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Charles Frodsham inverted double roller in presentation case

John Matthews

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This Charles Frodsham pocket watch, from the collection of the late Bradley Ross, is unusual in a number of respects, to which I was attracted. Probably the most obvious is that it is housed in a silver gilt purpose made glazed presentation case. This provides a clear view of the working movement while still being protected from the ingress of dust, however the removal of the snap on rear bezel has to be done carefully to avoid damage. The watch with have restricted working outings!

I have seen such cases on a number of American watches, but this is the first English example I have seen.

The half plate movement has a number of desirable attributes. It is well jewelled to the fusee (24 or 25 in total - David Penney) being capped on the balance, lever, escape and the 4th. The free sprung inverted double roller is driven by a reversed fusee which Mercer records being used by Frodsham on a number of high quality watches post 1850.

This is my first cased inverted double roller. I will not be removing the balance to inspect the mechanism, although I would really like to know whether its form is as the chronograph #05872 described by Mercer. That double inverted roller with the larger roller 'having a smaller than usual diameter and incorporating a rectangular jewel pin which projects beyond the diameter of the roller itself'. The uncased inverted double roller movements I posted here are similar, but have cylindrical jewel pins, although the Penlington appears to have a flat face (I attach a picture of the Penlington roller from the previous post for comparison).



John

20180418 002.jpg 20180418 003.jpg 20180418 007.jpg 20180418 010.jpg inverted roller.JPG
 
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Omexa

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Hi John, a fantastic Pocket Watch; it has almost everything going for it; possibly no Helical Hairspring to keep the Width down. I have just got hold of a Nickel Double Hinged Display Case that is thicker than a Normal 18 sized Display Case and has a Female Stem. It seems to be Multi-fit (My Term). I got it from Dave to put the Strange Gallet New York in. I have not checked yet to see if it will fit. Regards Ray

1.jpg
 

John Matthews

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Hi Ray - glad you like it. Hope your Gallet fits into the display case you've acquired.

John
 

gmorse

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Hi John,

I know this fine watch is in a much later custom-made silver gilt case; does it have any hallmarks to indicate origin?

Perhaps a Nicole Nielsen movement.

Regards,

Graham
 

John Matthews

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Hi Graham - unfortunately I have not found any visible hallmarks, but there may be some on the inner rim of the case concealed by the movement.

DP dated the movement as ~1870 and didn't specifically assign the movement to Nielsen - is he known to have made any inverted double rollers?

John
 

Keith R...

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John, great find! I have seen a couple of modified key wind cases with a
crystal in the cuvett and holes drilled for key access. This scarce movement,
a must to preserve for for all to see. This collector reached out for a purpose
built display back, (now with you). Scarce wins every time.

I had a Howard with a Mershon center rack regulator cased in an old hinged
glass back, like Ray intends to do for his Gallet.

PS....Graham, didn't mean to interrupt your response to John, on the
movement.

Keith R...

103_9118 (800x600).jpg 103_9119 (800x600).jpg
 

gmorse

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Hi John,

DP dated the movement as ~1870 and didn't specifically assign the movement to Nielsen - is he known to have made any inverted double rollers?
I'm not aware of any, but the firm made a lot of high grade movements for Frodshams amongst others. If you ever get to take the dial off there should be some stamps on the pillar plate.

Regards,

Graham
 

John Matthews

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Hi Graham,

I am not very familiar with Mercer's Frodsham book. As I looked trough the chapter on Nicole Nielsen there is mention of Patent 1461 (1862) for the operating mechanism of a chronograph. The only reference I have found of a Frodsham inverted double roller is #05872 I mentioned in the initial post - what I hadn't mentioned was that that watch, which is described in the subsequent chapter under 'Unusual Watches', is in fact a chronograph. It would be very interesting to know whether it had a Nielson stamp under the dial.

I don't think I will be attempting to remove the dial - for the moment: it is not immediately obvious how to remove the movement from the case and it is not something I am willing to explore ...

Keith - thank you for sharing your Howard in the presentation case and for your nice comments.

John
 

gmorse

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Hi John,

...it is not immediately obvious how to remove the movement from the case and it is not something I am willing to explore ...
It looks as though there was a case screw of some sort next to the 4th wheel cock but as it's been re-cased that seems to be redundant now.

