Early 18th century Minute Repeater?

aucaj

Registered User
Feb 2, 2021
412
268
63
Country
Region
This is a movement marked "Lekceh", which is Heckel reversed. The maker is most likely Johan Heckel of Friedberg. I found an interesting article discussing the implementation of minute repeaters within Tompion's lifetime (see link below). It includes a reference to a paper by Chapiro on a minute repeater by Heckel.


Please can anyone confirm that this is a minute repeater from the photo of the mechanism?

R/
Chris

1.JPG 2.JPG
 

gmorse

NAWCC Member
Jan 7, 2011
14,539
3,653
113
Breamore, Hampshire, UK
Country
Region
Hi Chris,

Unless I'm missing something, this is a half-quarter repeater; the snail under the cannon pinion has eight steps. A minute repeater would have a more elaborate snail with four arms, each with 15 steps.

IMG_0274.JPG

Regards,

Graham
 
  • Like
Reactions: Bernhard J.

aucaj

Registered User
Feb 2, 2021
412
268
63
Country
Region
Hi Graham,
Yes, the modern design would employ the four arm snail. From what I read in the AHS article above, the design was very different in the early 1700s. I am attempting to get a copy of Chapiro's article, which might make confirmation for this movement more straight forward.

R/
Chris
 

gmorse

NAWCC Member
Jan 7, 2011
14,539
3,653
113
Breamore, Hampshire, UK
Country
Region
Hi Chris,

Well, if it was a minute repeater, it wouldn't need a half-quarter snail on the cannon pinion.

2_edit.JPG

I really can't see any odd features that could provide minute repeating. Yours hasn't got the minute rack, the minute snail or the minute cam mentioned on page 528 of the AH article as being part of the Marqüch and Fürstenfelder repeaters, and there are no apparent redundant holes or other signs of missing parts.

Regards,

Graham
 

aucaj

Registered User
Feb 2, 2021
412
268
63
Country
Region
Hi Graham,

Thank you for the diagram. I never knew half-quarter repeaters existed until your response!

Were they only produced for a short time or were they always a customer option among quarter and minute repeater designs?

I would like to learn how to disassemble, clean, and reassemble repeaters. I can do this for verge watches without complications, but I've been hesitant to attempt repeaters. Do you know if there are any resources documenting the disassembly/reassembly process?

Thanks again,
Chris
 

gmorse

NAWCC Member
Jan 7, 2011
14,539
3,653
113
Breamore, Hampshire, UK
Country
Region
Hi Chris,
Do you know if there are any resources documenting the disassembly/reassembly process?
Although he doesn't deal specifically with these processes he does explain in great detail how repeaters work, which is an enormous help when you encounter one that doesn't; Richard Watkins - The Repeater (2nd Edition). It's free to download as are many other of his books and translations. I haven't come across a more comprehensive treatise on the subject than this.

Most Stogden pattern repeaters, developed in the early 18th century, were the half-quarter type and continued to be made for many years. They were especially favoured by Vulliamy.

Regards,

Graham
 
  • Love
Reactions: aucaj

Philip Poniz

Moderator
NAWCC Fellow
NAWCC Member
Feb 22, 2012
318
356
63
Princeton, NJ
FRIEDBERG FAKES

Friedberg, a district of Augsburg on the east side of the river Lech, used to be an independent city. Its horological fame was far below Augsburg's. Being resourceful, Friedberg's watchmakers decided to advertise their substantial talents to makers in other countries. They would make any watch, in any style a client would like, including engraving the client's name. Those clients included some well known British and Dutch watchmakers.

Of course, they also sold some watches under their own names, in their own country. Signing them "Lekceh London", did not mean they would export them to London, but rather it was to sell them with extra profit, due to the superior reputation of the British watches at the time.

There is little doubt that "Lekceh" must come from Heckel. The problem is that there were many Heckels in Friedberg; Johann (born on June 9, 1673), Franciscus (ca 1680-ca 1730), Franz Elias ("a watchmaker's son), another Johann (1721 -?), Michael (ca 1710-?, who possibly moved to Vienna), and yet another Johann who moved to Warsaw, Poland. There were also Heckl, Hekel, Hekhel, Hekl.

The watches signed Lekceh, London I have seen spanning from circa 1720 to circa 1770, strongly suggesting that the name was used by more than a single watchmaker. Abeler, in his monumental work on German watchmakers, agrees that Lekceh must be considered Heckel spelled backward, but adds that Franz-Joseph Häkhl also used the name.

There are quite a few Lekcehs around, some in magnificent cases, some relatively simple. The minute repeater, which was in The Time Museum, is the most important. The Belgium Royal Museum of Arts and History has a Lekceh with a similar movement to yours. Below is a photo of a time-only Lekceh from La Chaux-de-Fonds Museum.

