My first French pw

miguel angel cladera

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First of all, I have to say that I know absolutely nothing about French watchmaking, but I really wanted to start adding some watches to my small collection. So yesterday in a boring afternoon looking at local sales pages on the internet I saw a watch that caught my attention and as the price was quite good I bought it without knowing exactly what I was buying... I hope I wasn't wrong... (The watch will take a few days to arrive home, but the seller has given me permission to use his images).

This is a verge watch signed on the dial and movement by Etienne Lenoir. Its condition is working and it is apparently in good condition.

356367295_tcimg_0D7B3EFB.jpg


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From what I have been able to verify in a crash course on French horology, the watch could be dated between 1725/1740.

I was very surprised to see that the watch is apparently signed by a well-known watchmaker of the time (Etienne Lenoir II).

"
Estienne Le Noir, in Paris. It was made in Le Noir's famous workshop, almost certainly by Etienne II Le Noir (1699-1778), maître in 1717, aged only eighteen, son of Etienne I Le Noir (1675-1739). They were established on the Quai des Orfèvres in Paris. Both signed their work in several different ways: 'Etienne le Noir', 'Estienne le Noir' and 'Etienne Lenoir'. They are known to have supplied watches to the merchant Lazare Duvaux, and Madame de Pompadour bought several watches containing movements made by them.
The courts of France, Spain, Naples, Germany and others were, among many others, those who bought works signed by Le Noirs. Today it can be admired in the Musées du Louvre, Chateau de Versailles, Paul Getty Museum, Metropolitan Museum of New York,...".

Here is one of his watches in the Louvre Museum. A true marvel.


And a disturbing quote (which I remembered once acquired) from a watch attributed to this watchmaker found in the wreck of the Saint Michel en 1747.


Unfortunately the watch comes without a case, but a good friend of mine is going to turn me a brass case so that I can at least preserve the mechanism in good condition.

More pictures

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The movement appears to be dirty, so it will need to be serviced. But apparently no rust is visible, so I deduce that it must have been kept in a good place until someone out of greed decided to destroy more than 250 years of watch...

356367295_437567990_tcimg_6C5AC7EF.jpg


In this image I can't see the stem bolt.

Now my questions... Do you think it is original and could be attributed to this watchmaker?

Have I made a big mistake in the dating?

In its overall appearance it looks like a carefully made watch and not a later Swiss copy. What are your thoughts?

I know objectively that finding a case of the period (apparently consular) is going to be almost impossible and very expensive, but could you give me any hint or recommendation if the watch deserves it?

As always, thank you very much for your attention and help, dear friends.

356367295_437567955_tcimg_099125AF.jpg
 

aucaj

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It is a very nice movement!
You are correct that the earliest it could be is 1725. Julien Le Roy invented the potence adjustment in 1725 which was quickly adopted by makers throughout France.
 

miguel angel cladera

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It is a very nice movement!
You are correct that the earliest it could be is 1725. Julien Le Roy invented the potence adjustment in 1725 which was quickly adopted by makers throughout France.
Thank you very much, True I read it here about yesterday.


I also thought it was a quality detail that both the winder hole and the latch hole were protected.
 

Bernhard J.

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Hi Miguel,

I do not know all too much about French watches, but the little I know makes me quite sure that it is authentic. I would date it just a little bit later than the range you had indicated, if at all.

Great find, congratulations!

Cheers, Bernhard

P.S.: I have also been thinking about adding an early French watch to my collection :D But I still need to make up my mind. Perhaps a single hand one, which is would through the center.
 

miguel angel cladera

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Hi Miguel,

I do not know all too much about French watches, but the little I know makes me quite sure that it is authentic. I would date it just a little bit later than the range you had indicated, if at all.

Great find, congratulations!

Cheers, Bernhard

P.S.: I have also been thinking about adding an early French watch to my collection :D But I still need to make up my mind. Perhaps a single hand one, which is would through the center.
Thank you for your kindly words :D
 
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jboger

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Miguel:

You asked about fitting your movement to a period case. Many people do this; I wouldn't. I consider any early case an interesting object in itself and as such should be preserved in its original condition even if empty. Furthermore by modifying an early case to fit a movement, it a marriage is forced between two objects that perhaps should not be co-joined. You have a fine movement and I would enjoy it as such. Having a new case made is a different matter, an expensive one, but depending on your resources and interests, a viable alternative. I suspect many people disagree with what I just wrote. So, like most things in life, it's up to you.

