Longines. Japanese? Chinese?

Discussion in 'European & Other Pocket Watches' started by D Magner, Jun 2, 2016.

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  1. D Magner

    D Magner Registered User
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    Dec 27, 2004
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    This seems to be an interesting watch. The watch movement is a Longines 15 jewel, cal.18.79.
    Made about 1926. The watch case is marked SKS which I believe indicates being Seiko made, while
    it has been suggested that the script on rear of case is Chinese. Any thoughts or ideas?

    David
     

    Attached Files:

  2. doug sinclair

    doug sinclair Registered User

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  3. Larry Treiman

    Larry Treiman Registered User

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    Hi, David,

    There is no reason on earth (or elsewhere) that I can see to believe that your Longines movement model/calibre 18.79 was made anywhere but in St. Imier, Switzerland. Did you find the calibre number on the movement in the "usual" place on the under-side of the pillar plate, visible between the balance wheel and the edge of the movement, probably near the escape wheel cock? In your movement photo, that spot is obscured by the dratted bezel. Those darned single-jointed cases don't help the photographer!

    The absence of the stem detent screw in its "usual" place between the crown wheel and the edge of the movement indicates that the watch was made to fit standard, 12-size cases (even single-jointed ones), negative setting (American style) with the stem and sleeve as part of the case pendant.

    It seems most likely that whoever it was that ordered the movement(s), ordered it/them to fit the standard 12-size cases. I'm assuming that they ordered movements only, to be cased wherever they were going.

    It is not unprecedented for Seiko to have used Swiss movements. I read somewhere (possibly on Roland Ranfft's site....or not), some time ago (the details have long been forgotten) that Seiko/Seikosha ordered some small. wrist-watch size movements, or perhaps ebauches, from Moeris (F. Moeri S.A.). However, the watch movements were marked "Seiko" on the enamel dial and
    "Seikosha" on the movement. I only know this because at a NAWCC Regional mart while "browsing" through a box of "Your Choice $1.00 each" small movements (0-size/13-ligne and smaller). I was finding some small Maximus and other high-grade movements, so I nearly overlooked the Seikosha. However, it looked very Swiss, so for a buck, what the heck! That was long before I read about Seiko using Moeris movements.

    I hope someone comes along who is familiar with Asian languages and can translate the case marking!

    I'll close with the only Japanese word I think I might know....and then only if it is transliterated: "Sayonara!"


    Larry Treiman
     
  4. D Magner

    D Magner Registered User
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    Hello Doug and Larry.

    The movement is definitely a Longines cal 18.79 and marked as such.

    What I find interesting is that it appears to have been cased by Seiko [Seikosha] as indicated by the banner with SKS inside the rear cover. You say it was not unprecedented that Seiko cased swiss movements, but I was unaware of that.
    The case itself is double hinged, and as you observed, has a stem and sleeve arrangement.

    Also, the markings on the back of case are interesting [haven't a clue what it says]. But if indeed the markings are chinese instead of japanese [there is a difference, right?] as suggested to me, I think that would add to the varied nature of the watch.

    David
     
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  5. JTD

    JTD Registered User

    Sep 27, 2005
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    I asked a very experienced Chinese translator, whose mother tongue is Chinese, about the characters on your watch. The answer is somewhat enigmatic. The top word is equivalent to 'the majesty', lower word means 'from the majesty' and together would normally mean 'gift from the king'.

    However, the engraving is very simply done and does not look very 'regal'. If the watch was given to someone in Hong Kong, perhaps a civil servant of some sort, then the inscription could mean it had been given on behalf of the British king [HK was then part of the British Empire] in respect of some kind of award (long service etc.); but if so, you would expect the owner's name to included.

    But government awards were usually inscribed at least partly in English, so I am not very convinced by that explanation. Also the inscription is very vague. So whilst we may know what the characters represent, it is hard to know what they really mean. My own feeling is that the owner himself may have had the inscription done, perhaps to
    commemorate a gift from someone important to him.

    I am sorry that I cannot give you more definite information on this but hope this may open a few avenues of thought.

    JTD
     
  6. D Magner

    D Magner Registered User
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    JTD

    Very much appreciate your reply!

    While the exact meaning of the inscription is not quite clear, your reply indicates to me
    that it is indeed Chinese. That means I have a respected Swiss movement from the 1920s,
    cased in Japan by a company that becomes well known, and has been associated with the Chinese
    in some way. It now sits in my hands here in the North American continent. Pretty neat!