La Chaux de Fonds.JPG


Since your watch is a 7.5-minute repeater (do not mix up 7.5-min with a half a quarter), in all likelihood, it came in a very nice decorated gold case.

Philip Poniz
 

Philip Poniz

Moderator
NAWCC Fellow
NAWCC Member
Feb 22, 2012
318
356
63
Princeton, NJ
A half quarter repeater is based on a quarter system with a quarter cam, usually of four steps, and an additional mechanism striking one blow in the second half of a quarter.

A 7.5 min repeater is precisely like a quarter repeater with the difference that the cam has eight steps. In this particular movement, the cam is missing. It was installed over the rack wheel and worked in conjunction with that sharp-ended lever at 8 o’clock. The 5-minute repeaters are also based on the same system, with the cam having 12 steps.
 

aucaj

Registered User
Feb 2, 2021
412
268
63
Country
Region
Since your watch is a 7.5-minute repeater (do not mix up 7.5-min with a half a quarter), in all likelihood, it came in a very nice decorated gold case.

Philip Poniz
Hello Philip,

Thank you for this valuable information on Friedberg fakes and the Henkel makers. Please could you provide me some resources or photos of 7.5 minute repeaters? I would like to know what the missing part looks like and whether there are any specialists that make a replacement piece.

Thank you,
Chris
 

gmorse

NAWCC Member
Jan 7, 2011
14,539
3,653
113
Breamore, Hampshire, UK
Country
Region
Hi Philip,

I think my example of Matthew Stogden's repeater, (probably invented around the 1720s, although nobody seems certain about this), may have been something of an outlier, because it's unlike most other designs, and the majority of the survivors are commonly known here as half-quarters. Unusually, the hour snail is permanently geared to a pinion of four on the cannon pinion, which also carries the eight-step snail, and it does have the quarter rack superimposed on the hour rack. It strikes a ting-tang for each quarter and a final single high gong for the half if there is one. Perhaps there's a difference in nomenclature because of the unusual design of the Stogden.

Regards,

Graham
 
  • Like
Reactions: Dr. Jon and aucaj

Philip Poniz

Moderator
NAWCC Fellow
NAWCC Member
Feb 22, 2012
318
356
63
Princeton, NJ
Hi Philip,

... the majority of the survivors are commonly known here as half-quarters. It strikes a ting-tang for each quarter and a final single high gong for the half if there is one. Perhaps there's a difference in nomenclature because of the unusual design of the Stogden.
I noticed that too, quite often 7.5 and half-quarter repeaters are mixed up. This probably comes from the fact that 5-minute repeaters have always been referred to as 5-minute, regardless if they are 5-minute or a fraction of a quarter. Here, semantically, it is considerably more difficult to come up with a good name for the latter. Any suggestions? By the way, counterintuitively, the earliest 5-minute repeaters were based on the latter system.

As for the Stogden system, it is rarer but almost all good English repeaters were based on it (here is an example of one we made a few parts for some time ago). Plus, the majority of Breguet repeaters were based on Stogden’s system.

stogden SIL 2006-06SIL.JPG


The system in the thread’s repeater is quite rare, much rarer than Stogden’s. Mostly, I have seen it in German and Viennese repeaters, one or two English. Interestingly, some of them come as 7.5-minute, and some as half-quarter (each step curves inwards if I recall).
 

Philip Poniz

Moderator
NAWCC Fellow
NAWCC Member
Feb 22, 2012
318
356
63
Princeton, NJ
Hello Philip,
Thank you for this valuable information on Friedberg fakes and the Henkel makers. Please could you provide me some resources or photos of 7.5 minute repeaters? I would like to know what the missing part looks like and whether there are any specialists that make a replacement piece.
Thank you,
Chris
You are welcome Chris and thank you for showing us your movement which is far from common.

As for the missing cam, It is a simple 8-step snail fixed to the square of the rack’s arbor. The notches occupy about half of the cam and work with the lever going to the center of the watch. It also seems that one of the hammer lifters is missing. The racks seem to be assembled wrongly. In fact, when I look at the racks again, I see a half-quarter repeater, even if assembled wrongly. We make all kinds of missing watch parts all the time but economically, in this case, it is not feasible; the bill would be more than the movement is worth.
 

gmorse

NAWCC Member
Jan 7, 2011
14,539
3,653
113
Breamore, Hampshire, UK
Country
Region
Hi Philip,
This probably comes from the fact that 5-minute repeaters have always been referred to as 5-minute, regardless if they are 5-minute or a fraction of a quarter. Here, semantically, it is considerably more difficult to come up with a good name for the latter. Any suggestions?
How about 'one-eighth' repeaters?

