George Morton chronometer

John Matthews

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You say 'circa 1855' - what is the earliest documented references you have found in English and Swiss literature?
I note Barraud & Lund had three items described in the 1851 Great Exhibition catalogue ...

Marine Chronometer, with a model of a newly-invented compensation balance, constructed for exact adjustment to all temperatures.
Marine chronometer of ordinary construction
Very small gold pocket chronometer, a specimen of minute English manufacture.

No mention of half chronometer, but I suspect that it was the 'newly-invented compensation balance' which seeded the term half-chronometer. However in the context of a marine chronometer it's possibly referring to Lund's correcting weight.

John
 
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Dr. Jon

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The Hutton may have started it all on the British side. He did nto call his watches hald chronometers but rather "Patent Lever Chronometers". From what I can tell cause a furor.

He showed then at the Great London exposition.

This one was probably purchased as a result of it being exhibited.


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This watch passed through 5 generations.

Its escapement has been replaced with a Swiss club tooth wheel with rasied tips, a simpel table roller and American adjustable banking.

It has a long history.

I have a copy of Lawrence's transmittal letter to Vinton. It states that he. Lawrence was so impressed by Huttons description of careful adjustment that he sent the watch in its unopened box and asked Vinton to get it engraved, which the cuvette shows he did.

I believe it was sold directly to Amos Lawrence on the advice and help of his uncle who was the US ambassador to England and probably saw it at the Great Exposition. Hutton got a gold medal for these.

All the great makers were in London so I imagine Hutton's patent lever and precision levers was discussed among them.

Bond, his US distributor, was not pleased with this sale and probaly the idea of a lever watch as a chronometer, and arranged to have Hutton hauled in to a law office to sign a promise not to sell directly to Americans.

Later Bond sold one of these to the US Army to survey the Gadsten purchase. Bond listed it as a Hutton's best lever, no use of chronometer.

I got my 1855 date from reading the Lund obit but it is a recollection from years ago.

English Half chronometers are earlier than Swiss half chronometers and had even less official definition but were different. Until the advent of Kew testing they were the best English lever watches. Not so for Swiss demi chronometres.

There were also patent union chronometers with used a form of Robin escapement and they were usually marked as Union chronometers and are the subject of a David Penney monograph.

Except for Admiralty tests for marine chronometers, the English did not do rating of watches until 1885

I got my date from the Lund Obit and 1855 was what I inferred from the bio information. I belvei it started gradually.

As to lever versus detent;

Earnshaw wrote that an Emory watch had bee trialed by teh Board of Longitude under the influence of Count Bruhl. He was very upset since he regarede Emory as Swiss with no business being in London be evidently his detent chronometers were enough better than they did not buy the Emory.

When Neuchatel tested watches the rated them and compared escapements. By the 1870's the levr was doing better than pivoted detent chronometers and was very close to spring detents. This may have been distorted because many they testged were marine chronometers, a larger timepiece. Even with these, the differences were very small. Tihs was 70 + years after the introduction of spring detents and the lver had a lot of development by then.
 
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John Matthews

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Jon - it took me some time to find the original post regarding this watch here which provides further information regarding the provenance.

John
 

Incroyable

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Were these half-chronometers more expensive or regarded as higher-end than other top quality levers by the likes of Barraud or duplexes by top makers?
 

John Matthews

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Jon

I commend you for the description provided for the Hutton watch and its provenance in your original post. I found interesting that it arrived, according to the letter in June 1852, and that it was Hutton who executed the order and provided instructions. It is such a great pity that the original escapement has not survived - that would have added significantly to what is already a remarkable watch. I am yet to find a cased example of this movement - just 6 examples including this.

In that post you provide the hallmarks - which I have attempted to enhance ..

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Not only does it carry the makers mark (GH) for Gustavus Huguenin a Swiss immigrant working in Clerkenwell from 1842, but also the serial number and JH - Hutton's sponsor mark. The date letter is a little difficult to decipher but it appears to be the Gothic 'Q' for London 1851/52 - please confirm.

Bond, his US distributor, was not pleased with this sale and probaly the idea of a lever watch as a chronometer, and arranged to have Hutton hauled in to a law office to sign a promise not to sell directly to Americans.

Later Bond sold one of these to the US Army to survey the Gadsten purchase. Bond listed it as a Hutton's best lever, no use of chronometer.
and from a previous post ...

