for a more usual radial positioning in the crowded interior between the plates in a repeater. It's hard to see, but has the detent a dovetail foot in typical Pennington style?
If an 1886 replacement I think it would have a simpler type. It may have been replace after some problems by Pennington, before the balance was replaced.
Agreed, it seems a rational explanation.
The escapement is definitely and Earnshaw type spring detent. It has a very strong motion and has kept good time but I have not fully wound it and may never do so. Overhauling this watch would be very difficult.
The Earnshaw type of escapement with the detent in compression seems to have become the norm fairly quickly. I'm not sure whether this was due to its inherent superiority over the Arnold type or more to do with Earnshaw's rationalisation of the manufacturing process, using the watch workshops in the northwest for the raw frames. I agree that working on any full-plate repeater presents challenges.
I would like some ideas on who did the repeat work. There were not many doing this in London in this era 1785-1810.
Making repeating work was always a specialism pursued by a very few. The designs didn't change much over much of the 18th century, but unfortunately I'm not aware of any sources for the identities of these people.

I'd say that a previous owner loved it a great deal and was prepared to spend what it cost to upgrade the movement and put it in a case made by one of the leading makers of the day. Perhaps an original gold case contributed to financing the work. It wasn't uncommon for fine 18th century watches to be fitted with the currently fashionable larger dials in the 19th century, and new cases as a consequence. I know of some Mudge & Duttons which have been 'upgraded' in this way.

Regards,

Graham
 
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Tom McIntyre

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I think Jon loves it also. The "unloved" remark refers to the bargain price he paid for it.

I, personally, think that the lack of respect for the work of those doing great restorations is a bane of the watch collectng community. It also suppresses the compensation the modern version of such craftsment should be earning.

This piece is great because the incongruity of the restoration to the original piece makes it impossible to hide. Other similar work largely goes unnoted by most of those engaged closer to the retail side. One rarely, if ever, sees an auction description proclaiming the work of a great restorer.

Here is a similar looking full plate chronometer that I believe was made for F. G. Barraud by Earnshaw.

1651681854448.png
 
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Dr. Jon

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Part of my appreciation is the restoration. It was thoughtful, thorough, and knowledgeable.

I do not see any incongruity. The case has to have a later date because that is how the case makers did it. I suspect the new case is silver to prevent it from being scrapped. I suspect the person who had this restored got it after its case was scrapped.

I believe the restorer kept what they could and fixed things that had failed.

As to the detent, It has a right angle at the foot but no dovetail.

It is difficult to see inside and I have not yet been able to see it all clearly. With what I can see, from the view on the bottom picture in my post 6 there is a screw on the left side which I think is an adjustment. The screw seen head on in the right is a second adjustment which has to be on the outside needed for a full plate movement. This leads me to believe it may be original and likely by Earnshaw.

I now believe the dial is a replacement. I tried to date it by Penney's new booklet and found no guidance on teeh dial style , but it state that early enamel dials were often chipped. The chipping occurred because the latch was directly under the dial

This probably happened as evidenced by the remaining notch in the plate under the dial..
Dial_notch.png


The dial plate has this now empty notch. The latch was in this notch and led to the original dial being badly chipped.

The restorer moved the notch below the dial plate to protect the new dial.
 

gmorse

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Hi Jon,
I now believe the dial is a replacement. I tried to date it by Penney's new booklet and found no guidance on teeh dial style , but it state that early enamel dials were often chipped. The chipping occurred because the latch was directly under the dial

This probably happened as evidenced by the remaining notch in the plate under the dial..

The dial plate has this now empty notch. The latch was in this notch and led to the original dial being badly chipped.

The restorer moved the notch below the dial plate to protect the new dial.
I think your present dial dates from around 1800, give or take a few years. David's little book is an excellent introduction to the subject, given its modest size.

The case bolt protruding through the dial was a characteristic of champlevé dials which were, of course, rather more robust than enamel, and the style continued to be used from the introduction of enamel dials in the 1720s. It eventually changed to the configuration you have here when people discovered how vulnerable that slotted dial was.

The brass edge didn't necessarily need to be slotted to accommodate the case bolt in its slot. This 1740s dial has survived intact, although it is unusual to find one in such good condition. The lever at 6.30 is a pulse piece.

DSCF4535.JPG

Regards,

Graham
 
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