Identifying a quarter repeater

sharkeye

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Hi
I recently aquired this pocket watch which seems to be a quarter repeater with cylinder escapement. It feels old, but doesn't look like the continental repeaters I usually see from around 1800-1820. The dial is marked "le roy" and feels like it could be original, the feet fits well in the movement at least... The case might be a replacement though, but I am not sure.
I think I saw a similar movement mentioned in the same context as Chapiro's book about Lepine...but I don't have that book...
I have also never seen gongs as wide as these.
If anyone here can provide some input I will as always be thankful.

Kind regards, Matthias

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sharkeye

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Just realized when I saw my own photos close up that the dial is probably signed "Lucard", which makes sense when I google about it in combination with Lépine and le Roy :)
 

aucaj

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Just realized when I saw my own photos close up that the dial is probably signed "Lucard", which makes sense when I google about it in combination with Lépine and le Roy :)
Is Lucard the maker of the just the dial? I found a piece in the British Museum catalog by Robin of Paris. The back of the dial is also signed "Lucard" according to the description.

 

sharkeye

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I think Lucard is just the dial-maker. I found the name associated with dials on other watches by Breguet, Pierre Le Roy, Oudin etc, so he (or his company) seems to have been somewhat prominent in those days.
 
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John Cote

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I am struck by the difference between the sort of crude quality of the craftsmanship of the plates and balance bridge on both sides as contrasted with the relatively beautiful craftsmanship of the repeating mechanism. I am not an expert on watches of this period by any stretch but I do look at a lot of watches and it looks to me as though someone took a cylinder movement, cut out the plates and did a pretty good job of making it a repeater.

I would love to be torn apart and schooled about this very interesting watch and I am writing it partly just so I can be notified about further comments on this thread.
 

sharkeye

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Putting some more images here just to try to get some attention to the watch :cool:
The gongs sat on a separate ring that was easily detachable.
No one who has seen this type of repeater before? :)
Is the spiked wheel the regulator ( or is it called governor?) of the repeating mechanism?

Kind regards
Matthias

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gmorse

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Hi Matthias,
Is the spiked wheel the regulator ( or is it called governor?) of the repeating mechanism?
No, it's attached to the hour snail, there's a peg under the cannon pinion which indexes it and a jumper which engages with it to locate the snail and ensure that it moves positively at each hour and doesn't wander. The snail governs how far the tail on the operating lever can move and hence how many strikes are made on the hour.

Regards,

Graham
 

gmorse

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Hi Matthias,

20220528_100639_crop.jpg

Sorry, if you meant this one, then yes, it is the governor for controlling the speed of the strike. It's a sort of escapement arrangement.

Regards,

Graham
 
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gmorse

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Hi Matthias,

There appears to be an additional screw in that area, possibly an 'after-market' modification holding the bent wire forming the banking on the pallets for that wheel.

Regards,

Graham
 

sharkeye

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Graham, I assume you mean the pin in these photos, and it also looks like you are correct
How does this governor work when you say it is an escapement arrangement...I usually see the "friction"? one that I have in various continental repeaters. Does this one have a specific name?

Thank you
Matthias
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gmorse

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Hi Matthias,
How does this governor work when you say it is an escapement arrangement...I usually see the "friction"? one that I have in various continental repeaters. Does this one have a specific name?
20220528_195554.jpg

The red arrow points to the pallets, which are like those in a lever escapement but with the impulse planes set so that the escape wheel makes them oscillate.

The green arrow points to a bar fitted to the pallets whose travel is limited by hitting the bent wire, (blue arrow), and the position of this controls the speed of oscillation. It's very similar to the mechanism is many alarm clocks. I thought at first that the bent wire was a later addition, but having seen these close-ups, I now think that it's original, but somewhat abused.

When the repeater is running, this arrangement makes a buzzing sound, unlike the centrifugal or frictional governor systems.

I don't know if this has a specific name, but 'oscillating governor' seems to describe it.

