Assistance needed in possible ID, dating and classification of this Swiss pocket watch

Discussion in 'European & Other Pocket Watches' started by David Medford, Nov 14, 2019.

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  1. David Medford

    David Medford Registered User

    Nov 13, 2019
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    Good Afternoon! I am excited about my very first post to the board - as I am a complete novice in this arena of collecting, so please forgive my 'green'-ness. This watch started my interest in collecting watches as I was simply struck by its beauty and its complicated movement. I use the word 'complicated' to mean all the additional dials - moon phase, date, etc. Unfortunately, the watch is in a state of disrepair at the moment. The watch movement, with gentle circular motion does move for a moment before 'running out of steam'. The crown is missing on this watch. It looks to have a strike or alarm mechanism as evidenced by the small button to the side of the stem. I am just curious about the make, date and type of watch this is. I am particularly interested in learning the correct terminology when describing and viewing a pocket watch, so any help in this arena would be greatly appreciated! The interior of the case is marked "Swiss" but no other markings are noted on the case besides some hand inscribed, post-manufacture markings (perhaps to denote repair/work done on watch). The face of the watch is also not marked that I can see. One hand has fallen to the bottom of the face but is still present. The movement is marked with what I will call a "Swiss Cross" and the number "11.17C". Thanks in advance for your assistance!

    IMG_5373.JPG IMG_5374.JPG IMG_5375.JPG IMG_5376.JPG IMG_5377.JPG IMG_5378.JPG
     
  2. JTD

    JTD Registered User

    Sep 27, 2005
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    Welcome the board.

    The 'Swiss Cross' you mention has in fact a patent number below it, 11,170 (not 11.17C). This Swiss patent, entitled 'Nouvelle montre a quantieme perpetuel systeme Alfred et Camille Robert' (A New watch with perpetual calendar [of the] system of Alfred and Camille Robert).

    The patent was issued to Alfred and Camille Robert in 1895. They were in the town of La Chaux- de-Fonds (Switzerland), famous for its watchmaking. The watch cannot therefore be earlier than 1895. The markings on the calendar dials are in German.

    Hope this may be of help - it's a lovely looking watch and I wish you every success.

    JTD
     
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  3. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Jan 7, 2011
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    Hi David,

    That small button is pressed when you want to set the hands with the winding crown, it isn't anything to do with an alarm or repeater. It looks as though there are tiny buttons in the edge of the bezel for resetting the various sub dials of the calendar.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
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  4. David Medford

    David Medford Registered User

    Nov 13, 2019
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    Thank you gmorse! I am learning a lot here today - I appreciate it!
     
  5. David Medford

    David Medford Registered User

    Nov 13, 2019
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    Thank you JTD - that is awesome! Is there a place on this site or another that you use to look up serial numbers?
     
  6. Kevin W.

    Kevin W. Registered User
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    Hi David, i dont there is any web site, that i know of, you could look up serial numbers for that watch. Many companies either did not keep records or they got lost over the years.
     
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  7. PJQL

    PJQL Registered User

    Jun 13, 2011
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    Hi David,

    When you agitate the watch (gentle sideways twisting) I assume from what you say that the balance wheel oscillates back and forth.
    If so, does the small seconds-hand (the sub dial at 6 o'clock) move simultaneously? If so, at least the escapement would appear to functional.

    The crown is missing, as you state, but is there a winding stem still present inside? It's hard to tell from your photographs. If it's still there, it may be possible to wind it (clockwise) with a pair of small long-nosed pliers. But do this VERY carefully. If it won't turn, then leave it alone.

    Of course, the mainspring may already be fully wound up. One way to test this is to turn the winding gear (the large cog) manually to try and wind the mainspring. If the larger cog will not turn at all clockwise then it appears the mainspring is fully wound up and stuck. If it turns with some resistance, that's a good sign....and if the mainspring is ok then the escapement may well fire up.

    If it just turns and turns constantly with no resistance, then the mainspring is likely broken.

    Alternatively, if you're not confident enough to do this yourself ( and I'm not saying you have to!...) then just do nothing and enjoy the watch for it's own sake ! :)

    Regards,

    Piers
     
  8. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi David,

    The case of your watch looks as though it's what's known as 'gunmetal', which is actually steel that's been treated to produce the dark blue-black finish.

    If you look carefully at the balance wheel, you'll see that the two cuts in the rim don't go all the way through; in a compensated balance they have to be complete cuts so that the rim can move in and out with changes in temperature. These 'halfway' cuts are just for show, even though the rim does appear to be steel on the inside and brass on the outside; I don't know why so many Swiss watches show this characteristic.

    Incidentally, there's no way that this could be termed a 'chronometer'.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  9. Ethan Lipsig

    Ethan Lipsig Registered User
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    As JTD noted, the patent number on your watch was issued for a perpetual calendar watch. Notwithstanding this, I would be shocked if your watch had what I would call a perpetual calendar feature. Perhaps my understanding is incorrect, but I have always thought that a perpetual calendar feature was an exotic and complicated mechanism that automatically adjusted the date for the length of the month and for leap years, so that if it were kept wound and running for months or years at a time, one would never have to reset the date manually, as with a normal calendar feature, short months or leap years.

    I am not demeaning normal calendar features. They are as practical as perpetual calendar features in the real world, where watches (especially in large pocket watch collections) do not run constantly for months or years at a time. In fact, they are more practical because they do not require a complicated, expensive-to-buy-and-maintain mechanism. I just would not call them perpetual calendar watches.
     
  10. Audemars

    Audemars Registered User
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    Ethan is right; the word "perpetuel" in this context admits of no ambiguity.
    So either the mechanism in the watch is perpetual, with all the leap-year complexity that Ethan describes, or the makers punched their patent number in anyway as a marketing tool.
    It would be mildly surprising if a true perpetual calendar mechanism were to be found in a relatively down-market case.
    Paul
     
  11. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Paul,

    I'd be more than mildly surprised! The mechanism under the dial will most probably look similar to this, which is by any standards quite basic, even crude. Just wheels and pins, with jumpers and setting levers.

    DSCF2117.JPG

    Regards,

    Graham
     

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