Chronometry: Longines Deck Watch

Discussion in 'Chronometers' started by John Hubby, Nov 9, 2012.

  1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  1. John Hubby

    John Hubby Principal Administrator
    Staff Member NAWCC Star Fellow NAWCC Life Member

    Sep 7, 2000
    12,077
    163
    63
    The Woodlands, TX
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    #1 John Hubby, Nov 9, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2012
    I have in for service a Longines Deck Watch Chronometer that basically is a robust pocket watch movement mounted in a gimballed frame with double wood case in the manner of a ship's chronometer.

    The movement is approximately 36 hour run time and is stem-wind lever set; you have to unscrew the bezel to access the lever. Photos follow below.

    The dial photo shows a silvered dial with "Longines Chrono Meter", Arabic numbers with arabic seconds bit, deep blued hands.

    The back plate has the following info:
    >Adjusted to three 3 positions
    >Twentyone 21 JEWELS
    >LONGINES Watch Co. Swiss
    >1874897

    The rate adjustment is interesting, with a kind of snail to provide gradual rate increase or decrease, with a pointer of the snail on a graduated scale.

    The last photo is with the lever set extended.

    Questions:

    * Approximately when was this made?
    * Is there a Longines serial number database or table from which to obtain a date, movement size, etc?
    * The lever set is not at all easy to use to obtain accurate time set, the minute hand tends to jump when the lever is pushed in. Any suggestions for improvement?
    * At what level did Longines participate in ship's chronometer production? Were they a significant producer?

    Any other info will be very much appreciated.

    RT Longines Dial.jpg RT Longines Back Plate.jpg RT Longines Lever.jpg RT Longines Carry Box.jpg RT Longines Carry Box Open.jpg RT Longines Chron Box.jpg RT Longines Chron Lid Open.JPG RT Longines Chron Box Open.jpg RT Longines Chron Gimbal.jpg Photos added of the carrying case and chronometer case, movement in gimbal.
     
  2. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Jan 7, 2011
    10,332
    1,091
    113
    Male
    Retired from Xerox
    Breamore, Hampshire, UK
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    This serial number is approximately 1906.
     
  3. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
    Staff Member NAWCC Star Fellow NAWCC Ruby Member Sponsor

    Aug 24, 2000
    81,795
    1,292
    176
    Male
    retired SW dev
    Boston
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
  4. MartyR

    MartyR Moderator
    NAWCC Member

    Dec 16, 2008
    10,935
    251
    83
    UK
    Country Flag:
    The "snail cam" was invented by Gedeon Thommen of Revue-Thommen although yours looks a slightly different shape from those I am used to seeing.

    The snail cam in conjunction with a "swan's neck" regulator was much favored by Patek Philippe as shown below.
     

    Attached Files:

  5. Adam Harris

    Adam Harris Registered User
    Moore NWCM Award

    May 3, 2012
    3,189
    75
    48
    Male
    Jubilado (retired)
    Costa Blanca - Spain
    Country Flag:
    If you want to know its provenance, email me the pictures and serial number.
    I will ask Longines

    Nice piece wish it was mine!
     
  6. Larry Treiman

    Larry Treiman Registered User

    Jan 18, 2009
    3,293
    55
    48
    Tired and retired!
    So. Calif.
    John, that is a most intriguing movement, and I hope you take Adam up on his offer to query his contacts at Longines for information on the provenance of the watch.

    The serial number indicates a manufacturing date circa 1906, as pointed out by gmorse. However, the movement itself appears to be quite a bit later, as indicated by the LXW (Longines-Wittnauer) importer code on the balance cock and the fact that the jewel count is both spelled out and shown in numerals. I don't know exactly when those import requirements went into effect but I'm pretty sure that they were much later than 1906.

    The movement is probably cal. or model 21/59, which was a 21-ligne or 18-size, open-face movement often used for railroad watches for the North American market, I believe predominantly for Canada, but also used on some U.S. railroads. There was also a 21/60 hunting case version. They were lever-set, like the "chronometer" movement you posted, and were made in 17 and 19 jewel "Express Leader" (Kew C) and 21 and perhaps 23 jewel "Express Monarch" (Kew B) grades. I don't recall if I have ever seen a 23-jewel 18-size cal. 21/59, so I'm not certain about that one.

    The reason I said it is probably cal. 21/59 is because somewhat later, perhaps around 1910 according to one source, Longines added a reserve-power (winding) indicator and designated it cals. 21.29 and 21.30. I am not clear on whether the version without the winding indicator continued to be called 21/59 and 21/60, though they are still designated that way in my 1912 A. Wittnauer materials catalog. Please note that sometimes the calibers are shown with the first one or two digits indicating size separated from the last two and any letter suffixes if used, by either a forward slash or a period of decimal point. I have done it both ways above. The slash might have been earlier and the dot the later form.

    Another oddity, but not a surprise, is that while the railroad version is adjusted to five positions, the "chronometer" version is "adjusted to three 3 positions". There is that spelled-out and and also indicated with numeral thing that I believe was a lot later than the serial number would indicate. Actually, a deck watch or chronometer watch spends nearly all its time in just one position: dial-up, but IMHO any quality portable or semi-portable movement should be adjusted to three 3 positions (dial-up, dial-down and pendant/stem up).

