E Howard & Co series VIII lever set watch

Discussion in 'American Pocket Watches' started by Keith Sternberg, Jul 9, 2019.

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  1. Keith Sternberg

    Keith Sternberg New Member

    Jul 7, 2019
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    E Howard & Co #301445 is stem wind and lever set. I searched several old Bulletin articles and in George Townsend's "E Howard & Co Watches" but did not find any mention of this lever setting device. Was it a special order option, or was it retro-fitted to comply with railroad requirements? The usual winding bridge is present but the shipper is omitted, replaced with the lever at "11". The lever pivots on the screw which attached it to the plate. Moving the lever toward the pendant causes the inside end of the lever to press downward on the clutch, engaging the winding wheels. This action takes the place of the sliding shipper in the pendant setting system. Protruding from the end of the lever is a short pin, which is easily caught with the thumbnail to shift the lever toward the pendant. The winding stem differs from the usual pendant setting stem in that the reduced portion engaged by the detent screw is short. In the photo the upper stem is the lever-setting stem, the lower stem is from a pendant set series VIII. The pillar plate view of a pendant-set series VIII shows the curved steel shipper, which slides downward when the stem is pulled out for setting. No. 301445 has 17 jewels with a Breguet hairspring and was probably made in 1886 according to the "E. Howard Factory Records" web pages. The lever setting mechanism works very well.

    How_lever.jpg HowardLever.jpg WindingStems.jpg HowardVIIIp.s.jpg HowardVIIImvt.jpg
     
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  2. musicguy

    musicguy Moderator
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    Welcome to the NAWCC forum Keith.

    It really looks like it's retrofitted to me but I'm not a Howard expert. I'm sure
    someone will chime in.


    Rob
     
  3. Keith R...

    Keith R... Registered User
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    Glad to see E Howard & Co. kicking around. I never made it past key wind,
    but they are top quality time pieces.

    Congrats Keith S...

    Keith R...

    103_6557 (800x600).jpg
     
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  4. Bryan Eyring

    Bryan Eyring Registered User
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    Screws don't match and very poor execution. Likely not factory.
     
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  5. Clint Geller

    Clint Geller Registered User
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    #5 Clint Geller, Jul 13, 2019
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 14, 2019
    This is a 17 jewel 3/4 plate movement, so the lever setting mechanism is not the only nonstandard feature. I’m not near my computer right now, but the February 4, 1868 patent that appears in many Howard Model 1869 and 1871 dials is in fact for a lever setting mechanism, even though these watches were pendant set. Of course, the G Size Model 1874 was lever set, as was the Eustis Model and most examples of the Prescott Model, both of which were roughly contemporaneous with the introduction of the “Series VIII.” I’d want to look at these other Howard lever setting mechanisms and compare them with the currently reported one. That said, jewels were also added after the fact. This particular movement is unadjusted except for isochronism, which would make it an odd choice for factory upjewelling.
     
  6. Keith Sternberg

    Keith Sternberg New Member

    Jul 7, 2019
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    Close-up photos of the lever attached. All surfaces are polished, the quality of the work much the same as the rest of the watch. Also photos of the balance cock showing the position of the hairspring stud. The stud of #301445 is close to the balance jewels, as usual for a Breguet spring. I also attach a photo of the balance cock of #300679 showing the stud placed for a flat hairspring, standard for 15-jewel Howards. The stud position suggests that 301445 was made as a 17-jewel watch. An odd example of an VIII; perhaps finished by a Howard employee for his own use?

    HowardLever2.jpg HowLeverB.jpg HowardStud1.jpg HowStud4.jpg
     
  7. Bryan Eyring

    Bryan Eyring Registered User
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    please provide close-up of the plate, with set lever removed - the plate looks heavily hand filed
     
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  8. Clint Geller

    Clint Geller Registered User
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    #8 Clint Geller, Jul 15, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2019
    If this watch was a factory one-off, the plate may well have been hand filed, which wouldn't necessarily prove anything. The center hole jewel looks like factory work, or at least very professional work. No other Howard watches had center hole jewels at this time, so the person who added these jewel settings, which match quite well, didn't just grab existing settings from the factory inventory. Ditto for the setting lever, the hairspring and the hairspring stud. Together, the extra jewel, the Breguet hairspring and the lever setting mechanism seem like the person who modified this watch, whoever he was, was trying to make it into more of a "railroad watch." The suggestion that the workman might have been a factory employee is reasonable, especially since it is unmarked as to adjustments.
     
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  9. 4thdimension

    4thdimension Registered User

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    #9 4thdimension, Jul 16, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2019
    That lever set piece is beautifully made! I am a bit sceptical about the screw and how it all fits together. It's always hard when you don't have the watch in hand. -Cort
     
  10. Bryan Eyring

    Bryan Eyring Registered User
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    I disagree. Any hand filing would definitely tip the scales towards this being completed outside the factory as any diligent employee would have simply executed on a milling machine.

    All Howard prototypes I have owned and seen are executed to such a level.

    This is an employee concoction, at best, with varying degrees of execution.
     
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  11. Clint Geller

    Clint Geller Registered User
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    I have seen and owned Howard factory prototypes too. Howard production practices were always chaotic and rife with exceptions to nearly every rule, which makes absolute conclusions about this movement very difficult. But I don't think this movement is a factory-authorized prototype. If it were, the factory probably would have chosen a considerably more expensive, fully adjusted grade movement to upgrade with extra jewels and a Breguet hairspring. That said, I do see a lot of detailed finishing work on the nonstandard parts, which causes me to believe that the workman may well have had access to factory machinery and resources.
     
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  12. Keith Sternberg

    Keith Sternberg New Member

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    Photo of center pin attached, in case it is of some help with dating this mystery; slotted but not threaded. Isn't it odd that the patent date for the threaded center pin is a year and a half later than the date for the threaded pinion? April 1893 and December 1894. When did the threaded center pin first come into use? The familiar triangle spring and center washer can't be used, because the jewel cup stands higher than the center arbor. I also attach a photo of the plate showing the cut for the set-lever, as requested, and another with the lever assembled and shown in the setting position, depressing the clutch spring. Note that the cutout accommodates the shape and required movement of the lever, which does not have to move very much to depress the spring. Could it be that whoever fitted up the watch with this device was promoting the idea with the Howard company? Perhaps in hopes of royalty payments? His argument might have been "pendant-set watches are going out of style in the railroad market, and my lever-setting system is simple and easily adopted to existing designs".

    HowVIIIpin.jpg HowVIIInotch.jpg HowVIIILevDown.jpg
     
  13. Bryan Eyring

    Bryan Eyring Registered User
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    Remove the detent plate and post a photo of the groove where the shipper would normally ride.

    If there's no signs of use of the original pendent setting mechanism or vicinity then that tips the scale in favor of an employee watch.
     
  14. Clint Geller

    Clint Geller Registered User
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    It looks like the groove for the setting lever may have been started with a milling machine, then widened with a file.

    Threaded center pinions, which were a lousy idea, were only used on the split plate models made in the 1890's. Howard already had a patented lever setting mechanism as early as 1868, though it was not put into production at that time, and at the time your movement was made, lever setting mechanisms were in active use on their G Size ladies' watches. It also appeared on some L Size Prescott Model "Series V" movements that were reworked between 1879 and 1881.
     

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