    It has also been suggested to me that the inscription translates to "for meritorious service".
    That taken together with your reply might indicate some kind of generic award.


    Many thanks.
    David
     
  7. Ethan Lipsig

    Ethan Lipsig Registered User
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    I understand the Chinese characters and Japanese characters are the same, but denote words with different meanings and pronunciations. So, before concluding that the inscription is Chinese, see what it means in Japanese.
     
  8. JTD

    JTD Registered User

    Sep 27, 2005
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    Well, yes and no. The Japanese writing system uses a combination of three sets of characters: hiragana and katakana, which are both syllabaries, and Kanji (Chinese) characters. Hiragana is mostly used for purely Japanese words and katakana which is mostly used to transliterate loan words and names. These two syllabaries make up the bulk of written Japanese. The kanji characters, which are based on Chinese characters, are used mainly for words which have a Chinese origin, some personal names and various grammatical formations.

    There are all sorts of conditions and exceptions to the above, but these are the three systems which make up modern Japanese writing. It is indeed true that some personal names are written in kanji (Chinese) characters and these may well have a different pronunciation to what they would have in Chinese.

    It had already occurred to me that the two characters on the back of this watch might indeed be a Japanese name, but I need to find an experienced Japanese reader to say whether or not this is so. (Perhaps I should have made this clear in my earlier post).

    I will of course post anything I find out.

    JTD
     
  9. Takashi Uchioki

    Takashi Uchioki New Member

    Apr 20, 2019
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    ''恩賜(on-shi)'' means ''presented by Emperor''.

    These pocket watch were presented from our Emperor to high achievers when they graduate Japanese Imperial University or Imperial Army and Navy school and University.

    In 1907, all these watch became made in Japan by Seikosya.

    But late 1926, Grate Kanto Earthquake was occurred and Tokyo area had huge damage. And Seikosya also had damages and couldn't supply the movements for the next spring. So they ordered to Longines.

    At last, ''On-shi no Longines'' were completed. Longines movement with Seikosya case.

    I didn't completely research that how long they used the Longines movement. But may be one or two years. The production numberes may be 300 to 400 for each year.




    This is my grand father's ''On-shi'', cal no: 4147165 case no: 7081.

    388EC997-8FA8-42F4-A294-AD0E54349C9C.jpeg 24BACECC-6E25-4257-9338-9991954DC3B7.jpeg
     
  10. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    Thank you Takashi and welcome to the NAWCC Message Board.

    Getting bits of information like this is one of my greatest pleasures on the message board.
     
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  11. jess tauber

    jess tauber Registered User

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    Don't forget that during most of the first half of the 20th century, Japan occupied a large portion of mainland China (as well as Formosa, now Taiwan). So there may have been many loyal subjects who were doing the work of occupation in these territories who merited a gift from the Emperor for their service to their country, thus inscribing the watch with Chinese characters only wouldn't have been completely unusual.

    Jess Tauber
     
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  12. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    I thought the only alphabetic characters were Chinese Katakana. I suppose there could have been Hiragana symbols for the phrase.

    I may still be confused. I had a pass for the DMZ in Korea that had my name transliterated as "mock hang tree." It has been a long time since I last played Chinese chess but I recall the symbol for the king was called Chiang and looked a lot like the second symbol above.

    (I had the DMZ pass because I had the assignment to deliver the newspapers to the Swiss and Swede delegates in the DMZ. I was an Air Force clerk assigned to UNCMAC.)
     
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  13. JTD

    JTD Registered User

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    #13 JTD, Apr 20, 2019
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2019
    I am not quite sure what you mean by 'alphabetic characters' and 'Chinese Katakana'. Katakana characters are purely Japanese, not Chinese. Kanji characters are based on Chinese characters but are certainly not 'alphabetic', rather they are ideograms. Katakana characters are Japanese and are often used for phonetic transliteration of foreign words (is that what you meant by 'alphabetic'?) Hiragana characters are also purely Japanese.

    See post #8 above.

    Korean characters are of course entirely different from Chinese or Japanese and Korean is indeed an alphabet in as much as there are just 26 characters, each with its own sound. And I can see that McIntyre could be written in Korean to sound a little like 'mock hang tree' (in the same way that 'ice cream' in Korean characters comes out 'eye-sir-ker-leem-a'). Because of the fact that Korean characters have only one sound each, some Koreans with names that were originally Chinese often use Kanji characters on their name cards so that people can see which particular Li or Wong they are. Sometimes people, when introducing themselves, will quickly 'write' the appropriate Kanji character on the palm of their hand with their finger.