    The finish on the chronometer movement is also different, and I believe of a later style than the spotted or fish scale finish on most of the railroad grade 21/59 movements that I have seen. I always called the finish on the posted movement, also on the Patek, Philippe that Marty posted above, "Geneva stripes" but I think it is also called "Vagues de Geneve" which I think is French for Geneva Waves. Of course I studied Spanish, so maybe I (and Adam) should call them "Olas de Geneve."

    Oh yes, before I get caught up in a rip-tide, I think that pefhaps your problem with the minute hand jumping when the set lever is pushed back might be caused by a slightly loose cannon-pinion. It is just a simple rocking-bar setting mechanism, and you should be able to observe the "action" with the dial off.

    I hope this is of some help.

    Larry Treiman
     
  7. Larry Treiman

    Larry Treiman Registered User

    Jan 18, 2009
    3,293
    55
    48
    Tired and retired!
    So. Calif.
    John, I was thinking about the Longines chronometer watch and it occurred to me that these timepieces using 18-size movements usually had dials that were expanded beyond 18-size, and it appears that the subject watch is one of those. It is likely that the expanded dial might have required some modification of the setting mechanism, particularly the setting lever. It would be interesting if you could post the size (diameter) of the dial, and when you have the dial off, perhaps you could take/post a photo of the setting mechanism under the dial, showing the entire pillar plate (i.e., not a close-up of the setting mechanism only). It is also possible that modifications to the setting mechanism might be causing the minute-hand backlash problem, though I still think that it is most likely due to a loose cannon pinion. Otherwise, with the watch wound and running, I don't think there would be any backlash in the center arbor that carries the cannon-pinion/minute hand.

    By the way, the problem of setting the minute hand exactly was always one of the things I especially disliked about tuning-fork and quartz analog watches, where there is no mainspring to keep tension on the train and prevent backlash. Some also had the problem that the hand would move when you pushed in the crown! I understand how frustrating the problem can be if you want to keep the hands in synch with each other!

    Please keep us posted on how it goes.

    Larry
     
  8. Cary Hurt

    Cary Hurt Registered User

    Dec 16, 2005
    2,421
    5
    38
    Male
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    While I certainly can't add anything to the excellent technical information provided by Larry, I can offer a theory as to the apparent conflict between serial number and age of the movement. The import requirements noted by Larry (the import code and jewel counts, along with the country of origin) were stiulated by the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930, which was the first law to specifically target Swiss watches for import duties based on quality, as judged by jewel count and adjustments. These requirements were further refined by the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act of 1934.

    During the Second World War, as the world's militaries began demanding more and more of the production of high quality chronometers for their increasingly large navies, there developed a "cottage industry", in Switzerland, the US and the UK, of repurposing high quality watches into deck watches for use by the merchant marine. As there are no martial property markings on your movement or case, I would guess (and it is just a guess) that this was an early WW2 era adaptation of an earlier movement, which required the engraving of the import details on the movement according to laws in effect at the time. This would explain the "off-center" engraving of the "twenty one' and "Swiss", as well as the lack of a "Switzerland" notation on the dial (which was likely added in the US).

    And I've contacted Longines numerous times about older watches. I use the contact form at http://www.longines.com/contact/contact-form and choose the drop down choice titled "Questions about your historical watch". One of their museum curators has genrally anwered promptly.
     
  9. Jim Haney

    Jim Haney Registered User
    NAWCC Member Donor

    Sep 21, 2002
    6,215
    768
    113
    Male
    Working the farm, Garden,horses, goats, chickens,
    Decatur, TN.
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    #9 Jim Haney, Nov 10, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2012
  10. Adam Harris

    Adam Harris Registered User
    Moore NWCM Award

    May 3, 2012
    3,189
    75
    48
    Male
    Jubilado (retired)
    Costa Blanca - Spain
    Country Flag:
    Larry
    Truly all great info. Thanks.
    Appreciated Adam

    Best
     
  11. Adam Harris

    Adam Harris Registered User
    Moore NWCM Award

    May 3, 2012
    3,189
    75
    48
    Male
    Jubilado (retired)
    Costa Blanca - Spain
    Country Flag:
    Good Stuff Cary
    UK had to follow the McKinley Tariff act of 1890 stating place of manufacture. It was an American act (I had thought it YK?)

    Did the Smoot-Hawley act among other things state both number and written info i.e seventeen(17)?

    Thanks if you know

    Regards
     
  12. tick talk

    tick talk Registered User

    Sep 16, 2008
    543
    44
    28
    Country Flag:
    Perhaps a reply could be the basis of another thread, but I'd very much like to know which legislation created the three-letter import codes found on Swiss ebauches sent to the USA. Cheers,
     
  13. Adam Harris

    Adam Harris Registered User
    Moore NWCM Award

    May 3, 2012
    3,189
    75
    48
    Male
    Jubilado (retired)
    Costa Blanca - Spain
    Country Flag:
    i suspect the 1930 Smoot-Hawley Tariff
     
  14. rmw

    rmw Registered User

    May 31, 2005
    111
    0
    0
    I have just a little to add what has already been said, based on my own version of this watch. Mine has centre seconds. In addition it has an up/down (state of wind) indication. This version has 21 jewels (presumably to include the transfer wheel for centre seconds and is marked as having been timed in five positions.
     
  15. Cary Hurt

    Cary Hurt Registered User

    Dec 16, 2005
    2,421
    5
    38
    Male
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    No. not the tariff, which set rates and requirements. The Smoot-Hawley Act was superseded in 1934, but the codes obviously continue long after.

