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20th c Interesting Negus Timer

Paul Regan

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I’m hoping someone may be able to shed some light on this interesting Negus timer. The center sweep records seconds to 1/300 sec, the bottom dial shows the oscillation of the balance and the top dial records minutes. The timer is started by depressing the button on the side and can be held running via a lever that is placed over the button. There is no flyback provision. Currently the balance oscillates between the 10 and 50 indicators. There is significant tarnish on the tub indicating it has seen a lot of use. The bezel measures 4” across. The tub is typical of chronometer tubs of the 1800’s. The spotted dameskeening looks mid to late 1800’s. The engraving on the dial suggest the 1800’s also.
Paul

07935FEE-B2FD-4467-9986-078754B781A7.jpeg 42673686-E15C-4CD4-A37D-7E9D7B09579D.jpeg D60FFC3D-F30E-4A8D-BFB7-11FF2AE00E9D.jpeg
 

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musicguy

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I don't know if it's American made or not but it is a very
interesting piece.

"T.S. and J.D. Negus were British immigrants. In 1848 Thomas Steward Negus
and his brother John Davidson Negus founded the firm of T.S. & J.D. Negus,
which manufactured and sold maritime chronometers and nautical
instruments at 140 Water Street, New York City"

Rob
 
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DeweyC

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I’m hoping someone may be able to shed some light on this interesting Negus timer. The center sweep records seconds to 1/300 sec, the bottom dial shows the oscillation of the balance and the top dial records minutes. The timer is started by depressing the button on the side and can be held running via a lever that is placed over the button. There is no flyback provision. Currently the balance oscillates between the 10 and 50 indicators. There is significant tarnish on the tub indicating it has seen a lot of use. The bezel measures 4” across. The tub is typical of chronometer tubs of the 1800’s. The spotted dameskeening looks mid to late 1800’s. The engraving on the dial suggest the 1800’s also.
Paul

View attachment 682132 View attachment 682133 View attachment 682134
Very interresting. It is 18000 BPH. Same as most watches. Plain balance and flat spring so not temp adjusted. Looks like a balance brake; perhaps the balance stop from the side of the case? Also the regulator is interesting.

What is the scale at the 6 oclock position?

I do not see a detent screw. Obvioulsy made from a chronometer ebauche in any case.

I agree is looks mid 19th century; it matches their chrons of the period. Engraving and finish.

Does it use a lever escapement?

Made for USN.
 

Paul Regan

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Very interresting. It is 18000 BPH. Same as most watches. Plain balance and flat spring so not temp adjusted. Looks like a balance brake; perhaps the balance stop from the side of the case? Also the regulator is interesting.

What is the scale at the 6 oclock position?

I do not see a detent screw. Obvioulsy made from a chronometer ebauche in any case.

I agree is looks mid 19th century; it matches their chrons of the period. Engraving and finish.

Does it use a lever escapement?

Made for USN.
Thanks for your response Dewey, the scale at the bottom indicates the oscillation of the balance. The hand is actually attached to the balance pivot.
the escapement is sort of like a verg. Both pallets are on the same vertical arbor. There is a fork device under the balance cock that seems to have no function. See photo.
Paul
 

Paul Regan

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Thanks for your response Dewey, the scale at the bottom indicates the oscillation of the balance. The hand is actually attached to the balance pivot.
the escapement is sort of like a verge. Both pallets are on the same arbor of the balance. There is a fork device under the balance cock that seems to have no function. See photo.
Paul
D99572D9-F571-4DC3-B5A4-96E0D5230DE5.jpeg 54549490-8700-4D92-AE84-DA4D10283ED2.jpeg
 
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gmorse

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Hi Paul,
...the scale at the bottom indicates the oscillation of the balance. The hand is actually attached to the balance pivot.
the escapement is sort of like a verg. Both pallets are on the same vertical arbor.
Before I saw your latest pictures I thought it couldn't be a lever due to the low indicated amplitude, but could be a type of cylinder, which some of these devices were. However, the picture of the escape wheel eliminates that possibility and some clearer pictures of the escapement would be really helpful; are there two flags set at an angle at the same point on the staff?

The wheels are well finished, with high pinion counts.

The fork under the balance cock is certainly a banking device.

Regards,

Graham
 

Paul Regan

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Hello Graham
Hi Paul,


Before I saw your latest pictures I thought it couldn't be a lever due to the low indicated amplitude, but could be a type of cylinder, which some of these devices were. However, the picture of the escape wheel eliminates that possibility and some clearer pictures of the escapement would be really helpful; are there two flags set at an angle at the same point on the staff?

The wheels are well finished, with high pinion counts.

The fork under the balance cock is certainly a banking device.

