Engine turning on watch cases

Discussion in 'American Pocket Watches' started by Jerry Treiman, Nov 25, 2014.

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  1. Jerry Treiman

    Jerry Treiman Registered User
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    I don't think enough attention has been paid to engine turning on watch cases. The most common pattern on cases is the typical barleycorn pattern. This either covers the entire surface, or provides the background to other hand engraving. But its use does not demonstrate the creativity that is possible.
    12KW_b.jpg


    I started thinking about this subject when I took this next watch out for some air recently. It really is one of my favorite cases. Not just for the unusual winding crown and patented setting, but also for the engraving and engine turning.
    View attachment 241583


    It has fine engine turning around the edge of the case, then a hand-engraved ornamental ring (vermicelli pattern?) and then some very fine and unusual straight-line engine work in the center. This case was made by H.W. Matalene, for Waltham, around 1912.
    View attachment 241585 View attachment 241584


    This next example by Matalene is from around 1913 and utilized a rose engine.

    View attachment 241586 View attachment 241587


    This next example, also from Matalene's shop, has another style and effect of the straight-line engine - this case made around 1916
    View attachment 241588 View attachment 241589

    12KW_b.jpg
     
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  2. geo.ulrich

    geo.ulrich Registered User

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    Being new to all of this I must say you have a great collection and beautiful examples..Thanks for sharing your examples and your knowledge..
     
  3. Ted Collins

    Ted Collins Registered User
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    Those are some fantastic cases, Jerry. I agree, this is a subject that deserves some attention. The variety and details of cases are just another intriguing aspect of horology. Thanks for initiating this.
     
  4. MartyR

    MartyR Moderator
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    This is one of the best examples I ever owned of engine turning on an American watch. It's a Hamilton 975, case by Keystone in 14K gold, and perfectly showsis a classic example of art nouveau design and of the engine turner's art.

    90332 2 Hamilton.jpg 90332 3 Hamilton.jpg 90332 5 Hamilton.jpg

    90332 2 Hamilton.jpg 90332 3 Hamilton.jpg 90332 5 Hamilton.jpg
     
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  5. Jerry Treiman

    Jerry Treiman Registered User
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    Marty - that is lovely. I like the use of two different rose engine patterns.
    Regarding the vermicelli pattern on the edge of the case, it looks like it is probably stamped or rolled (I think I see a seam in the pattern) and then the matching continuation on the back and bezel looks hand-engraved.
     
  6. John Cote

    John Cote Director
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    Love the topic. Cases are not generally what thrills me about a watch but over the years of trying to collect nice watches some of them will have decent cases. These two each show two different kinds of engine turning with other hand engraving and stamping added.

    AWC-CoGoldCase.jpg

    SB-295-Case.jpg
     
  7. Jerry Treiman

    Jerry Treiman Registered User
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    Very nice, John. Would you be willing to share some information with me about your AWCCo. case? I am maintaining a database of their cases to eventually develop a serial number-age chart. I am also trying to understand if the Toronto company (where your case is from) was separate from the New York AWCCo. Their serial number sequences at least seem separate.

    I can use the case serial number, movement make and serial # and any dated inscription.
     
  8. John Cote

    John Cote Director
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    Larry,

    I would give you this info if I could (and I will keep looking) but I sold this case at least a year ago and I can't find any pictures of the inside for the SN. I think I bought it as a new case with no screw marks from an old jeweler up in Milwaukee. I think I remember who I sold it to but I am sure he either put it away or put a watch in it and sold it. I sold it for way more than gold when gold was high. Sorry.
     
  9. D Magner

    D Magner Registered User
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    This 20 year Philadelphia 16 size case is not especially ornate, but has a very neat engine turned pattern on the back.
    David

    Vanguard 23 jewels 023 copy.jpg Vanguard 23 jewels 004 copy.jpg
     
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  10. Jerry Treiman

    Jerry Treiman Registered User
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    I find that off-center pattern very attractive (and unusual). Thanks for showing it.
     
  11. Clint Geller

    Clint Geller Registered User
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    Hi Jerry,

    Here is an example of engine turning and hand engraving in a gorgeous combination. I also not infrequently find that the insides of case lids have delightful, and often well preserved machine engraving patterns.
     

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  12. TomCarroll

    TomCarroll Registered User

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    I don't know if this one counts but I like how it looks - 16s with no movement, just the case. In the center is a tiny engraving of a sail boat on a lake with some birds flying about. Do flowers on a case designate a woman's watch? Just wondering.