This brings me to John Hutton, a very intriguing maker. He was the first and only maker, to my knowldge, to actually put the words "Lever Chronometer' on the dial of a watch in England in about 1851. It was not well received. No one did it again for a very long time. Hutton had a an issue with one of his US distributors, William Bond, who sold one of to the US Army to survey the Gadsten purchase, a bit of land the US bought from Mexico after taking Texas and California in the Mexican War. Their records referred to the watch as Hutton's best lever but they did not refer to it as a chronometer.
Do you have any further information regarding the prohibition of sales in America?

John

EDIT - I note that a John Hutton (detent) pocket chronometer for William Bond was cased in an American Coin case. I wonder whether the dispute was also about the direct supply of cased watches?
 
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Dr. Jon

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I found the record at the Harvard archive of the Bond papers. I had expected to find the sales record but instead I found the correspondence regarding the agreement.m Bond's son was in London and made the arrangements.

It forbade Hutton from selling watches to Americans in London . It forbade direct orders excpet possibly through US representatives,. Hutton asked for and got an exemption for a pending sale to a person in Baltimore.

This watch sale must have really angered the Bonds.

What was interesting to me is what was not there. Bond and Lawrence were both active promoters and supporters of Harvard's science programs but the Bond mailing list did not include the Lawrences.

The Bonds and Hutton had been close. The Harvard archive includes a notebook of trade tricks and secrets Hutton gave the Bonds when one worked at this shop.

Publication of the actual records requires permission from Harvard.

Most of the other information is from the Massachusetts historical society and the records of Amos Lawrence.

I spent a lot of time tracking down the history of this watch.

I think is shows a turning point towards the adoption of the lever for precision watches. Hutton for one did not really beleive in the basic lever so he invented his own version of the Savage two pin.

The Swiss were nearly there just waiting for customers in England and the US to catch on. Patek Philippe had temperature compensated levers at the 1851 exposition. Jules Jurgensen was also doing these and selling them in tehe US market.

Frodsham came to the idea of high quality levers and memorialized it with his ADFMSZ mark for his best work, For 1852.

Frodsham and Hutton probably knew each other. , Mercer's book records that Hutton had submitted a very complex temperature corrected chronometer to the trials, which they did not want to allow. Frodsham advised them to test it on the assumption that it would not be competitive and it woudl then go away, They tested it and it took first place.

The Bonds sold a lot of English pocket chronometers by most of the top makers with a lot by Hutton.

I do not beleive they cared about casing. I suspect that they took them uncased when they did not want to wait. Shipping was erratic and delay of a few weeks for casing could lead to longer delay for a ship.

In the 1850's the Bonds were hard over to detent chronometers for precision. BY the 1860's they were dealing with Waltham watches
 
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John Matthews

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Jon - I find your research on the watch most interesting.

I am surprised that Hutton accepted the agreement and I find it difficult to believe that it could be legally enforced. Bond must have been very influential and important to Hutton's American trade.

The Bonds sold a lot of English pocket chronometers by most of the top makers with a lot by Hutton
The example I found, signed John Hutton for William Bond & Son #519, was probably made 1850~ ...

John Hutton (detent) pocket chronometer for William Bond was cased in an American Coin case.
I located the Bond papers in the archive including

The Harvard archive includes a notebook of trade tricks and secrets Hutton gave the Bonds when one worked at this shop.
the impression I had was that it was 'copied', rather than 'given'.

Has the material been published? - a tremendous resource.

John
 

Dr. Jon

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No the material has not been published.
The notebook is hand written I assume by one of the Bonds.

I have copies of a few pages, I found most of it unremarkable,

Getting Harvard to allow a publication is something I just have not been up to.

When I visited I had a good time and they were very helpful, I visited later and felt some hostility.

I copied the documents by photographing them with my camera
 
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gmorse

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Hi John,

Seeing the Hutton again brings to mind a couple of thoughts I had about it. The lever seems to me to be unusually thick, which surprised me since this is a component which needs to have as small an inertia as possible consistent with adequate stiffness. The other thought was to notice the distinctly Swiss character of the mainspring clicks and barrel arbors, but that's outside this discussion really.

Regards,

Graham
 

Dr. Jon

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I have believed the lever was the closest to style that the repair person could find when the escapement was rebuilt.

This watch was carried and used through 5 generations and I think the Hutton roller eventually cut off part of the original lever fork, resulting in the repair. This is probably why it has an odd lever. They had to find an old one that worked reasonably with the escape wheel. The original escape wheel was probably well worn too.
 