    The import codes were the result of Federal Trade Commission regulations, beginning, as best as I can tell, in the very late 1920s. After many years of superiority, the rise of wristwatches caused the big three American watch manufacturers to face their first real competition from the Swiss. Hamilton, Elgin and Waltham all pressed for protection, both from Swiss manufacturers direct imports, but also from those "hybrid" firms importing Swiss movements, but assembling them in the US, notably Gruen, Bulova, Benrus, and Helbros.


    There were moves to restrict these imports even before the extremely protectionist Smoot-Hawley Act was passed as a knee-jerk reaction to the market crash and subsequent depression. The import codes were a way for the FTC to keep track of the American firm who imported the movement, and was thus responsible for paying the tax. They have nothing to do with the manufacturer, although in some cases the manufacturer was also the importer.
     
  16. Larry Treiman

    Larry Treiman Registered User

    Jan 18, 2009
    3,293
    55
    48
    Tired and retired!
    So. Calif.
    Hi, all,

    Jim, I thought of the possibility that the original subject chronometer watch might be one of those made up by Roth Bros. or perhaps another contractor, using old railroad movements. However, the one thing bout that that bothered me was that the subject movement had the Longines Wittnauer import code on it, along with the other markings and features I mentioned that were not characteristic of the old railroad versions of the cal. 21/59 or any watch in the serial number range.

    I don't know if Roth Bros. or other similar contractors could have completely refinished and re-marked a movement, and that, along with the LXW (Longines Wittnauer) import code makes me thing that the movement had come later from the Longines factory and was imported by their American branch, perhaps successors to the old A. Wittnauer.

    However, I am not sufficiently familiar with the subject to draw any conclusions, which is why I said I hoped that John Hubby would avail himself of Adam's offer to contact Longines to see what their records show about this watch. It is not easy to completely remove old markings and re-mark and refinish a watch movement without leaving tell-tale signs. As it is, I'm not comfortable speculating any further unless and until we find out what Longines has to say; it's a real conundrum!

    rmw, I have seen different varieties of watches like you describe. Does your watch have a 21-ligne (18-size) movement similar to the one that is subject of this thread. I have seen some using a different 16-size movement, which had 24-hour dials, but it has been so long that I don't remember if the 16-size versions that I saw had the winding indicator. I am assuming that your watch is in a regular watch case, which would account for it being adjusted to five positions, since it would be intended to be carried.

    Tick Talk and Adam and Cary, the subject of the three-letter import codes, would definitely be worthy of a thread, perhaps in the wrist watch forum, with a cross reference to this forum if possible (Cary??). It amazes me how many collectors still think that they are factory codes rather than indicating who the watch was imported by. Some of the lists of the codes appear to have errors, too. For example, some of the lists show BXC as being the Avia Watch Company (a manufacturer, when it is actually the import code of the Ball Co., which used it on various makes of watches that they imported, which included some Avia watches. That is probably how the error occurred.

    Larry Treiman
     
  17. Adam Harris

    Adam Harris Registered User
    Moore NWCM Award

    May 3, 2012
    3,189
    75
    48
    Male
    Jubilado (retired)
    Costa Blanca - Spain
    Country Flag:
    Thanks Cary. Good information.
    Regards. Adam
     
  18. Adam Harris

    Adam Harris Registered User
    Moore NWCM Award

    May 3, 2012
    3,189
    75
    48
    Male
    Jubilado (retired)
    Costa Blanca - Spain
    Country Flag:
    Larry.
    Agreed. I have a list of the import codes. I have also found strange anomalies. Lets see if Carry agrees.
    Adam
     
  19. John Hubby

    John Hubby Principal Administrator
    Staff Member NAWCC Star Fellow NAWCC Life Member

    Sep 7, 2000
    12,077
    163
    63
    The Woodlands, TX
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    Firstly would like to say thanks to all for the superb info posted thus far on this deck watch. Also, I've added photos now of the carrying case and the chronometer case on my original post for all to see.

    I will take Adam up on his offer to contact Longines for provenance of the watch, the photos will be on the way briefly.

    Larry, thanks MUCH for the superb technical info. The dial plate is 53.2 mm diameter; 52.0 mm diameter at the outside of the minute ring. I've not removed the dial yet but will do so tomorrow and see what's there. Could be as you say the cannon pinion is loose, although there doesn't seem to be any "wobbling" once the time is set and it's running a steady 8 to 10 seconds fast per day now for almost two weeks.

    Jim, your search link for other threads didn't work so couldn't check those out. Thanks for the link to the Roth Bros ad, but I think the jury will be out on whether this is a re-purposed railroad watch or re-cased by Roth Bros until we get info back from Longines. If the case is 36 or so years newer than the watch that might explain the really excellent condition of the felt in the carrying box. On the other hand the leather closing strap is showing some age maybe more than just 70 years; same for the lacquer finish on the brass case, gimbal, etc that looks much more beaten up than for example Hamilton chronometers made during WWII. We'll see as more info comes in.
     
  20. Jim Haney

    Jim Haney Registered User
    NAWCC Member Donor

    Sep 21, 2002
    6,215
    768
    113
    Male
    Working the farm, Garden,horses, goats, chickens,
    Decatur, TN.
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    John,
    I fixed the link but if it doesn't hold, I did an Admin search in American pocket watches for Roth Brothers.

    I don't think the outer box goes with the inter box in your set. See the difference in wood color.

