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English Centre Second Chronograph

WillWilliams

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Hi All

I am new to the site but I have an interesting Chronograph I am seeking information on. The Watch in question belonged to my Great Great Grandfather. I believe it is a English Centre Second Chronograph. The case dates from 1909 but the moment is earlier. I have been told it is 150 years old. I recently had it serviced and have been told that the movement is very rare. The hour, minute and second hand all work from the same part of the watch. The gent who serviced it said he had not seen a movement like it in the 70 odd years he had worked as a watch repairer. The name on the workings is that of my Grandfather William John Williams. As far as we know he was not a watch maker. Can anyone help?

thanks
Will
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gmorse

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Hi Will,

As far as I can see from the small pictures, it's a karrusel, patented by Bahn Bonniksen of Coventry in 1892, in a rather successful attempt to minimise positional errors by making the entire escapement revolve. They typically revolve in around 35 minutes, in contrast to tourbillons, invented by A-L Breguet, which revolve much faster. Bonniksen supplied his karrusel escapements to several notable makers, including Dent, Nicole Nielsen, Usher & Cole and Rotherham & Son.

These watches were capable of achieving extremely accurate timekeeping and were successful in the Kew trials around the beginning of the 20th century.

I can't see any sign of chronograph work, (which is the mechanism for starting and stopping the watch rather like a stop-watch), but clearer pictures may reveal more.

If you can post some larger images, I'm sure that there are many people here who can expand considerably on this outline.

Regards,

Graham
 

Omexa

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Good on you Graham I was on the right track, you have defined the difference between "Tourbillon and Karrusel", for me which I did not know before. It looks to be a very fine Pocket Watch. Regards Ray
 

MartyR

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Hello Will and welcome to the board :)

You have used the word "chronograph" which is a word used for a watch which has a stop/start/flyback feature, normally independent of a subsidiary second hand. I don't think yours is a chronograph in that sense, is it?

Second, just looking at the style of the movement I don't think it can be 150 years old (which would date it to 1862). Graham is saying that it must psot-date 1892 and that is a date that would seem likely just from the style.

It looks very interesting, and high resolution photos of the movement will help us a lot.
 

Tom McIntyre

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Will, you have uploaded the thumbnails of your images rather than the full image. That is why they are so small and do not expand properly. It would be better to just upload them without the help of Photobucket.

Your watch is a center second karrusel as has already been mentioned. If it had a hack feature, it could be called an English Center Seconds Chronograph. Such watches are not chronographs but hack watches intended to be easily set to master time standard.

There are two flavors of karrusel with a normal seconds bit and center seconds. The carriage revolves in 52.5 minutes in the standard karrusel and in 35 minutes in the center second vareity because of the pinion that drives carriage.

Here are some examples of each.

Center seconds karrusel for Pyke of Birkenhead

dial.jpg View attachment 142348




















Standard 52.5 minute karrusel

View attachment 142351 View attachment 142352





















Standard karrusel with fuzee and up/up down by Usher & Cole for Barraud's.

View attachment 142350 View attachment 142349
 
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Watchfixer

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How can I tell on karrusel movement with 35 minute period?

Cheers, Watchfixer
 

DaveyG

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Lovely, very high quality and scarce watch - nasty fingerprint to the right of the barrel arbor. You would be best to get that removed before it becomes 'permanent'. The pin that you mention is for setting the hands; depress the pin and turn the crown and the hands will move. Always turn hands clockwise when setting.

Apart from the different rotational rates (I always thought that a Bonniksen Karussel rotated every fifty two and a half minutes, a Tourbillon every 60 seconds) the Karussel is mounted and driven differently to the Breguet invented Tourbillon.
 

gmorse

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Hi Ray,

In a karrusel the carriage is driven round the fourth pinion by the third pinion, pivoted on a collar surrounding the fourth pinion. This is an easier configuration to make than the tourbillon, and as mentioned, results in a rotation period of 35 minutes for a centre seconds, or 52.5 for a subsidiary seconds movement.