Regards,

Graham
 

sharkeye

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The red arrow points to the pallets, which are like those in a lever escapement but with the impulse planes set so that the escape wheel makes them oscillate.

The green arrow points to a bar fitted to the pallets whose travel is limited by hitting the bent wire, (blue arrow), and the position of this controls the speed of oscillation. It's very similar to the mechanism is many alarm clocks. I thought at first that the bent wire was a later addition, but having seen these close-ups, I now think that it's original, but somewhat abused.
Thank you again Graham! Very interesting!
 

gmorse

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Hi Matthias,
I finally managed to find some designs which are similar. The top one is actually really similar, although it looks more refined...
Those two examples by a very celebrated watchmaker work in exactly the same way as yours, right down to the bent wire banking!

Regards,

Graham
 
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Philip Poniz

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This post reminded me of a watch I used to have and spent considerable time researching.

THE MODERN REPEATER

In the old days (before this movement was made), continental repeaters were based on not-so-reliable chain-activated mechanisms* (below, "2" is the chain).

1 chain rep.jpg

The chain would sometimes break; replacing it or repairing it wasn't easy because it had to be precisely the same length. Additionally, it tended to stretch.
In 1763, Jean-Antoine Lépine of Paris invented a new, reliable system that became the template for the repeaters up to today.

2 Lepine 1763.jpg 3 Lepine 1763.jpg

Over the years, he changed the details of the original design, but the template stayed the same.
Your watch is one of his, dated from the early 19th century. If you provide the marks inside the back cover, we may be able to date it more preciously.
Below is Lepine's movement of the same caliber, maybe slightly later.

4 Lepine ca 1820 3a.jpg

Lucard was a dialmaker used by Lepine, Breguet, Robert, etc.

Below is Breguet No 149bis from circa 1790 (2nd Series), an older cousin of this watch. I owned it at one point, now it is in the Breguet Museum (the one Matthias found in Antiquorum).

5 1789 Lepine t, Breguet 149 bis.jpg 6 1789 Lepine t, Breguet 149 bis.JPG

The work on the watch started in September 1791 and lasted until June 30, 1792. The watch is described in Breguet registers as montre a repetition a la Lépine. It is the first Breguet repeating watch made on the principles and horological inventions of Lepine - "The King's Mechanical Expert"[ii]. It has a typical early Lepine layout, designed about 1770, called today Lepine's caliber, it employs wolf-tooth wheels used for the first time by Lepine to strengthen the gearing, and uses a repeating system designed by Lepine in 1763 and published in the 1766's Mémoir of the Académie des Sciences. It was a revolutionary mechanism in which the hour and quarter racks were placed directly on the winding arbor, eliminating the fragile winding chain.

Breguet used a single hammer. He did it numerous times in subsequent repeaters. Lepine sometimes used two hammers, sometimes a single one.

The ebauche maker was Louis Descombaz, the most important Breguet's ebauche maker. The movement is so similar to Lepine's that there is little doubt that the latter also used Descombaz for his ebauches.
The buyer of the watch, always referred in the literature as Monsieur Groi might, in fact, be someone different and far more important. The last letter of the name reads in the Breguet archives more like "s" than "i". Monsieur Gros was, at the time, one of the most important people in Breguet's business – he was his casemaker.

Uncharacteristically, it took the Swiss some time to catch up with Lepine's idea. When they finally did, one might argue that they reverted to their old chain-style system, just replacing the chain with Lepine's rack.

7 .jpg

Philip Poniz




* There was one exception, the Stogden repeater, invented in England and used almost exclusively there. On the continent, Breguet used it, in a typical for him, simplified but also an improved version.
[ii] No 149 is identical.
 
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sharkeye

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Thank you Philip for this very interesting and thourough information!

The inner dustcover (if it ever existed) has unfortunately been lost at some point in time.
The case fits very well, but is perhaps a later custom-made one. It feels a bit thin and lacking true quality-feeling.
The only marking in it is "23"...

20220630_223017.jpg

Kind regards
Matthias
 

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