how many pocket watch movements are made of solid gold?

Discussion in 'European & Other Pocket Watches' started by nomorewatch, Nov 16, 2012.

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  1. Squite

    Squite Registered User

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    No biggie. You can send a regular message to me if you think it warrants it. Just scroll over my name in the header of my post and use the drop-down menu.
     
  2. nomorewatch

    nomorewatch Registered User

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    How did those watchmakers adjust the hairspring?
     
  3. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    In Arnold's chronometers, the hairsprings were helical. A helical hairspring has very little isochronism error even without an overcoil (or inner terminal curve). The earliest ones had relatively few turns.

    The Swiss also used gold hairsprings much more recently. I have watches by Tiffany and Mathile with gold hairsprings from the 1860 to 1870 time frame. They are adjusted the same way a steel or palladium spring is adjusted. These are all gold alloy springs that I think are 10 to 12K.

    I don't think anyone has ever made a watch with a gold mainspring because it would be hidden inside the barrel and have little impact. Inexpensive American clocks with brass mainsprings are still running with mainsprings over 170 years old.

    A solid gold clock might be an interesting project with Squite's constraints. There would be a lot of work in prepping the 24K gold for all the applications I think. :eek: It would be a lot easier and less expensive to use 14K or 18K. It would look a lot nicer if the barrels could be made out of sapphire rather than gold.
     
  4. MartyR

    MartyR Registered User
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    Just as a matter of esoteric interest, would anyone like to guess the weight of 24K gold that would be needed to make a 100% gold movement of (say) an 18 size watch?
     
  5. Squite

    Squite Registered User

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    #55 Squite, Nov 20, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2012
    I mentioned a while back in the thread that gold is pretty much effectively double the density of brass and nickel (pure gold would be a bit over 2.5x denser), so a movement alone should be between 2-3x as heavy all things being equal.
     
  6. MartyR

    MartyR Registered User
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    So if we take an 18 size movement as weighing about 55grams, a gold movement would weigh 110grams which would represent just under $4000 in gold. Doesn't seem too bad to me :whistle:
     
  7. Squite

    Squite Registered User

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    For 18K, sure. You can add another $1K+ for 24K
     
  8. MartyR

    MartyR Registered User
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    Oops, I actually meant £4,000 for 24K ... so that would actually by $6,500 :% Now that begins to sound on the pricey side :cool:
     
  9. artbissell

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    Still no photo of THE FOUR HUNDRED Hampden 14k movement? There are some very fine gold plate finishes on w.w. and p.w. I have 150 year old no name Swiss that had plenty of gold case and silver dial surface oxidation I cleaned. Fine deeply and sharply engraved movement was not cleaned. A superb plate job I still am unconvinced exists. Under a microscope it looks solid.

    copy mvt..jpg copt mvt. dial.jpg IMG_9501a.jpg
     
  10. Philip Poniz

    Philip Poniz Moderator
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    Since the posting of the thread I have been trying to recall the oldest gold movement I have seen or heard of, I tried to reach 1600's but without luck. The most famous one, the Marie-Antoinette's watch by Breguet, the most complicated watch at the time, came instantaneously to mind but it was ordered in 1783. The earliest I came up with was a watch owned by Pierpont Morgan, made by Jean Vernede of Agen, France dating 1730-1740.
    It is an interesting watch in rock crystal case looking 1600s but from Agen's archives it is clear that it can not be so early. Patrizzi in April 1996 had a similar watch with solid gold movement in rock crystal, this time German, circa 1770.
    There must be something with those rock crystal cases with gold movements if even Vacheron & Constantin decided to follow the suit and circa 1930 made rock-crystal dress watch with solid 14K gold movement.

    When I say "solid gold" I do not mean 24 karat but an alloy with considerable amount of gold. Pure gold is not much useful for horology, even for the cases. When Britannia Standard was introduced, London casemakers complained that it is too soft for cases and more often than not used lower carat to make them harder. For the dials, which did not need to be of hard gold, they used Britannia. Similar situation was with Arnold's gold hairsprings mentioned by Tom. At the end (April 1833), Arnold & Dent, in Nautical Magazine, concluded that gold is too soft if pure and has to be alloyed but this makes it brittle. The subject of quality of gold used in watchmaking was raised later by the Swiss who, sometimes, used gold wheels and noticed that in some cases the pinions were wearing out more rapidly than with the brass ones.