Regards,

Graham
 

D.th.munroe

Registered User
Feb 15, 2018
950
325
63
40
BC Canada
Country
Region
I have a question about watches like this one for the experts here.
If you have a customer with a watch in this condition, ie rusty parts, how far would the restoration go? Would you remove all rust and fix only the working surfaces without refinishing the steel parts or would you refinish them all? Unless the pitting is too deep.
I know it would probably be the customers decision how far to go, but sometimes they don't know which to do.
I've seen quite a few just made to work with just the rust removed and all pitting left on the steel. Is it wrong to make something that bad look good?
I did refinish all the parts of a rusty early 1800 French verge 1/4 repeater and it looked and worked great when I was done, it almost looked untouched, but I was worried that I went too far, or that it would be to far with a rarer watch.
Thanks
Dan
 

gmorse

NAWCC Member
Jan 7, 2011
14,539
3,653
113
Breamore, Hampshire, UK
Country
Region
Hi Dan,
Would you remove all rust and fix only the working surfaces without refinishing the steel parts or would you refinish them all? Unless the pitting is too deep.
I know it would probably be the customers decision how far to go, but sometimes they don't know which to do.
I've seen quite a few just made to work with just the rust removed and all pitting left on the steel. Is it wrong to make something that bad look good?
This is a very complex question and it really comes down to assessing all the variables in the individual situation and usually involves one or more compromises. I tend towards the 'less is more' approach, but that's on the basis of discussion, (and if necessary some education), with the owner, as well as keeping to my own principles. A 50 year old factory-made watch may seem a world away from a Quare or a Tompion, but the same basic principles should apply, it's just the relative weighting given to all the factors which will vary.

For instance, I'm working on a watch at the moment that's over 320 years old, and the owner would like it to run but doesn't expect it to look as it did when it came from the maker's shop; it has considerable age and has suffered not a few indignities and some scars on the way. If I were to strip it back to the bare brass, polish everything and have it re-gilt, and re-bush all the holes, would it be the same watch? Certainly I've had to make some parts and their screws, following closely in the style of the rest of the movement, but I won't artificially age anything and anyone examining it in the future could see clearly what was my recent work and what was old. If I have to make a new screw I will finish and blue it as a new screw.

One complication is the presence of old repairs, done perhaps a century or more ago; do we replace them if they're obviously 'wrong' or leave them as part of the history of the piece?

There are some interesting videos made by the ICON Dynamic Objects Network, (The Institute of Conservation), the first of which is here, and includes one of our members. I'll be interested to hear your views on these short presentations.

Regards,

Graham
 
  • Like
Reactions: zacandy and aucaj

D.th.munroe

Registered User
Feb 15, 2018
950
325
63
40
BC Canada
Country
Region
Thank you Graham.
I'll have to watch those later, actually I know of most of those people. (I spend alot of free time reading the BHI and AHS journal articles)
On the repeater I only refinished the steel parts and it wasn't quite as rusty as the one Chris posted. I also had to fit a hairspring, make a verge, and a cap jewel and setting for it. (I'm not certain it had a jewel or just a steel plate, but that's easy to change, it was the round one with 2 screws not the keyhole shaped one.)
I'll have to go get it one day and show it on here, there is almost no wear on the case and no dial cracks just the obligatory chips around the winding hole.
Dan
 
  • Like
Reactions: aucaj

aucaj

Registered User
Feb 2, 2021
412
268
63
Country
Region

Tom McIntyre

Technical Admin
Staff member
NAWCC Star Fellow
NAWCC Ruby Member
Sponsor
Golden Circle
Aug 24, 2000
85,185
2,918
113
86
Boston
awco.org
Country
Region
On this general topic I recall seeing two 5 minute repeaters at Portobello about 30 years ago that were quarter plus 1 or 2 blows after the quarter. I never have seen another.
I have not really searched hard. Are they rare?
 

dshumans

NAWCC Member
Sep 17, 2009
477
112
43
Hello Philip,

Thank you for this valuable information on Friedberg fakes and the Henkel makers. Please could you provide me some resources or photos of 7.5 minute repeaters? I would like to know what the missing part looks like and whether there are any specialists that make a replacement piece.

Thank you,
Chris
I'm not sure that there is a cam missing on his half quarter repeater movement. Here is a picture of my Friedberg early 18th century half quarter repeater. It is complete, keeps time and chimes correctly. I believe that it is in the original silver case as it all seems perfect and fits together correctly, but it I'm not a case expert. The dial must be a replacement as these usually had silver dials which were commonly replaced when porcelain came into favor. It chimes the quarters on bell like a quarter repeater, but adds an extra ding if it is in the second half of any quarter. 18th century repeaters never went ting-tang like gongs sound. They go ding for the hours and a quick ding-ding for the quarters all on a single bell. I have a video of it chiming both quarters and half quarters if you want to hear it. It keeps surprisingly good time and has a turtle or tortoise shell pair case. It is signed "Lenh, Friedberg".
IMG_7557.JPG

I have a 12 page article from Antiquorian Horology from 1993 about 18th century complicated watches made in Freidburg. Contact me at dshumans@gmail.com and I can e-mail it to you.
Here is a picture from that article of a circa 1720 Friedburg half quarter repeater looking very similar to your design.
SAME REPEATER 1720.jpg
 

Philip Poniz

Moderator
NAWCC Fellow
NAWCC Member
Feb 22, 2012
318
356
63
Princeton, NJ
Nice to hear from you, Doug!

