Identification of English Pocket Watch

F

Fred Blogg

Hi Folks

I am wondering if sks could give me more info about a pocket watch I have.
The dial is labelled "English Lever."
The movement is labelled English manufacture on the back, s/n:429862. Under the dial it states that it is 16 size 1910, Handsworth Staffs Enco.

My local watchmaker tells me it is 7J. It is stem wind and set and is in an English rolled gold 10yr full hunter case.

Fred B.
 

Jeff Hess

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Looksl like a typical turn of the century (more like 1920's) English watch. they were usually in rolled gold cases and often in case made by Dennison.

And yes, it looks to be 7 jewels.

Good luck.
 
F

Fred Blogg

Hi Frank and Jeff

Frank - there are no hallmarks on the case as it is gold filled not solid gold. On the inside of the back cover - Meteor Rolled Gold. On the inside of the rear dust cover - English make, this case warranted to wear 10 years.

Jeff - you could be right with dating it to the 1920s. It is almost identical to the case on my 1922 Elgin.

Fred B.
 

Kent

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The trade marks "Sun," "Moon" and "Star" belong to the Dennison Watch Case Co. (Birmingham). Does anybody know if "Meteor" is also a Dennison trade mark?
 
H

Hardy

Odd that it is called "English Lever" It doesn't appear to have an English lever escapement. It looks like an American watch made in England. Is this typical of English watches of that period?

Hardy
 

Jerry Matthews

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It is certainly not typical of English watches of that period (whatever that period might be) and despite the "English manufacture" inscribed on the movement it looks more Swiss to me.

The writing under the dial sounds like something someone did later. 1910? A stab at the date it was made. Handsworth, Staffs? Well, Handsworth was the location of the Dennison factory, but Handsworth is a Birmingham suburb and it is not in Staffordshire.
 

RON in PA

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We often discuss Swiss "fakes" made for the US market, might this watch be a "fake" for the English market?
 

pwrudy

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No. This is definitely no swiss fake for the english market, it is, as Jeff Hess said, a 1920s factory-produced Birmingham or Coventry watch equipped with (swiss) club-tooth escapement. It is inscribed 'english lever' at the dial and 'english manufacture' at the back plate in order to show off its 'pure' (in fact it wasn't pure - look at the 'scapement) english origin at a time when more swiss watches were sold in England than genuine english ones.
The cottage industry (Clerkenwell) was almost finished by that time (their decline started in the 1890s), it had porduced far more expensive and valuable watches. The Lancashire Watch Co. was one of the major more or less successful attempts to produce watches entirely under 'one roof' after the american system.
I am terribly sorry that I cannot give you any more details on the manufacturer (my guess: LWCo or Ehrhardt), but I will have to look it up in my books which I do not have available here. It clearly is a 7 jewel movement, Dennison case (Meteor - 10 year I think was their lowest grade of rolled gold cases), made for 'the working classes' who sometimes had that patriotic notion of buying 'genuine english products' after WW I.
 
O

Oliver Mundy

I would guess that the monogram on the cock stands for 'H. S[amuel] & Co.' - a large jewellery concern based in Manchester, which often advertised watches under its own name, though these were probably made by one of the firms named by pwrudy. (I believe H. Samuel still exists.)

Oliver Mundy.
 

Keith H

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I have been told in the past that one of the Coventry manufacturers (not sure but I think it was Rotherams) purchased a swiss factory which made their movements and these were then marketed in England. The "English Manufacture" was a way of the watches retaining their English association purely on the basis that the factory was English owned.
Hopefully someone out there may be able to confirm this.
 

pwrudy

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To Oliver Mundy:
I am certain that H Samuel still exists - it is a large jewellery retail chain in Britain but I cannot say who is the original owner. The 'S' in the cock is problably just standing for 'slow' (the F for fast is hidden by the regulator) so that the H would be remaining. I am associating this sign (H and a vertical line crossing through) with the origin of manufacture: Coventry or Birmingham (I haven't got my books at this place!!).
To Keith H:
I am also pretty sure that this is no Rotherham movement, they had a distinguished style and a higher quality. I have never heard of a Rotherham owned factory in Switzerland (which of course does not prove anything), but what I can say from the balance cock and the hairspring stud is that this movement was (factory) produced in England. As far as I know, a company producing watches in Switzerland had to mark their watch 'swiss made'or at least 'partly swiss/swiss parts'(cf. Nicole, Nielsen later R.B. North, which was an english company that marked their highest grade repeaters 'partly swiss').
Furtheron, Swiss 'fakes' or swiss watches pretending to be english are ALL recognizeable by the hairspring stud and most of them by the balance. This watch has a monometallic balance which could have been produced anywhere but the hairspring stud construction does not point to a swiss but a british origin.
I hope I can solve the mystery of the manufacturer at the end of this week when I can consult my books.
 

Jerry Matthews

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I think Keith may well be on to something here. I can't definitely confirm what he says, but I once had a keywind watch with Rotherham's trademark on the dial (p 458 Shugart 2006)which wound clockwise. It was the only "English" watch I ever came across that wound clockwise, which suggested to me that it was Swiss, not English.

Interestingly, the watch also had "Mann, Gloucester" on the dial. William Mann (father and son) were well-known clockmakers, but I have no evidence that they ever made watches. Possibly they purchased watches from Rotherhams and others which were sold in their retail shop (which I am told still exists in Gloucester).