Regards,

Graham
 

John Matthews

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there was a case screw of some sort next to the 4th wheel cock
Graham - all I can see is the slot and screw hole for the original movement retaining clip ...

John

movement retaining clip.JPG
 

gmorse

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Hi John,

Yes, that's what I was seeing, but as it's now empty the new case must be fitted in some other way, perhaps even just by friction.

Regards,

Graham
 

John Matthews

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chronograph #05872 described by Mercer. That double inverted roller with the larger roller 'having a smaller than usual diameter and incorporating a rectangular jewel pin which projects beyond the diameter of the roller itself'
I have just found references to this particular watch in Mercer's Appendix X. Serial numbers 05869-05872 were manufactured by Audemars in 1879. So we have evidence that they manufactured inverted double rollers - Paul can you shed any light?

The manufacture's appendices in Mercer do not specifically cover #04097 - although it is suggested that it was manufactured in 1870. Appendix X commences from #05501 in 1876, with Nicole identified as one of the manufacturers in that year. Appendix XI covers the watches made for Charles Frodsham by Victor Kullberg and these range from #02033 in 1862 to 07502 in 1887 and include serial numbers closest to #04097. However, most of these are keyless, one exception being #04195, a size 18 half plate lever with an up/down dial.

It appears, unlikely that i will be able to establish the maker unless there are marks on the pillar plate.

John
 

Audemars

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Paul can you shed any light?
We know that LA supplied stuff - quite a lot of it - to Frodsham Unfortunately virtually none of the products were recorded by my ancestors under their Frodsham references and so far it has been impossible to correlate them.
One of the very few references is Frodsham No 04065 which is recorded in my books as having been returned to Le Brassus for repair ("rhabillage") and was shipped out again in July 1880 - which probably fits with the numbers/dates earlier in this thread.

Equally unfortunately Frodshams own records are partially deficient due to some catastrophe in the past - a fire or something. (Have you asked them?).

By that date LA were making mostly bridge movements, and the full and 3/4 plate products were - I believe - mostly specials for the British market.
We know that Frodsham dismantled and re-built their imported products - did they also engrave their own name and numbers as well at the same time?

If it is an Audemars product there may be a punch mark somewhere, and possibly a number, but if they are there, they'll be somewhere very obscure.

As you all know, I am a horological ignoramus and this is the first time I have encountered the "inverted double roller" phrase.
The archive is - of course - in French. Does anyone out there know the french term for it? It isn't recorded, at least not in English, in my favourite go-to site for translation of horological terms (Dictionnaire professionnel illustré de l'horlogerie).
Paul
www.audemars.co.uk
 

Audemars

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Further to my last post:
The question of a French translation of "inverted double roller" becomes just a bit more crucial.

I have a book summarising shipments from Le Brassus to various destinations between 1880 and the 1885 bankruptcy.
Nearly all the shipments were made to the Audemars "depots" in various cities - Paris, London, St Petersburg, NY &c &c so the end buyers' names were not usually noted.

However, there is a number of very tiny references beside some entries in the London and Paris shipments, which turn out to be abbreviated versions of some customers' names. Sometimes it's no more than a hieroglyph, but some of the London ones are identifiable (with a magnifying glass) as "Frod". The serial numbers are LA numbers, not Frodsham's - and as so often the descriptions (all heavily abbreviated one-liners) are badly written.
However there is something about the escapements in some of the descriptions, which I can't read and where a clue or a hint would be helpful.
Whether it has a bearing on this particular thread I cannot tell at this moment.
P
 

John Matthews

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"inverted double roller" phrase
Paul thank you for your helpful response.

I do not know how the French would describe an inverted double roller, in fact I don't believe it is in universal use as a description in English - David Penney simply describes it as ' double-roller detached lever escapement, the roller mounted upside down to normal, as is occasionally found.'

Is there any chance you can identify the equivalent Audemar's records corresponding to Frodsham's #05869-#05872 supplied in 1879? If so the last one in this sequence, #05872, was an inverted double roller and you could then see how that was described.

As you say #04065 is getting close to my example of #4097 which is helpful. I haven't contacted Frodshams - clearly this is something I should try, thank-you for the suggestion.

