Incoming Centennial Watch

Discussion in 'European & Other Pocket Watches' started by richiec, Apr 11, 2020.

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  1. richiec

    richiec Registered User
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    Made my first purchase during the pandemic, an 18 size Centennial, to work on as it seemed promising in that it apparently runs somewhat and still has the glass cover over the back of the movement. I buy these sporadically as my great, great grandfather marketed them from the late 1870's to the 1890's. His partner, Henry Beguelin was probably the impetus around the importation. Hopefully, and I use that word loosely, it actually does run to the point of being able to repair it as parts are not interchangeable due to the Swiss way of making watches. I have purchased close to 75 of these and have not been able to switch any parts except the cases.
     
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  2. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    Hi riciec, I see you have not moved far since your great grandpa´s days. I read your thread on the Centennial watch, and for some reason, I thought I would look at them on eBay, and I did something I have said a thousand times, never buy from America, the import duty is crippling. So I bought one, it must have been a bad day, never buy Swiss, never from America, never without a silver or gold case, never later than 1850, I think I forgot my pills that morning, though as they say "Never say Never". I bought the centennial on the 12th April I think, and it was posted on the 17th. It arrived today. 5th May. I think it visited every state in America, before taking the slow boat to Europe, and because the seller had not put anything on the declaration form, saying what was in the packet, they ripped it open, and then badly repacked it. that took them three days, they then wrote out a bill for €13.50 for unpacking and re-packing. They then gave it to DHL its stands for Delivered, Handled & Late. Though we were at home Saturday, the girl from DHL did not inform us she had a packet for us, she just dropped a little note in our post box saying we could pick it up on Monday after 10.00hrs. So here we are on Monday, looking at the damaged packet and I must say I am not in the same mood I usually have when opening a packet when I know that it contains a pocket watch. After fighting my way through the sticky plastic stuff I arrived at grey looking tin box, it reads "Dispensing leader Box Pat. Pend". mmmm, so I turned it over and found "Johnson Tool & Die-Breedville Mich. Par. Pen." in a circle. Well that cheered me up a bit I like old small tins, and I can ask you over the water what was it used for:oops:

    So I then open Mr Johnsons patent tin can, and there it was my first "Centennial Swiss" watch imported by your great-grandpa" You won´t believe this but I like it. I then remembered you said you have seventy or so of these watches, and it made me wonder how to get back to America, all it needs is a new spring. It´s OK rich, I will save you the trouble, I will get it fixed, and then I will tell you another story about your grandpas watch.

    Best wishes,

    Allan

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  3. musicguy

    musicguy Moderator
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    Nice story Allan. I have had a few watches in the last few weeks that were supposed to
    take 2-3 days but took 15-20 days.

    It looks like a nice Centennial.




    Rob
     
  4. richiec

    richiec Registered User
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    Alan, you are lucky, the glass back survived all of these years. Broken main springs and staffs are the normal on these watches, the Swiss pivots are so hard they snap easily and the bridled mainsprings seem to break when just breathing on them. Cross and Beguelin imported these watches until Henry Beguelin died in 1896 and then they seemed to have stopped being imported. Most are 11 jewels, the only 15 jewel ones I seem to find are ladies sizes. Most are in nickel cases, it is rare to get one in gold or gold filled. there are a few in silver, mostly ladies sized again. I have some of the chronographs, most don't work due to worn gears.The story of the company is interesting as after 1900 they seemed to go down the toilet, from a start in 1860, to a million dollar company by the turn of the century, to a breakup of the partnership in 1920, to court for failure of Robert Beguelin to pay off the stock of former owners (my great grandfather and his brother), to receivership by the mid 1920's and the death of Robert Beguelin and dissolution of the company by 1928. I have no surviving records at all, somehow my grandmother distanced herself from everyone on the Cross side of the family except her husband (she was a b---h). I had relatives that lived 3 miles from our house we never knew about, they have all died off now.
     
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  5. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    #5 Allan C. Purcell, May 5, 2020
    Last edited: May 5, 2020
    Google Maps

    I had a quick look at Breedsville, nice looking area not far from Lake Michigan on the other side is Chicago. Looks a bit like England before the Vikings came. No sign of Johnson´s Tool & Die.
     
  6. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    I have had another look at the watch since lunch, and if rubbed with a silver cloth the strange metal shines like silver. The inner covers are cromed I think and have a mirror finish, which you can see above. The second's hand is lost, but the pipe is still there. The balance runs free, so good news there. Holding it in the hand one gets the feeling it could be bulletproof, the thick front glass, and the layered case. I am looking forward to seeing it run, though that could be later-much later this year.

    Keep fit folks,

    Allan.
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