Benson 'Field' movements

John Matthews

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Sep 22, 2015
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I have just acquired the Benson Field movement in the attached photographs. The story being that the model was named after being worn for four months by, and receiving a glowing testimony to its virtues from, the Hunting Editor of The Field magazine. While the Field is regarded as one of the better models produced by Benson, I know that there was variability and this example does not have jewels to the third, which puts it below the best examples.

From background reading, I understand that in addition to producing watches in house, movements were supplied by Nicole Nielson, P. & A. Guye and also Rotherhams. I believe that the higher quality, and more complicated movements, sold by Benson, were produced by Guye. It would not surprise me if this example was produced by Rotherhams (it does have the Coventry inward arrows cross above the cock scale - which may or may not be significant).

This example has 'warrant to the late Queen Victoria' which was only used within ~5years of her death 1901~1905, and it has the Old Bond Street address, which is less common that the Ludgate Hill 'steam factory' address.

I was wondering whether anyone has knowledge, or a reference, that might provide guidance as how to distinguishing between the various makers of the Field movements.

John
 

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MartyR

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Dec 16, 2008
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I have always assumed that the "Bank" grade was Benson's highest grade, if only because I have only seen it with the inscription "Best London Make". The "Ludgate" greade was presumably lesser. I had always assumed that the "Field" was a third grade, but your explanation of the origins of the name suggest that it was some kind of special production, and perhaps just for a limited time period.

Interestingly, the advert you posted describes it as a "half chronometer", although I have no idea what that might mean - probably very little :rolleyes: It's also interesting that the advert gives Ludgate Hill as Benson's address, although your watch is addressed (unusually, as you say) Bond Street. That would obviously have been a purely retail address, and I think that by the early 1900s Benson were primarily a retail jeweller.
 

gmorse

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Jan 7, 2011
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Hi Martin.

I believe that the "Field" was the highest of the three grades, although it's clear that there were variations in the specifications of all three. A "half chronometer" was a marketing name for a more highly adjusted lever as far as I know.

Regards,

Graham
 

John Matthews

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On the basis of David Penney's archive, I can confirm that the Field was the highest grade model, but with the variations already alluded to. For anyone interested, in addition to David Penney's examples this link provides a useful summary:

http://oxfordpocketwatches.blogspot.fr/2016/05/benson-field-ludgate-and-bank-of.html

The best source for Benson's adverts, from 1890 to 1959, is here:

http://www.gracesguide.co.uk/J._W._Benson

and David Penney's article in AH June 2007 illustrated and discusses some of Benson's earlier catalogues.

John
 

PJQL

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Jun 13, 2011
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Graham,

According to the article by John Lashbrook (Oxford Pocket Watches), the interpretation of 'half-chronometer' is attributed to the movement being adjustment for temperature (a reference is quoted).
Whether this is accurate or not remains to be seen, but either way this may well have been utilised as a marketing ploy, as you have rightly suggested.

Piers
 

John Matthews

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I have recently acquired a second Benson's "Field" pocket watch. It is a 16 jewel example that I obtained it from John Lashbrook at Oxford Pocket Watches. The movement is believed to be by Erringtons on the basis that it has the Errington patented mechanism for releasing the mainspring - as described by John ...

"It incorporates Errington 1891 patent #6617 mechanism to let down the mainspring using the steel screw head visible bottom centre of the picture, this moved a cam which withdrew the "click" (ratchet) allowing the mainspring to be let down in a controlled fashion using the crown before removing the movement from the case.

This was a useful feature as normal methods could be rather hit and miss with the potential to cause damage, at least to the inner end of the spring, if let down too quickly. This set up was retained on many Errington and later Williamson movements for ten of fifteen years by which time the movement was no longer in [volume?] production."

The case is hallmarked in Chester for 1898 and has Benson's familiar J.W.B mark in an oval cameo. What I hadn't realised is that this mark, registered in Birmingham in March 1897, is not recorded in Priestley's Chester listing. While I am aware that there are omissions in the Chester listings, I would be interested whether the Benson Chester mark was restricted to the limited Errington run. Are there anymore Chester 'J.W.B's around?

John
 

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