The tourbillon was patented by A_L Breguet in 1801, and the carriage is typically carried on the fourth pinion and rotates within the fixed fourth wheel, with the escape pinion engaging the fourth wheel, so rotating once per minute. Other arrangements have been used, giving both faster and slower rotations; Albert Potter for instance made a 12-second version. It's more challenging to make, since precision, tolerances, poise and overall inertia are all more critical than they are for a karrusel.

If you want to see an extreme manifestation of a tourbillon, have a look at this Jaeger leCoultre "Gyrotourbillon":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AWdlPMQlig4

or Greubel Forsey's quadruple model:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYAATExcFII

Regards,

Graham
 

gmorse

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Hi Will,

So far, nothing found on the signature on the movement, although there are a lot of "Williams" listed, none at this address with these initials. The engraving of the name does appear to match that of the address and the serial number; could your ancestor have been perhaps a jeweller or retailer of some kind? Sometimes an owner would have their name engraved on the top plate like this, although it's unusual, and then the engraving styles may not match exactly, (Ray has a nice example of this!).

I think it's unlikely that the signature is that of the actual maker of the watch, especially in one with this escapement, since, as mentioned earlier, the karrusel work would probably have been made by Bonniksen himself for another high-end maker. It does become difficult to track down all the parties involved!

Incidentally, it would be interesting to see a clear picture of the case hallmarks, which would show us the name of the case-maker; the records of these craftsmen are much more detailed and easier to trace, (with the aid of Philip Priestley's excellent work). I see a "CH" on the pendant, which could be one of two or three possibilities, and likely to be specific to the specialist pendant-maker, not necessarily the same as the case-maker.

Regards,

Graham
 

WillWilliams

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Hi Graham

Thanks once again for your help. I have just spoken to dad about the watch. He has said that Great Granddad Williams was a pawnbroker in London, and that he died in the Thames in a rowing boat. The case as far as I have found out, was made in 1909 by Albert Thomas Oliver, Case Maker, Wynyatt Street, Clerkenwell, London. EC.
How could I find out more about the serial number on the watch? Are there detailed records of Bonniksen's watches?

Best regards
Will

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DaveyG

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Thanks for that explanation Graham, I baulked at trying to get it into a few words and make it understandable. I have never seen a centre seconds karussel before and it never occurred to me that the rotational periods would be different - something else to try and get my head around!

As far as the engraving goes, I guess that if you are buying a watch like that, which certainly wouldn't be cheap, you can have your own name and address engraved, probably for free!

davey
 

gmorse

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Hi Will,

A fine watch in a fine case. Albert's son, Richard James II only died as recently as 1989, and was still working in the same workshop where this case would have been made, and using exactly the same tools and techniques. After his death the contents of the workshop were, I believe, transferred to a museum in Liverpool.

I'm not aware of any record of Bonniksen's serial numbers, but others on this mb may have more information, although as he was a sort of "sub-contractor" to the main makers I suspect that little may have survived. Have you asked the watchmaker who serviced it whether there are any marks inside the plates or under bridges or cocks?

It's interesting that your great grandfather was a pawnbroker, as this is closely related to the jewellery and watch businesses, so it's not impossible that he commissioned this watch and had it engraved with his own name and address. It would certainly have been an expensive item when it was new, even if he obtained "trade rates". Do you know whether his premises were in the Brixton Road?

Regards,

Graham
 

Watchfixer

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I'm still confused how this 35 minutes karussel is geared (even a simple diagram would help) beacuse of 2 teeth on the karussel table and the gear inside that drives the EW.

Cheers, Watchfixer
 

DaveyG

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Like I say, I still have to get my head around the ratios and timing.
 

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WillWilliams

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Hi all

dad said that he thinks the address on the watch was the address of the shop. As far as we know the shop was Blitz'd during the war and nothing remains. But I have not looked into it fully yet.
When I have had it serviced the gent did not say that there were any markings inside. Even though he did I think a good job it is still not running quite right. Could you recommend a good repairer?

thanks
Will :)
 

MartyR

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Will, when you had it serviced I am amazed that the repairer didn't tell you it was a karrusel :eek: It must have been a much more expensive service than or a regular watch, and I would have expected him to advise you of that before he started work.