    The Roth Bros used a rose wood color on their boxes. I will try to get a few pictures of mine and by comparasion I think you can see that it is a Roth Bros box and hardware, dial bezel, holding lever & screw.
     
  21. Adam Harris

    Adam Harris Registered User
    Moore NWCM Award

    May 3, 2012
    3,189
    75
    48
    Male
    Jubilado (retired)
    Costa Blanca - Spain
    Country Flag:
    Done
    Written to Longines
    Regards
     
  22. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
    Staff Member NAWCC Star Fellow NAWCC Ruby Member Sponsor

    Aug 24, 2000
    81,795
    1,292
    176
    Male
    retired SW dev
    Boston
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
  23. Larry Treiman

    Larry Treiman Registered User

    Jan 18, 2009
    3,293
    55
    48
    Tired and retired!
    So. Calif.
    The cal. 21.29 (marked as such) in the first three photos that Tom posted , movement ser. no. in the 6 millions if I'm reading it right, 5 millions at the earliest, makes an interesting comparison with the much earlier cal. 21.59 in John's opening post. Although the serial numbers might be as much as about 34 years apart, the finish and markings on the 21.59 posted by John appear to be from the same era as the circa 1940 21.29 posted by Tom. Note that the 21.29 has a monometallic, uncut balance wheel and white alloy hairspring, while the older 21.59 does have what appears to be a cut, bi-metallic balance with a steel hairspring. Both have the same importer code, spelling out and also using numerals for the number of jewels and position adjustment, which if earlier posts are correct, would date them from c.1930 or later.

    Although Roth Bros. or a similar contractor might have cased up the 21.59 posted by John, I can't believe that it was a re-purposed railroad watch. The most probable scenario that I can think of would be that Longines got an order for the chronometer watch movement(s) and they still had some unfinished 21.59 movements in stock with the old serial number(s), and which met the specifications, and which Longines finished up and adjusted to three 3 positions for the chronometer watch. That finishes up my speculation. I'll now wait patiently (more or less) to hear what the good people in St. Imier have to say!!

    Larry Treiman
     
  24. rmw

    rmw Registered User

    May 31, 2005
    111
    0
    0
    Larry, mine is an 18 ligne movement. I don't have any reason to believe it ever left Europe (I'm in the UK). It is in a gimbal box and is stem wound and set (hacking when you pull the stem).
     
  25. Cary Hurt

    Cary Hurt Registered User

    Dec 16, 2005
    2,421
    5
    38
    Male
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    I tend to agree with Larry that this was a factory finished piece, whether a re-do or from old stock. Longines-Wittnauer would have been happy to import anything they could sell, as the war years were quite lean for many of the Swiss-American companies.
     
  26. Larry Treiman

    Larry Treiman Registered User

    Jan 18, 2009
    3,293
    55
    48
    Tired and retired!
    So. Calif.
    rmw, I wasn't aware that they ever made any of these chronometer watches as small as 18-lignes. Remember, the movement size is measured across the diameter of the pillar plate, which is the plate that supports the dial, and NOT across the back of the movement. It would seem that the dial itself would have to be larger than 18-lignes; if so, the movement would have to be removed from the case to expose and measure the pillar plate diameter. It certainly isn't worth subjecting the movement to the risk of damage just to do that, especially since the size of your watch isn't relevant to this discussion of the one Mr. Hubby posted to start the thread. Of course we are interested in any of these gimballed chronometer or deck watches, and we particularly like to see photos when possible.

    Did you find the calibre number? The first digits before the period (dot) are the size in lignes. For example, the calibre number of Tom McIntyre's first watch is cal. 21.29, meaning it is 21-lignes in diameter. It is usually visible on what is the under side of the pillar plate, visible from the back of the movement, and can usually be found in the recessed area where the balance wheel is located and is somewhere between the balance wheel and the outer edge of the movement. However, I have seen some that do not have a calibre number, at least not one that is visible.

    Larry Treiman
     
  27. Adam Harris

    Adam Harris Registered User
    Moore NWCM Award

    May 3, 2012
    3,189
    75
    48
    Male
    Jubilado (retired)
    Costa Blanca - Spain
    Country Flag:
    #27 Adam Harris, Nov 12, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 12, 2012
    OK. And here we go:

    Dear Mr. Harris,

    Thank you for your email and interest into Longines watches.

    Following your request, I have the pleasure to give you here below the information I found in our old hand-written registers :

    The serial number 1’874’897 identifies a pocket watch Lépine type in stainless steel.
    It is fitted with a Longines manufacture caliber 21.60N.
    It was invoiced to Longines Wittnauer, Longines’ branch in the U.S.A., on 20.12.1940.

    As there were only a few watches that had the caliber 21.60N, that was a chronometer, it is unfortunately impossible for us to find information about it. There isn’t anything in our archives. But I attach to this e-mail the documentation about the caliber 21.60, the base of the 21.60 N. “N” means normally “new”.

    Hoping this information is convenient to you, I remain at your entire disposal for any additional information you may require.