John
 

miguel angel cladera

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Miguel:

You asked about fitting your movement to a period case. Many people do this; I wouldn't. I consider any early case an interesting object in itself and as such should be preserved in its original condition even if empty. Furthermore by modifying an early case to fit a movement, it a marriage is forced between two objects that perhaps should not be co-joined. You have a fine movement and I would enjoy it as such. Having a new case made is a different matter, an expensive one, but depending on your resources and interests, a viable alternative. I suspect many people disagree with what I just wrote. So, like most things in life, it's up to you.

John
Thank you John for your reflection, I find it very sharp and intelligent. I have to admit that I have done it once and the result has been very satisfactory. I really like to see watches working and without a case it is dangerous and damaging to the watch. In this case it would be like a repair on the butcher who took off his case to melt it down. But as I said, if that is not possible, I have already arranged with a friend a case with a crystal where the movement can be kept steady enough to make it work and watch it.
 

miguel angel cladera

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Hi Miguel
Your movement is similar to the one I have, and seems to have the same fine finishing. I guess both of their cases met the same sad ending.
Nice to see another one of these fine movements :)

Br
Matthias

Some more pictures here:
Nice watch. Congrats!! :) What a real pity to see so many orphans
 

Incroyable

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I've noticed French gold pocket watches--even repeaters-- to be unusually cheap even by the relatively low standards of antique pocket watches.

Is it because most of them were steel cylinders and had rather light weight cases compared to their English counterparts?

I believe French watches by and large also had gilt cuvettes versus the English who by law mandated that any precious metal cases be entirely made out of a single material.
 

miguel angel cladera

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I've noticed French gold pocket watches--even repeaters-- to be unusually cheap even by the relatively low standards of antique pocket watches.

Is it because most of them were steel cylinders and had rather light weight cases compared to their English counterparts?

I believe French watches by and large also had gilt cuvettes versus the English who by law mandated that any precious metal cases be entirely made out of a single material.
What do you mean when you say they are unusually cheap? At the current prices of the collector's market, at the quality of the watches compared to English watches?
 

Incroyable

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What do you mean when you say they are unusually cheap? At the current prices of the collector's market, at the quality of the watches compared to English watches?
You can often buy solid gold French cylinder watches for under $2000 including quarter repeaters.

I think it's directly the result of their lighter weight cases; the cuvettes were often not solid gold and they favored thin styles. The steel cylinder escapements which the French favored also don't seem terribly popular with more serious collectors.
 

Bernhard J.

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You can often buy solid gold French cylinder watches for under $2000 including quarter repeaters.

I think it's directly the result of their lighter weight cases; the cuvettes were often not solid gold and they favored thin styles. The steel cylinder escapements which the French favored also don't seem terribly popular with more serious collectors.
I would tend to object this generalisation. I have one of these (early version, see below). Yes, the cuvette is not gold, but the rest of the gold case is very solid and heavy. This one was about 10% more than your indication.

I rather suppose that the relatively low values of this type of watch is due to the high number made and surviving. Also, the spread of quality within this watch type is considerabe, also of the condition.

And all this does imo not apply to earlier French watches up to the 1750s, it seems that these range comparable with English watches.

7.jpg
1.jpg
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Incroyable

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I would tend to object this generalisation. I have one of these (early version, see below). Yes, the cuvette is not gold, but the rest of the gold case is very solid and heavy. This one was about 10% more than your indication.

I rather suppose that the relatively low values of this type of watch is due to the high number made and surviving. Also, the spread of quality within this watch type is considerabe, also of the condition.

And all this does imo not apply to earlier French watches up to the 1750s, it seems that these range comparable with English watches.

View attachment 729012
View attachment 729013
View attachment 729014
Yes, I'm rather surprised at the relatively large number of early 19th century French and Swiss cylinder repeaters that have survived.

Their English counterparts are far rarer.
 

John Matthews

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Yes, I'm rather surprised at the relatively large number of early 19th century French and Swiss cylinder repeaters that have survived.

