Help with identification

Rainbow

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Sep 8, 2022
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We are seeking information about a watch left to my husband by his father which belonged to his grandfather. I can't find anything to say who the watch maker was but I think the case was made by Fred Thoms as it has F.T on it. It has a date of 1902 engraved with some sort of monogram. The original owner's initials were SRW but I can't work out if that is what the monogram is. Any information would be valued. Thanks in advance.
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gmorse

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Hi Rainbow, and welcome to the forum,
I can't find anything to say who the watch maker was but I think the case was made by Fred Thoms as it has F.T on it. It has a date of 1902 engraved with some sort of monogram. The original owner's initials were SRW but I can't work out if that is what the monogram is. Any information would be valued. Thanks in advance.
The case hallmarks show that it was assayed in the Chester office, and although the date letter isn't distinct, I think it's an 'A' in a script font for 1901/2. This date would fit nicely with the inscription. The fact that it was assayed in Chester and the style of the maker's mark suggest that it was made by Frederick Trahern in Coventry; the mark inside the front lid is clearer than the one in the back, and there's a distinct, enlarged full-stop between the letters which are sans-serif. Fred Thoms' mark is very similar, in the same oval shape of cartouche, but his marks are in a serif font and he mostly used the London assay office.

The movement was in all probability made in Coventry as well as the case. The bow is somewhat bent, but that can be corrected, and the rest looks in good condition. The faint hairline in the dial between IIII and V is a common fault in enamel dials and it will be less apparent when the dial is cleaned.

Regards,

Graham
 

John Matthews

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Sep 22, 2015
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Rainbow welcome to the forum.

The half-hunter watch is cased in 18K gold with a hallmark for Chester 1901/02 - this assumes that I have correctly identified the date letter as 'A'.

1662644733147.png


This being so, the case will have been hallmarked between July 1901 and June 1902 - which corresponds to the inscription on the back - I can also confirm that it does contain the initials SRW. It therefore seems likely that the watch was purchased by, or for, your grandfather.

It is true that the maker's mark used by Fred Thoms (F.T) is commonly found on cases of this period. However, those cases were normally hallmarked in London. There is a reported example of a possible Fred Thoms case hallmarked Chester in 1914/15, but that mark was a later version with London beneath the initials. I think that this case may not have been made by Thoms. It is possibly more likely that it was made in Coventry by Frederick Trahern, a gold case maker who operated from Clifton Villas, Chapelfields.

The movement as far as I can tell from the photographs is a three-quarter plate of good quality, jewelled to the centre. I cannot tell how many of the pivots have cap jewels from your photographs. I believe the balance is capped (as you would expect) so the minimum number of jewels is 15. In all probability the movement is a single roller with a ratchet tooth escape and this could be confirmed, if you can provide a clear photograph of this area ...

1662644693977.png


I cannot match the style of the movement to a maker and this may only be possible if the watch was dismantled. This would need to be done by a competent watchmaker to avoid damaging the movement. The watch would probably have been finished in either London or Coventry, based upon a frame probably made in Lancashire. Certainly a watch worthy of care and attention.

I can see that one of the screws securing the balance cap jewel is a replacement from which I infer some work has been undertaken by someone with limited skills and/or replacement parts. It is highly recommended that you have the watch serviced by a competent watchmaker, before running the watch. The combination of old oil and accumulated dust act as grinding paste on delicate moving parts.

Hope that gives you some basic information.

John
 
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Dr. Jon

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It is a very fine watch. I had the monogram as SPW until I reread the intial post but SRW is there.

The last name letter is usually at the center and the largest as in this example.

It was an expensive watch. Half hunter cases were the most expensive type.
 

Rainbow

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Sep 8, 2022
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Thank you all so much. I will do some research on Frederick Trahern. SRW was 21 in 1902 so we are thinking this would have been a 21st birthday gift from his father. We did ask a local jeweller if he could clean it up and he said he wouldn't because it was a specialist job and we would probably have to take it to Auckland (we are in New Zealand). Maybe we should wait and bring it to England next year and find someone there who can give it some tlc?
 