    View attachment 242372
     
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  13. mauleg

    mauleg Registered User
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    One of the most intriguing engine-turned cases I've procured is this Dueber 20-year 16S hunter case, currently housing a WM Mckinley, S/N 2778402. The center section is really "Escher-esque:" is the engraving waves, or 3-dimensional cubes?

    engineturn.jpg
     
  14. Ethan Lipsig

    Ethan Lipsig Registered User
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    Here is a 14k Swiss example, a 1934 IWC case housing an IWC Cal. 95 H3 17 ligne movement.
     

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  15. artbissell

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    WONDER how this case front surface made with attached, carved or molded inlayed initails, and turning. artbissell

    18kswissbig.jpg
     
  16. Jerry Treiman

    Jerry Treiman Registered User
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    There are some videos on YouTube that are amazing, showing engine turning. I believe the initials are done first and then the artisan operating the rose engine has to actually lift the cutter as it reaches other design elements and then lower it again to resume the cuts on the other side.

    Try this one, especially at around 6:05
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VKASuwatG0
     
  17. artbissell

    artbissell Registered User
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    JERRY: A fine reference. Image enlarging indicates letters soldered on top of turning. Quite a delicate structure to hand make and enamel the letters?

    18kswiss detail.jpg
     
  18. artbissell

    artbissell Registered User
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    Learned that there was a machine capable of following an outline replica of design on case with precise engine turnimg around complex forms. artbissll
     
  19. Paul Sullivan

    Paul Sullivan Registered User
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    Nice thread. It's kind of sad so little information is available about the pocket watch case industry and their methods of manufacture.

    Here's a Dueber GF case containing a 6s Elgin 118. These 6s ladies watches always seem to show little wear. I guess from the fact the way they were worn. I sometimes wonder if these mass produced cases were stamped instead of engine turned.

    118.JPG 119.JPG

    Paul
     
  20. artbissell

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    #20 artbissell, Dec 12, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2014
    PAUL; I believe 6 size too heavy for neck chain and pendant use generally so little use. 0s and smaller preferred. There were machines for engraving economically and rapidly. Normally easy to distinguish the the hand engraved and carved unique ones. The yellow one machine job. The left one has my name in it. Gift from grandfather to grandmother 190l for same name father's birth. Engraved family seal. Carved one was special for Mae West actress. Recent auction has couple of her ordinary jewelry items at 1/4 million$. artbissell.

    IMG_8268aa.jpg IMG_9707aa.jpg $T2eC16NHJHgFFlnjrZ(jBRr8lplcTQ~~60_1.jpg
     
  21. Paul Sullivan

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    Hi Art,

    Thanks for the information. One thing I notice about your posts is that you have some amazing P/W cases! My little 118 has Dueber special and is about the most crisp looking case I have.

    Regards,

    Paul
     
  22. artbissell

    artbissell Registered User
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    #22 artbissell, Dec 15, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2014
    As a long time collector of cases I believe so, generally. Although some flowery cases may have been women chosen as gifts to boys or men and the rare exceptions. Notice extremely fine delicate engine turning on this rare gold fill 18 size multicolor. Dueber case with ~1895 Columbus Gruen movement. Gruen later hired casemakers from Dueber and Wadsworth for his fine Gruen Watch Case Co. artbissell

    IMG_9021ax.jpg IMG_9033acopy.jpg
     
  23. rascalsally

    rascalsally Newbie

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    I NEVER would have noticed the sail boat. I would have thought it had a deep scratch! I need to look at these things more closely.
    I am still trying to figure out what is engine turned and what is engraved by hand. Just found this thread while looking that question up.
    You guys really know your stuff. While I was always intrigued with pocket watches having inherited a couple from my Dad I recently inherited more than I can handle from my FiL. I'm learning a bit here and there and putting a few aside for my own pleasure on down the road. I do like the tic tock ticking of a mechanical. Thank you for sharing this stuff!
     
  24. rolandantrobus

    rolandantrobus Registered User

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  25. Keith R...

    Keith R... Registered User
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    I love engine turning and gold filled key winds. This one with
    a 15J HH Taylor 1873, grade 79.

    Keith R...

    100_3568 (1600x1200).jpg
     
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  26. Keith R...

    Keith R... Registered User
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    Civil war era 18s hunter. All engine turning design.

    Keith R...

    100_1383 (800x600).jpg 100_1391 (800x600).jpg
     
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  27. rdixiemiller

    rdixiemiller Registered User
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    Here’s one of mine. Marked Warranted Sterling Fine. No manufacturers name anywhere.

    D537892C-A065-4480-94DD-23103DA4D2A7.jpeg 755232B7-5C91-4B2E-902B-8ED31774D20F.jpeg
     
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