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Liverpool Window Jewels

Sam Jeens

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Jun 30, 2020
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I am Currently writing a learning journel for university. and my item is a Irish 1860 pocket watch by John Donegan.
on the Fusee cone there is a large Liverpool Window jewel.
my question is Why?
i've found many articles that state that they are present and what they are called, but nothing that attains the why?
surely a smaller one would have sufficed. is it just a sign of quality and 'bling'

any input appriciated
many thank
sam
 

Andrew Wilde

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Feb 18, 2020
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Hi Sam,
Firstly, good luck with your project.
I think you've hit the nail on the head when you suggest it might just be bling, and marketing. While jeweling undoubtedly improves performance to varying degrees, depending where and how it is applied, I don't believe the size of jewels adds anything; in fact you might suspect that larger jewels are likely to be made of inferior material to smaller jewels, purely due to cost consideration, so it may well be that the larger the "jewel", the less benefit it has.
I think of Liverpool jeweling as not only being oversize, but also graduated, with the jewels getting larger as you move round the movement from the lever towards the fusee. Undoubtedly it's aesthetically pleasing but I'm unaware of any mechanical benefit. And when it comes to the fusee I reckon we are well and truly in bling land.
My Liverpool Jewel examples come mainly from the late 1850s/1860s, and I understand that the consensus on these is that they are to better compete with the higher end American movements in the American market, so it was also a marketing tactic.
Others here may disagree with my thoughts - perhaps this will encourage some further comment.
Finally - a picture of your 1860 Donegan watch would be good, that might also encourage further comments. Here's a couple of my examples with jeweling to the fusee, plus another that doesn't include the fusee and may not even be classified as Liverpool jeweling; it is jewelled to the centre wheel though (and is a Massey 3).
Cheers ... Andy

IMG_4658.jpg IMG_4697.jpg IMG_4560.jpg
 

Sam Jeens

Registered User
Jun 30, 2020
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Hi Sam,
Firstly, good luck with your project.
I think you've hit the nail on the head when you suggest it might just be bling, and marketing. While jeweling undoubtedly improves performance to varying degrees, depending where and how it is applied, I don't believe the size of jewels adds anything; in fact you might suspect that larger jewels are likely to be made of inferior material to smaller jewels, purely due to cost consideration, so it may well be that the larger the "jewel", the less benefit it has.
I think of Liverpool jeweling as not only being oversize, but also graduated, with the jewels getting larger as you move round the movement from the lever towards the fusee. Undoubtedly it's aesthetically pleasing but I'm unaware of any mechanical benefit. And when it comes to the fusee I reckon we are well and truly in bling land.
My Liverpool Jewel examples come mainly from the late 1850s/1860s, and I understand that the consensus on these is that they are to better compete with the higher end American movements in the American market, so it was also a marketing tactic.
Others here may disagree with my thoughts - perhaps this will encourage some further comment.
Finally - a picture of your 1860 Donegan watch would be good, that might also encourage further comments. Here's a couple of my examples with jeweling to the fusee, plus another that doesn't include the fusee and may not even be classified as Liverpool jeweling; it is jewelled to the centre wheel though (and is a Massey 3).
Cheers ... Andy

View attachment 626324 View attachment 626325 View attachment 626326
Hi Andy,

Thanks so much for your very comprehensive reply
See attached image of the pocket watch
Thanks
Sam

20201105_092159.jpg
 

gmorse

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Jan 7, 2011
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Hi Sam,

...in fact you might suspect that larger jewels are likely to be made of inferior material to smaller jewels, purely due to cost consideration, so it may well be that the larger the "jewel", the less benefit it has.
Andy is quite right, most of these 'windows' are made of quartz rather than corundum, (ruby or sapphire), and are hence indeed softer.

Liverpool makers departed from the traditional London patterns, evolving their own characteristic style of movement which included these oversized jewels, often the barrel ratchet and click mounted on the barrel bar rather than the usual position on the pillar plate under the dial, (sadly missing on your watch), and with the train planted in the reverse order to the convention of the day. They planted the lever next to the fusee rather than next to the barrel; this arrangement is known as a 'Liverpool Runner', and rather like the jewels, there doesn't seem to be any practical reason for this.

Liverpool makers were also amongst the earliest to adopt alternatives to the verge, cylinder and duplex escapements. Beginning with the Litherland rack lever which led to the early detached levers of Edward Massey and George Savage and on to the single table roller English lever, (whose originator remains a mystery but seems likely to have been a Liverpool worker), they enabled detached lever escapements to become economically accessible to a wider public.