There was a publication about the Friedberg watches titled Friedberger Uhren published on the occasion of the 1989-90 horological exhibition there. And another one of the same title by Adelheid Rfolini-Unger on the occasion of another exposition in 1993. This one is really good, almost 200 pages.

Sebastian's article, you mentioned, is a well-known one, introducing possibly the oldest minute repeater known. I have cited it a few times over the years. Thank you for the offer.

Talking about minute repeaters, I do not remember now where, Adolphe Chapiro wrote about early minute repeaters including one signed Lekceh.

As for the missing part, see below. It is the step cam placed over the racks. It comes from almost an identical 7.5-minute repeater, contemporary to the one that started this thread. Your watch also has one like that. It would take me about a day work to make one.

Friedberg, 7,5 min Inv KN980318.jpg

Philip
 

dshumans

NAWCC Member
Sep 17, 2009
477
112
43
Yes, Philip is right and the missing cam is clearly shown. Here are additional pictures of the Freidberg watch.
IMG_2375.JPG

IMG_7572.JPG

IMG_2397.JPG
 
  • Like
Reactions: aucaj

aucaj

Registered User
Feb 2, 2021
412
268
63
Country
Region
As for the missing part, see below. It is the step cam placed over the racks. It comes from almost an identical 7.5-minute repeater, contemporary to the one that started this thread. Your watch also has one like that. It would take me about a day work to make one.

View attachment 702187
Philip
Hi Philip,

If I wanted to determine the dimensions of the missing part, what would be the process you recommend? Is there a way I could take measurements? I have a friend with a CNC machine. I am considering have the dimensioned shape milled out from plate stock and carefully filing it to fit. However, I would need initial dimensions to work from. What is your recommendation? Is this an impractical approach to fitting a replacement? I would appreciate any advice you would provide.

Kind Regards,
Chris
 

gmorse

NAWCC Member
Jan 7, 2011
14,539
3,653
113
Breamore, Hampshire, UK
Country
Region
Hi Chris,

I think this is a good case for a trial cam made of brass, to check the necessary radius of the steps at each of the two extremes of the cam for a start and establish those radii, then you can work out what the incremental radius for each step has to be, before you transfer the profile of the brass template to steel. You might well need a couple of tries at this before it works properly.

Regards,

Graham
 

aucaj

Registered User
Feb 2, 2021
412
268
63
Country
Region
Hi Chris,
I think this is a good case for a trial cam made of brass, to check the necessary radius of the steps at each of the two extremes of the cam for a start and establish those radii, then you can work out what the incremental radius for each step has to be, before you transfer the profile of the brass template to steel. You might well need a couple of tries at this before it works properly.
Regards,
Graham
Thanks, Graham. That's a good idea. I have friend with a small 5-axis CNC machine. It can cut soft metals but not steel.

Regards,
Chris
 

Philip Poniz

Moderator
NAWCC Fellow
NAWCC Member
Feb 22, 2012
318
356
63
Princeton, NJ
If I wanted to determine the dimensions of the missing part, what would be the process you recommend? Is there a way I could take measurements? I have a friend with a CNC machine.
I use CNC machines quite a bit these days, mostly, for ornamental and in-rough work. Here, CNC is useless because you do not know the lengths of the steps; each one is different. If you were to make 1000 of those cams, you would need to measure the racks' attack angles and calculate the positions of the steps before CNC could be involved. This is a long process. Or, you might have CNC copy the one from the photo and hope that the one you need is the same.

I think, there are just seven strikes, although in some German and Austrian repeaters the first segment is also struck. In others, the first one is silent.

Make a smooth cam (no steps), more or less like the one in the photo. Then, with the locking lever in place, using a sharply pointed scraper, mark the location of each step. Finish the second 7.5 strike, mark the position, finish the 3rd one and mark the position up to the last strike. Then, as the original was made, with a suitable file, file the steps. You will have a little room for error, not much, but it is not like making a minute rack where the error room is almost nonexistent.
 

Forum statistics

Threads
177,503
Messages
1,555,587
Members
53,592
Latest member
AndyB821
Encyclopedia Pages
909
Total wiki contributions
3,053
Last edit
Ptolemy's Course of the Planets displayed by CLockwork by Tom McIntyre