    Best regards,
     
  28. Adam Harris

    Adam Harris Registered User
    Moore NWCM Award

    May 3, 2012
    3,189
    75
    48
    Male
    Jubilado (retired)
    Costa Blanca - Spain
    Country Flag:
    #28 Adam Harris, Nov 12, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2012
    Removed
     
  29. rmw

    rmw Registered User

    May 31, 2005
    111
    0
    0
    Larry

    I can only get to the bridges on the top of the watch without dismantling, which I would prefer not to do. I have re-measured the circumference of the main top plate and I keep coming up with about 43.2 mm; the dial plate is bigger. However, there is a marking on the underside of the dial plate near the balance wheel which reads 21.29. The only other unusual marking is on the balance cock near the regulator spring which reads "LXW". The serial number is 6231001

    I apologise for hijacking this thread!
     
  30. rmw

    rmw Registered User

    May 31, 2005
    111
    0
    0
    Just discovered that I had already photographed the movement!

    longines mvt - Version 2.jpg
     
  31. Adam Harris

    Adam Harris Registered User
    Moore NWCM Award

    May 3, 2012
    3,189
    75
    48
    Male
    Jubilado (retired)
    Costa Blanca - Spain
    Country Flag:
    Re: Longines Deck Watch Calibre 21.60

    OK.
    I am adding the Caliber attachment from Longines:

    Original message
    Dear Mr. Harris,

    Thank you for your email and interest into Longines watches.

    Following your request, I have the pleasure to give you here below the information I found in our old hand-written registers :

    The serial number 1’874’897 identifies a pocket watch Lépine type in stainless steel.
    It is fitted with a Longines manufacture caliber 21.60N.
    It was invoiced to Longines Wittnauer, Longines’ branch in the U.S.A., on 20.12.1940.

    As there were only a few watches that had the caliber 21.60N, that was a chronometer, it is unfortunately impossible for us to find information about it. There isn’t anything in our archives. But I attach to this e-mail the documentation about the caliber 21.60, the base of the 21.60 N. “N” means normally “new”.

    Hoping this information is convenient to you, I remain at your entire disposal for any additional information you may require.

    Best regards,
     

    Attached Files:

  32. John Hubby

    John Hubby Principal Administrator
    Staff Member NAWCC Star Fellow NAWCC Life Member

    Sep 7, 2000
    12,077
    163
    63
    The Woodlands, TX
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    Adam, thanks very much for posting Longine's response including the two-page brochure regarding the specific watch caliber. This is invaluable info regarding this deck watch's history.

    It now appears that the watch movement "is" a 1906 vintage piece that was specifically made to chronometer specifications that remained in stock until it was sold in 1940 to Longines-Wittnauer. Based on that, it would appear that the identification info engraved into the back plate was put there by Longines Switzerland to meet the U.S. import requirements at the time of sale, and I would speculate they also included the dial. We don't know whether Longines-Wittnauer were undertaking to have the deck watch cases and components made in the U.S. for sale here, but that certainly could have been done. Or, perhaps they sold on just the movement and dial to Roth as Jim postulates.

    Jim, do you know when Roth first started their manufacture of deck watches? If it was in 1942 as per the ad, then I would favor the idea that Longines-Wittnauer were having the cases made themselves since the watch movement was delivered in 1940. However, if Roth were already doing this in 1940 they could be who bought the movement and cased it as you have proposed. We may never know the answer to that question but you may have other info to support the latter possibility.

    Jim, you commented about the outer carrying box not being original because of its darker color. I've taken a close look at the two boxes and in my opinion both were made by the same manufacturer from the same batch of mahogany. The darker color of the outer box is only on the outside which can be explained to be UV degradation of the lacquer. The inside of that box is exactly the same color and graining as the inner box; both being lighter in color since those parts have spent virtually all their life inside the closed outer box and thus protected from sunlight.
     
  33. Adam Harris

    Adam Harris Registered User
    Moore NWCM Award

    May 3, 2012
    3,189
    75
    48
    Male
    Jubilado (retired)
    Costa Blanca - Spain
    Country Flag:
    It is MY great pleasure
    And I enjoy as a guest curator being able to communicate to other museum curators

    Regard
     
  34. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
    Staff Member NAWCC Star Fellow NAWCC Ruby Member Sponsor

    Aug 24, 2000
    81,795
    1,292
    176
    Male
    retired SW dev
    Boston
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    My impression of war production from having been there was that everyone was sharing whatever they needed to in order to build products for the war effort. In evidence of that I have two 37 sze Waltham deck watches that came in one case from an old 7J re-purposed travel watch and in the other from current or recent 9J Waltham production. In both cases the Roth Brothers (or one of their associates) upgraded the watches to 15 jewels and mounted them in a pair of carrying cases. One of the outer carrying cases is marked Seth Thomas.

    At about the same time Hamilton was making aircraft clocks that used hairsprings and balances produced by Elgin as specified in the purchase contract.
     
  35. Cary Hurt

    Cary Hurt Registered User

    Dec 16, 2005
    2,421
    5
    38
    Male
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    John,

    Since the response from Longines indicates that the watch was "in stainless steel", I would suggest this means it was shipped out as a pocketwatch (in a low priced case) and then converted upon arrival. That could explain why "Switzerland" is not evident on the dial. I would also surmise that Longines-Wittnauer knew exactly what would be done with this watch when it was ordered. I don't have a guess as to whether Longines-Wittnauer did the conversion work, or if they contracted with (or simply sold the movement to) Roth Bros. or some other contractor.

    Cary
     
  36. Larry Treiman

    Larry Treiman Registered User

    Jan 18, 2009
    3,293
    55
    48
    Tired and retired!
    So. Calif.
    #36 Larry Treiman, Nov 12, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2012
    Thank you, rmw, for the additional information; it clears up the mystery. You said that the watch was 18-lignes, which didn't seem possible. Actually, as indicated by the calibre number 21.29, that you found exactly where it is supposed to be, we now know that it is 21 lignes, the same as the subject watch and the first one that Tom McIntyre posted.