Partly due to the geographical location of Liverpool on the West coast of the UK, and partly their ability to understand and cater for a different market from the traditional British one, many makers exported a large proportion of their output to the US, mainly as un-cased movements to avoid US customs duties on watches with precious metal cases.

Regards,

Graham
 

Andrew Wilde

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Feb 18, 2020
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Hi Sam, thanks for the picture. There are a couple of other notable features of that watch; as well as having Liverpool Windows, it also has Liverpool Running, and the plates are fastened together using screws rather than brass pins as was usual on full plate movements at this time. I or others can speak more on these characteristics if you're interested.
 

Sam Jeens

Registered User
Jun 30, 2020
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Hi Sam, thanks for the picture. There are a couple of other notable features of that watch; as well as having Liverpool Windows, it also has Liverpool Running, and the plates are fastened together using screws rather than brass pins as was usual on full plate movements at this time. I or others can speak more on these characteristics if you're interested.
Absolutley Andy,
any and all input appriciated. the more i can learn the better really :)
 

Sam Jeens

Registered User
Jun 30, 2020
10
2
3
32
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Hi Sam,



Andy is quite right, most of these 'windows' are made of quartz rather than corundum, (ruby or sapphire), and are hence indeed softer.

Liverpool makers departed from the traditional London patterns, evolving their own characteristic style of movement which included these oversized jewels, often the barrel ratchet and click mounted on the barrel bar rather than the usual position on the pillar plate under the dial, (sadly missing on your watch), and with the train planted in the reverse order to the convention of the day. They planted the lever next to the fusee rather than next to the barrel; this arrangement is known as a 'Liverpool Runner', and rather like the jewels, there doesn't seem to be any practical reason for this.

Liverpool makers were also amongst the earliest to adopt alternatives to the verge, cylinder and duplex escapements. Beginning with the Litherland rack lever which led to the early detached levers of Edward Massey and George Savage and on to the single table roller English lever, (whose originator remains a mystery but seems likely to have been a Liverpool worker), they enabled detached lever escapements to become economically accessible to a wider public.

Partly due to the geographical location of Liverpool on the West coast of the UK, and partly their ability to understand and cater for a different market from the traditional British one, many makers exported a large proportion of their output to the US, mainly as un-cased movements to avoid US customs duties on watches with precious metal cases.

Regards,

Graham
Thanks Graham, I'd never heard of Liverpool running so i will lookin to that more and metion in my essay
 

gmorse

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Jan 7, 2011
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Hi Sam,

The correct term for this train layout is 'Liverpool Runner', although I'm afraid I don't know the origin of this expression.

Although using screws to fasten the plates together was common in box chronometers at the very beginning of the 19th century and before, it wasn't widely adopted in ordinary pocket watches until rather later. Taper pins in cross holes in the pillar tops was the older way.

Regards,

Graham
 

gmorse

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Jan 7, 2011
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Hi Paul,

As for the remarks about competing on American market... early American watches made by Boston/Waltham Watch Co also had ‚window jeweks’ so to say...
Just shows the influence exerted by Liverpool on the US watch industry!

Regards,

Graham
 
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John Matthews

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Sep 22, 2015
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I am not sure that I fully understand the characteristics of the jewel/pivot interaction that are most critical in the performance of a watch from the point of manufacture to its first service and its performance between subsequent service events. While I understand the reasons that intuitively spring to mind, e.g. hardness, resistance to abrasion, static and kinetic friction, I am yet to find a detailed 'science-based' account of the subject that covers the performance of the different jewels (quartz, garnet, corundum minerals, diamond, synthetic) - I would be grateful for any references.

The use of jewels as pivot bearings, provides low and predictable friction which can be delivered with minimal lubrication; but in order to do so, the setting is critical. If the setting is defective, such that non-axial loading occurs, the variation in friction will adversely impact performance. My understanding is that impact on performance, can entirely negate the advantage of jewelling. From what I remember, the implication being that performance of non-axial loading with a jewelled bearing, will over time, deteriorate more and faster, than than a hard brass bearing.

I have no idea whether this was appreciated by the highly competent Lancashire movement makers and jewellers in the C19th, but if they did, is it possible that the use of large settings might have been driven, in part, by theoretically and practical ability to deliver more accurate settings, and therefore reduce non-axial loading? If so, perhaps the large jewels, were not just there as 'showy bling'.

