Any information on this Swiss 18k pocket watch

Discussion in 'European & Other Pocket Watches' started by kh125mick, Feb 1, 2018.

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  1. kh125mick

    kh125mick Registered User

    Aug 29, 2017
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    Hi all, I just picked up this watch and would like to see if anyone could maybe give me a rough date of when it was made and by whom?

    It has no makers marks that I can see, an 18k gold case with a 'metal' dust cover.

    It has the Swiss Helvetia hallmark stamp on the inner case cover and on the stem part of the case. I know that these were used from 1880-c1907. I know the movement could have been re-cased but I see no evidence of this (screw marks ect...).

    Any information would be greatly appreciated
    .

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  2. MartyR

    MartyR Registered User
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    That's the first time I have ever seen an 18K case with a "metal" dust cover! The first is a sign of high quality, the second a method of reducing cost. Perhaps the dust cover has been replaced at some time?

    The movement and dial are very plain and very common, and it is also a surprise to see such an ordinary Swiss watch in an 18K case.

    However I agree with you that I see no evidence of either of these possible events, so I guess we have to accept that it is what it is :)

    It does seem to be in excellent condition.
     
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  3. kh125mick

    kh125mick Registered User

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    Thank you Marty, it would make sense but it is strange for such high quality gold to have such a plain movement and dust cover!

    Just for a bit of background, the lady I purchased it from said it belonged to a great grandfather. His name was Michael Beal and had a Jewelers in Sheffield. It may have been a customers watch. It has some lovely engraving on the back of the case showing the initials C.H.h.? Not sure why one 'H' is lower case. The jeweler was around c1880's so would tie in with the hallmark.

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  4. Ethan Lipsig

    Ethan Lipsig Registered User
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    I've seen 18k Swiss pocket watches with gold-plated or gold-filled cuvettes. I own at least one.

    I have a number of solid gold IWCs with gold-plated or gold-filled cuvettes, but I cannot examine my IWCs at present because they are in the vault. It may be that the only IWCs I have with such cuvettes have 14k cases.

    Being purely practical, the advantage of a solid gold case is that it will never wear down to show brassing. Cuvettes aren't subject to that sort of wear. Some makers must have regarded a solid gold cuvette as overkill.
     
  5. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Mick,

    This combination isn't that unusual to see in Swiss watches, which often have a fairly modest movement in a visually attractive 18 carat gold case. These are often rather thin, and not always up to the purity marked. The surface show was everything!

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  6. kh125mick

    kh125mick Registered User

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    Thanks for that Graham, guess I'm used to English made cases in 9ct gold which have the gold dust cover, although 9ct is obvouisly cheaper than 18ct.

    I have yet to take apart and measure the gold weight, not that I'm too bothered. total weight is 80.44g and is 470mm across the case so it's a nice size.

    It needs a good clean though before I can wear it an event.
     
  7. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Mick,

    Some English manufacturers made a point in their advertising towards the end of the 19th century when Swiss imports were making big inroads here, that their cases were much more substantial than those of their imported rivals.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  8. kh125mick

    kh125mick Registered User

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    Very interesting, I always did wonder that.

    I suppose the massive influx of Swiss movements and fakes could make them like our China is now? Low/medium quality and mass produced. I know there are some exceptions though.

    They must have been very popular though as you see so many around. And with them being a neutral sate, when the big powers were at war I suppose the watch production was shifted to the war effort, leaving them with a good gap to exploit in the market?
     
  9. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Mick,

    Yes, that did happen. One of the most important components which became hard to obtain during the war was jewels, not only for watches and chronometers but also for bomb fuses and other similar devices. There was a smuggling route out of Switzerland, part of which involved packets of jewels being sewn into overcoats and even in some cases being carried over the mountains by dogs. Much of this was organised from the UK by Robert Lenoir who later played a significant rôle in Smiths watchmaking design and development.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
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  10. kh125mick

    kh125mick Registered User

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    Very interesting information graham, thank you very much!
     
  11. Dr. Jon

    Dr. Jon Registered User
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    I date it to about 1880, possibly earlier, in manufacture.

    It's a good but very mid grade watch. I believe the metal cuvette is original and a money saver. I suspect the original owner went for the back cover and monogram more than a cost os no issue purchase. The lower case "h" may be to indicate the owner's first name was Charles, so "Ch". I have seen lower case letter but usually something like a "c" for Mc.
     
  12. Audemars

    Audemars Registered User
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    #12 Audemars, Feb 3, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2018
    The Risoux forest spreads from the Vallée de Joux across the border into France and has always been criss-crossed by little-known paths used for smuggling anything from cigarettes (into France) to bringing escaped POWs into Switzerland. Some years ago my godfather took my wife and me into one of the most impenetrable parts of it where the paths were impossible to see unless you knew them (he did). Here we are. Cathy is in France. I am in Switzerland.

    During the war the Germans had an impossible task trying to police the border. There was a (probably apocryphal) story of a French café with its back wall (complete with a door) actually on the border, so they (allegedly) posted a full-time sentry in the bar of the café.

    My father and grandfather were, with only slight extra trouble and expense, able to source watch parts and complete watches from Switzerland during WWII, through Spain and Portugal. I still have a letter to my parents, from my great-aunt, with both German and English censorship stamps on it.

    frontier.jpg

    Paul
     
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  13. tick talk

    tick talk Registered User

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    While hiking the Jura, we couldn't help but imagine the smugglers and tradesmen who used the same trails, now forgotten except for the local farmers (and hikers, of course).

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