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Edward Prior - 1856 - Nice, but a little damaged

pocket2100

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Nov 17, 2020
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Nice Edward Prior watch I picked up from an auction recently. It has the two external cases, but missing the larger 3rd one that I have seen with some of the George Prior watches. I assume this one would have had a 3rd case as well, but will wait for the experts here to clear that up.

I will say the plastic crystal is horrendous looking. I don't know why someone would have installed this on this watch, unless it was the only one they had laying around. I'll have to try my hand at replacing it. Any good books or online guides for that would be very useful if someone would like to reference any.

Thanks,
Adam

20221203_012455.jpg 20221203_011706.jpg 20221203_011806.jpg 20221203_011922.jpg 20221203_012018.jpg 20221203_012643.jpg 20221203_012852.jpg 20221203_013008.jpg 20221203_013137.jpg 20221203_013158.jpg
 

S.Humphrey

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I find this watch and the records of Edward Prior very confusing. Brittens does list him as c. 1800- 1875.
But, everything about this watch except the hallmarks, says more like 1756 than 1856.
Was he making reproductions for the Ottoman market?
 

gmorse

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Hi S.Humphrey,
But, everything about this watch except the hallmarks, says more like 1756 than 1856.
Was he making reproductions for the Ottoman market?
Yes, in a way he was, his target market was very fond of the styles of mid-18th century English watches, so that's what he made in the middle of the 19th. I agree it can be very confusing!

Regards,

Graham
 

Incroyable

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That plastic crystal is quite interesting in its own way.

One wonders why there was a market for multi tiered bull's eye style pocket watch crystals made in plastic.
 
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Incroyable

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Hi S.Humphrey,


Yes, in a way he was, his target market was very fond of the styles of mid-18th century English watches, so that's what he made in the middle of the 19th. I agree it can be very confusing!

Regards,

Graham
Were these ever made with modern movements but 18th century style pair cases?
 

pocket2100

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I assume the cloth patterned inserts are not original to the watch, correct? I think they do look nice, but I would be surprised if they looked that nice after this long.

The inner-outer case has the cloth glued to the silver back. I tried to pull it off slowly but it's just starting to tear the cloth, so I left it alone. If people here confirm that cloth is not original, I'll likely just tear off that inner cloth and toss it - and replace it with a newer piece that isn't glued down.
 

Bernhard J.

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Hi Adam,

This is how mine looks, no cloth, but papers.

I would leave the cloth and rather focus on obtaining a minute hand and a proper crystal.

I am not sure whether these watches always had a third outer case, I tend to say no, but others may know better.

Cheers, Bernhard

6a.jpg
 
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VinSer

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Jun 15, 2021
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I find this watch and the records of Edward Prior very confusing. Brittens does list him as c. 1800- 1875.
But, everything about this watch except the hallmarks, says more like 1756 than 1856.
Was he making reproductions for the Ottoman market?
As already indicated by Graham, George first and then Edward Prior produced the same calibre (only some small evolution with time) for 113 years from 1763 to 1875 with continuous serial numbers.

The ottoman market was very conservative in their tastes. Also the Prior watches were extremely successful: in Turkish Piryol, a corruption of Prior, means good watch :). So why change a successful receipt?

In particular about Edward Prior picked up the business in 1814 at the death of the father. To be noticed that Edward Prior was never referred to and never made use of the title of watchmaker, but his signature was on the movements. Edward died in 1859.

In 1849 the watchmaking business was picked up by William Chambers and then in 1866 by his son George Chambers, who kept on selling watches with the same calibre and signed Edward Prior. The watches from William Chamber have the mark EP C (the E is inverted) in the case. Probably the mark was for Edward Prior & Chambers.

The company of George Chamber went bust in 1878; the last watch I have seen with the Edward Prior signature is from 1875.

Were these ever made with modern movements but 18th century style pair cases?
Never seen with pair cases. However George Chambers tried to sell watches signed Edward Prior with an English lever escapement, like this one :) . The serial number seems to follow the one of Edward Prior.

Ciao

cassa.jpg quadrante.jpg movimento.JPG
 
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Bernhard J.

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It probably contributes to confusion that the movements were without changes made over such a long period. In case of my Prior it seems quite clear that the case is from 1784, but the movement from about 1820. There is no other indication of a "mariage" than the mismatch of hallmark and serial number. Presumably the original movement failed at some time and was then swapped against a newer one. Would probably have been a matter of minutes to do that, due to the movements not having been altered with time (same dimensions and same winding arbor position).

What makes it even more strange is that in case of my watch the first name is spelled "Edvard" on the dial instead of "Edward", as expected.

 
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aucaj

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Feb 2, 2021
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Hello Adam,

Congratulations on your watch. These are interesting retro-styled 19th century watches.
I have an Edward Prior that is a quadruple case. I'm not sure if they were all like this, but it certainly keeps out the dust/dirt!

v/r,
Chris

Prior.jpg
 
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aucaj

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I believe there's a theory that these fourth cases were sometimes added subsequently when they arrived in market.
Hi Graham!

Thank you, that is interesting. Can you give insight into why? Was it extra protection, dust prevention, or a stylistic reason?

v/r,
Chris
 

pocket2100

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Nov 17, 2020
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Hi Chris,

I believe there's a theory that these fourth cases were sometimes added subsequently when they arrived in market.

Regards,

Graham
That would make sense to me. The cases do not seem like your typical English watch case - they are too rough rather than well made. They also typically have a star or something else that would have been more significant in an Ottoman region, so I could see them doing that for their own custom styling or religious reasons. Here's an example on the George Prior outer case in my collection...

20221209_110317.jpg
 

Incroyable

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Jun 26, 2022
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That would make sense to me. The cases do not seem like your typical English watch case - they are too rough rather than well made. They also typically have a star or something else that would have been more significant in an Ottoman region, so I could see them doing that for their own custom styling or religious reasons. Here's an example on the George Prior outer case in my collection...

View attachment 739895
That looks like a Star of David.

I wonder if it was made for the Ottoman Jewish diaspora.
 

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