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Bigelow Kennard

Rich Newman

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I’ve read a lot about the Boston firm Bigelow Kennard in the past so when this non-working minute repeater turned up at the Chicago Chapter 3 boot sale a few weeks ago, I bought it. Luckily it didn’t need much work and Doug Shuman, also a #3 member, was able to put it right (his NAWCC ID is dshumans).

Thought I would share on this forum. It was made by Audemars Piguet and is an extra thin, 32 jewel, solid nickel movement, serial number 5786. 18K Swiss case and perfect dial. The dial & movement marked Bigelow Kennard & Co.

Doug informed that according to Brunner’s book, Audemars Piguet: Masterpieces of Classical Watchmaking, it was made in 1897, so I’m thinking it was made by the successor firm Louis Audemars & Cie, that was led by Louis-Benjamin Audemars. Is that right?

AP 1.jpg AP 2.jpg AP 3.jpg AP 4.jpg AP 5.jpg
 

Ethan Lipsig

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Nice watch, Rich. Doug Shuman knows a lot more about repeaters than I ever will. That said, what makes you or Doug think this watch was made by Audemars Piguet? Touchon "made" repeaters very similar to your watch. Some Touchon repeaters were made by Audemars Piguet but they look somewhat different than your watch. I suspect that at least the ebauches of your watch and similar Touchons were made by LeCoultre. C.H. Meylan also "made" similar repeaters.

Audemars Piguet had no connection with Louis Audemars and the successors to his firm as far as I know.
 

Dr. Jon

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I see why Doug thinks it is Audemars Piguet, especially if it is a 12 size. The three parallel cocks over the thrid wheel fourth (Seconds) and escape wheel are signature features of Audemars Piguet and the serial number lines up well.

I do not think it is by them.

It does not have the clicks AP used and they stamped their movements under the dial. This stamp may have been hidden by a moving lever but it is always on private label AP's I have seen with the other secret signature features. ON teh other hand they were small and may have made this as a small order, but if so it is different from all teh other simillar arrangements I have seen. It is just crazy to be dogmatic about this.

The winding bridge looks like C. H. Meylan.

Lovely watch and very nicely finished.

There is a connection between AP and Louis Audemars in that they were from the same family and Julius Audemars worked for the Louis Audemars Company before starting AP.
 
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dshumans

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It's a great watch. While I can never be certain, I have worked on a number of nearly identical watches with this movement, one signed by AP. The time side is identical except for minor center bridge and winding bridge cosmetic changes, the under dial repeater works is identical and the serial number matches the AP serial number series for late 1890s. I have only seen this particular repeater rundown train jewels and bridges on this type ebauch many times. A picture of a signed AP movement is attached. Maybe someone here knows something more than that or knows if AP bought this ebauch from some other manufacturer? I'm always open to other thoughts.

Audemars Piguet signed mvt.jpg
 

John Cote

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Rich,

I am not going to specifically take a side here but I see a lot of similarities to my AP repeater. Mine is a split chrono so the time side is different but under the dial there are a lot of similarities which are too hard to ignore. Also, as was said above, the serial number is very typical for an AP. I will also argue with Doc Ron, with whom I will almost always agree, when he says that all AP PL watches are marked with their stamp under the dial. I have a letter from AP confirming that mine was made by them and even giving their model number and it has no AP marking anywhere under the dial.

Also, the case has the look of other AP PL cases and has the serial number which matches the watch.
 

Dr. Jon

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Easiest and best is to just ask AP.

My skepticism is based on a sense I get from early AP watches that they took a lot of pride in theor work and went to a lot of effort to show that it was theirs in ways that careless observers would miss.

For example they sold under a private label "Jules Renaud", Renuad was Jule's Audemars wife's family.

I have a Tiffany labeled AP in which the AP logo under the dial was milled out and covered.
Until reading John's post I had not known of an AP private label they did not sign except for a the Tiffany.

Perhaps the the three parallel cocks was a much secret signature as they were allowed. If it is theirs, the story of this sale is probably a very interesting.
 

John Cote

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I am not sure there is any AP evidence on the watches they made for Touchon to import into the US. I have seen mine and another with nothing under the dial. I would love to know about others.
 

Dr. Jon

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I have a split seconds chronograph signed by Touchon that I am certain is based on an AP movement. The base caliiber has the signature winding bridfge features and in the serial number range for when they used them. It is now in for repair so I don't have access to check for an under dial signature.
 
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dshumans

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I just found this which may help determine the ebauch maker. It is almost exactly identical to some signed AP repeaters, but AP may have bought ebauches from LeCoultre?
LeCoultre Calibre.jpg
 

Philip Poniz

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Good observation, Doug. Audemars Piguet, for a long time, was more of an etablisseur (one who buys movements, dials, and cases from different manufacturers and assembles them into watches), than a manufacturer. It will be interesting to learn the date, if AP responds to Richard. The caliber was launched in 1892 and was produced with a variety of back plate/bridges designs, each one for a different client. The same cadrature (under the dial mechanism) was used on more than just one caliber.