• The Bulletins and Marts are again available online. The network connectivity problem has been fixed. Thank you all very much for your patience.

French Onion: Unusual mechanical configuration?

aucaj

Registered User
Feb 2, 2021
278
172
43
41
Country
This is a french onion by David Vivier.

I understand that early French watches were wound through the center arbor. That is how this one is wound, but I think the mechanical layout is unusual? The fusee is in the middle and chain wraps around an offset portion of the mainspring barrel.

Is there an expert out there that can clarify whether this is the typical mechanical configuration for a center-arbor-wound onion? Also, please could you help determine its age?

Thank you,
Chris

1.JPG 2.JPG 3.JPG 4.JPG 5.JPG 6.JPG 7.JPG
 

gmorse

NAWCC Member
Jan 7, 2011
12,930
2,394
113
Breamore, Hampshire, UK
Country
Region
Hi Chris,
...whether this is the typical mechanical configuration for a center-arbor-wound onion? Also, please could you help determine its age?
Um, well, I've never seen one of these, but the simplest way arranging for centre winding would be to plant the fusee in the centre, right underneath the centre arbor, which is what seems to be the case here. The fusee only appears to have two or three turns and the barrel has two parts, the upper, decorated part appears to contain the spring, and the fusee chain wraps around the lower, smaller part. This arrangement would give quite a short duration, possibly only six hours or so since it has a three wheel train and a 30 hour three wheel verge has seven or eight turns on the fusee.

I get the feeling that this was made quite early in the 18th century, or even at the end of the 17th. Loomes has a Vevier working in Rouen around 1700.

Regards,

Graham
 

aucaj

Registered User
Feb 2, 2021
278
172
43
41
Country
This arrangement would give quite a short duration, possibly only six hours
Graham,

If these were wound by the center arbor, does that mean you had to reset the hands show the correct time every time you wound it?

Thank you,
Chris
 

gmorse

NAWCC Member
Jan 7, 2011
12,930
2,394
113
Breamore, Hampshire, UK
Country
Region
Hi Chris,
If these were wound by the center arbor, does that mean you had to reset the hands every time you wound it?
Not necessarily, the picture of the cannon pinion isn't clear, but later centre wound watches had a separate winding square running through the hollow centre arbor. It would probably stop during winding, as there wasn't maintaining power at this early date.

Is there a dial?

Regards,

Graham
 

aucaj

Registered User
Feb 2, 2021
278
172
43
41
Country
Not necessarily, the picture of the cannon pinion isn't clear, but later centre wound watches had a separate winding square running through the hollow centre arbor. It would probably stop during winding, as there wasn't maintaining power at this early date.

Is there a dial?
Graham,

I tested it and you are correct. The winding arbor turns independently from the 'shroud'. I believe it was probably a single-hand watch. I need to get hand made for it. Unfortunately, it did not have a dial with it.

It has a slow tick and the contrate & escapement wheel turn the opposite direction from other verge fusee watches. I think this might have been an experimental configuration. I found the youtube video below that starts out with a single hand French watch that winds via the center arbor. It has the mechanical layout like all others.


By the way, the video continues to show some very nice French and English verge fusee watches after the center-wind one.

Kind Regards,
Chris

1.JPG 2.JPG 3.JPG
 

gmorse

NAWCC Member
Jan 7, 2011
12,930
2,394
113
Breamore, Hampshire, UK
Country
Region
Hi Chris,
...the contrate & escapement wheel turn the opposite direction from other verge fusee watches.
Yes, I noticed that. David Penney's drawing of a verge escapement also shows the escape turning in that direction. It's because the third wheel is planted on the opposite side of the contrate to the normal position in most English watches.

By the way, I didn't see a centre winding French watch in that video, the second one was wound from the top plate in the usual way. If anyone thinks they're going to find watches in the condition shown in that video just sitting in a field under a cow-pat, I'm afraid they're going to be very disappointed!

Regards,

Graham
 

aucaj

Registered User
Feb 2, 2021
278
172
43
41
Country
It seems that the video starts in the middle. If you go to the very beginning, the first watch is wound by the center arbor.

No one has ever dug up a watch in that condition. Just a couple years ago someone found a Thomas Tompion with a metal detector, but it will never tick again.

Although, I think they may fare better in the mud of the Thames. This one was found on the banks several years ago and donated to the British Museum.

However, I don't wish to take this thread off topic. I would like to hear your thoughts after reviewing the first watch in the video.