Regards,

Graham
Hello Graham, hope this helps.
Paul
CBFC3ED1-253F-4C6A-9350-3C2A0C1BFC64.jpeg E50B94FC-A4E7-4677-B0DB-27B4709050C3.jpeg
 

gmorse

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Hi Paul,

Thanks for these good pictures, which show that I was mistaken and it does in fact appear to be a cylinder escapement with a fairly massive staff, and rather unusually shaped escape teeth. Having a hand on the balance staff to indicate the amplitude is very unusual. Is there anything stamped on the pillar plate under the dial?

Regards,

Graham
 

Paul Regan

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Hi Paul,

Thanks for these good pictures, which show that I was mistaken and it does in fact appear to be a cylinder escapement with a fairly massive staff, and rather unusually shaped escape teeth. Having a hand on the balance staff to indicate the amplitude is very unusual. Is there anything stamped on the pillar plate under the dial?

Regards,

Graham
Hi Graham, there is nothing stamped on the pillar plate. The pillar plate is dameskeened as the top plate.
 

gmorse

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Hi Paul,

Thanks for looking, I thought there might be something to give a clue to its origin. It does have the look of English chronometer work with those spotted plates and high pinion counts; yes, even with a going barrel!

Regards,

Graham
 

DeweyC

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Hi Paul,

Thanks for looking, I thought there might be something to give a clue to its origin. It does have the look of English chronometer work with those spotted plates and high pinion counts; yes, even with a going barrel!

Regards,

Graham
Negus did a lot of work for Maury who was the USNO Super prior to the Civil War. It is not English, it is American; albeit many American chronometers used English Ebauches.

That is not the mystery to me. I simply do not understand the purpose of the dial indicaations and the amplitude meterl lit alone this escapement and balance wheel. The requirements of a precsion timekeeper were well established at this time.

While I have no clue what it might have been used for, it IS an important piece and I am glad Paul recognized it as such.

It may well be an astronomer or historain of physics or navigation who resolves the mystery.

Paul, you should write to the Superintendent of the USNO in DC with pics. Ask him to forward it to Richard Schmidt.
 

gmorse

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Hi Dewey,

I've seen 'time of flight' instruments from the end of the 19th century which used cylinder escapements, albeit with very tiny, fast-beating balances, unlike this one. Some were by Nicole Nielsen which had 1/100th second indicators at 12, but like you, I'm mystified by the amplitude indication at 6. I wouldn't necessarily regard these instruments as 'time-keepers' but more 'brief interval measurement' devices.

Regards,

Graham
 

Paul Regan

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Hi Dewey,

I've seen 'time of flight' instruments from the end of the 19th century which used cylinder escapements, albeit with very tiny, fast-beating balances, unlike this one. Some were by Nicole Nielsen which had 1/100th second indicators at 12, but like you, I'm mystified by the amplitude indication at 6. I wouldn't necessarily regard these instruments as 'time-keepers' but more 'brief interval measurement' devices.

Regards,

Graham
Hi Dewey,

I've seen 'time of flight' instruments from the end of the 19th century which used cylinder escapements, albeit with very tiny, fast-beating balances, unlike this one. Some were by Nicole Nielsen which had 1/100th second indicators at 12, but like you, I'm mystified by the amplitude indication at 6. I wouldn't necessarily regard these instruments as 'time-keepers' but m
Hi Dewey,

I've seen 'time of flight' instruments from the end of the 19th century which used cylinder escapements, albeit with very tiny, fast-beating balances, unlike this one. Some were by Nicole Nielsen which had 1/100th second indicators at 12, but like you, I'm mystified by the amplitude indication at 6. I wouldn't necessarily regard these instruments as 'time-keepers' but more 'brief interval measurement' devices.

Regards,

Graham
Dewey, I do believe this is an important piece of history and want to find out more about it. I have shown the photos to Rich and plan to talk to him additionally.
One thought someone had on the amplitude dial was that it was used in conjunction with a table to further improve the accuracy.
This was also a time when torpedos were being experimented with and timing was everything.
Paul
 

gmorse

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Hi Paul,

Having at last managed to view the video of it running, I can see that the indicator at 12 appears to be a simple minute register, quite different from the Nicole Nielsen instruments I mentioned earlier. It's basically a stopwatch, and without any facility to reset to zero, it could possibly pre-date the Nicole Nielsen patent 10,348 of 1844 which first included that feature.

Regards,

Graham
 

Whereisitat

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Hi Paul,

Thanks for these good pictures, which show that I was mistaken and it does in fact appear to be a cylinder escapement with a fairly massive staff, and rather unusually shaped escape teeth. Having a hand on the balance staff to indicate the amplitude is very unusual. Is there anything stamped on the pillar plate under the dial?

