My third English pocket chronometer

Clint Geller

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Here is a recent acquisition, just back from my watchmaker for servicing - a Charles Frodsham pocket chronometer in its original 18K case by Robert Rowlands with a London datemark for 1862-63. The dial carries the usual trademark Frodsham coded date, Fmsz, for 1859, but that is not a movement production date. My watchmaker reports that in 12 hours of running the watch lost about 5 seconds. The freesprung fusee movement with matching movement and dial SN 01525, has 17 jewels (including 3 endstones on the train, besides the two on the balance staff), a spring detent escapement with duo-in-uno hairspring, and a winding reserve indicator.

The interesting engraving on the rear of the case depicting an armored arm extending through a crown and raising a sword aloft, could possibly relate to the coat of arms of the Scottish Mathiesen family. As a student of American Civil War history, I would love to know when this particular watch first arrived in America, but unless there is an auction record of which I am unaware that is substantally earlier than the watch's most recent sale, I am not likely ever to know.

The photography is mostly my watchmaker's.

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gmorse

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Hi Clint,

That's beautiful. I believe Frodshams favoured Walsh as finisher for these, whereas Dent used Hammersley.

'Fmsz' is a coded number and is based on the letters 'FRODSHAM' with a 'z' for zero, and thus translates as '1850' which is when the calibre was introduced, just in time for the Great Exhibition in 1851. It was used on their better quality pieces, not only chronometers but also on levers.

Regards,

Graham
 
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Incroyable

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You can search for old heraldic crests in "Fairbairn's book of crests of the families of Great Britain and Ireland" though the process is somewhat tedious and it appears many families shared the same crest.

The PDF is available free online

.
 
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Clint Geller

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Hi Clint,

That's beautiful. I believe Frodshams favoured Walsh as finisher for these, whereas Dent used Hammersley.

'Fmsz' is a coded number and is based on the letters 'FRODSHAM' with a 'z' for zero, and thus translates as '1850' which is when the calibre was introduced, just in time for the Great Exhibition in 1851. It was used on their better quality pieces, not only chronometers but also on levers.

Regards,

Graham
Thank you for the correction, Graham. I had misremebered and thought that the z stood for the number 9. I now understand where the 1850 date comes from, thanks to your post. And your post also explains why duo-in-uno hairsprings appear on Frodsham and Walsh pocket chronometers at about the same time. My Walsh pocket chronometer, which has a simple helical hairspring, is in a case dated 1858-59, just before duo-in-uno hairsprings were introduced.

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Clint Geller

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Lovely piece! I note it is stamped with his 1855 Paris Exhibition Medal of Honor, giving a short range for dating.
I could be wrong, Mr. Godfrey, but I think the movement's duo-in-uno hairspring dates the movement to no earlier than about 1860 or 1861, which is highly consistent with the 1862-63 datemark on the case. Similarly, I'm guessing that the fact that this Frodsham chronometer movement is key wound and set rather than keyless is also highly consistent with the datemark on the case.
 
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gmorse

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Hi Clint,

I've repaired a key-wound Dent/Hammersley pocket chronometer with a duo-in-uno balance spring, in a case with a London date letter for 1874/5. Of course, the movement could well have been made some years before it was finally cased.

Regards,

Graham
 

Clint Geller

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Hi Clint,

I've repaired a key-wound Dent/Hammersley pocket chronometer with a duo-in-uno balance spring, in a case with a London date letter for 1874/5. Of course, the movement could well have been made some years before it was finally cased.

Regards,

Graham
Hi Graham,

Your observation would still be consistent with a first emergence of duo-in-uno hairsprings in the early 1860's, would it not?

Clint
 

gmorse

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Hi Clint,
Your observation would still be consistent with a first emergence of duo-in-uno hairsprings in the early 1860's, would it not?
Indeed it would, but I also mentioned that the 1874 watch is key-wound, a feature which many English customers were reluctant to abandon, having doubts about the reliability of the relatively recent keyless mechanisms of the period.

Regards,

Graham
 

Clint Geller

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Hi Clint,


Indeed it would, but I also mentioned that the 1874 watch is key-wound, a feature which many English customers were reluctant to abandon, having doubts about the reliability of the relatively recent keyless mechanisms of the period.

Regards,

Graham
Ah,yes! I realized that some time after I had posted. What do we know about Frodsham pocket chronometers in particular? Is it known about when that firm produced its last keywound pocket chronometer? I believe Walsh transitioned to keyless movements sometime in the 1860's, based on a data table I recall seeing in a Bulletin artivcle by Gert Nijssen, but I could be mistaken. Of course, Walsh was especially interested in the US market.
 
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Incroyable

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Hi Clint,


Indeed it would, but I also mentioned that the 1874 watch is key-wound, a feature which many English customers were reluctant to abandon, having doubts about the reliability of the relatively recent keyless mechanisms of the period.

Regards,

Graham
I'm curious why keyless fusees are called that despite still needing a key?
 

Dr. Jon

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Keyless fusees are so called that because they can and do usually stem wind. Many retain squares on the winding and setting arbors as well as holes in the cuvette for them, but they normally stem wind and stem set with a button.

They are fairly complex because they also have a lock out to uncouple the crown from the fusee when the watch runs.
 

Bernhard J.

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Keyless fusees are so called that because they can and do usually stem wind. Many retain squares on the winding and setting arbors as well as holes in the cuvette for them, but they normally stem wind and stem set with a button.

They are fairly complex because they also have a lock out to uncouple the crown from the fusee when the watch runs.
And inbetween solutions also exist, this one can be wound either with a key or by the stem, but setting of the hands is possible with a key only.

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John Matthews

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Is it known about when that firm produced its last keywound pocket chronometer?
Latest known to me is this series of large pocket deck watches.

The English Watch p.419 - #07324 key wound and set 2 day boxed pocket deck chronometer 1885/86

p.416 #06836 - similar unboxed.

These two, of 11 known remaining from 22 made. First sold 1856/7, then 5 in ~1884/5, remainder in three groups in late 1880s and 1890's. I have no details of the later examples.

John
 
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Clint Geller

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Latest known to me is this series of large pocket deck watches.

The English Watch p.419 - #07324 key wound and set 2 day boxed pocket deck chronometer 1885/86

p.416 #06836 - similar unboxed.

These two, of 11 known remaining from 22 made. First sold 1856/7, then 5 in ~1884/5, remainder in three groups in late 1880s and 1890's. I have no details of the later examples.

John
Thank you, John.
 

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