John R. Arnold Keyless Wind Watches: Prest Patent

aucaj

Registered User
Feb 2, 2021
183
112
43
41
Country
The purpose of this thread is to attempt to catalog all the known Prest keyless winding system watches produced by John R. Arnold. I hope this will serve to estimate how many of the original 200 survived.

Thomas Prest was the workshop foreman of John Roger Arnold. On October 20th 1820, Prest was granted Patent No. 4501 for his keyless winding system. Around that time, John R. Arnold was licensed by Prest to produce several watches of this design. Approximately 200 of these watches were made. The watches were made with a going barrel and cylinder escapements. As noted on page 426 of AHS Vol. 27, No. 4 (June 2003), the earliest known specimens are 3, 11, and 13.

Number 3 is currently the earliest known example in existence. It was sold in 2017 by Sotheby's. There are excellent photos in the catalog link below. The watch features a gold dial and 18K gold case, but the movement is without a compensation curb.

Number 11 had been passed down through the Shanks family according to a letter published on page 912 in AHS Vol. 8, No. 8 (Sept. 1974).

From the Sotheby's description for Number 3, the existence of number 20, 30, and 91 are known:
Sotheby's London, 17[SUP]th[/SUP] December 1987, lot 175: J.R. Arnold no. 20, hallmarked 1820
Sotheby's London, 26[SUP]th[/SUP] February 1998, lot 35: J.R. Arnold, no. 30, circa 1820
Sotheby's London, 10[SUP]th[/SUP] December 1981, lot 142: J.R. Arnold no. 91, hallmarked 1823

Number 114 was recently discovered but a few years too late to safe its 18K gold case from being melted down. The watch did retain its original gold dial. It is a cylinder escapement without a compensation curb. I have included photos of number 114 to start this post.


R/
Chris

1.JPG 2.JPG 3.JPG 4.JPG 5.JPG 6.JPG
 

aucaj

Registered User
Feb 2, 2021
183
112
43
41
Country
At this point, I have compiled a list of 19 known references to John R. Arnold cylinder watches with the Prest keyless wind design. I am still making my way through the AHS journal database, so I may have some additions. It seems that Arnold made at least one keyless detent chronometer (no. 51) in the early 1820s. My list focuses on the estimated 210 cylinder escapements first made to this keyless design.

Please let me know if you know of any not included in this list.

I see a lot of references stating approximately 210 were made but I cannot find any direct evidence for this number. Does anyone know how it is known that only 210 were made?

I would appreciate any assistance you could provide.

Thank you,
Chris
 

Attachments

Allan C. Purcell

NAWCC Member
Feb 9, 2013
2,861
1,148
113
Germany
Country
Region
bbb-17.png
No 10. This information was published by Bonhams 2014.




J.R. Arnold. An early 19th century silvered open face pocket watch with Prest winding system

London Hallmark for 1819
Signed gilt metal cylinder movement numbered No.10, bi-metallic arched compensating curb to the hairspring and long blued steel regulation arm, Prest winding system, enamel dial with black painted Roman numerals and blued steel hands, subsidiary seconds at 6, silvered metal outer engine turned outer hinged case with winding bow, dial and movement signed
53mm.
Fußnoten

  • Thomas Prest, a Lancashire watchmaker, was apprenticed to John Roger Arnold in 1783 and later made foreman. In 1820, Prest was awarded a patent for his keyless winding system. Only around 210 watches were produced in Arnold's workshops using this mechanism between 1810. Hans Staeger states that No. 11 was until this point the earliest watch of this type recorded.

    A similar example can be found in Hans Staeger's '100 years of precision timekeepers' , Pages 557-556.
Good luck Chris, I will try to find more.

Allan.

PS:https://mcintyre.com/present/John Roger Arnold rev.pdf

 

Allan C. Purcell

NAWCC Member
Feb 9, 2013
2,861
1,148
113
Germany
Country
Region

aucaj

Registered User
Feb 2, 2021
183
112
43
41
Country
Hi Allan,

Thanks for responses. In my pdf, I do already have links to J R Arnold information you posted for 10 and 167. The Bonhams listing is where I saw the number 210. Everywhere else I see estimates of 200 being produced.

But I was unaware of the Thomas Prest watch; that is an interesting piece. This makes me question the unconfirmed reference for serial number 2 in the list. A number 2 is mentioned in AHS's book review of "The English Watch" by Cuss [AHS Vol. 31. No.3 pg 385]. It is unclear whether this watch is signed Thomas Prest or John R. Arnold. Do you have a copy of the book?

In these initial search efforts, I was a little surprised to only find 19 of these watches surviving. That is less than 10%. Either that is a sad survival rate or there are more to discover out there in attics and the backs of drawers.

I would appreciate the help. I will keep researching and cataloging. Hopefully, any members that are lucky enough to own one will allow me to add theirs to the list.