I am reluctant to dismantle the watch, given its very clear working condition and my limited skills. If it makes its way in the future to someone with necessary skills, I will ensure a thorough examination/search is undertaken.

John

Paul - I just saw your second post. I have just started to correspond with a watchmaker in Paris and have to compose a note in the next week. I will see if he has any suggestions.
 
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eri231

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We know that LA supplied stuff - quite a lot of it - to Frodsham Unfortunately virtually none of the products were recorded by my ancestors under their Frodsham references and so far it has been impossible to correlate them.
One of the very few references is Frodsham No 04065 which is recorded in my books as having been returned to Le Brassus for repair ("rhabillage") and was shipped out again in July 1880 - which probably fits with the numbers/dates earlier in this thread.

Equally unfortunately Frodshams own records are partially deficient due to some catastrophe in the past - a fire or something. (Have you asked them?).

By that date LA were making mostly bridge movements, and the full and 3/4 plate products were - I believe - mostly specials for the British market.
We know that Frodsham dismantled and re-built their imported products - did they also engrave their own name and numbers as well at the same time?

If it is an Audemars product there may be a punch mark somewhere, and possibly a number, but if they are there, they'll be somewhere very obscure.

As you all know, I am a horological ignoramus and this is the first time I have encountered the "inverted double roller" phrase.
The archive is - of course - in French. Does anyone out there know the french term for it? It isn't recorded, at least not in English, in my favourite go-to site for translation of horological terms (Dictionnaire professionnel illustré de l'horlogerie).
Paul
www.audemars.co.uk

hello Paul
essayer avec " double plateau" et " cheville ou ellipse renversé "

regards enrico
 

Audemars

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any chance you can identify the equivalent Audemars' records corresponding to Frodsham's #05869-#05872
No. I'm sorry. The Audemars simply didn't record - and may not have known - the Frodsham references. I can now pick out some watches/movements sent to London for Frodsham in the period 1880 - 1885 and I have a couple of references in other books from earlier years. But it seems that the only time they knew a Frodsham reference number was when it came back for servicing or repair.

Incidentally, the invoice prices recorded against the entries with the Frodsham "hieroglyph" seem to be very high.
P
 

John Matthews

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Paul/Enrico - my thanks for your help.

Paul I think you are right, it seems quite likely that Audemars didn't know the Frodsham's number when they fulfilled the order. I will contact Frodshams next week and see if they are able to help.

John
 

Audemars

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I'm not sure how useful this is in the context of this thread, or even if it is useful at all.
I have been through the "summary of invoices" which covers the period 1880 - 1885. All shipments to London were batched and sent to the LA depot there. As noted earlier they made microscopic (to my 78-year old eyesight) notes at the side of some entries indicating which customer a particular piece was for - but they didn't do it all the time and they stopped doing it in 1883.
Also they may not have been consistent (which would have been typical of them) and there could be a lot more pieces sent to Frodsham than I have been able to discover.
The attached .jpeg is a copy of a word document (I have found in the past that Word docs don't post very well here).
Enjoy.
Paul

Frodsham Shipments (book 2).jpg
 
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John Matthews

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Hi Paul - my thanks for your efforts, they are much appreciated.

The three Frodsham serial numbers confirm the entries in Mercer's Appendix X. According to those entries #05872 was supplied in 1879 and #6200 in 1881. Rather anomalously #05875 is listed with the date of 1884.

Chronograph #05872 is an inverted double roller and is described by Mercer (p.208) as I mentioned in the initial post. Here is the full description ...

'Unusual double roller. The rollers are inverted, the larger roller being below the smaller, the former having a smaller than usual outside diameter and incorporating a rectangle jewel pin which projects beyond the diameter of the roller itself. The sides of the lever notch are not parallel but converge inwards slightly.'

Pity there are no equivalent records for ~1870 with Frodsham numbers.

John
 

Audemars

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equivalent records for ~1870 with Frodsham numbers
I don't think there are any other identifiable Frodsham numbers in earlier books.

There is a "register of superior watches" (see my site for details) where most of the products were started in the 1870s, which shows lots and lots of 3/4 plate movements and watches sent to the Audemars London depot, and any of them could have been for Frodsham, but the only ones with Frodsham identified as the end customer are:

1875 22/6 s/nos 11956- 60. Six simple “superior” grade movements (no cases recorded) ¾ plate, stem-wound, lever escapements, hunters, 14 lignes.

