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Help! I bought a dud! (English Lever)

Sooth

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Feb 19, 2005
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This was bound to happen eventually, but I bought a watch that appeared to be in need of only a bit of work. I could see that the hands were damaged (not a huge issue), the two movement retaining screws were missing, and that it needed a crystal, but what I was NOT expecting is that it is missing the escape wheel and the lever/anchor. Additionally the balance staff is broken. Luckily for me, the watch was very inexpensive (under 40$ including the shipping charges), so I am not too upset about it. The rest of the watch is in relatively good shape, and I really like the case and dial. If it weren't for the missing wheels it would be restorable.

P1240059.JPG

Now... what is the chance these parts could be replaced? Or would it be possible to find another suitable movement?

The movement is marked:
Warranted English Lever 178280

P1240061.JPG

On the front plate is:
2
H. W. LTD
Errington Watch
Factory
178280

P1240062.JPG

P1240063.JPG

The case is marked with a 6 and 7307 with SWISS CASE in an oval.

English Lever Watch 04.jpg

I was curious if anyone had more information on the case? It's pretty well made, and appears to be a solid metal, but it has no hallmarks or anything to indicate that it could be silver. I am assuming that it might be some sort of nickel silver or nickle alloy then?
 

Dr. Jon

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The movement is parts and that is what the previous owner did with it. There are many movement around in good shape that could use a decent case. Getting one with the right key position will take some patience.
 

John Matthews

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Quick response, breakfast calls ...

Errington, based in Coventry, was one of the pioneers of English machine-made watches. Your movement is an example of such a machine made movement.

Here are some notes I made a while ago - unfortunately, I did not note the source.

Charles Hutton Errington had been trained originally as an engraver, but subsequently (1870-1875, authorities differ in exact date) started a watch manufacturing concern finishing watches for the trade - Errington Watch Co. He had been highly successful in the production of a cheap watch. He took out several patents. In 1881 #1433 for a method of setting hands from the pendant and #5636 for a centre second stop watch. Another in 1891 #6617 was for a device for raising the barrel ratchet click and readily letting down the mainspring. Patent #10356, in 1892, was for a watch bolt & spring in one piece while # 18766 in the same year described an arrangement to prevent the barrel ratchet, when removed, from damaging the centre wheel. The company made movements for a number of large companies at the time and his patents continued to be used by Williamson after he was taken over in 1895 .

I find the foundation of the Errington Watch Company, the transition into Williamsons, the association with the English Watch Company and its equipment, somewhat unclear. I have never tried to chase down any official documentation. Cutmore (Watches 1850-1890) does not appear to devote as much time to Errington as he probably deserves. I suspect Errington was rather more important than one might infer from that account. He was definitely a person of some ability. I am not sure to what extent, if at all, Errington used Swiss components, although subsequently Williamson undoubtedly did, having factories in Switzerland. Priestley believes that the Errington company may have been partially funded by Henry Williamson, an established clockmaker in London and when Williamson took over the company Errington was retained as the works manager in Coventry.

John
 
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gmorse

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Hi Sooth,
Now... what is the chance these parts could be replaced? Or would it be possible to find another suitable movement?
As John has mentioned, this is a late 19th century factory-made movement, so there's a chance that you could find another identical example, although it is guaranteed that all parts would be interchangeable without modification. The Swiss case is a slight puzzle.

Williamson was involved in a court case under the Merchandise Marks Act, (in the 1890s if I recall), in which he was accused of including a large proportion of Swiss parts in watches which were claimed to be English made. The company was fined £20 with £10 costs and the watches in question were ordered to be destroyed.

Regards,

Graham
 

eri231

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Errington was a client of LeCoultre, in 1890 he bought components for 50,000 Swiss francs.
Regards enrico
 

John Matthews

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The movement carrying H W Ltd (Henry Williamson Ltd) clearly places it after the Errington Factory was acquired and Errington was the works manager. So post 1895. The same machine made frame was used in some of the The Express English Lever watches signed by J G Greaves of Sheffield. I have a record of one such watch #112290 in a silver Birmingham hallmarked case with the maker's mark of CHE (Errington) dated 1899/1900. That movement appears to have a reversing pinion and like the majority of the movements I have recorded is hinged to swing out of the case. Your movement #179280, I don't believe has a reversing pinion and is secured by screws in a Swiss case. I am not sure whether any of the Williamson's Swiss operations in Buren and Chaux-de-Fonds produced cases. Enrico will possibly know.

John
 

gmorse

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Hi Sooth,
...although it is guaranteed that all parts would be interchangeable without modification
What I should have written is that 'it isn't guaranteed that all parts would be interchangeable'!

Regards,

Graham
 

eri231

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I have no news of Williamson and Errington case makers, but importing cases from Switzerland has been an established practice for many years. A Swiss newspaper states that in 1877 10% of British silver cases are actually imported and hallmarked as English made.
In 1887 the percentage rises to 30% in the Horological Journal (1877) articles report the protests of the committee of case makers who complain about this import traffic.
Regards enrico
 

gmorse

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Hi Enrico,

The laws on the marking of imported silver were not straightforward, being legislated for in various Acts and applied with varying degrees of rigour. See David Boettcher's web page (under 'British Merchandise Marks Act 1887') on the subject.

Regards,

Graham
 

Kevin W.

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Apr 11, 2002
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Did the seller disclose it had missing parts?
 

eri231

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The article in the “Horological Journal” was from January 1887 and concerned :
Complaints about the fraudulent marking of non-British as British goods cropped up in previous years. For example, a Select Committee chaired by the Liberal MP Sir Henry Jackson in 1879 heard evidence of foreign made case watches being sold as British through the use of British hallmarks.
Regards enrico
 

Sooth

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Thanks for all the replies. Seems this maker had an interesting (controversial) history. I did see another thread about them.

I'm still left with a lot of questions. If I were to look for another movement, is there something to look for in a match, or an easy way to know if the winding arbour will land in the right spot (other than visual comparison or asking for measurements), or is this really a "needle in a haystack" situation where only a nearly identical movement by the same maker will be likely to fit.

Are there any thoughts on the case? I've polished it and cleaned it, and I still have no idea if it's silver or not. I assume there might be tests for silver? I would think that by late 1800s, early 1900s anything with even a low silver content would have been hallmarked or advertised in some way since it's a selling point (coin silver, fine silver, etc). If I put the watch next to other silver cased watches, I really can't visually tell any difference in the appearance, shine, or feel of the metals. If it's an imitation then it's a pretty convincing one. I suppose it doesn't matter that much. I'm just really puzzled that it lacks any markings other than "Swiss Case" which is extremely vague.

Kevin, the listing simply stated that the seller did not know much about watches and that it was sold as-is. They mentioned that it had no crystal and no seconds hand, etc. I don't believe they would have taken the movement out, so this was not deliberate dishonesty. At the price I paid, even if the entire movement is scrap, I at least have a nice case that I can MAYBE case another movement in.
 
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