I'm sure one of the technical experts here will advise you better than I can, but I suspect this watch needs a top-class watchmaker to work on it.

I live on the south side of London, so when I get a chance I'll go have a look at the address for you. I can read Brixton Road (which I know fairly well) but I can' t see the number - can you post that for me?
 

DaveyG

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Will, I didn't like to say anything about your watch maintenance man, but I was surprised, like Marty, that he hadn't given you an in depth briefing on the watch both before and after maintenance. I was also disappointed to see that he hadn't fitted a case screw in the 'vacant' location and that he hadn't polished and re-blued the very scratched screws; all things that any decent repairer would do as a matter of course so, IMHO, not indicative of a good job.

Yours is a scarce and valuable watch and whilst not hugely complicated, it does deserve proper attention.

The number looks like 229 to me Marty.
 

Tom McIntyre

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Like I say, I still have to get my head around the ratios and timing.
The karrusel you show is the 52.5 minute variety. In the center second the 4th wheel is off the carriage in the center of the watch. The normal center arbor is displaced and the 3rd wheel arbor is also between the plates, of course.

There are several watchmakers in London who can repair your watch correctly. The ones I have used do not have shops open to the public. I normally use David Penney at http://www.antiquewatchstore.com to have the work done for me.
 

gmorse

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Hi Will,

I believe that you couldn't place it in better hands than David Penney's; he's a highly respected expert in these rarer high-end movements, but you must expect to pay the appropriate price for his considerable expertise!

As a thought, maybe your great grandfather acquired the watch as an unredeemed pledge in the way of business, and decided to keep it. If it originally came from a watchmaker with cash flow problems, that could explain why there are no other engravings on the top plate apart from your ancestor's.

Regards,

Graham
 

WillWilliams

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Thanks to you all for your help and expert advice.

The address on the watch is 229 Brixton Road, London. I will endevour to get it properly serviced and I will ensure it is well looked after.

Kind Regards

Will
 

DaveyG

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The karrusel you show is the 52.5 minute variety. In the center second the 4th wheel is off the carriage in the center of the watch. The normal center arbor is displaced and the 3rd wheel arbor is also between the plates, of course.
Thanks Tom. I understood the structural differences but, when I have a few minutes, I need to get my head around the teeth/pinion ratios.
 

Tom McIntyre

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Davey,

The other key karrusel concept is that the carriage is not part of the train. It is just like the motion works in that it is driven by the train but not in it. In a tourbillon that is the real 4th wheel planted up there. If you took it out the watch would not run. If the karrusel is not driven the watch will still run.

The karrusel could in principle be made with whatever rotation you like. Bonniksen liked 35 minutes and 1.5 times that for the "standard" train. It had more to do with convenient gear sizes than anything else.
 

Sharp

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Hi there Will et al,

I like your watch! Especially the unique signature for your father,

Just a couple of things, this might sound pendantic but its a 34 minute karrusel not 35 as everyone stated! (best let it be said before it snowballs)

Anthony G. Randall (Rockford, 1992) wrote "considerable numbers were made and sold quite cheaply", somewhere I recall reading 500 karrusel movements a year were being produced at the height of its success. So although very popular with collectors they arent particularly rare.

The 34 minute caliper corrected a problem Bonnikson had failed to account for in his first design, epicyclic effect reduced the beats per hour to 17650 (approx) instead of 18000 as intended, 5 beats per second allowed for the hand to fall more accurately in line with the dial divisions

The antiquorum online archive database has around 40 examples photographed if you want to see some others like it with easy access just search 'Karrusel' (not sure if i'm allowed to post that advice but they have loads of HD pictures of pretty karrusel watches for your viewing pleasure!)

Regards,

-T
 

Tom McIntyre

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Sorry about the slip on the speed of the Center Seconds. For a long time I thought it was 37 minutes then I got a copy of Bonniksen's booklet on the watch and misremembered it as 35 minutes probably that made such a nice ration with 52.5. It is, of course, 34 minutes as Bonniksen says.