    Korean is a delightfully simple alphabet which is very easy to learn, unlike Chinese or Japanese with their thousands of characters.

    JTD
     
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  14. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    I was drawing my "wisdom" from a misreading of your post.

    The term syllabary conveyed to me a word or word fragment that conveys some meaning in its own. A character conveyed to me that they were symbols with sounds i.e. an alphabet. I am sure I am way in over my head on this.

    My name "mock hang tree" would not sound like that if the symbols on my pass were spoken in Chinese. The symbols were for the Chinese words that would translate to the three English words chosen. Of course, it could also have meant that I should be hanged from a tree and mocked, which would be an appropriate sentiment for the North Korean border guard.
     
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  15. JTD

    JTD Registered User

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    You are quite correct, they would not. That is one of the great problems when trying to transpose Western names into Chinese characters. But if written in Hangul (Korean alphabet) it would be Ma-kin-ta or perhaps Ma-kin-ta-ra if they wanted to get the end sound closer to 'tyre'. I wish I could find a way to write Hangul on this computer then I could show you.

    Just out of curiousity, why was your pass written in Chinese characters when (I suppose) it was for Korean soldiers to read?

    JTD
     
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  16. D Magner

    D Magner Registered User
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    Hello Takashi Uchioki,
    WOW! and big THANKS for taking the time to respond!
    So I was wrong about the Chinese characters, but couldn't be happier with your reply!
    David
     
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  17. Takashi Uchioki

    Takashi Uchioki New Member

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    to all.

    Thank you for your replies.

    Chinese characters came here in Japan for over 1600 years ago, we accepted these characters, also made Japanese ''kata-kana'' and ''hira-gana'' from them and have been used all (still now).

    After the Meiji restoration, Meiji government decided to became an Imperiastic country and the result was Aug. 15th 1945. All historical affair should be accepted, I think.

    About my grand father's ''On-shi'' watch, it was presented when he graduated Militaly science school in 1924. He went Taiwan, Manchuria and Bulma. When he assigned to Taipei, Mucha incident has occurred. After the event had surpressed, he became won't say anything about his duty. WWII, he came back from Bulma in 1946. (His last class was Captain.)

    After the war, he begun to use the watch daily. My mother remembered when, and I also remembered it was always with him and he loved it well. He loved it not only it was ''On-shi'' but also it can be trusted.

    After he passed away, it was succeeded by his wife, then eldest son and now my cousin has it.

    But my mother and I have something different feelings about the watch. Yes, we love it as ''the watch he loved''. So I've been searching ''On-shi'' Longines' history and collected same movements cal 18.79.

    When I found this page, I wondered I should post or not. But when I noticed that the 4322253 is in fine condition and in good working order, I posted.
     
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  18. D Magner

    D Magner Registered User
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    Hello Takashi Uchioki.

    Thank you again. I am very pleased to be able to put my watch in the proper historical context. The information you supplied will be kept with the watch. Did the tradition of presenting "On-shi" watches continue after the war?
    Your statement "But my mother and I have something different feelings about the watch" sure peaked my curiosity meter, but I was always taught not to put my nose where it doesn't belong.
    David
     
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  19. Takashi Uchioki

    Takashi Uchioki New Member

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    Hello D Magner,

    I'm very pleased to hear that you've read my comments about your ''On-shi no Longines''.

    My mother also pleased to hear that!! She said ''you did a good thing for him and the watch!!''

    After WWII, Emperor Hirohito declared that he was not a god but a man. Then he struggled to be the Japanese symbol prescribed by Japanese new constitution.

    There were some ''On-si'' things before WWII, like silver pocket watch, gold pocket watch, sword, gun or so, but after the war only ''On-si no tabacco'' were survived.

    And ''On-si no Longines'' were made only a few years just after the Great Kanto earthquake.

    I noticed that the start was 1923 from my grandfather's cal no., but I thought they were made only one or two years until I saw your cal no.. It was made on 1925 and it means at least ''On-si no Longines'' were used until the March 1926.(Japanese school's graduation celemony is always on March.)

    ''On-si no Longines'' with 1925's cal no. is new found for me. So I must say thank you for your post!!
     
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