    As you might have noticed from other posts, the "LXW" indicates that the watch was imported into the United States by the Longines Wittnauer Watch Co., Longines branch in New York City. By the best information available to me at the moment, it was probably made or finished in about 1940. Since you doubted that it ever left Europe, the LXW on the balance cock indicfates that, at the very least, it was intended for export to the United States. Perhaps you could contact Longines, or ask Adam Harris if he could do so, to determine the provenance.

    I understand why you would prefer not dismantling the watch, which was why I mentioned that it was not worth subjecting the watch to possible damage [even if you were accustomed to doing so]. Some people will dismantle a watch just to check some minor detail; I wouldn't!!

    There is no reason to apologize (or apologise, proving that you are in the UK) for hijacking the thread. Besides, I hate the term hijacking! Let us say instead that you made a valuable contribution to the thread and to my knowledge, for which I thank you again!

    Larry Treiman
     
  37. Philip Poniz

    Philip Poniz Moderator
    NAWCC Member

    Feb 22, 2012
    177
    31
    28
    Male
    Princeton, NJ
    Marty, can you elaborate on this? Where this information comes from? So far, the cam-type regulator has been known as Wilmot regulator. Wilmot invented it in 1860s or early 1870s and patented in 1872.
     
  38. Larry Treiman

    Larry Treiman Registered User

    Jan 18, 2009
    3,293
    55
    48
    Tired and retired!
    So. Calif.
    #38 Larry Treiman, Nov 13, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2012
    The information provided by Longines certainly helps clear up the questions raised about the subject watch posted by John. However, it raises some question(s) about something I posted that apparently is erroneous.

    I had stated that the watch was Longines cal. 21.59, because the A. Wittnauer 1912 watch materials catalog unequivocally gave that as the calibre number for the open-face (Lepine) model, and gave 21.60 as the calibre number for the hunting case version. Furthermore, I have a special issue of the German magazine, "Chronos" (in English) from circa 1995 or 1996 (?) that is "All about Longines" and in an article, "Chronometry as a Challenge" it has illustrations from a 1908 Wittnauer catalog of these movement and also states that the open-face (Lepine) calibre is 21.59 while the hunting-case movements are 21.60.

    Those listings in catalogs issued by Longines U.S. agents, plus the fact that it appears that Longines used calibre numbers ending in an odd number (such as 21.59 or 19.95) for open-face calibres and numbers ending in even numbers (such as 21.60 or 19.96) for hunting case movements, gave me no reason to doubt that cal. 21.59 was the correct number for the open face movement. I figured that A. Wittnauer should know!

    Well, I was wrong because A. Wittnauer was wrong in two different catalogs issued about four years apart. The information Longines furnish in their E-mail, particularly a page for the cal. 21.60 from an early Longines parts catalog pretty irrefutably indicates that the cal. 21.60 was open-face (Lepine). I wonder how Longines would reconcile that with the fact that it goes contrary to the pattern of open-face calibre numbers ending in odd numbers!

    I'm getting tired of this subject and I'm having a particularly bad typing day (hitting extra letters or wrong letters in practically every word) so I'm out of here!

    Larry Treiman
     
  39. MartyR

    MartyR Moderator
    NAWCC Member

    Dec 16, 2008
    10,935
    251
    83
    UK
    Country Flag:
    Good question, Philip. I don't have references for this, but I remember it came out of a series of threads here where we were looking at a variety of watches which contained the snail cam. Some of the watches were signed by Revue-Thommen, some were clearly Revue-Thommen ebauches, and others were not.

    I do remember that Larry was involved in those discussions, and I believe it was he who stated that Thommen was the inventor. It was suggested he hadn't patented the device and therefore other makers had simply adopted the design. I certainly have never seen a patent number for a snail cam on any watch.

    Again largely from my memory, and from what I have recorded on my own database, the device seems to have been found on watches dated from the 1860s.

    I suspect from what you are saying that I am wrong. Do you have a patent number and/or any patent detail for the Wilmot Regulator? That would enable to me to set my records straight!
     
  40. Adam Harris

    Adam Harris Registered User
    Moore NWCM Award

    May 3, 2012
    3,189
    75
    48
    Male
    Jubilado (retired)
    Costa Blanca - Spain
    Country Flag:
    Hi Larry
    If you want, I could ask, but I actually doubt the 'young' staff there would know. If its not in the written records its just 'lost'info
    I can get also if wanted an actual copy of the records.

    Hope that may help
    A
     
  41. Dr. Jon

    Dr. Jon Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Dec 14, 2001
    5,386
    183
    63
    Aerospace Engineer
    New Hampshire
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    The information Longines provide is a copy of a page from Patrick Linder's book "At the Heart of an Indiustrial Vocation" Hardcover, ISBN 2970055856 which is published by Longines (And subsized it so it's a great buy) so they have a perfect right to reproduce it but viewers of the board should be aware that it belongs to Longines. Besides being a nit picker on this I mention it becuase you might get more information by trying to contact the author, who seems to have gathered the information.
     