Bonniksen Center Second Description.gif Bonniksen Center Second views.jpg
 

MartyR

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Welcome to the board, spring-detent :)

Anthony G. Randall (Rockford, 1992) wrote "considerable numbers were made and sold quite cheaply", somewhere I recall reading 500 karrusel movements a year were being produced at the height of its success. So although very popular with collectors they arent particularly rare.
Who is Anthony Randall? And which company was producing 500 karrusels a year?

The antiquorum online archive database has around 40 examples photographed if you want to see some others like it with easy access just search 'Karrusel' (not sure if i'm allowed to post that advice but they have loads of HD pictures of pretty karrusel watches for your viewing pleasure!)
There is no problem posting links or references to informative websites such as the Antiquorum archive, although (as I'm sure you know) links to live auctions are not allowed.

Tom, the claims made by Bonniksen in that article/advert you posted are astonishing! Is there a certain amount of exaggeration in that, or is the karrusel really as technically accurate as is stated? I'm particularly surprised by the claim that a karrusel is guaranteed to perform "well within" Kaw A standards.
 

DaveyG

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Tom, the claims made by Bonniksen in that article/advert you posted are astonishing! Is there a certain amount of exaggeration in that, or is the karrusel really as technically accurate as is stated? I'm particularly surprised by the claim that a karrusel is guaranteed to perform "well within" Kew A standards.
My opinion only. The concept is well capable of sustaining the claims made by Bonniksen but will, as stated, depend entirely upon proper maintenance and, of course, accurate manufacture in the first instance. The process of adjusting to temperature though must have been exceptionally rigorous in order to eliminate mid temperature error! I also think that his claim that the watch has a life expectancy of 100 years is very modest (with the same caveats).
 

MartyR

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Thanks Davey and Graham. I think when I have some time I'll do some study on karrusels and Randall. Maybe 2014? :whistle:
 

Sharp

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Welcome to the board, spring-detent :)


Who is Anthony Randall? And which company was producing 500 karrusels a year?
Thanks for the welcome :)

As someone posted already he is a well known horologist here in the UK, I should have been more specific but that source came from The Time Museum Catalogue of Chronometers, i'm not sure where the information originates but have no reason to doubt it

Antiquorum have this added to some previously sold lots:

"At the height of production, watches with his regulator were made under licence by several watchmakers in Coventry and no less than 500 watches per year with Bonniksen Karrusel regulators were submitted to the Kew Observatory in Teddington for certification"

I'm sure i've read it somewhere else but cant remeber, maybe another forumer knows the original source, but it doesn't really matter I was just making the point good amounts of them were produced!

Regards,

-T
 

Tom McIntyre

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The pages I posted are from "The Karrusel Watch By Its Inventor." It was published by Bonniksen in January 1905. Malcolm Gardner had it reproduced very faithfully in an undated copy. It is 48 pages and includes description of all Bonniksen's finished models, testimonials and excerpts from various Kew reports and the Horological Journal are also included. I think this may be the most rare of the Bonniksen karrusels. I have never seen an example. Those made under license by Usher and Cole with keyless fusee and up/down are probably more rare than these although I have seen two of those.

I am not sure about the copyright on the booklet with respect to Martin Gardner's reproduction. Bonniksen's original is, of course, in the public domain although it probably was not when Gardner had it reproduced. ;)
Bonniksen USN Torpedo Boat.jpg Bonniksen USN Torpedo Boat.jpg
 
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nomorewatch

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The pages I posted are from "The Karrusel Watch By Its Inventor." It was published by Bonniksen in January 1905. Malcolm Gardner had it reproduced very faithfully in an undated copy. It is 48 pages and includes description of all Bonniksen's finished models, testimonials and excerpts from various Kew reports and the Horological Journal are also included. I think this may be the most rare of the Bonniksen karrusels. I have never seen an example. Those made under license by Usher and Cole with keyless fusee and up/down are probably more rare than these although I have seen two of those.

I am not sure about the copyright on the booklet with respect to Martin Gardner's reproduction. Bonniksen's original is, of course, in the public domain although it probably was not when Gardner had it reproduced. ;)
138361.jpg 138362.jpg
I am wondering if any watchmaker can build a karrusel watch by using the karrusel mechanism as indication of time such as minute and hour hands, what do you think?
 

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