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Enameled American Watch Cases

Jerry Treiman

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I thought I would share a couple photos of my newest acquisition. It is a specially cased Waltham 10-size Colonial-A with a 19-jewel Riverside movement. What is special about this watch is the enamel detailing on the front and back bezels and on the bow (slightly damaged). This watch is from 1922. Most other enameled cases I have seen apply different colors in individually carved areas in the champleve style, but this is one of the few I have seen with painted details.

What has struck me is how uncommon it is to find enamel work of any kind on American pocket watches, and how few case companies did this. Speaking strictly about American-made cases, enameling was a little more common on ladies pendant watches, many with basse taille or guilloche engraved cases (such as by Depollier). However, enamel does not seem to appear on men's watches until the dress watches of the late 'teens and the twenties. The first of these may have been the Illinois extra-thin first model where we see edge enameling on some of the higher grades (grades 438 and 439). I have also seen enamel detailing on some examples of Elgin's Hulburd model, on some Gruens and a few others.

Perhaps the finest enamel details are on cases made by the Cressarrow Watch Case Co. (principally for imported movements such as IWC), Knapp cases (used on many of the thin Illinois models) and cases by H.W. Matalene for Waltham (my example). I have also seen some fine enamel detailing on a few cases from Wadsworth, Keystone and Solidarity.

Does anyone else have an enameled American watch case to share?

7640fo.jpg 7640pendant1.jpg
 
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John Cote

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Beautiful case. Thanks for the pix Jerry. I saw a really nice Hammie 922 in a GF enam case on Thursday morning....I was tempted but...
 

artbissell

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You recently described my similar Max A for me. Looks like you got a better one. Photo here. I have wondered how the extremely delicate looking finish on gold can be so durable. My wife likes this 0 Maximus that shows some surface metal wear but none to fragile looking painting. 100 years past a mother with 7 year old son got a fine gift. 67514.jpg 73444.jpg 65705.jpg 73446.jpg
 
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Jerry Treiman

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Art - I wouldn't say mine is better. Your Maximus-A has an entirely different style of enameling and beautiful in its own right. The condition is certainly superb. And what about your ladies watch? Who made that case? I assume it is quite a bit earlier than our 1920's dress watches.
 

Ethan Lipsig

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Here are 8 18k enameled Cress Arrow-cased IWCs and then 5 similarly Cress Arrow-cased C.H. Meylans, 3 in 18k and 2 in platinum. 73447.jpg 73448.jpg 73449.jpg 73450.jpg 73452.jpg 73453.jpg 73454.jpg 73455.jpg 73456.jpg 73457.jpg 73458.jpg 73459.jpg 73460.jpg
 
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artbissell

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I like Gruens. Most that I have are enamelled in some way.
-> posts merged by system <-
Jerry Treiman;498169 said:
Art - And what about your ladies watch? Who made that case? I assume it is quite a bit earlier than our 1920's dress watches.
Marked with K in a square, not for gold mark that is separate. Keystone?
About 1900. 73461.jpg 69328.jpg 73463.jpg
 

Ethan Lipsig

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Art, I took all the photos in the last few years. Few, if any, of the watches in the photos have enamel dials, but I am not sure of the dial composition of the rest. I know you detest silver dials because they tarnish or oxidize. Only a few of the dials in my posting appear to be suffering that way.
 

Jerry Treiman

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Thank you, Ethan, for showing everyone what I was talking about, with respect to Cresarrow cases. The combination of carving with subtle enamel accents on the Bigelow Kennard & Co. and the Spaulding examples particularly appeal to me.
 

Jerry Treiman

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Here is an example from an Illinois extra-thin model. The casemaker is not marked, but I believe it to be made by William G. Knapp of New York who made many later cases for this model.

439fsm.jpg 439dt.jpg
 
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Tom McIntyre

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Knapp is an interesting association Jerry. Do you have an address for him in New York?

Fred McIntyre was an invisible partner with Knapp for almost 10 years after the failure of the McIntyre Watch Co. Knapp and McIntyre were also partners with DeLong in the DeLong Escapement Co. At the same time DeLong was also designing and patenting the Illini and thin model watches at Illinois, like the one you show above.
 

rschussel

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73581.jpg

A Cresarrow case
-> posts merged by system <-
73582.jpg

73583.jpg

A thin Model Illinois in a Knapp case and a CH Hulburd
-> posts merged by system <-
A Dietrich Gruen and a 17 J Elgin in a presentation case 73584.jpg 73585.jpg
 

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Jerry Treiman

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Tom, I really know very little about Knapp at the moment. There are a number of the later 1st model extra-thin Illinois in Knapp marked cases. They are simply marked "KNAPP" with a karat mark for the gold. I am guessing that this may be William G. Knapp, although there were other Knapps in the jewelry trades, such as Charles F. Knapp, a manufacturing jeweler on Maiden Lane. I have found W.G. Knapp mentioned in contemporary reports as being in New York, but I do not have an address yet. I need to do some more research in the city directories. I have not yet found anything connecting either Knapp specifically with case making.