Paul
 

John Matthews

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Paul - my thanks again for your time.

Stem wound rules these out, together with the date and size. I have sent a message to Frodshams via their site, but the contact page refreshed without an acknowledgement, so I'm not sure if it was successful. I will try to contact them on Monday.

John
 

Dr. Jon

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English Free Sprung levers came with all kinds to rollers and the inverted double was one of them


Here is an example signed by David Glasgow dated 1876.

llevr_sm.jpg roller_sm.jpg


I suspect some London escapement makers preferred this style
 

John Matthews

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Hi Dr John - thanks for posting this example.

Do you have any further pictures of the movement and the complete watch that you can post to put these into context?

I would like to be able to compare with other examples - including these.

Thanks

John
 

John Matthews

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I have compiled the following list of inverted double rollers ...

ASSOCIATION OF DIAMOND MERCHANTS, London #7543 c1890
DENT, E J, 61 Strand, London. #27892 c1862
FRODSHAM, Charles, 84 Strand, London #04097 c1870
FRODSHAM, Charles, 84 Strand, London #04117 1891? Re-case?
FRODSHAM, Charles, 84 Strand, London #05275 1875
FRODSHAM, Charles, 84 Strand, London #05872 1879
FRODSHAM, Charles, 84 Strand, London #07779 1889
GABRIEL, William, 24 Bishopsgate St, Within, London. #1474 1882
GLASGOW, David, 20, Myddleton Square London #? 1876
KEYS, David, London for REID & SONS, Newcastle-upon-Tyne #4447 c1880
PENLINGTON, Joseph, Liverpool #11875 c1865
PENLINGTON, Joseph, Liverpool #13099 c1870
PENLINGTON, Joseph, Liverpool #13344 c1871
PENLINGTON, Joseph, Liverpool #14070 c1880
PENLINGTON, Joseph, Liverpool #15059 c1890
RINECKER, Cajetan A, 18 Old Burlington St, London. #6157 c1885​

If anyone can add to this list, I would very much appreciate it.

John
 

DaveyG

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Allan, have a look at the picture posted by Dr Jon, then the one posted by John in Post #1, compare it to the picture that you just posted and have a game of 'spot the difference' ;)
 

Dr. Jon

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Here are a few more shots of the Glasgow watch. I was quite intrigues with its inverted

double roller so I took a lot of photos of it.

The dial is very unusual and may not be original. The third owner was a significant art collector and I suspect he may have changed the dial when he inherited the watch in 1951.

The cuvette engravings identify four generations of the family.

rollers_sm.jpg movement_sm.jpg dialref_rsm.jpg
 

John Matthews

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Dr Jon - my thanks for the extra photographs - the roller is particularly fine. I agree it looks as if the dial and hands are not original, but a lovely movement.

John
 

Dr. Jon

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Here is another inverted double roller, signed John Hall Manchester but it looks London made. It is hallmarked 1872 fir London. It is bit unusual in that the chapter ring for its half hunter window is screwed in place. Otherwise it is as typical a keyless fusee free spring inverted double roller lever as there is.

It has a very nice swallow tail on its lever. back_sm.jpg inner_sm.jpg Front_sm.jpg Lever_sm.jpg Dial_sm.jpg Mvt_sm.jpg roller_sm.jpg
 

Allan C. Purcell

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Allan, have a look at the picture posted by Dr Jon, then the one posted by John in Post #1, compare it to the picture that you just posted and have a game of 'spot the difference' ;)
Hi Dave-John knows the difference, that is the roller of Robert Roskells double roller lever escapement from c1820.

Thank you Dr. Jon really nice watches. That suger tong lever arm was used quite a lot by Nicole Neilson I have one he made for Roskell. Its in DP´s archive.

. Best wishes, Allan.
 

John Matthews

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Here is another inverted double roller, signed John Hall Manchester
Dr Jon - my thanks for this new example, number 17 on the list which starts with the Dent from 1862 through to Ray's Kew 'A' rated in 1890 - I think the 1891 Frodsham movement may be earlier than its present case.