Their English counterparts are far rarer.
Were as many English cylinder repeaters made as produced by the Swiss & French? I don't think so.

Do you believe the survival rate (%) is significantly different? I doubt it.

John
 
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miguel angel cladera

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You can often buy solid gold French cylinder watches for under $2000 including quarter repeaters.

I think it's directly the result of their lighter weight cases; the cuvettes were often not solid gold and they favored thin styles. The steel cylinder escapements which the French favored also don't seem terribly popular with more serious collectors.
Sorry, but I don't understand the term "serious collector" either. As I stated in my first intervention, I don't know everything about French watchmaking, but in terms of relative quality I don't see much difference with English watchmaking either (each with its own achievements and particularities). I know that Lépine's contribution was one of the most important on a global level and the fact that the movements were finer, in his time, was a very important innovation. I would not mind owning one of his watches or one of Breguet's, for example. Nor do I see any objection to the cylinder escapement, which has been one of the most widely used in antique watchmaking...
 

Incroyable

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Sorry, but I don't understand the term "serious collector" either. As I stated in my first intervention, I don't know everything about French watchmaking, but in terms of relative quality I don't see much difference with English watchmaking either (each with its own achievements and particularities). I know that Lépine's contribution was one of the most important on a global level and the fact that the movements were finer, in his time, was a very important innovation. I would not mind owning one of his watches or one of Breguet's, for example. Nor do I see any objection to the cylinder escapement, which has been one of the most widely used in antique watchmaking...
By "serious collector" I meant people with a very academic interest in antiquarian horology. My overall impression--which may be wrong of course--is that those individuals are generally not that interested in steel cylinder movements.

From what I understand steel cylinders often wore out with use and thus ruby cylinders are far more desirable.

High quality French watches are beautiful but their watch industry seems to have died out earlier than the English. Indeed they appear to have devoted their energies to producing high quality clocks for most of the 19th century.
 

miguel angel cladera

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By "serious collector" I meant people with a very academic interest in antiquarian horology. My overall impression--which may be wrong of course--is that those individuals are generally not that interested in steel cylinder movements.

From what I understand steel cylinders often wore out with use and thus ruby cylinders are far more desirable.

High quality French watches are beautiful but their watch industry seems to have died out earlier than the English. Indeed they appear to have devoted their energies to producing high quality clocks for most of the 19th century.
So I guess I could describe myself as a "serious collector" as my interest is academic and I try to put into articles (in my language) everything I learn, but I still need a lot of learning and watchmaking education. The thread I have opened is about a watch of "apparent quality" with a verge escapement and not a cylinder escapement... What is your opinion about this watch (the one I show in the thread) so that we don't get off the subject? If I'm not mistaken, the first bejewelled cylinders were made by Breguet?
 
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Incroyable

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So I guess I could describe myself as a "serious collector" as my interest is academic and I try to put into articles (in my language) everything I learn, but I still need a lot of learning and watchmaking education. The thread I have opened is about a watch of "apparent quality" with a verge escapement and not a cylinder escapement... What is your opinion about this watch (the one I show in the thread) so that we don't get off the subject? If I'm not mistaken, the first bejewelled cylinders were made by Breguet?
It's a very attractive verge movement though I must confess I'm not very knowledgeable about these early watches.

I do believe Breguet made the first ruby cylinders.
 

eri231

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Only need to ask !

- Lenoir Simon.Paris. m. 1640. 1680 at age 60
Juror in Charge 1647-49-50. Bridge at
Exchange. Married to Marie de Grand
Mesnil. Baptizes his daughters Isabelle in
1647 and Charlotte in 1648.
In 1649, Casimir, future king of Poland,
having had notice of the application by Vin-
cent Galileo from a long pendulum to a
clockwork, wrote in
France to some well-known scholars
of a new clock much more
fair than all the others. Some of
these scholars communicated
this news to a watchmaker in Paris
named Simon Le Noir, one of the most
skillful of his time. He also applied
this long pendulum has one movement
clock as Galileo had done
son. So it was Simon Le Noir who did,
in Paris, of those clocks called
even today "Clocks to seconds, because
the pendulum which is applied marks one
second to each of its vibrations. (Thout).



