One of Waltham's finest small movements - the 9-ligne

Jerry Treiman

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Waltham has had a long history of making watches for women, dating back to their earliest days. Their first lady's watch was a 10-size model in 1861. Through the decades these watches became smaller and smaller, and with the introduction of their Jewel Series (6/0) around 1898, and smaller movements later on, they were really able to offer some elegant watches for the ladies, including wristwatches.
Evolution.jpg


Around 1902 they came out with their first movement measured in lignes - their 10-ligne movement. It actually measures about 9 1/2 lignes and is a 10/0 movement by my American gauge. The earliest production of this new model was finished to a very high level for such a small watch and was cased as a pendant watch. It had a gold center wheel, gold jewel settings and a steel escape wheel. The balance wheel had gold timing screws and four gold meantime screws. Visual comparison of the early 10-ligne movements with the later 10-ligne Maximus reveals no apparent difference other than the name, and I believe they were of equivalent grade. Actual specifications are difficult to ascertain as the movement was not even listed in Waltham's material catalogs (e.g. 1909, 1911) until 1916.
10Lcompare.jpg



In Waltham's "Gift Book" (estimated publication ~1912) it is clearly a quality movement for the carriage trade. Lower-grade movements in this size were produced later.
p18-19.jpg


As fine as the early 10-ligne watches were, Waltham took another step forward with their 9-ligne movement, introduced around 1912. I am not sure why they called it a 9-ligne movement, except perhaps to differentiate it from the 10-ligne movement, as both have the same 9 1/2 ligne diameter. However, the "9-ligne" movement is distinctly thinner - 3.5 mm as compared with 4.5 mm for the 10-ligne movement - which allows for cases that are thinner and more elegant, including some lady's wristwatches. In addition to the several high-grade features already enumerated for the 10-ligne model, the 9-ligne movement boasts a complete gear train in gold and satin-finished winding wheels - hallmarks of Waltham's best movements. None of the train or escapement parts are interchangeable between the two models and no 9-ligne parts are shown in any Waltham material catalog (that I have seen) other than the mainspring and some screws. In the next photos the 10-ligne movement is on the left and the 9-ligne is on the right. The low-angle photo illustrates some of the ways the 9-ligne was thinner.
10L-9L.jpg 10L-9L_edges2.jpg


One of the reasons I have been fascinated with the 9-ligne movement is that it had relatively limited production (probably fewer than 2500 movements in only 5 production runs) and a large number of these movements, including the first run of Specials, are marked "Patrician". The Patrician name was a trademark of H.W. Matalene, a casemaker who made cases exclusively for Waltham. The use of his trademark on so many of the 9-ligne movements (and in particular all of the first run of those movements within a group of "Assorted Specials") indicates to me that these were initially made to be cased and distributed by H.W. Matalene. Later runs included some marked simply "Waltham", or unmarked, and I have also seen one of these (4th run) in a Dubois case). Matalene used these movements in a variety of pendant and wristwatch cases as well as a few unique pocket watches.
1784_fb.jpg 1784_m.jpg 7678.jpg




I believe the following serial number groups encompass all of the 9-ligne movements:
18,028,301 - 500 --- Assorted Specials - Patricians found throughout this range
18,063,501 - 800 --- no grade indicated; no examples yet seen
18,119,501 - 800 --- Patrician - several examples seen
18,119,801 - 20,600 --- no grade indicated; includes some Patrician (maybe 200)
23,272,001 - 3000 --- Patrician - a few seen within lower part of range, remainder unknown


I would greatly appreciate reports of other examples of Waltham's 9-ligne movement.

Evolution.jpg 10Lcompare.jpg 10L-9L.jpg 10L-9L_edges2.jpg
 
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Jerry Treiman

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Thanks, Jeff. I forgot to mention that the first image I posted, showing the evolution of women's watches, is from a 1921 issue of "Minutes", an occasional publication by the Waltham Watch Co. for their employees.
 

artbissell

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Really interesting to me is this fine effort to thoroughly describe an ignored Waltham accomplshment. Over the years I have accumulated a bunch of their little ones. Later this month I will be photographing most of these and will report, artbissell

IMG_1320a.jpg IMG_3079a.jpg
 
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Brian C.

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Waltham Smallest Machine Made Screws in the World (in my collection).jpg You want to talk small, look at this.
 

Tom McIntyre

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The screws remind me of one of the Waltham advertising campaigns themed as "How much is a pound of steel worth?" The answer, of course, is that it depends on what you make with it. The answer, as I recall, was the hairspring but those screws could be a close competitor.
 