Jerry
 
F

Fred Blogg

Hi One and All

Many thanks for a very interesting discussion.

Yes the F for fast on the balance cock is obscured by the regulator.

I look forward to Pwrudy's conclusions when he consults his texts.

Fred B.
 

pwrudy

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Hello Fred,
there I am, back to my most valued books. Well, what can I say, your watch is made by H. Williamson Ltd London. You will find a comprehensive article on their activities in Max Cutmore, Watches 1850-1980, David & Charles 1989, 113-121 (all those pages deal with Williamson !).

I will give you a very brief summary on what is stated in Cutmore:
H. Williamson Ltd appeared in the Kelly directory in 1901 marketing the English Watch Factory in Coventry (there probably were family connections to London/Clerkenwell and Coventry), a three-quarter plate (keyless) and a fullplate movement. In about 1896, Williamson had taken over (by shares) the small watchmaking factory of Charles H. Errington at Holyhead Road, Coventry, established around 1875. Williamson employed Errington as manager of his (formerly self-owned) factory and enlarged it considerably. During the time of expansion, Williamson imported some swiss components temporarily.
The threequarter plate watch you have shown in this post was not made with swiss components, but it may have been nuilt with parts from british outworkers.

For the swiss parts, Williamson had acquired another small watch factory in Büren, Switzerland (Suter & Co, NOT the Büren Watch Co!!). Williamson was filed in the Merchandise Mark Act case of 1899/1900, lost the case and had to mark all his swiss watches 'Swiss made'. So, as I said, your watch is clearly english factory made (of course, some of the machinery, i.e. a flat bed automatic lathe, came from Switzerland).

I think the foreriunner of your three-quarter plate movement was introduced in 1905 but your serial number suggests that it had been produced (very similar to the 'Astral' model) before they went into receivership in 1931 (they stopped production in 1928). The last serial # recorded for the three-quarter plate ranges in the 430,000 area. So 1927-28 would be my best guess.

Hope that helps.

So Keith was partly correct in saying that Williamson purchased a Büren Watch Co. To Jerrys remark I may add that Rotherham NEVER produced complete swiss watches under their name. They marketed the watches of the Rode Watch Co., La-Chaux-de-Fonds in the 1920s which they sometimes advertised as 'their' swiss factory. After the collapse of H. Williamson Ltd., they became the agent for their Büren watches, too.
But even as late as 1924, Rotherhams produced a keywind capped fullplate movement in Coventry.
 
F

Fred Blogg

Hi pwrudy

Many thanks for your interesting post. So the watch is a genuine English one!

Having determined that it was made by H.Williamson, what is the significance of the 1910 Handsworth Staffs, Enco?

I have another H.Williamson of Coventry movement I would appreciate a manufacture date for:

Under dial - H.Williamson of Coventry.

On movement plates - s/n = 353567,warranted english, 15 jewels with the letter S in a star. It is 3/4 plate.

Fred B.
 

pwrudy

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Dear Fred,
now, after re-consulting my books, this is what I could find out about your second watch (S in a star). This must be the Astral model, introduced in 1910, split-plate, which basically looks like your first discussed and pictured watch. It was made in the Errington Coventry factory, hence the signature Williamson of Coventry. This Astral model was produced in various grades and qualities, yours must be a rather good one. I would put the manufacturing date roughly to the very early 1920s because of the late number.

Williamson also had a case-making business at 24 Spencer Street, Birmingham. The marking on your first mentioned watch refers to Handsworth, a place very close to Birmingham which is located in the county of Staffordshire, England, abbreviated Staffs, Engld ('Enco' must be mistaken).

Now, the prize question is: did Williamson own another watch factory in this suburb of Birmingham? Does the '1910' refer to the Astral model which was launched in 1910 - but from the Errington factory in Coventry?
Well, honestly, I cannot tell you for sure. My conjection is: In 1920, Williamson owned a factory in Huntington, indeed, but it was the English Clocks and Gramophone Ltd., they went into liquidation in 1921. Did they produce 'Astral' watches after 1921 (reorganization of the Williamson factories)?
If there is anyone out there better acquainted with the Williamson history, a correction or addition to this theory is very well appreciated.
 
F

Fred Blogg

Hi Pwrudy

Once again thanks for the interesting info. From my research I see that the parish of Handsworth was transferred from Staffordshire to Warwickshire in 1911. The Soho Works under a mile from Handsworth (1 and a half miles NW of Birmingham) manufactured watch and clock cases amongst many other things.

Would photos of this movement, a comparison photo of the two movements be of help/interest?

Fred B.
 

Dave Chaplain

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For the English researchers:

Dial marked International [over] Made in England. Movement looks like an American 3/4 plate, stamped "Warranted English" and "7 Jewels". All in a Dennison STAR 10 year gold-filled case.

Escapement bridge looks Swiss but the escapement wheel has pointed teeth and the hairspring stud is roughly diamond shaped as seen on English pocket chronometers.

Dave
 

Dave Chaplain

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Thanks to the post by pwrudy, I found a picture of something VERY similar in the same Cutmore book, also attributed to the H. Williamson Ltd company.

The movement I am researching is exactly like the one found in the picture on page 114 of the Cutmore book, upper right, except that the one I'm looking at has a pointed tooth escape wheel. The SN on this one is earlier than the one pictured, at 176,897.
 

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