  42. Adam Harris

    Adam Harris Registered User
    Moore NWCM Award

    May 3, 2012
    3,189
    75
    48
    Male
    Jubilado (retired)
    Costa Blanca - Spain
    Country Flag:
    Dr Jon
    What you say is correct. I doubt Longines can add much more. Sorry to say it.
    I could get a full copy of the actual hand written records .

    A
     
  43. Jim Haney

    Jim Haney Registered User
    NAWCC Member Donor

    Sep 21, 2002
    6,215
    768
    113
    Male
    Working the farm, Garden,horses, goats, chickens,
    Decatur, TN.
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    John,
    Here are some pics of my Roth Bros, Chronometer box with a Hamilton 940. If you compare it to yours, the bezel, gimbels,hardware all look the same .

    These are described in "Whitneys"on page 389-390 and they also mention some Longines movements. They also state they were made with outer boxes ( I have never seen one) so you may have the first I have ever seen.
     

    Attached Files:

  44. Larry Treiman

    Larry Treiman Registered User

    Jan 18, 2009
    3,293
    55
    48
    Tired and retired!
    So. Calif.
    #44 Larry Treiman, Nov 14, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2012
    Martin and Philip,

    I don't recall ever saying that the snail regulator used on Thommen watches was invented by Gedeon Thommen. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if he was deceased before that regulator came into use. The only thing I can say about it is that as snail-cam regulators go, it is somewhat unusual.

    Most of the snail-cam regulators that I have seen have the cam itself fairly far off to the side of the balance cock and the regulator itself has the outer end curved so that the tip can reach the cam. On the Longines version a small piece appears to have been added that projects off the end of the regulator to reach the cam.

    On the distinctive version that I have seen on certain Revue-Thommen movements, the snail cam is mounted on the cock in a position where the regulator does not have to be curved to reach the cam. The regulator is straight, and the side of it rests directly against the cam. My thought has always been that it is a simpler and thus less expensive way of making a snail-cam regulator. I don't know if this design variant was ever used on any watches other than Thommen, and I haven't tried to find out if the Thommen firm patented the design. Swiss watches are not my primary area of interest.

    Larry Treiman
     
  45. Larry Treiman

    Larry Treiman Registered User

    Jan 18, 2009
    3,293
    55
    48
    Tired and retired!
    So. Calif.
    Thanks for the offer, Adam, but I agree that it is doubtful that the "young" staff (or even an older staff) at Longines would be able to answer what was my rhetorical question. To be able to come up with an answer, one really would have to "have been there". And that seems unlikely, unless you believe in reincarnation or in communicating with the dead! And I strongly doubt that the written records would be likely to reveal anything.

    The decisive evidence was that original Longines parts catalog page reproduced in the book. It came down to that page plus factory records, and that is enough to take precedence over the later American version of the catalog produced by A. Wittnauer. In this hobby one often has to be willing to make assumptions based on the relative reliability of the various sources of information. If anyone were to turn up an open-face version of one of these movements actually stamped 21.59 between the edge of the movement and the balance wheel, well, that would put an entirely different "light" on the question! Or, it might be just an error in markings. <];>)

    Larry Treiman
     
  46. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
    Staff Member NAWCC Star Fellow NAWCC Ruby Member Sponsor

    Aug 24, 2000
    81,795
    1,292
    176
    Male
    retired SW dev
    Boston
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    Wilmot's regulator is very interesting. I have seen it on many Tiffany signed pieces as well as Patek, Agassiz and others. In one of the Tiffany watches shown here, the Wilmot's Patent marking has been erased.

    What is most interesting is that the patent describes an "isochronism curb" rather than just a regulator. I own another example that has the curb feature on a solid bar without the cam regulator. The curb tries to equalize the amplitude between the vertical and horizontal positions. You can read the patent claims below.

    This may be getting off topic for this thread and should probably go into a thread of its own.


    movement.jpg View attachment 152594 movement2.jpg
    View attachment 152596 View attachment 152597
     
  47. John Hubby

    John Hubby Principal Administrator
    Staff Member NAWCC Star Fellow NAWCC Life Member

    Sep 7, 2000
    12,077
    163
    63
    The Woodlands, TX
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    #47 John Hubby, Nov 15, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2012
    Jim, thanks very much for posting your clock. I would have to say the two cases are virtually identical in all respects and especially including the hardware (nuts, positioning screws and shafts, locking lever, etc) on the gimbal.

    I also talked with the owner today and he told me he had bought the chronometer about ten years ago from a fellow who collected precision watches and chronometers for many years, possibly starting just after WWII. This one had been purchased in that time period so I'm guessing it was probably military surplus at the time. There aren't any military markings on either of the boxes or the metal case parts, so that's just speculation on my part.

    I'm pleased to see Tom's post of the Wilmot patent and the examples in his photos. That appears to settle the question of provenance for the regulation snail and will add to the information I'm compiling for the owner.
     
  48. LloydB

    LloydB Registered User

    Feb 24, 2006
    1,741
    73
    48
    Male
    Retired
    La Crosse, Wisconsin's West Coast
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    #48 LloydB, Nov 15, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2012
    My impression/recollection from reading, is that chronometers had their rate
    established, and were reset seldom -- or possibly never, while in actual service?

    Perhaps the gimbaled and boxed Roth units (for merchant marine and smaller
    vessels, only?) were intended to be employed in the same way, as chronometers?
    If so, the setting difficulty you've identified may not have been a concern.

    Weren't comparing watches, such as the 4992B, used as duty or 'deck' watches?