R/
Chris
 

gmorse

NAWCC Member
Jan 7, 2011
12,504
2,140
113
Breamore, Hampshire, UK
Country
Region
Hi Chris,
It is unclear whether this watch is signed Thomas Prest or John R. Arnold. Do you have a copy of the book?
It's a ruby cylinder, actually number 3 and is signed for John Roger Arnold.

Regards,

Graham
 
  • Like
Reactions: aucaj

Allan C. Purcell

NAWCC Member
Feb 9, 2013
2,861
1,148
113
Germany
Country
Region
I see Graham has given you the information on No 3, I do have the book and the AHS info is wrong, in so far the page is 363.


bbb-19.JPG bbb-20.JPG

So having found that in the book by T C. Cuss, I thought I would look into his father's book "Antique Watches" on page 185 & 186. There is No. 25.

I have chosen what they had to say then (1976).

bbb-22.JPG

bbb-21.JPG bbb-23.JPG

An old friend of mine Kenneth Shanks, who owned one of these watches in the '70s wrote to Camera Cuss telling him the hands could be set by hand.

When Ken Knew he had not long, before going to the Angles, he gave me his copy. I never had the heart to tell him I had a copy.


bbb-24.JPG

Allan.
 
  • Like
Reactions: aucaj

aucaj

Registered User
Feb 2, 2021
183
112
43
41
Country
Hi John,

Thank you for the response. I do have number 30 in the file attached to this thread and I have reviewed Tom's presentation and write up on it. I think it fully covers the design. I think number 30 is particular interesting because the 1807 hallmarks on the case for an 1819-1820 movement. Does the case have any makers marks on it?

R/
Chris
 

Allan C. Purcell

NAWCC Member
Feb 9, 2013
2,861
1,148
113
Germany
Country
Region
bbb-25.JPG Here is No 25 again in the "The Country Life Book of Watches ! by T.P. Camerer Cuss 1967. Page 93. I think they owned it then.

Allan.
 
  • Like
Reactions: aucaj

John Pavlik

NAWCC Member
Dec 30, 2001
2,225
411
83
Green Bay, Wi
Country
Region
Chris,

Case marks #30….case is numbered 30 in spite of the early hallmark date ..After viewing the series, unsure about why the 1807 case date … Movements had many changes to appearance from 3 to 30….

F61F310D-2CE0-48DF-A1A4-1F5021B9239D.jpeg
 
Last edited:
  • Love
Reactions: aucaj

aucaj

Registered User
Feb 2, 2021
183
112
43
41
Country
Wow! That is interesting. The 'TH' is makers mark for Thomas Hardy. It seems that Hardy made most if not all the cases for these watches. Your case also has the matching serial number stamped on it. So, it seems that the case is original to the watch but pre-dates its production by 13 years! It is strange to think that Hardy had stock available from 1807 in 1820. Maybe some other members more knowledgeable can explain this further.
 

John Pavlik

NAWCC Member
Dec 30, 2001
2,225
411
83
Green Bay, Wi
Country
Region
Wow! That is interesting. The 'TH' is makers mark for Thomas Hardy. It seems that Hardy made most if not all the cases for these watches. Your case also has the matching serial number stamped on it. So, it seems that the case is original to the watch but pre-dates its production by 13 years! It is strange to think that Hardy had stock available from 1807 in 1820. Maybe some other members more knowledgeable can explain this further.
I wonder what the Significance of the letter B is ….
 
  • Like
Reactions: aucaj

John Matthews

NAWCC Member
Sep 22, 2015
2,899
1,330
113
France
Country
Region
The 'TH' is makers mark for Thomas Hardy.
Chris - I am not sure that you have identified this case maker's mark correctly.

The mark appears to me to be TH or possibly T·H in a rectangular cartouche with cut corners (Priestley designates as cameo 2]

1620883037340.png

Thomas Hardy is not listed as using either of these marks, neither in Priestley nor Grimwade. From my reading of these references the candidates for the maker of 1807/08 are:

TH
Thomas Hill - registered 22/02/1779​
Thomas Holland II - registered 07/08/1798 (Grimwade) - a small worker who may have made cases.​
T·H
Thomas Hill - registered 26/08/1781​
Thomas Harris - registered 21/01/1805 (but note located in Bath)​

There is a listing for Thomas Hardy II, having registered the second mark in 1813. The quoted examples in your document, as far as I can see, are post this date and may have used this latter mark, but I question the1807/08 example.

John
 

gmorse

NAWCC Member
Jan 7, 2011
12,504
2,140
113
Breamore, Hampshire, UK
Country
Region
Hi John,
I wonder what the Significance of the letter B is ….
That's the jointer's mark; many cases have these marks, which were significant to the case makers who employed the jointers but are now largely meaningless in the absence of any written records. The jointers, who made the hinges and fitted the parts of the case together were a vital part of the process, the whole fit of the case depended on their expertise, and a slip of their file could ruin all the case maker's work.

