Here is Joseph Johnson No. 30309, a 19-jewel English-lever fusee with compensated balance in a silver case with Chester hallmarks for 1861. John Matthews brought it to my notice as a candidate for the Johnson database, as he has often done recently (thank you, John!), and I determined to bag it for myself. Despite a very worn (though perfectly solid) case and a rather battered dial, it has proved to be the most practical watch I have owned so far and has gone straight to the head of what I call my bread-and-butter list, meaning those watches which are fit for everyday use. Timekeeping is certainly within thirty seconds a day. The hands are substitutes and a little too short, but they are appropriate for the period and a good fit on the cannon-pinion. The only real drawback is that the fusee-chain is also too short, and by more than a little, so that I have to wind the watch twice a day while keeping a close eye on the barrel to ensure that I do not wind the hook clean out of its hole, since the stop-work does not engage. As none of my spare chains is both long enough and thin enough, I shall have to live with this for a while. The case sponsors are apparently Samuel & Rogers of Wood Street, Liverpool (S&R in an oval cameo); I say 'apparently' because Priestley does not record this mark,or indeed any mark for this partnership, until 1864. I believe the movement is five or six years older than the case, since I have a record of a later movement (32487) with marks for 1857. Nonetheless the case was certainly purpose-made, and I feel it can be counted as original, since it seems unlikely that a watch should have needed re-casing so early in its life. There could be many reasons why the movement was left uncased for a few years; possibly it 'fell off the back of a lorry' (as we say in England) on its way to Liverpool Docks for export to the United States, or perhaps it was given to a pieceworker in lieu of cash payment – a disreputable and indeed illegal practice, but one which persisted in the watchmaking industry – and so took some time to find its way onto the retail market. It may sound ridiculous, but in these anxious times I feel a tiny but perceptible lifting of the heart whenever I put this watch to my ear and listen to its strong and imperturbable chump-chump-chump. Oliver Mundy.