I have been collecting photos and data of Knapp-marked and other cases on Illinois watches and am becoming convinced that earlier unmarked cases are also by Knapp. Later heavy gold cases seen on many Illini, although unmarked, are also likely to be his. Lots more research to be done on this, though.

If there is any further discussion of Knapp specifically, perhaps it can be directed to this other research-oriented thread -
https://mb.nawcc.org/showthread.php?t=55723 44207.jpg
 

Tom McIntyre

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Art, gold can be work hardened to almost any level. It is certainly usable for spring work when prepared by work hardening. Normally this was drawing, but I think the same effect can be achieved by hammering.

Take one of your 20 lb gold bricks and hammer it down to a 15 mm sheet and I am told it will be very hard and durable.

I don't have any spare gold bricks to try the experiment with. :eek:
 

artbissell

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Tom: Interesting about pure gold hardening. No gold bricks for me. Prefer the fine crafted variety in much lesser amounts. The usual soft gold in watch cases has the advantage of easily being polished, so I suppose the hard enamel might survive carefully polishing the gold?
 

Jeff Hess

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American enamels seem to be very unappreciated in the marketplace.

too bad.

Thanks to all for the pics!

Jeff
 

Jerry Treiman

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The American watch industry could boast many fine case makers. Some of these makers have been known for fine enamel detailing on their better cases, but the enameling is minimal, really just accents. Wadsworth, Keystone, Cressarrow, Solidarity, Knapp and Matalene come to mind. But how many American casemakers produced guilloche enamel decoration? How many American watch companies used these cases? I can only think of two case makers - Depollier and Matalene, and only one watchmaker - Waltham.

Here is a guilloche case by Depollier for a 6/0 Waltham -
2-Depollier1_b.jpg

Here are a couple of examples by Matalene for 6/0 and 10-ligne Waltham movements -
2pend.jpg

Longines/Wittnauer sold many lovely guilloche-cased ladies watches in the U.S., but I believe their cases were Swiss. Gruen also made some fine enameled cases, but I do not recall any in guilloche. Can anyone add other examples of enameling on American watch cases? (I know that European examples are abundant and would rather save those for another topic).
 

Jerry Treiman

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Thanks, Barney, for the comments. I was just doing some more web browsing and found reference to some guilloche work from Henry Blank & Co., in Newark, although I have not yet seen any examples from him.
 

PatH

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New England Watch Co had a line of enameled women's watches, and many had matching enameled brooches. I don't know who made the cases, but it seems even inexpensive watch companies were getting in on the action. At the same time, they had offerings in gun metal and copper.

DSC06482.JPG DSC06483.JPG
 
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Ethan Lipsig

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I have many watches in solid gold European-made cases with guilloche enameling, such as this 18k Touchon, which even has guilloche enameling on the dial.

IMG_3946.JPG IMG_3948.JPG

I have many watches in solid gold American-made cases with enameled highlights, but only two with guilloche enameling IF they are indeed in American-made cases. Both are in Bigelow Kennard-signed cases, with no other case-maker indications. I would be grateful for any information about who actually made these cases.

One is in an 18k case. It has a C.H,.Meylan movement (Type D1 in my personal classification scheme), private labelled for Bigelow Kennard.

Z Meyaln Green B and K 1.jpg Z Meyaln Green B and K 2.jpg IMG_4653.JPG IMG_4651.JPG

The other is in a 14k case. It has a 6/0 Waltham movement, private labelled for Bigelow Kennard. I understand this movement to be a "Jewel" series movement, and to be on a par with the Maximus or Diamond grade of that series.

Blue.jpg IMG_3831.JPG IMG_3802.JPG IMG_3805.JPG
 

musicguy

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All the watches above are fantastic!

I've always liked these type cases.



Rob
 

Kent

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Jerry:

Great thread! Thanks for starting it.

I'd consider the enamel offered on Santa Fe Watch Co. cases (supplied to Santa Fe by the Illinois Watch Case Co.) to be a bit more than detailing. These were gold-filled, 25-year cases. Its not clear if the work was done at Santa Fe or at Illinois (the case company - not the watch company that supplied Santa Fe's movements); or even if it was contracted out to a third party.

The Burlington Watch Co. offered similar cases.

As PatH mentioned above, The New England Watch Co. offered a line of enameled watches. I expect that these were of much lower quality than examples given elsewhere in this thread.