    It is a misconception that machining gold is difficult, just the tools have to have different angles and speed. European Watch & Casemakers', which makes a considerable number of gold parts during watch restorations, biggest problem is gold waste during machining.

    In the 19[SUP]th[/SUP] century, William Reid, made gold movement cased in 1818, Rotherham & Sons in 1863 on the occasion of the marriage of Princess of Wales made a watch with gold movement which was presented to her.

    In the beginning of the 20[SUP]th[/SUP] century, Joseph White of London made a few watches with gold movements (eg. No. 660, No. 39727, cased in 1912), and probably more of which we do not know about. Marty, are you sure that the White you mentioned was Edward, not Joseph? Seth Atwood owned one, as Tom mentioned, which was re-auctioned in 2010 in Geneva.

    The same Atwood owned Jules Jurgensen with gold movement retailed by N.G. Wood & Son of Boston, circa 1890.

    Girard Perregaux made their famous three-bridge gold movements at the same time, which the company still produces in form of a wristwatch.

    The Gruen and Hampden have already been mentioned.

    In the 20[SUP]th[/SUP] and 21[SUP]st[/SUP] centuries many companies used solid gold movements. I am listing the few that come to mind and am sure that there are more:

    Ollendorff Watch Co., in 1930s made considerable number of watches with solid rose gold ladies' movements and few with men's movements. I own one and it is a pleasure to wear it.
    Plymouth Watch Company, ca 1970
    Juvenia, 1970 men wristwatches with 18K solid gold movements
    Audemars Piguet in the 1980’s made wristwatches with gold movements. They made also twenty gold movements put into 20 dollar coin watches.
    Blancpain, Grande Complication, 30 pieces 1990s.
    Corum, Golden Bridge, 1990
    F.P. Journe, made at least two models with solid gold movements; Chronomètre Souverain and Octa-Calendrier, a retrograde annual calendar wristwatch
    Jaeger-LeCoultre, Reverso Septantième, 500 pieces in 2002.
    Chopard, “LUC Tourbillon Heritage,” 25 pieces, in 2009.

    Watches with gold movements are nice. I like wearing mine. Now, how about platinum ones? It seems almost impossible. Yet, one is known to exist. Patek for a special order of Princess Galitzin, who wanted a watch with platinum movement for her husband who bought a platinum mine, took the order and in 1844 the princess took possession of a watch No. 713 which in the Patek Philippe records figures as made with a platinum movement. The watch is in the Patek Philippe Museum. I had the watch apart and, among other things, did metallurgical analysis which was quite revealing but this is for a different thread.

    Philip Poniz
     
  11. artbissell

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    Poniz of Princeton: Wonderful research report.
     
  12. nomorewatch

    nomorewatch Registered User

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    What report is that?
     
  13. Squite

    Squite Registered User

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    I believe Art was referring to Post #60.
     
  14. MartyR

    MartyR Registered User
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    Philip, I did confess several posts back that I had discovered that my memory (yet again) had failed and the watch I saw was indeed by Joseph White. Actually I was quite pleased with myself for having remembered the surname correctly :cool:
     
  15. spring-detent

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    #65 spring-detent, Nov 20, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2012
    Many thanks for finding these pictures, I also had no idea it had been re-auctioned so recently in Geneva so thank you Philip for that information, not sure how I didn't notice myself.

    Superrr looking watch right there :)
     
  16. nomorewatch

    nomorewatch Registered User

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    Same feeling here, my friend. I really want to see that watch in a real auction instead of online even though such brilliant piece is unaffordable to me
     
  17. MartyR

    MartyR Registered User
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    Just to avoid any misunderstanding, the link I showed was to Pieces of Time, probably the major antique watch dealer in the UK. They possibly bought the watch in Geneva (which would indeed have been a "real" auction and sold it privately - I just happened to be in their shop (in central London) in the few days between buying and selling :)
     
  18. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    If they hold true to form, the Wachsmann family will have left the Silver Vaults for Daytona FL in February for the NAWCC Midwinter Regional.
     
  19. nomorewatch

    nomorewatch Registered User

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    Thank you for clarifying
     

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