John
 

Ethan Lipsig

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John,
I have compiled the following list of inverted double rollers . . . . If anyone can add to this list, I would very much appreciate it.

John
I have a circa 1885 unsigned 18k free-sprung minute repeater that has an inverted double roller. The case number is 9,150, which might also be the movement number, but no movement number is visible. The watch looks English, but is in a Swiss case and may be a Swiss movement in the English-style. For photos of this watch and a further description, see post 10 in Most Unusual European & Other Pocket Watches-.
 

John Matthews

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Hi Ethan - thank you for providing the link to your repeater. Most interesting.

From Mercer's book we know that Audemars were supplying inverted double rollers to Frodsham from the late 1870s and they were also making minute repeaters at that time, I believe.

I note that the watchmaker who restored it thought it originally had a detent escapement and this explains the short run time. I don't suppose he noticed any makers marks when he did the restoration, otherwise you would have said. It seems a little strange to me to replace a detent with an inverted double roller. I suppose if it went back to the maker early in its life and the maker was producing inverted double rollers that might be a reasonable explanation.

I will be very interested in what others with greater knowledge think.

John
 

gmorse

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Hi John,

...I note that the watchmaker who restored it thought it originally had a detent escapement and this explains the short run time...
This makes no sense to me. The nature of the escapement bears no relationship to run times, which in a going barrel are solely dependent on mainspring length and train count. I can't see from the picture exactly where the detent would have been mounted, but there doesn't seem to be room in those bottom plate cutouts for either a spring or a pivoted detent.

The question of why a detent should have been converted to a lever is perhaps answered if it was found that the detent was rather too fragile and prone to setting, or maybe it was damaged and the owner found it too expensive to replace with the same type.

Regards,

Graham
 

John Matthews

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Graham - I'm so pleased you said this ...
This makes no sense to me
as I was completely at a loss to understand it.

Do you think the holes I have highlighted, were thought to be evidence of an earlier escapement by the watchmaker? I don't understand what they are.

upload_2018-4-24_14-13-59.png

If it had originally been a detent, I follow your logic with regard to converting it to a lever, what I find more difficult to understand is to replace it with an inverted double roller. Given that the inverted type were made in relatively small numbers and by a limited number of makers, I would have thought it was an unlikely choice.

John
 

gmorse

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Hi John,

Without seeing the movement from all angles, or better still with the balance cock removed, it's difficult to be sure what went on. I don't think it could have involved too much change in the escape wheel because that fits in its well pretty closely, and the existing well for the lever tail doesn't seem long enough. Pictures to verify this aren't going to be easy for Ethan to obtain I suspect, unless his watchmaker routinely takes pictures of everything as he goes.

Regards,

Graham
 

Ethan Lipsig

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Reviewing my notes, I was told that the barrel was smaller in diameter than one would expect for a watch of its size and that the stopworks were designed only to permit 3.5 turns, not the usual 4.5 turns. These could just have been products of a poor design. However, the other possibility, I was told, was that the watch was designed to have a detent escapement, as suggest by the unusual recesses by the balance wheel. I was told that they would not have accommodated a pivot detent or an Earnshaw detent, but could have accommodated an Arnold's detent. It would have been lovely if that's what the watch actually had because Arnold's detents are scarce and because, I am told, the watch would then have run twice as long since detent escapements only advance the escape wheel half as often as levers, that is once per cycle).
 

gmorse

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Hi Ethan,

because, I am told, the watch would then have run twice as long since detent escapements only advance the escape wheel half as often as levers, that is once per cycle
Ah yes, I'd forgotten about that fact, my apologies.

I was told that they would not have accommodated a pivot detent or an Earnshaw detent, but could have accommodated an Arnold's detent.
I'm not so sure about this though, since both Arnold's and Earnshaw's detents were similar in layout with the spring mounted on a foot in line with the body of the detent, the main difference being that the former locked in tension and unlocked towards the centre of the escape wheel and the latter in compression, unlocking away from the centre of the wheel.

Regards,

Graham
 
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Dr. Jon

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The reason a detent would drive the watch twice as long is as Ethan wrote. A detent passes one tooth per cycle rather than two as does a lever. The same train but with a detent would run the watch 28 hours.

