British silver gauge standards for watch cases?

aucaj

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Feb 2, 2021
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Hello,

I have a general question about the silver gauge for English watch pair cases.

With many Swiss fakes the watch cases are made of extremely thin and flimsy 'silver' that dents and deforms easily. I am not sure if this is due to this being a lower grade silver or due to the gauge of it. I have not seen anything like that from an English maker. I got to thinking about this more with regard to the watch shown below. There is nothing particularly remarkable about it until you pick it up. It is considerably heavier than what you'd expect, if you handled a lot of these old verges. It seems that the outer case is made of an extremely thick piece of silver.

I am just curious, were there any English standards in place that required cases to be a certain minimum thickness?

Thank you,
Chris

1.JPG 2.JPG 3.JPG 4.JPG 5.JPG 6.JPG 7.JPG 8.JPG
 

John Matthews

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Chris - I am a great believer in data.

It would not be difficult, but time consuming, to compare the weight, volume and some simple dimensions, of say outer pair cases, in order to produce the data necessary to answer the question. The analysis of such data, by time, place and 'maker' would certainly be worthy of an interesting paper. If the grade of silver could also be determined (by calculation or measurement), that would be a real bonus.

Your example was made in Coventry 1818/19 by Vale & Co (or to be accurate the case maker who worked for, either directly or indirectly for the company). At that time, in that place and by that maker, I would expect the case to be substantial as were most being produced in England at that time.

John
 

gmorse

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Hi Chris,
I am just curious, were there any English standards in place that required cases to be a certain minimum thickness?
I'm not aware of any legal standards concerning the thickness of English cases, just the purity of the metal in them, but as John commented, the majority of English cases seem substantial. I think that there was a certain amount of peer pressure which maintained standards amongst case makers.

I haven't handled nearly as many Swiss cases as English ones, but based on this small sample my impression is that they do tend to be flimsier.

Regards,

Graham
 

eri231

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It is curious that the definition "Swiss fake" has persisted over the centuries, when it has been proven several times that the fakes came from Holland, France, Switzerland and Germany. The movement and also the case and dial are poor.
Otherwise, it cost the same to produce them as the originals.
Regards enrico
 

aucaj

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Thank you. No known standards for the thickness. It could be the fact that this watch is much later (1818) than many of the others I've handled. John has a point about data. It shouldn't be too much effort to just weigh the watch cases when I service them.
 

aucaj

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It is curious that the definition "Swiss fake" has persisted over the centuries, when it has been proven several times that the fakes came from Holland, France, Switzerland and Germany. The movement and also the case and dial are poor.
Otherwise, it cost the same to produce them as the originals.
Regards enrico
Hi Enrico,

I did not intend to offend or encompass all fakes with this term. I have a portion of my collection dedicated to fakery, and I seem to have more that appear to be Swiss in origin. However, I do have good examples from Germany and France (French faking other French). Actual Dutch fakes are a little more difficult for me to distinguish because the Dutch market was a big target for forgers from all origins. But I have to admit I have not read the Struthers Dissertation (Its on my to-do list), which may help with that. I do have some proud Dutch makers from Amsterdam that signed their true names. Their quality is definitely a step above any of the fakes. At some point, it would be interesting to discuss fakes further. You have a point and I will not describe them specifically as Swiss to avoid the possibility of mischaracterization. I have nothing against the Swiss :) I promise.

Regards,
Chris
 

eri231

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Taken from an article by an Italian eminent, Giuseppe Distefano
"
To understand the difference in price in favor of non-English watches, these figures taken from the
records of the Clockmaker's Co., in the years 1778-1804.
A double 18 kt gold case, made in Switzerland, weighing 2 ounces (approximately 56.7 g), cost £ 6 12s 6d.
Lighter case came in at £ 4 19 s 4 1/2 d.
A crate, of the same weight of 2 ounces of gold, made in England, it cost, due to taxes, £ 9 14 s.
There was therefore a saving of about a third on the Swiss production fund. Even if the values were different
this difference was also valid for silver with the same metal fineness (.925 sterling while in France
and Switzerland was mainly used .800)"

regards enrico
 
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Allan C. Purcell

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Enrico, that is all correct, but in one case the Swiss made one mistake when copying English watches, they thought Sterling Silver was 935. They are few and far between.

R/.

Allan.
 

eri231

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Not a mistake, but it has been prescribed by Swiss federal law to comply with English control tolerances


"Why does English law mention it,
k. 18. 0.750 for gold and 0.925 for silver
as we read, in the prescriptions
mentioned above of the regulation
execution of our law, that the k. 18 for
England owes 0.755 title and the silver
per title 0.935, i.e. 5 thousandths more
for gold and 10 thousandths more for
the silver?
Quite simply because, by virtue of
tolerance admitted by our control law,
(3 thousandths for gold and 5 thousandths,
for the silver) we recognized that this is so.
So that our cases respond
to the requirements of English law "

regards enrico
 

Allan C. Purcell

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Hi Enrico, reading it as you have put it, it could be seen they were complying with British law, having re-read again, the silver: Bears Galore! it would be the only way to get around British Law. In the end, it stopped (Almost) those cheap -800 silver watch cases, now sold as Swiss Roskells. ;)

Regards,

Allan.
 

eri231

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Indeed, "Bears Galore" is appropriate, the Swiss casemakers worked a lot for their English "colleagues".
Regards enrico
 

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