Regards,

Graham
 
  • Like
Reactions: aucaj

aucaj

Registered User
Feb 2, 2021
183
112
43
41
Country
There is a listing for Thomas Hardy II, having registered the second mark in 1813.
Thanks, John. It is conjecture on my part, but there are 5 examples with 'TH' on the cases. I have included links below. Sotheby's and Antiquorum attribute it to Thomas Hardy (II). Bonham's seems unsure but guesses "Thomas Hubbard of London".

 

John Matthews

NAWCC Member
Sep 22, 2015
2,899
1,330
113
France
Country
Region
Chris - I am very wary of accepting hallmark and maker attributions without seeing clear photographs.

As a 'working hypothesis' I have no problem with the later cases (post 1813) being attributed to Thomas Hardy II, but I would be looking to find photographs to confirm.

John
 

Allan C. Purcell

NAWCC Member
Feb 9, 2013
2,861
1,148
113
Germany
Country
Region
1620915551184.png

The indications that the above watch is a re-case for movement No. 30 by John-Roger Arnold & Thomas Prest worried me. This photograph shows the pinion winding system in the pendant, which would indicate the person who did the work must have made that too. I think we should consider Thomas Hardy 2 used a case made by Thomas Hardy I or the date letter "M" is a mistake.
Allan.

PS: Chris I thought you would like to see Ken´s letter.

vv-3.JPG
 
  • Like
Reactions: aucaj

aucaj

Registered User
Feb 2, 2021
183
112
43
41
Country
I have completed a review of the AHS organization archive sources. The search has yielded two more examples through advertisements. The total number of known pieces is now 23. Please let me know of any that are not on the attached list.

An article in the Horological Journal (Dec 1, 1867; pg 45) stated:


"Winding with the pendant—or, as it is
popularly called, the keyless watch—is very
general among the watches exhibited. This
invention, however, is by no means so novel.
as is generally supposed, having been first
introduced by Mr. John Arnold in 1823, for
the convenience of a naval officer who had

lost his right arm."

Obviously, there are two incorrect assertions in this statement. It was Thomas Prest's invention and that it was in 1819.
Does anyone know if there is any truth in that a Naval Officer was the inspiration for creating the Prest keyless system?


R/
Chris
 

Attachments

Last edited:

aucaj

Registered User
Feb 2, 2021
183
112
43
41
Country
David Penney's website states that only the larger movements had the compensation curb. According to my list, that does seem to hold true. Does anyone know why a compensation curb was never applied to the smaller movements? Is it strictly a case of not having enough space? Or is there a technical reason a smaller movement would not benefit from a compensation curb as much as a larger movement?
 

Allan C. Purcell

NAWCC Member
Feb 9, 2013
2,861
1,148
113
Germany
Country
Region
Hi Chris,

Strange remark from David Penney, are you sure he did not say why? The Massey compensation curb is now quite rare but can be found on watches by Hornby, Roskell, Harrison, and Johnson, I think if someone looked for them, they would find many more plus those that have been removed, I have one where the index still as the holding screws, the rest clipped off. Hornby was also known to have used club-tooth escape wheels and Breguet compensation curbs. See Richard Hornby, AHS. page 65 Autumn 1990.

R/

Allan.
 

aucaj

Registered User
Feb 2, 2021
183
112
43
41
Country
Hi Allan,

I have included the link to David's remark (last paragraph, 2nd sentence). Please note that his remark is reserved specifically to the JR Arnold keyless cylinder movements. He made the observation but did not provide any engineering explanation.


R/
Chris
 

Allan C. Purcell

NAWCC Member
Feb 9, 2013
2,861
1,148
113
Germany
Country
Region
My fault Chris, I saw the compensation curb on the Arnold, and it looks so much like the system used by Massey, and then....................

R/,

Allan.
 

Allan C. Purcell

NAWCC Member
Feb 9, 2013
2,861
1,148
113
Germany
Country
Region
Hi Chris,
Found this in Mercer´s book "John Arnold & Son. If there are more I will let you know.

R/

Allan.

zz-1.JPG

PS: Arnold Dent 4081going barrel.
Arnold & Dent 4667 Lever. I will PM you with the information later.

No 47 and 163 are also by Arnold & Dent- will send pics.


zz-3.JPG zz-4.JPG Very busy this morning-these have also gone to another member.
 
Last edited:

aucaj

Registered User
Feb 2, 2021
183
112
43
41
Country
This is a quick revision regarding No. 164. I requested additional photos to confirm the hallmark. The seller told me that the watch had sold some time ago and there is a 'glitch' in their website showing it still available. I have included the link below. Currently, the website is still showing photos of the watch for those interested in seeing it. I have also updated the No. 164 entry in file.


R/
Chris
 

Attachments

  • Like
Reactions: Allan C. Purcell

Forum statistics

Threads
166,136
Messages
1,447,253
Members
86,679
Latest member
Fool4net
Encyclopedia Pages
1,101
Total wiki contributions
2,883
Last edit
E. Howard & Co. by Clint Geller