John Matthews

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Hi Graham - I assume you were referring to the Murray example

I understand the points regarding the barrels, but I hadn't appreciated the point regarding the thickness of the lever.

Compared with this from Miguel (post 20)

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it doesn't appear to be thick.

John
 

gmorse

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Hi John,
it doesn't appear to be thick.
Oh, I think Miguel's is fairly hefty as well, but they really don't need to be that heavily built, unless, as Jon has proposed, the fork suffered from excessive wear on the contact surfaces; however, yours shows no sign of it.

Regards,

Graham
 

Incroyable

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The Hutton may have started it all on the British side. He did nto call his watches hald chronometers but rather "Patent Lever Chronometers". From what I can tell cause a furor.

He showed then at the Great London exposition.

This one was probably purchased as a result of it being exhibited.


View attachment 728257 View attachment 728258 View attachment 728259
A minor tangent but were these floral engravings around the keyhole a fashion around the mid 19th century?
 

Dr. Jon

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The Hutton design has s sharp cornered sapphire bearing on the corner of a forl with a very thin edge. I suspect the others shown have little wear becuase they were not worn much. This one may have been in sue for 100 years.

My Hutton watch got a lot of wear and seems to have been altered by someone who used the best possible materials. He or she would not have done this unless the escapement had failed.

The flowers on the winding hole are put there to conceal scratches put there by the winding key.
 

Incroyable

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The Hutton design has s sharp cornered sapphire bearing on the corner of a forl with a very thin edge. I suspect the others shown have little wear becuase they were not worn much. This one may have been in sue for 100 years.

My Hutton watch got a lot of wear and seems to have been altered by someone who used the best possible materials. He or she would not have done this unless the escapement had failed.

The flowers on the winding hole are put there to conceal scratches put there by the winding key.
Yes most winding hole decorations I've seen are of a circular reeded type but this flower design seems to have been more common in mid 19th century watches.
 

gmorse

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Hi Jon,
The Hutton design has s sharp cornered sapphire bearing on the corner of a forl with a very thin edge
I think there may be some variation in the profiles of the unlocking jewel. This one appears to have slightly rounded corners, (as of course would the original Savage pins), and as mentioned earlier, the levers were slightly thicker than normal, perhaps to reduce the wear. The problem may be evident in those levers with large triangular impulse jewels, (not Savages but derived from two-pin English levers), but I haven't handled one of those.

DSCF8714.JPG DSCF8712.JPG

Regards,

Graham
 

John Matthews

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Graham

I have checked through the limited photographs I have of single roller levers with 'shaped' impulse jewels.
  • dovetail: Barraud & Vulliamy - thin and with a very distinctive shape, similar to Savage 2 pin levers, but more exaggerated - see here
  • triangular: Nicole & Capt - fairly standard - see here
  • wide impulse: only one example of the lever here - appears to be rather 'hefty'
John
 

Dr. Jon

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I base my assessment on a set of photos in David Penney's archive of Hutton lever made by Reid. It is copyright so I need a license tpo post it.

It shows a complex shape cut form sapphire with the acting surface a rectangle. It's edges may be rounded but teh radius is very small.

As I wrote before, my assessment that it failed is based on the fact that the owner replaced the escapement and seems to have had it done expensively. Another less likely possibility is that the complex sapphire part broke. The Penney photos show a fairly robust shape but cracks do form and propagate and once broken making another would have been challenging if it was done after about 1870.

I posted this watch as a kind of marker to argue that by 1850 the watchmaking community was developing a renewed interest in the lever escapement and beginning ot use it for precision timepieces, but Hutton, at least was not ready to go the whole way to the table or double roller.

Hutton, alone, was ready to call lever watches chronometers. While no one else did immediately, others did pick up on within about 5 years and the Swiss changed their game too. The Geneva makers had used the observatory to rate their watches. The rating was on demand by the makers. The observatory began keeping records of their observed rates immediately after the 1851 exposition.

If the lever just came close it was clearly the way to go moving forward for two reasons:

1) It is self starting
2) It is about the easiest to adjust in that the balance can be taken out without significant risk or the power let down for the friction rest escapements. This is a significant benefit especially for fusee drives. Detents allow removal but require great care to avoid breaking the locking jewel.

That gathering changed the horological world.
 

Ethan Lipsig

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John Matthews

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Ethan - many thanks for the link.

I have subsequent to my early post captured that example and others - here is the current state of my list.

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John
 

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