Regards,

Graham
I know I'm way out of my league regarding this watch-just enjoying the conversation. But I believe the amplitude indicator has a much simpler function. As the balance has a rim brake I would suspect there are positions that once the balance brake is applied re-starting could be a iffy proposition. And as a critical tool for whatever it would be important to know if the watch had indeed re-started. The hand attached to the staff was a simple indicator I'd wager. Not a performance gauge just a on / off indicator to avoid a timing error.
 
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Paul Regan

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I know I'm way out of my league regarding this watch-just enjoying the conversation. But I believe the amplitude indicator has a much simpler function. As the balance has a rim brake I would suspect there are positions that once the balance brake is applied re-starting could be a iffy proposition. And as a critical tool for whatever it would be important to know if the watch had indeed re-started. The hand attached to the staff was a simple indicator I'd wager. Not a performance gauge just a on / off indicator to avoid a timing error.
Thanks for your input Whereisitat. You are absolutely correct. It you do not stop it at the right point during the amplitude it must be twisted to start it again. It will start with very little amplitude showing though.

NOW EVERYONE, WHAT WAS IT USED FOR?
Thanks, Paul
 
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gmorse

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Hi Paul,
Thanks for your input Whereisitat. You are absolutely correct. It you do not stop it at the right point during the amplitude it must be twisted to start it again. It will start with very little amplitude showing though.

NOW EVERYONE, WHAT WAS IT USED FOR?
I think Whereisitat has provided a valuable insight; cylinders with balance brakes don't necessarily start instantly when the brake is disengaged, but sometimes it seems to depend on where in the train the brake is fitted, and also how it disengages. The poor initial amplitude may just be due to old lubricants.

I'm inclined to think that the likely use was in timing projectiles of some sort. Artillery shells wouldn't need a minute register for time of flight, at least not over short ranges, but a torpedo run seems a better candidate. Another possibility is estimating ranges of incoming fire.

Regards,

Graham
 

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Tom McIntyre

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Paul Regan

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Here are some pictures of the Frodsham Time of Flight Instrument made by Nicole Nielsen and what I believe is the patent model for Nicole & Capt's timer.

Time of Flight

View attachment 682800 View attachment 682799 View attachment 682798

Nicole & Capt Patent

View attachment 682801 View attachment 682803 View attachment 682805
Thank you Tom, so this could likely be the Negus response to providing an “American” Time of Flight chronograph to the US Navy. The wording (Made for) on the Negus dial seems to indicate it was made at request.
Paul
 

Paul Regan

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Here is a bit of an update on my Negus Timer. I serviced it and it now starts in any position the balance is stopped at.
The gearing is a work of art. The pivot holes for the balance and the escape wheel are blind, thus there are no jewels.
Can anyone suggest what the additional circular mortise is on the barrel in the area of the Geneva Stop Works?
I couldn’t leave it naked so I put together a rosewood box for it. I had the original Negus plaque for it.
Paul

2E8ECED3-CE7B-4D16-8691-976CDCCDC5DE.jpeg 52954736-ADF2-4CAF-84CE-ED9DAACA0CE4.jpeg CE071D98-C794-46F3-889D-387FB4AB60B1.jpeg
 

gmorse

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Hi Paul,
Can anyone suggest what the additional circular mortise is on the barrel in the area of the Geneva Stop Works?
I've come across another example of this, and I'm not absolutely certain but I believe the second recess for the 'Maltese Cross' piece was cut in that instance as part of a later repair, because it shows no sign of gilding but has some damage, (possibly from when the replaced 'Cross' piece broke), and it's also too large. (The dimensions of this mechanism all derive from the centre distance of the two pieces). The 'Cross' piece was missing and the finger on the arbor was broken. I used the original recess, which did have some traces of gold, to fit the new 'Maltese Cross', which meant that the new retaining screw had to have a shoulder.

Before:
DSCF8760 - Copy.JPG
After:
DSCF8910.JPG

I can't see clearly whether either of the two recesses on your barrel are gilt, which may suggest a similar reason for two recesses.

Mounting the stop-work in the barrel base rather than the lid is a more secure design because it avoids any possibility of the lid rotating under the pressure of the stopped winding. You can see the two tiny nibs next to the cutout in the above pictures which are supposed to prevent the lid from rotating.

That wheel work is certainly very good, especially the high-count pinions and the way their heads have been under-cut and polished.

Regards,

Graham
 

gmorse

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Hi Chris,
Does anyone know what material or process was used to make these dials? Can small chips be repaired or is it better to leave them alone?
I think these are silvered on brass, as box chronometers usually are, and as the chapter rings on brass dial longcases also are. Re-finishing, (involving refreshing the graining with an abrasive paper), these dials which have inked lines and text on them isn't advisable, but if they're engraved and wax filled that's normal practice for the longcase examples.

Regards,

Graham
 
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