Jerry Treiman

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This movement model still intrigues me. I am trying to establish when it was first introduced (so I can more accurately date some watches that used it) and the evidence is both sparse and equivocal, but I am beginning to think it must have been in 1913. Following is what I have:

1. The first serial numbers are 18,028,301 (assorted size specials) and 18,063,501. These dates ostensibly correspond to around 1911. However, special production watches like these seem to often have been finished after serial numbers were reserved for them.

2. 1911 Waltham material catalog does not include any 9-ligne parts.

3. 1912 Waltham sales catalogs do not include 9-ligne watches.

4. The rather posh "Waltham Gift Book", which probably dates from 1912*, promotes the 10-ligne as "the smallest practical watch movement made in the world", obviously before their 9-ligne movement was introduced. This booklet shows some 10-ligne watches cased by Matalene.

5. An October 1913 magazine advertisement, featuring watches cased by Matalene, is the earliest I have seen to show 9-ligne watches.

6. Waltham mainspring charts are one of my “secret” sources for identifying and sequencing Waltham’s different models. Although the Waltham mainspring chart does not further identify the movement, the mainspring (#2233) is numbered just ahead of #2235, identified for a 1912 model 6/0 movement. This might have caused me to push 9-ligne production back to 1912 except for the following curiosity. Although Waltham does not give the 9-ligne movement a model designation, a mainspring chart used by C & E Marshall (1925) for their own branded mainsprings identifies the 9-ligne Waltham movement as a 1913 model. This 1913 designation is also repeated in the mainspring chart provided by the Chicago School of Watchmaking course material (1933). I suspect that the mainspring part number, just ahead of a 1912 model mainspring, was assigned while the movement was still in development.

*"Waltham Gift Book" - what year?
 

Jerry Treiman

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This is the earliest 9-ligne watch that I have, probably from 1913. The movement, labeled “Patrician” is from the first group produced, in a run of Assorted Specials.
957_fb.jpg 957_m1.jpg

As I have mentioned previously, I have recognized some 9-ligne Waltham watches in a 1913 ad, even though they are not identified as such. However, I have been unable to find this model actually mentioned in any advertising until a 1923 Waltham brochure wherein a 9-ligne ribbon watch (wristwatch) is priced at more than double the price of any other gold ladies watch.

I would be very interested to see other examples of Waltham’s 9-ligne watch, or other advertisements mentioning this model.
 

Jerry Treiman

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I am also still interested in the predecessor 10-ligne model, and am planning to write an article about these small, fancy ladies watches (both sizes). Here is a 10-ligne Waltham, from 1911, that I recently acquired.
14184460_bobl.jpg

The puzzle for me is that the 10-ligne movement appears to have been developed as early as 1903, but it too suffered a lack of promotion. Early examples that I have seen are in very plain, simple cases. Not until 1910 did Waltham appear to promote this watch and start emphasizing ornate and expensive cases, such as the one shown above.

I would love to learn of any advertising mention of the 10-ligne model prior to 1910. Pictures of earlier fancy examples would also help my project.
 

Jerry Treiman

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I am still enamored of the 9-ligne movement, even more so as I have taken a closer look at it compared to the 10-ligne movement. It is clearly a higher-grade movement than the 10-ligne. Not only does the 9-ligne have a gold gear train but this tiny watch also has a double-roller escapement with a gold roller table, neither of which appear even in the 10-ligne Maximus.
10L-9L balances.jpg

Besides the features already mentioned, the 9-ligne is distinguished by a flat steel pallet bridge instead of the thick nickel pallet bridge of the 10-ligne.
10L-9L pallet bridges.jpg

If anyone has other examples, particularly cased movements, I would love to learn about them.
 

Jerry Treiman

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I have shown the 9-ligne movement here as used in pendant watches and in another thread as wrist watches ( https://mb.nawcc.org/threads/a-fine-early-waltham-wristwatch-movement.133416/ ), but what about the pocket watches that I mentioned? From 1915 to 1917 H.W. Matalene made a number of rectangular gold dress watches, many with an included cigar cutter, that utilized the 9-ligne movement that appeared to have been made for him. This one has a Waltham-labeled movement, but many have the Patrician labeled movements.
3517mcrop.jpg 3517fos.jpg
 

John Cote

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I have shown the 9-ligne movement here as used in pendant watches and in another thread as wrist watches ( https://mb.nawcc.org/threads/a-fine-early-waltham-wristwatch-movement.133416/ ), but what about the pocket watches that I mentioned? From 1915 to 1917 H.W. Matalene made a number of rectangular gold dress watches, many with an included cigar cutter, that utilized the 9-ligne movement that appeared to have been made for him. This one has a Waltham-labeled movement, but many have the Patrician labeled movements.
View attachment 667330 View attachment 667329
That really appears to be a well made and well engineered piece. I love it.
 
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