An Unusual Waltham Dress Watch

Discussion in 'American Pocket Watches' started by Jerry Treiman, Dec 29, 2008.

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  1. Jerry Treiman

    Jerry Treiman Registered User
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    #1 Jerry Treiman, Dec 29, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 6, 2019
    I thought I would share pictures of one of Waltham's more unusual models. These rectangular dress watches, using a thin 9-ligne movement, were produced between 1914 and 1916 and were sold at some of the finer jewelers, including Tiffany & Co. They are about as tall and as thin as Waltham's Opera Watch, but are obviously narrower. The gold cases are either 14K or 18K gold (green or rose), plain or engine turned, and sometimes include platinum detailing. Some include a cigar cutter, like one shown here on the left. The platinum and green gold example on the right was my last find of 2008. All have a slide on the edge of the case to release the stem into setting position. This patented setting mechanism also appears on some Colonial-A Walthams as well as some wrist and pendant watches from the mid-'teens.

    I have been researching these watches for several years and would appreciate hearing from anyone with other examples.

    oblong_oblique.jpg single oblong.jpg
     
  2. Dr. Jon

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    Very nice. Thanks for posting.
     
  3. Jerry Treiman

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    #3 Jerry Treiman, Oct 4, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 6, 2019
    Here is another unusual Waltham dress watch. It has a rather common movement (Waltham Colonial Series "Royal" grade) but a very special case.

    567.jpg

    This case was made in 1912 by H.W. Matalene, a low-production casemaker who made cases exclusively for Waltham's carriage trade from 1910 to 1924. Matalene was also an inventor and innovator who patented a number of watch case improvements. Among these was a patented setting mechanism replacing the standard sleeve arrangement so that a pendant watch could be suspended by an ornamental winding crown without risk of disturbing the hands. In this 1912 patent the stem and crown is released to the setting position by movement of a small slide on the edge of the case.

    1912_patent.jpg 1074crown.jpg

    This 14-size watch is the only example I have seen of this design in a pocketwatch. (Other pocketwatches of his may have the setting slide, but also have a standard winding crown and bow). The rectangular watches I showed in the first post, above, are also from Matalene's shop; note the patented setting slide on the edge of the cases.


    [... a big thank you to Bryan Eyring for pointing me toward this recent example]
     
  4. artbissell

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    As someone who appreciates case work, these rare ones are really interesting to see. Details very well shown and described. And nice to know about case specialist Matalene.
     
  5. artbissell

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    #5 artbissell, Oct 4, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2012
    Jerry: I think you suggested this 10s was possibly a Matalene case? Relatively recently becoming interested in cases.

    documents 178a.jpg IMG_7224a.jpg documents 179a.jpg
     
  6. Jerry Treiman

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    Thanks for reposting your watch, Art. It definitely has one of Matalene' s cases. Yours is from around 1922. His cases are not signed but can usually be identified by one of two patent dates: Apr.20,'09 or Apr.12,'12.
     
  7. artbissell

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    Thanks for confirming with useful info. Art B.
     
  8. MartyR

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    Beautiful case, Jerry :eek: Quite apart from the interesting bow, the quality of design and finish of the case is superb. Is it gold?
     
  9. Jerry Treiman

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    Matalene's cases are either 14 K, 18K or platinum ... sometimes a combination like I showed in the first post. Some have enameling and/or set stones. I will post some other examples this evening.
     
  10. Jerry Treiman

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    #10 Jerry Treiman, Oct 4, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 6, 2019
    Art showed a nice example of fine enamel detailing. Here is another Matalene case with a different style.

    6797comp.jpg

    And here is an example of a Matalene case with two different gold colors. Every element of the case alternates green and rose gold. This one also has the patented setting slide.

    2tone_rg.jpg

    Both of the above watches (Art's, too) also have a unique patented pendant construction designed to hold the bow more firmly. Looking carefully at these watches you may be able to see the split between the upper and lower halves of the pendant.

    1913pat.jpg

    All of these features will be documented in an article I am writing about the life and work of H.W. Matalene.
     
  11. 4thdimension

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    Drool.
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  12. Tom McIntyre

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    Jerry, Have you ever seen the 1912 patent on other than a travel clock?
     
  13. Jerry Treiman

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    Tom - Matalene actually had five patents issued to him in 1912. Most of his watches (not clocks) from 1912 onward have stamped in them the April patent date that I show in post #3, above. I assume you are referring to his March 19 (my birthday!) patent which was for the tri-fold travel clock with winding at the top (12 o'clock position) and seconds-hand at 6; the winding crown locks with the case catch when the case is open. I have only seen the Mar.19,'12 patent on Waltham 8-day clock cases (many winding at 6). I do not know whether Matalene actually made any of these cases or had any part in their construction. These heavy base metal clock cases certainly seem like a very different operation from his fine gold and platinum watch cases and appear to have their own case-numbering sequence. (Your own example was critical to this last inference).