- Etienne, son of Simon. Paris. Getting
married in 1696 to Marie-Anne Gamonet.
Christened his sons Pierre-Etienne in
1698 and Etienne in 1699. Former worker of
The Trinity Hospital. 1698. Square
Dauphine, 1698. Died at age 79 in 1739.
In his inventory, there were many
many watches in gold, silver,
enamel, gold chains, marqueries and
in bronze, cartels, jewellery,
cogs, movements, tools.

Etienne father, son of Etienne (born in
1698 or 1699. Paris. F. of M. 1717.
Quai des Orfèvres, 1743. Quoted 1778.
Reindeer. On a box watch
gilded and embossed (1725).

Pierre-Etienne, son of Etienne. Paris. Born
in 1724. F. de M. 1743. With his father
headquarters. Member of the
Masonic Lodge St-Louis de la Mar-
tinique of the United Brothers, 1781-90.
Pompadour paid him
1,500 pounds a repeater watch
in enameled gold with its similar chain.
On a watch Etienne Le Noir in Paris.
On the clock in the Museum of Antiquities
Rouen tees: Etienne Le Noir
On a wooden repeating clock
Etienne Le Noir in Paris.
In 1772, he made clocks
carillon striking the hour, the half and 10
tunes every hour repeats or
that can be changed at will.
On Madame du Barry's clock at
Choisy-le-Roi (around 1775):
Etienne Le Noir in Paris.
as well as on a fortnight clock
ringtone.
On a clock in the bronzes of Saint-
German:
Regards enrico
 

miguel angel cladera

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Would this originally what would have been referred to as an oignon watch?
No, this watch is more modern. All the oignons I have seen are taller and the fusee has a very characteristic truncated cone shape. I was referring to the fact that I had seen French watches that later, on closer inspection, turned out to be Swiss... from everything I have seen these days searching for information, there is no longer any reasonable doubt in my mind that denies its French origin.

25G_540x540.jpg


It would be good to know the opinion of the colleague agemo and gmorse
 
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rstl99

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I agree with Miguel, your watch is not what is referred to as "oignon", which were both thicker and of larger diameter, and which ended with Louis XIV or certainly by 1720. After that, Régence and certainly Louis XV watches were very noticeably and increasingly thinner. A lot of the reason for that was the fact that watchmakers by 1715-20 could make a good-running watch with a smaller diameter balance wheel, and smaller balance spring. I believe another reason for the smaller diameter and thinner French watch movements post 1720, was improvement in production of mainsprings*, so that one did not need to have such a tall barrel to accommodate a wide spring (and tall fusee as a consequence).

* That may in part be related to the arrival in Paris sometime in the early 1710's of English spring maker William Blakey, who supplied finer springs (balance and main) to Parisian watchmakers for decades (followed by his son of the same name). Blakey introduced Henry Sully to Julien Le Roy, a prominent figure in Parisian watchmaking, sometime in 1715-16. By 1718, he was running a spring factory in Normandy under the financial support of John Law, who started many such (though short-lived due to his demise and financial collapse) factories in France using English workers brought in to improve quality of French production, and train French workers.

p.s. anyone interested in the evolution of antique French watches is strongly encouraged to read Adolphe Chapiro's book" La montre française" (Éditions de l'amateur, 1991)
 
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Tom McIntyre

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Does it move the verge and possibly affect the depthing?
 

gmorse

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Hi Miguel,

I don't think so, it isn't to adjust the depthing of the escape wheel into the verge flags, that's accomplished by the small follower under the contrate wheel. I don't see how it could move the verge staff itself. Can you post some more picture of this area from different angles?

Regards,

Graham
 
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gmorse

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Hi Miguel,
...but what are the drops?
The drops in any escapement are the period or distance between one tooth being released by one pallet and another tooth being stopped by the other pallet. There has to be some drop on each pallet, usually measured as a degree of rotation, but it should be minimal and both drops should be the same. In a verge, the drops are adjusted by moving the escape wheel inner pivot, (closest to the verge staff), laterally, since the verge flags are acting on diametrically opposite escape teeth. This is done in English watches by a simple dovetail slide on the potence, but on French watches mostly by a more complex arrangement of slides with screw adjusters.

Regards,

Graham
 

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