John Matthews

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Sep 22, 2015
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Rainbow,

Not sure how much time you intend to spend in the UK, but it may be difficult to have the work completed while you are there. It may be possible if you make all the arrangements before you arrive. There are members of the forum living in New Zealand, who may be able to help and identify someone for you. There is a watch repair forum - https://mb.nawcc.org/forums/watch-repair.23/. You could try a post on that forum asking for assistance and linking back to this thread to avoid reposting the photographs.

John
 

Rainbow

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Sep 8, 2022
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Rainbow,

Not sure how much time you intend to spend in the UK, but it may be difficult to have the work completed while you are there. It may be possible if you make all the arrangements before you arrive. There are members of the forum living in New Zealand, who may be able to help and identify someone for you. There is a watch repair forum - https://mb.nawcc.org/forums/watch-repair.23/. You could try a post on that forum asking for assistance and linking back to this thread to avoid reposting the photographs.

John
Thanks for that John. We will be based in southern England for about 6 weeks. It would be better if we could get it done locally so I will folow your suggestion. Blonde question I know - how do I link to a thread?
 

John Matthews

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Sep 22, 2015
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There are a number methods. The one I use ..

  • right mouse click on the #1 in the first post
  • this brings up a pop-box like so ...

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  • select 'Copy Link'
  • you can then paste the link in the new post
  • there is a facility to do this using the highlighted symbol
1662700465626.png

  • you do this by selecting some text in your post e.g I have selected 'here'
'that I have posted here ....'​
  • then when you click on the highlighted symbol you paste the link in the box so ..
1662700984544.png


If you click on the highlighted text it will take you to the beginning of the thread.

John
 
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Incroyable

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Jun 26, 2022
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It is a very fine watch. I had the monogram as SPW until I reread the intial post but SRW is there.

The last name letter is usually at the center and the largest as in this example.

It was an expensive watch. Half hunter cases were the most expensive type.
I would have thought hunter cases were the most expensive since they used more gold?
 

John Matthews

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Sep 22, 2015
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It saddens me that even on this forum, members draw attention to the value of the case, rather than focusing on the value of the complete watch. I think this attitude of mind contributes fuel to the scrappers. I think we can all agree that this is a fine example of its type and is worthy of preserving as a complete watch in the hands of the family that originally purchased it.

John
 

SKennedy

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Jan 5, 2017
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John, I read the posts as regarding the orignal cost/value of the watch rather than its scrap value now?

Hi Jeffery,
I think it's more to do with the extra work involved in making a half-hunter case.
Regards,
Graham
Looking in my copy of the Penney reprint of the c1910 Nicole Nielsen cataloge, a half hunter is 10 shillings more expensive than a hunter of the same type. Yes, there is more work in a half hunter and you'd need the same gold to start with as you've got to make the front dome complete before cutting the hole. Then recess/snap for the glass and engraving & enamelling of the chapter ring. So, the small quantity of extra material that would end up in the scrap tin does not pay for the extra work.

This case doesn't have the subtle rise in the case band around the pin set that I would normally associate with Thoms. I've a silver hunter Thoms cased watch of my own and there are other subtle differences between it and 'normal' cases too but these are tricky to see in the photos above. It does look as though the case spring is either missing or broken in this one. As far as I can see there's a witness mark on the joint of only one spring whereas a Thoms would likely have had two.
 

John Matthews

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Sep 22, 2015
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I read the posts as regarding the orignal cost/value of the watch rather than its scrap value now?
Yes, that's is also my interpretation of Jon's comment.

Irrespective, my point stands, I read too often, for my liking, comments which, in referring to a watch, highlight the precious metal value of the case.

I would have thought hunter cases were the most expensive since they used more gold?
The value of a watch is more that just the weight of precious metal the case contains and indeed, as you have explained, the cost of the case when it was made.

John
 

Bernhard J.

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While I fully agree, the reality is different and sadness of us few does not change this.

And I actually love to "profit" therefrom by getting really nice watches at little over scrap value. But do not fall into the illusion that I will get much more, if I need/want to sell at some future juncture. At least the developement of the gold price will likely prevent that it becomes a loss business ....

Best regards, Bernhard

P.S.: Reminds me of when I got a nice gold pocket watch, although with some problem of the movement, in an eBay auction for about half (!) the scrap value. And returned it after having weighted the (unexpectedly heavy) case ...
 

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