Whether it would run better is hard to determine. There would be half the energy and I suspect the unlocking friction loss difference between a lever and detent is too small to offset this loss. That is, the detent requiring a bit less power does not make up for the reduction in power.

I have seen this watch and observed that escapement holes are in a circular plate which can be removed from the dial or pillar plate. I have seen this on a several ebauches and I believe it was intended to let finishers decide what escapement to use or the change it at a late part of the fabrication.

Since free sprung repeaters are fairly rare, I suspect the maker's problem began when he or she underestimated the margin around the edge needed for the gongs. The maker had not done one of these before they took the order. This margin did not leave enough space in their layout for a barrel sufficient to drive the watch 24 hours or more with a lever.

I speculate that the maker and buyer agreed to keep the lever since it is a very nice one, rather convert to a detent. The ebauche allows for this but they decided against it. Winding twice a day is still sensible for a repeater since its function is tell time at night as well as by day.
 

John Matthews

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Ethan/Dr Jon/Graham - my thanks for your discussion as I now understand the advancement of the escape and the impact on the run time.

Given the design of the ebauches to allow a decision on the escapement towards the end of the finishing, is it possible that a detent could have been accommodated, but ceased to be an option due to a lack of space, in the same way that the size of the barrel was limited?

John
 

SKennedy

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A chronometer allows one whole tooth past at each whole cycle, whereas a lever allows half a tooth per half cycle. End result is the same - for each to and fro movement of the balance the escape wheel advances 1/15th of a turn (assuming a 15 tooth escape). So the wheel trains would be the same for a given balance frequency.

Those mystery holes look to me like they could be threaded + steady pin holes for repeater springs screwed to the other side of the plate, or perhaps the removable 'escapement' plate itself but can't really tell without seeing the movement.
 

John Pavlik

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Jon, Interesting comment about "free sprung repeaters are fairly rare" ?? Why, in your opinion, would that be ?? Would that pertain only to repeaters with a
detent escapement and helical hairspring, or some other reason??
 

Dr. Jon

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I wish I could get into the heads of the people who made watches then but I can only surmise. My statement that freesprung repeaters are rare is an observation. From the repeaters I have seen, very few are free sprung.

I suspect almost all the repeater work was done for the English in Switzerland and the Swiss rarely did free sprung watches. Glasgow's book on watchmaking is very strongly in favor of free sprung watches and states that a Breguet overcoil is only worth doing as freesprung. If more repeaters had been made in England there might be more free sprung repeaters. Not a lot of English workers were making repeaters then.

By this time, the 1870's the Swiss had been rating watches and the best runners had regulators. They put them on detent chronometers too.

I suspect the repeater made for stock or on speculation had regulators. They just made regulation easier.

I don't think space was an issue in regard to a detent escapement. I think they simply decided that there were too many drawbacks such as:

More delay in delivering the watch with an escapement "do over".
Added cost
Less balance amplitude probably leading to worse running
HIgher likelihood of the timepiece stopping (This was certainly the reputation but I have been wearing an 1870's vintage spring detent chronometer in my pocket and it has been running well).
Chronometer trial data from Neuchatel showing that pivoted detents were not performing as well as levers in the trials. Spring detents did better but were rarely done by the Swiss.

Thus, a 14 hour run time was the best of several not so great options.
 

John Matthews

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Following Seth's post I revisited the relationship between the balance rotation cycle and the advance of the escape wheel; I have concluded that

End result is the same - for each to and fro movement of the balance the escape wheel advances 1/15th of a turn (assuming a 15 tooth escape).
is correct. The Escapements in Motion page has what I think is a nice computer simulation of a detent escapement as well as one of an tangential lever which I found helpful.

So if I now understand the contributions correctly, while it is possible that the ebauche may have been able to support a detent, from the photographs there is no obvious evidence that a detent escapement was ever fitted. However, when the watch was being serviced by the watchmaker, he may have seen evidence that one was originally fitted. Dr Jon has provided an explanation, in terms of the space available, why the size of the barrel may have been limited and hence this may explain the short run time. He has also suggested that at the time there may have been practical and perceived reasons, for favouring a lever escapement rather than a detent.

Please correct me if this is not a reasonable summary ...

John
 

John Pavlik

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Thanks Jon... always appreciate your view and experiences with the different aspects of English watchmaking..
 

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