Thank you,
Chris

141261273_3921251594606325_8904615327261147458_n.jpg 141461010_3921251724606312_7166931615430790583_n.jpg 140813214_3921251671272984_968121160273713059_n.jpg 141369404_3921251581272993_8360310098774481235_n.jpg
 
Last edited:

gmorse

NAWCC Member
Jan 7, 2011
12,930
2,394
113
Breamore, Hampshire, UK
Country
Region
Hi Chris,
This one was found on the banks several years ago and donated to the British Museum.
Well, that one is a pre-balance spring watch, (probably around the 1660s), with a calendar, and really does belong in a museum. It has a screwed balance cock and a rather special dial.

However, I don't wish to take this thread off topic. I would like to hear your thoughts after reviewing the first watch in the video.
Leaving aside all the misinformation about the differences between French and English watches and indeed watches in general, (as well as handling the pieces with bare hands), it comes in just above the 'Ladybird Book of Telling the Time', but only just, (I don't know if anyone outside the UK would be aware of these books).

It isn't possible to see how the movement is actually configured for centre winding, but the fusee and barrel appear to be the usual size and in the usual places, so the centre winding work must be under the dial. Other than that, there's not much to say; I haven't had the privilege of handling a French watch of this age!

Regards,

Graham
 
  • Like
Reactions: aucaj

aucaj

Registered User
Feb 2, 2021
278
172
43
41
Country
I found out that David Vivier contributed to an effort to map Paris in the 1600s for the Royal Academy of Sciences.

Page 9 (pdf page 11) of the attachment states the following:

"Between 1668 and 1674, under the supervision of two Academy members, Roberval and Abbe Jean Picard, the engineer David du Vivier, with three to five assistants, carried out the surveys. The results were engraved on copperplates by F. de la Pointe (1671-1678). The copperplates are now in the Louvre."

Here is a link to map:
 

Attachments

Last edited:

sharkeye

Registered User
May 11, 2015
38
24
8
Sweden
Country
Supernice watch!

I think it looks a bit unusual, at least compared to the old french onion (Marche a Rouen) in my collection :)

Mine has the fusee-cone to the side and operates as seen in the pictures.

For some more pictures of it see my instagram: Vergefusee :)


onion4.PNG onion3.PNG onion2.PNG onion1.PNG
 
  • Love
Reactions: aucaj

gmorse

NAWCC Member
Jan 7, 2011
12,930
2,394
113
Breamore, Hampshire, UK
Country
Region
Hi sharkeye,

Thanks for posting the pictures of your oignon. The under dial pictures show what I believe was the commonest layout for a centre-wound watch of the time; it's certainly the simplest mechanically, with the two steel wheels transferring the wind to the fusee arbor.

Have you taken any pictures of the back of the dial? I'm interested to find out whether those cartouches are enamelled or solid porcelain. I'm inclined to the view that they're enamelled and not porcelain.

Regards,

Graham
 

Allan C. Purcell

NAWCC Member
Feb 9, 2013
3,105
1,264
113
Germany
Country
Region
Hi Chris, These two watches could help to trace the family, both these are much later than your watch, but at least you are now in France.

Sorry, I am in a rush, Italy just scored their third goal. Will do more tomorrow.


Here is another from the Nathan- Rupp collection


zzz-15.JPG zzz-16.JPG zzz-17.JPG zzz-18.JPG zzz-19.JPG

R/

Allan
 

gmorse

NAWCC Member
Jan 7, 2011
12,930
2,394
113
Breamore, Hampshire, UK
Country
Region
Hi Matthias,
here are some pictures, not sure if it helps or not...
Yes, they do help, thanks for adding them. The 'I' looks to have been repainted, since the numeral is painted differently, (it has blue serifs whereas all the other numbers except the 'VII' have black serifs), and the glaze is a slightly different colour. It seems to have a white glaze over a cream body, which suggests a solid ceramic. The 'VII' has been repainted in the same way as the 'I'.

The reverse of the dial has a blue balancing enamel but nothing else is apparent from it.

I think from the way that the 'I' has broken at the outer edge, that these cartouches may not be hard paste porcelain, which being hard, breaks almost like glass. They look like a softer pottery body with a white glaze.

Regards,

Graham
 

Forum statistics

Threads
169,777
Messages
1,481,835
Members
49,159
Latest member
KiwiJosie
Encyclopedia Pages
1,060
Total wiki contributions
2,965
Last update
-