John
 

Andrew Wilde

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Feb 18, 2020
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Hi John,
I guess it's best to keep an open mind on this, but when it comes to jeweling the fusee I think it has to be primarily bling. I'd argue the same, not necessarily about large jewels in general, but for the increasing size of the jewels as you move from lever round the train, which I believe is characteristic of Liverpool Windows. That just smacks of aesthetics to me. I'm a sucker for them anyway, love the way they look, but I don't think I'm getting a better quality watch over one with smaller jewels.
I think also that the larger jewels would be used in the pillar plate/pillar plate bridges as well if there was a benefit to them, but they never are.
Andy
 
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Jerry Treiman

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Aug 25, 2000
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This is a great subject for study. On the question of what was used for jewels, one of our old members, Alvin Kleeb (deceased), was also a gemologist. In 1954 he published a treatise on the composition of watch jewels in the quarterly journal of the Gemological Institute of America - “Gems and Gemology”

A slightly different version of the article, perhaps more focused for the horologist, was published in our Bulletin in 1962 (v.X, no.3, p.191) but is only available on-line for NAWCC members.

Kleeb found that the Liverpool Windows were often made from stones other than quartz.
 

John Matthews

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Sep 22, 2015
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Jerry thank-you so much for these references, as they include photographs & jewel identification of a number of Lancashire watches including examples of Liverpool Windows jewelling.

Kleeb found that the Liverpool Windows were often made from stones other than quartz.
In support of your statement I found this, which I know will be of interest to a number of devotees of Lancashire watches ...

1607592855467.png
John
 

DaveyG

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Mar 21, 2005
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I respect all of the comments that have been made, they are all pertinent and accurate. I especially like John's view on the necessity for accurate location of setting, whether brass or 'jewel', bling or useful. I can add nothing about Liverpool Windows other than to say that they do perform the the function associated with the name - that is, from experience - they allow a lot of light into the train and make examination of the assembled watch much easier.

;)

Dave
 

gmorse

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Hi Jerry,

There's a long article by Ian Greaves, ('A Study of English Watch Jewelling'), in the December 2014 Antiquarian Horology, (vol. 35, no. 4), which concentrates on the Coventry jewellers but applies equally to other centres. He draws on the records of Dr. David Torrens for many of the details of manufacture.

Regards,

Graham
 

Andrew Wilde

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Feb 18, 2020
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I can add nothing about Liverpool Windows other than to say that they do perform the the function associated with the name - that is, from experience - they allow a lot of light into the train and make examination of the assembled watch much easier.
Hi Davey - that's the most logical explanation for oversized "jeweling" I've heard (other than for aesthetic reasons). So easy to forget that effective artificial light sources weren't available back then so anything that allowed more available light into the movement would have been beneficial.
 

John Matthews

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Sep 22, 2015
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Graham - many thanks for this link -

Ian Greaves, ('A Study of English Watch Jewelling')
It is an excellent article with many general facts relating to the Coventry trade - much on social history and working practices. It contains a link to an earlier note by Torrens, which draws attention to the influence the choice of material has on the production costs ...

1607606326568.png

John
 
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pmwas

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And diamond endstones! Though in the early days this may have been just Waltham.
Curtis was not just Waltham.
Curtis was the first ‚mass-made’ movement in the world, before ‚just’ watches were introduced. The factory was the first to introduce Dennison’s system of repeatable, interchangable parts. It failed quickly, so there were only ~1000 Curtis movements ever made, and even within the 1000 there are variations.

One might not tell by looking, but I had to ask the seller to allow split payment (it three parts) for a movement only, even lacking it’s original case that’s impossible to come by.

Curtis is a collector’s dream - the first American watch (except a few prototypes). Not something you see everyday, and definitely one of the top stars in my collection ;) even despite the non original case...
 

PapaLouies

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Apr 14, 2010
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It could be that a smaller jewel would crack due to the pressure of a fully wound fusee.
Regards, P/L
 

jboger

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Just found this interesting discussion. Jewels are hard (to resist wear) but also brittle (witness so many cracked jewels). Someone above noted that on a Liverpool runner the fusee has the largest jewel, with those wheels that follow having jewels of decreasing size. Let me throw this out: the fusee bears the full power of the mainspring or nearly so, with subsequent wheels bearing less and less. Had the fusee jewel been thin-walled, it might easily crack.This would be less important for those jewels further removed from the mainspring. Furthermore, the fusee jewel endured additional stress each time the fusee was wound. That might be another consideration. So in other words, I'm speculating that the decreasing size of the jewels is a function of how far removed the wheels are from the power of the mainspring.
 
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S.Humphrey

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Great thread!
I want to revive this just to ask, can anyone give me some sound dates for the introduction of "Liverpool Windows" and when they really fell out of favor?
 

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