    In a parallel example, the Hamilton 22 was issued in a gimbaled tub version
    and also in the 'pocketwatch' cased version (both fully boxed). Wasn't that
    for different types of applications?

    This Longines appears to be in the full 'marine chronometer' configuration.

    Folks who know more about this distinction, please fill us in.
     
  49. Larry Treiman

    Larry Treiman Registered User

    Jan 18, 2009
    3,293
    55
    48
    Tired and retired!
    So. Calif.
    #49 Larry Treiman, Nov 15, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2012
    Lloyd, first of all, my understanding is that by British and U.S. naval standards, a "true" marine or ship's chronometer is one with a fusee and chain drive, a detent escapement, a helical hairspring (free-sprung), full gimbal mounting in an inner and outer box, and the ones I have seen, the latest of which are the Hamiltons, are key-wound and key-set.

    I have a Hamilton chronometer instruction booklet apparently intended for civilian users and a reprint of the detailed manual issued by the Navy. There are so many precautions, special procedures and warnings pertaining to just about every phase of handling, transporting, setting up, winding,m setting and about anything else you can imagine, that I wouldn't want the responsibility of owning and caring for one.

    For example, Hamilton warns that the chronometer must never be allowed to run down fully, because in that state, with a free-swinging balance, the chronometer is highly susceptible to damage if is moved. The Naval version was eventually fitted with a locking device to prevent the balance from swinging freely, and the civilian version must have the balance corked. There are special instructions for locking or corking the balance, as well as for handling a chronometer that has been allowed to run down (I wonder if that is a court-martial offense?). When I used to go to NAWCC Marts, I would cringe when I saw how chronometers were being handled!

    Your recollection is correct that chronometers were seldom or never reset, especially for the chronometers used primarily for celestial navigation. They were usually set when the chronometer was placed in service, and perhaps not again until taken out of service for overhaul. The chronometers were checked whenever possible against an accurate time source such as the Naval Observatory or the Bureau of Standards, and its daily rate calculated and noted in a log, allowing the correct time to be calculated for navigation. However, chronometers used for "other purposes" which I am not well informed about, perhaps such as master time sources for jewelers/watchmakers, etc., might have to be reset more often. It would seem to me that a high-grade, weight-driven, pendulum regulator clock would be better for many such purposes on land, but obviously would be useless at sea.

    The ones that we usually call chronometer watches, or maybe deck watches or torpedo boat watches, usually had regular balances, hairsprings and lever escapements, and most had regulators (the free-sprung Elgin Father Time, an adaptation of the 18-size Father Time railroad movement was an exception). They did not require all the special care and handling of the true marine chronometers, but they also were less likely to achieve the steady rate of the true chronometer. They were used mainly on smaller boats that didn't get as far from shore as larger ships, and where vibration was a problem, such as torpedo boats.

    These would include the Hamilton 36-size and 35-size No. 22 chronometer watches, the Elgin free-sprung Father Time, the Waltham "chronometers" based on the 37-size 8-day movements and many other examples of the genre, including the Roth Bros. (and others) conversions of railroad watch movements and Waltham 8-day movements.

    The 4992B was not a comparing watch; it was a master navigation watch, used mainly for air navigation. It certainly could have been used as a comparing watch, but it was better than was needed as a comparing watch. Comparing watches only needed comparatively short-term accuracy, since they were usually set to a master time source each time they were used. Seventeen jewel watches such as the 18-size Hamilton 936 (lever-set) and the 16-size grade 974 were fitted with the hack (seconds setting) feature and were used as early comparing watches around WWI. Later,, for WWII Hamilton supplied a 17-jewel, pendant set with hack version of the new "B" model (992B, etc.,) to the Navy for use as a comparing watch.

    I have never seen or a true marine (ship's) chronometer with "all the trimmings" that was made by Longines. I would be interested to learn of one with fusee, detent escapement, free-sprung helical hairspring, etc. I couldn't find the Longines that you mentioned near the end of your post, so I can't comment. I'll probably need more explicit directions to find it!

    Larry Treiman,
    Originally from Wisconsin's East Coast!
     
  50. LloydB

    LloydB Registered User

    Feb 24, 2006
    1,741
    73
    48
    Male
    Retired
    La Crosse, Wisconsin's West Coast
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    Thanks Larry. Doubtless the terminology is something I need to review.

    When I wrote "full 'marine chronometer' configuration", I was only
    intending the gimbaled/boxed arrangement, not that it was a true
    MC. Somewhere I'd read that in WWII, there were so many vessels
    in use, and such a limited number of the real thing, that upgraded
    pocket watches were employed as substitutes. Not on major naval
    vessels, of course. I was under the impression that the Roth production
    was in large part to satisfy that need.

    The "this Longin*s" I referred to is the one under discussion in this
    thread. Just typing the name apparently turned it into a hypertext.

    I am somewhat aware of the special needs of marine chronometers,
    my more general question would be: in a vessel equipped with a
    gimbaled watch of the type under discussion, or provided with, say, a
    gimbaled Hamilton 22, would there really be many occasions when
    resetting the time would be a practical matter? If it were serving as
    'the' time standard, I'd think not. If it was subject to some more
    accurate device, (or perhaps a radio signal?) then it's another matter.

    I guess it comes down to how these gimbaled timepieces were actually
    used, including the procedures for assuring their accuracy at sea.

    Again, thanks for your thoughtful reply.
     

Share This Page