1920+_Cat_Pg_19_Lodge_Emblem_Cases.JPG 1915_Dec_Burlington_Color_Case_Ad.jpg 1903_OY_Co_Catalog_Pg_68_New_England_Enameled_Watches.jpg 1903_OY_Co_Catalog_Pg_69_New_England_Enameled_Watches.jpg
 

Jerry Treiman

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Art - thanks for your photos. Who made the case with the young child’s face?

Pat - of course I should have recalled the New England watches. These are very attractive watches and I find it surprising that, if they could offer these to the public at competitive prices, we do not see more enameled cases from the other companies.

Ethan - your small cases for Bigelow, Kennard & Co. tell be there must have been another company or two making cases like this. The numbers and case markings do not look familiar to me, although I might suspect Jeannot & Schiebler for the green one. J&S made many of the cases used by BK&Co.

Thanks, Kent, for those catalog pages.
 
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Jerry Treiman

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Jerry; a plain American 14k case with serial number and assay marking perhaps from Waltham. artb
Art - I think I can discern the mark for Keller & Untermeyer in the cover of your case. They made very fine cases.
 

Jerry Treiman

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I just acquired this really spectacular example. I believe this was made by the Dubois Watch Case Co. for Waltham.
14184460_bobl.jpg

Mine is a tiny 10-ligne watch but Waltham featured similar casing for their 6/0 movements in a 1911 brochure -
JScases_1911.jpg
 

Kent

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... I'd consider the enamel offered on Santa Fe Watch Co. cases (supplied to Santa Fe by the Illinois Watch Case Co.) to be a bit more than detailing. These were gold-filled, 25-year cases. Its not clear if the work was done at Santa Fe or at Illinois (the case company - not the watch company that supplied Santa Fe's movements); or even if it was contracted out to a third party. ...
Since writing the above, I've gone through the 1920+ Santa Fe catalog in detail and came across the caption in the centerfold (no, not that kind of centerfold, the one posted below). It states in part:

'The lower panel shows the Illinois Watch Case Factory, where our beautiful cases for the "Santa Fe Special" are designed and produced. Special new equipment was added to this factory at great expense, in order to create and finish the three-color inlay enamel monogram cases of the "Santa Fe Special." '

So, I stand corrected; the enamel work on Santa Fe cases was done at the Illinois Watch Case Company.

1920+_Cat_Pg_16-17_Enormous_Modern_Factories.JPG
 

Clint Geller

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Over the years, I believe I have seen three different G Size Howard watches, each one presented by Edward Howard to a different one of his three wives, and as I recall, all three were enameled. If one could get all three of them in one place, what an amusing, if somewhat pathetic collection that would make!
 

Jerry Treiman

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Here is another enameled American watch that I just acquired. It has a Waltham Colonial-A movement and the case was made by H.W. Matalene, ca.1923 (Newark, NJ). I believe the figure on the back is Diana the Huntress, from Roman mythology. I have reason to believe that the enameling may have been done by Charles Perrochet, a Swiss-born enamelist in New York who made at least one signed example for Matalene around the same time period. [The bow on this watch is not original and I have inserted a photo-restoration based on other known examples].
7805_photo_restored.jpg

While searching for this thread so that I could make a new post, I discovered that I had started an identically-titled thread in 2010.
Enameled American Watch Cases
I suspect that Perrochet may have also done the enameling on the watch in my initial post in 2010.
Perhaps a moderator can merge the two threads?
 

musicguy

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Jerry Treiman

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Here are a pair of watches cased by H.W. Matalene in 1920 and 1921.
5955-7469.jpg

They have essentially the same patterns on the back and front bezels, but he has reversed the black and white enamels from one to the other.
enamel bezels 2dt.jpg

I also note a similarity to the style of enameling on the case shown in post #10. Both watches in this post, however, contain 14-size Waltham Colonial-A, Riverside movements.
 

Clint Geller

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Here are Howard G Size SN 100,221, I Size SN 3,446, and K Size SN 3,089, all watches with enameling. I used to own an N Size Howard with black enameling, but unfortunately, I can't find a picture of it. The I and K Size pix were shot recently in a friend's office with my new Nikon D850 and 105 mm micro lens.

EH&Co SN 100,221 enameled case front JPG.jpg I Size Case (2).JPG DSC_0512 (2).JPG DSC_0513 (2).JPG DSC_0520 (2).JPG DSC_0522 (2).JPG
 
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Clint Geller

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Here is a 10 Size P. S. Bartlett grade Model 1861 Waltham in a lovely 18K Robbins & Appleton case with enameled accents. That's Steph Helfant's hand in the pictures, by the way. :)

MR_041_Watch_Walt-KW10_06a.jpg MR_041_Watch_Walt-KW10_03a.jpg MR_041_Watch_Walt-KW10_17a.jpg MR_041_Watch_Walt-KW10_30a.jpg
 
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