    He had another March 19 patent for a hunting case incorporating his various earlier patent setting mechanisms, and a Nov.19,'12 patent for a case mechanism to set a pin-set movement by depressing the pendant/crown. I have not yet seen a physical example of either of these patents.


    The fifth 1912 patent he obtained (also April 16) was for a very complex-looking arrangement for a waterproof and dustproof casing for automobile clocks to be used in certain situations (such as locomotive cabs) so they could be wound and set without compromising the hermetic nature of the case. I have not yet seen one of these, either.
     
  14. Jerry Treiman

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    #14 Jerry Treiman, Aug 13, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 6, 2019
    I am very pleased to have just added this Matalene watch to my collection. It is in the style of the other rectangular watches I showed in the first post, but being the latest example I have it also shows the evolution of the style. It shows a return to the larger, more readable dial, but still incorporates a cigar cutter. I refer to this style as a hidden cigar cutter because this feature is not visible from the front of the watch. I have only seen this on the latest examples, circa 1915-1916. It is another example of his metalwork, too, with inlaid platinum stripes in a 14K case. It has the same Waltham 9-ligne movement as the others, too, as well as the patent setting mechanism. By the way, take note of the prescient Art Deco design at this early date, including exploding numbers and thin stripes.

    Front.jpg Back.jpg Movement.jpg
     
  15. Tom McIntyre

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    Great watch Jerry! I remember asking you once if the Patrician grade was a higher grade than Maximus in these small watches. I think you said it might be equivalent, but not better.

    This watch prompted me to look in the Model and Grade report for all models of grade Patrician. The production was low enough to make me wonder if they might all have been made for Matalene. I suspect you know of counter examples.

    ModelGradeJewelsStyleFirstLastRunsCount
    L-10Patrician17HC14184001141847001700
    L-7Patrician17HC20074501200747001200
    L-9Patrician17HC18119501181198001300
    L-9Patrician17OF232720012327300011000
     
  16. Jerry Treiman

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    The Patrician name, in the particular font used, was claimed as a trademark by Matalene although I have found no record of the mark being protected by registration. I am fairly certain that the Patrician movements (various grades) were made to be cased by Matalene, much like the Cronometro Victoria / Supremo were produced for casing and distribution by Fogel. The great majority of cased Patricians are in Matalene cases, but I have seen a couple of Patricians that were dialed and cased by Bigelow Kennard. I think Matalene may have had a special relationship with BK&Co. I am still researching that angle.
     
  17. Nigel Harrison

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    A sensational piece Jerry, very fine indeed...for a very fine gentleman! It looks barely used, you would hate to drop a delicate piece like this, it would be devastating to the fine case I would imagine. Where do the cut off bits of cigar go? :) Tap it out?
     
  18. Jerry Treiman

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    There is a tiny reservoir behind the blade.
     
  19. Nigel Harrison

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    Ahh nice one!!
     
  20. Jerry Treiman

    Jerry Treiman Registered User
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    #20 Jerry Treiman, Oct 10, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 6, 2019
    I just found this example at the Del Mar Regional. It is very similar to the one I showed in post #14, but differs in a few respects.


    1. The exaggerated exploding Arabic numerals are rather uncommon on these. Also note that it has radium numbers and hands. I think I have only seen one other like it.
    2. Metal is rose gold and green gold as opposed to green gold and platinum.
    3. This one winds at 12, unlike all others I have seen.
    4. It is nominally pin set, but the pin activates the slide release as on the other models.
    5. It uses a larger 6/0 movement, as opposed to the 9-ligne movement in all other examples. This movement appears to be Diamond (or Maximus) grade as it has a gold train, gold settings and diamond cap jewel at the balance.
    6. The movement is hinged in the case and swings out. I have only seen this construction on one other example.
    7. This one and the one in post 14 are the only examples I have seen with clipped corners.

    Case.jpg Movement.jpg
     
  21. Nigel Harrison

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    Hi Jerry,

    Very nice piece and looks quite exotic, it seems no one of these is alike and a work of art in themselves.

    Yes I would expect Rose gold only to be seen with Platinum or Yellow gold, certainly not green gold, truly a rare piece there in many ways.

    Were these intended for ladies or men? As this one looks to be a ladies styled one.
     
  22. Jerry Treiman

    Jerry Treiman Registered User
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    #22 Jerry Treiman, Oct 12, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 6, 2019
    Actually, Matalene paired rose and green gold in several of his cases. I think it is a nice combination.

    These rectangular watches were men's watches. I expect especially so with the cigar cutter. Matalene called it an "evening watch" and he wore his for more elegant affairs. Some had a bale for attaching a chain but many were just dropped into a vest pocket. This photo shows one of the plainer examples next to a Waltham Opera Watch (also cased by Matalene). It is interesting that Matalene apparently took inspiration from the Opera Watch in the use of an ornamental spacer around the small movement (only on watches lacking the cigar cutter).

    Cases.jpg Movements.jpg
     

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