Information Request - Best Centre Seconds Chronograph

madison.rose

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Hello,

I am new to this forum, and I find myself here because I am trying to find some information about a chronograph/pocketwatch. I work for an auction house as a researcher, but quite honestly I know very little about this sort of thing (I usually write about antique jewelry and artwork), and I spent a long time combing through Google searches and posts throughout this forum trying to narrow down what exactly it is that I have been asked to research. I'm hoping someone will be kind enough to help me out with the proper terminology and perhaps a little history on this item.

It appears to me that this watch was dropped at one point, since both the crystal and face have large cracks. I have been unable to find any examples of similar watches with a black ring around the outer edge, and I'm not sure if our ring is intentionally missing the north-west section. I'm not even sure what this portion of the watch is meant to measure.

Inside, there is mysterious hand engraving on the case that reads "R201 12/32". I did find stamped initials reading "H W" on the brass gears. There's also what looks like a maker's hallmark to me, which is comprised of four initials around a feathered arrow pointing to a ruler. The initials on the right side are "A F", but there's a silver dial set over the initials on the left side and I'm unable to clearly see what they are (and nervous to move the dial in case I damage anything).

Thank you very much for sharing your time and knowledge! :)

8747a_med.jpeg 8747b_lg.jpg 8747c_lg.jpg 8747f_lg.jpg 8747i_lg.jpg 8747j_lg.jpg 8747k_lg.jpg 8747l_lg.jpg
 

Tom McIntyre

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I cannot see the damage to the dial, which is the most interesting feature of the piece.

This looks like an inexpensive nickel cased timer about of the quality of a cheap alarm clock. The initials you see are AF for Advance or Fast and on the other side will be RS for Retard or Slow. They tell which way to move the regulator arm to adjust the rate of the watch.

The piece is otherwise unsigned and it will be difficult to determine, except generally, who made it.
 

gmorse

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Hi madison.rose, and welcome,

This watch is, as Tom has commented, an example of an inexpensive pocket watch. The movement is of the type usually known after its inventor as a Roskopf, although this example may not be by that company. The movement is constructed in the main of stamped or pressed parts, and the escapement is a pin-pallet type. Although a relatively cheap watch, these are collected, and I think that an example such as this, with a centre-seconds facility is unusual. The legend on the dial is purely marketing hype however; it's hardly "best" and it isn't a true "chronograph" either. Chronographs have the facility to start, stop and reset to zero the centre seconds hand independently of the rest of the movement without interrupting the running of the hour and minute hands.

The slide at 2 starts and stops the whole movement, and the pin at 11 is depressed to allow the winding crown to set the hands.

The black chapter ring over the seconds track appears to be part of the crystal rather than attached to the dial, but to what purpose is unclear. The dial itself appears to be intact.

The case is base metal, and any scratched details inside the cover are repairers' codes, meaningful only to those who made them.

Please ask any further questions which may occur to you.

Regards,

Graham
 

Tom McIntyre

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I did not pick up on the black seconds track being on the crystal. I wonder if it is intended to rotate with turning the bezel so it can be located at any desired position. Perhaps the idea was to "target" some expected performance. If one set the hands to 12:00 before starting the piece it would be a timer with 12 hour accumulator accurate to the second. (If the mechanism itself is accurate to the second.)
 

madison.rose

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Thank you Tom, Luis, and gmorse for your help! It does not appear to me that the bezel can rotate, but it makes sense that the black ring is attached to the crystal because there's a tiny amount of shadow between the ring and the dial. I think the damage to the dial is most clearly visible in the second photograph, it is cracked in three places.

My only confusion now is this: did people purchase the movement and the case separately? As I was hunting around for information I found a few examples of similar watches in the same case with different hands, faces, etc. For example, this completed auction had photos of a Liga "Best Centre Seconds Chronograph". Is it safe to say that whichever manufacturer produced the face in my piece was imitating Liga's style? The fonts look the same to me, but the manufacturer's name is conspicuously missing on mine. Thank you again for your assistance.
 

gmorse

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Hi madison.rose,

The hairline cracks on the dial are very commonly seen, in fact it's unusual not to find at least some in enamel dials. The enamel was fired onto a copper disc, and is quite fragile and susceptible to knocks.

Although choosing a case separately from the movement was common practice in the sale of US made watches, it wasn't the same with European watches. Your example may have come from the same makers, as the movement picture strongly suggests, but the name "Liga" is almost certainly that of the retailer, added to the dial separately. Finding out who actually made the movement may be impossible, due to the way the Swiss industry was organised.

Regards,

Graham
 

Dr. Jon

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The Swiss watch industry allowed access at many levels so a retailer or broker could get almost any movement dial and case they wanted. There were independent movement, case hand and dial makers, as well as brokers, who assembled retail size lots.
 

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