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Can anyone help ID this Swiss pocket watch?

Jon C.

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Aug 2, 2013
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MartyR had explained several weeks ago that the bear symbol on this watch indicates a silver content of at least 87.5%, and the separate hallmark of 0.935 means the case has a silver purity of 93.5%. So even though this is "better" than the UK sterling silver standard of 92.5%, I understand that it's not considered sterling silver and I should refer to it as Swiss silver. But does anyone know the meaning of the third hallmark in-between the two bear hallmarks and the 0.935 hallmark?

You can also see from one of the pictures that the case has what appears to be a English maker's mark cameo (it looks just like Cameo Type 39, found on page 89 of Priestley's Watch Case Makers of England). Since it's a Swiss watch, is it just a coincidence that the maker's mark cameo appears identical to the English one? Or if it's not a maker's mark cameo, can anyone explain what it signifies?

Lastly, MartyR had mentioned that he thought the bear hallmarks were used from 1882 until the 1930s. I subsequently found an article online that confirmed that the standing bear mark was used for export watches between 1881 and 1934. Since this is a key-wind watch, is it possible to narrow down the date it was manufactured? In other words, until approximately what year were key-wind watches still being made?

Regards,

Jon
 

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gmorse

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Hi Jon,
...But does anyone know the meaning of the third hallmark in-between the two bear hallmarks and the 0.935 hallmark?
It looks like the small version of the standing bear. I don't know why the Swiss used duplicate marks like this.

You can also see from one of the pictures that the case has what appears to be a English maker's mark cameo (it looks just like Cameo Type 39, found on page 89 of Priestley's Watch Case Makers of England). Since it's a Swiss watch, is it just a coincidence that the maker's mark cameo appears identical to the English one? Or if it's not a maker's mark cameo, can anyone explain what it signifies?
Just a coincidence, and nothing whatsoever to do with the English system. It probably is a maker's mark of some sort.

Lastly, MartyR had mentioned that he thought the bear hallmarks were used from 1882 until the 1930s. I subsequently found an article online that confirmed that the standing bear mark was used for export watches between 1881 and 1934. Since this is a key-wind watch, is it possible to narrow down the date it was manufactured? In other words, until approximately what year were key-wind watches still being made?
Did you look here for some background on Swiss marks?

These movements, many of them cylinders like this, were made over quite a long period from the second or third quarter of the C19th up until around the beginning of the Great War, and as you've seen with another watch, key-winding did linger on. Another clue is that the regulator is marked "F" and "S", so was intended for an English-speaking market with its more conservative tastes.

Regards,

Graham
 

MartyR

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Dec 16, 2008
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I wish someone would give us a definitive explanation of the triple bear mark! These are seen so often exactly like Jon's marks - two large bears side by side with a small bear above centre. I vaguely recall someone once suggesting that one large bear was the canton mark, the second large bear was the national mark, and the small one the maker's :???:
 

Jon C.

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Yes, I also wish I could find out what the triple bear mark means. I have several other Swiss pocket watches that likewise have silver hallmarks of two large bears side by side with a small bear centered above, like those in the picture below.

I've searched the internet for info about this, but I haven't found anything so far. There must be someone out there who has a definitive answer - maybe one of our Swiss members?!

Regards,

Jon

Pocket watch - Swiss bear case hallmarks.jpg Pocket watch - Swiss antique dial.jpg
 

Jon C.

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Too funny, Ray!! :D

But seriously, I'm not going to give up on this until I track down the real answer. I know it's out there somewhere!

Regards,

Jon
 

Jon C.

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I just reached out to the Swiss Embassy in Washington, DC. I explained all about the three standing bear hallmarks, and asked if someone on the Embassy staff could possibly solve this mystery for us once and for all.

I've got my fingers crossed that I'll actually receive a reply from them. I'll be sure to let you all know if I do!

Regards,

Jon
 

Jon C.

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Aug 2, 2013
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I just reached out to the Swiss Embassy in Washington, DC. I explained all about the three standing bear hallmarks, and asked if someone on the Embassy staff could possibly solve this mystery for us once and for all.
UPDATE: I'm happy to advise that I heard back today from [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]the First Secretary for Trade & Commercial Affairs at the Swiss Embassy in Washington. [/FONT][/FONT]She advised me that embassy staff members are looking into my question about the meaning of the three standing bears. She expects to get back to me shortly with an answer!:)

Regards,

Jon
 

Jon C.

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Aug 2, 2013
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LATEST UPDATE ABOUT THE THREE BEAR HALLMARKS - THE SAGA CONTINUES!

I just heard back from a trade assistant at the Swiss Embassy in Washington. She has now referred me to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry (FHS) in Bienne, Switzerland.

I contacted FHS today and asked if someone there can clarify the meaning of the three standing bear hallmarks. I'll let you know when I hear back from them.

Regards,

Jon
 

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