Clamshell Verge Fusee French 1740 unknown maker

Discussion in 'European & Other Pocket Watches' started by Statler Gilfillen, Jul 15, 2017.

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  1. Statler Gilfillen

    Statler Gilfillen Registered User
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    #1 Statler Gilfillen, Jul 15, 2017
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 15, 2017
    Finding a piece of this quality without marks of the maker or origin leaves me stumped. I welcome any thoughts anyone has about this watch.

    This exceptionally beautiful European verge fusee movement in a very finely crafted and detailed 18k gold case. It is a bit of a mystery to me because there are no marking other than serial numbers. I have handled thousands of verge fusee pocket watches any typically there is some indication as to a maker on the case or movement. I could find no other examples of a mid-18th Century, 18K gold clam shell or cockle shell cases of this quality.


    My father bought this watch at auction, in Ohio in 1992. There was a note with the watch that said: "French made, circa 1740, verge fusee in rare 18K solid gold "clam shell" original case – note hand is not missing. Many times, only had one hand."
    The auction house listed the watch as not working. My father never got around to fixing this one and it is still in pieces. Case width is 52.5 mm and from the top to bottom is 61mm. There are matching serial numbers 1620 on case and movement which indicate they were originally made to be together. There are no other indications, stamps or even gold marks.
    The case design and craftsmanship is as find as any I have seen. One detail that caught my attention is that on each side of the case hinge are small steel pins that when the case is closed lock the upper and lower parts of the case from moving. When the hinge is 18k gold and soft, this is the fine type of detail that suggests this is very unusual and high quality watch.

    I also posted this same information on my web site tick tock in pocket at https://ticktockinpocket.wordpress.com/clamshell-verge/

    Appreciate any help and thoughts anyone has. Thanks
     
  2. Omexa

    Omexa Registered User

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    Hi, it may have only One Hand but I am pretty sure the Hour Hand is missing. I have a few similar movements. Lovely Case.
     
  3. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Statler,

    Whatever the hand is, (and I'm inclined to agree with Ray that it's a minute hand), the tip is missing. I believe I can see the hour wheel pipe encircling the cannon pinion in your picture on the dial without the hand.

    On the matter of the date, I think 1740 is far too early, based principally on the dial but also the style of the movement, particularly the adjustment for the crown wheel depthing, which both suggest somewhere closer to the 1780s or 90s.

    Repoussé work cases were often unmarked, simply because there's nowhere flat enough to take a mark.

    You seem to have an assortment of hairsprings to choose from; the centre one looks most likely but you'll have to collet it!

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  4. Statler Gilfillen

    Statler Gilfillen Registered User
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    Thanks for comments. I appreciate any thoughts!

    I too, thought the date was early and believe that the 1780-89 period, just before the French Revolution made more sense. That assumes that this is French. The 1740 date was based on the auction listing. Then the case seems earlier than the 1780's. I do know that it was common, even with matching serial numbers that a case and movement could be made years apart. Given the value of an 18k solid gold case, keeping old very valuable inventory around that long would not be logical.

    I have several typical Repousse cases from this period, like shown in Britton's Old Clock and Watchmakers. But I cannot find other similar clamshell or ccockle shell cases that match this distinctive style and quality. I was hoping that someone might have some thought about this.

    You are right that there are some extra parts. That could have been from the way the watch was sold or added by my father who hoped to work on this later. I am no expert at repair, but know enough to keep all the parts together. This is too fine an example not to be resorted some day.

    - - - Updated - - -

    I agree, but since the auction listing commented about only one hand I listed it that way. Thanks for comment.
     
  5. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Statler,

    'Form' cases like this were certainly in use from the very earliest times, (well before the hairspring was introduced in 1675), and this one has a pendant which appears to be made to take a suspension ribbon or cord, in itself a very early method of carrying a watch. However, my first thought on seeing this, and without initially realising its relatively large size, was that it was a jewellery piece for a lady, made in a much earlier 'retro' style for reasons of fashion, but his is quite a lump to be carrying round one's neck! Perhaps you could describe it as an 'homage' to an earlier age?

    Regards,

    Graham
     
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