Patek Philippe

miguel angel cladera

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I would like to show you my latest acquisition. It is a PP circa 1885 for the American market. If I have to be honest I did not expect to add another Swiss watch to my small collection, but two unsuccessful purchase experiences of two watches with more "historical significance" in a very short time, perhaps precipitated my decision. Its movement (19"') has all the characteristics to be a good watch in its time, such as the "wolf's teeth", moustache anchor lever and a patent for a micrometric regulator (1881) which to me looks like a Willmot variant. Does not indicate jewellery count (18-20) I imagine to avoid paying certain import taxes.

s-l1600.jpg

The jeweller who sold it is well known (I myself have a nice small American watch from the same shop). The case is original to the watch, in sterling silver with gold inlays such as trim, hinge and crown. It is made by the well-known American manufacturer "Jeannot & Shiebler" and has the serial number of the watch marked on both covers.

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The dial with the name of the jewellery shop.
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Here are some pictures with more detail. They are from the seller, but he has granted me his permission to use them.
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s-l1600 (4).jpg

There is little more I can say about the watch. Now a question for the PP experts ....

Who invented "wolf's teeth"? I have not found any Swiss patents, as they date from after 1888.

I have been able to trace the use of the "moustache anchor lever" back to Moritz Grossman and Gruen, but I have not seen any patents for it either.

The calibre is remarkably similar to other Vacheron calibres. Is it possible that it is an ebauche, and if so, who made it? Afaik LeCoultre made ebauches for the Agathon range, but I haven't seen one with a micrometric regulator.

image-41.jpg

My impression is that PP created very fine watches using technical solutions already implemented, in addition to its own patents. Some of the technical solutions found in this movement were used for his famous Gondolo, years later with its well-known "s" bridge patented in 1891.

Thank you very much as always for your attention and especially to the colleagues who are always willing to give their time when I ask them something.

PD. I was excited to order an extract of the files from PP, but when I saw the price, I thought... what am I going to do with a piece of paper that tells me even less information than I already have ..... I'd rather wear the watch when it arrives and with that money enjoy a nice evening with my partner :)
 

Ethan Lipsig

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Nice watch! I am very fond of J&S cases. I don't often see them in silver. FYI, I have a Patek Philippe with essentially the same movement, but in the Extra grade, #71,477. It too is a PL, for Bingham & Walk. It also is in a J&S case of the same or a similar design as yours, but in 18k.
 

miguel angel cladera

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Nice watch! I am very fond of J&S cases. I don't often see them in silver. FYI, I have a Patek Philippe with essentially the same movement, but in the Extra grade, #71,477. It too is a PL, for Bingham & Walk. It also is in a J&S case of the same or a similar design as yours, but in 18k.
Thank you very much. Yes it is curious a silver box with these gold ornaments. Perhaps for a customer who could not afford a gold case?

One question, did the "extra" grade come with a certificate, a higher setting or was it simply a designation specific to the American market?
 

thesnark17

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The 'Extra' marking on these high-end Swiss watches generally means that they spent some time being adjusted by a regleur (class of Swiss watchmakers specializing in fine adjustment) after the initial factory adjustment. Aside from the marking, they should look the same as non-extra watches.

Basically, they went through the extra adjustment process for observatory trial watches, and could be expected to be superior timekeepers. That is not the same as saying that they went through those trials, though!

Few watches went through the observatory trials, and only the very best from each company were sent there. If Ethan's watch were an observatory watch, there should be a record of that in Switzerland somewhere, and it would have been sold with its observatory certificate. However, the odds are against that.

In ascending order of precision, here is a list of adjustment levels. Each ascending level is selected from the best watches of the previous level. You should note that the base watches are already incredibly well-adjusted; there are no bad watches in these quality levels.
3. Regular high-grade manufacture with factory adjustment to 5 or more positions
2. Level 3, adjusted by a regleur and then sold in the regular market, marked 'Extra'
1. Level 2, retained by the manufacturer and sent to observatory trials, markings vary, comes with observatory certificate if it passed the trials
0. Level 1, and achieving a very high score at observatory trials, sometimes the result is marked on the watch
 
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Ethan Lipsig

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Well said, Snark17!

Sadly, my watch is not an observatory watch, just an "extra". It doesn't look exactly like lesser grade PP's of the same design because it has a special white (likely palladium) hairspring.

DSC04356.JPG DSC04355.JPG DSC04351.JPG DSC04352.JPG DSC04349.JPG DSC04348.JPG DSC04358.JPG DSC04359.JPG
 
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Incroyable

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The 'Extra' marking on these high-end Swiss watches generally means that they spent some time being adjusted by a regleur (class of Swiss watchmakers specializing in fine adjustment) after the initial factory adjustment. Aside from the marking, they should look the same as non-extra watches.

Basically, they went through the extra adjustment process for observatory trial watches, and could be expected to be superior timekeepers. That is not the same as saying that they went through those trials, though!

Few watches went through the observatory trials, and only the very best from each company were sent there. If Ethan's watch were an observatory watch, there should be a record of that in Switzerland somewhere, and it would have been sold with its observatory certificate. However, the odds are against that.

In ascending order of precision, here is a list of adjustment levels. Each ascending level is selected from the best watches of the previous level. You should note that the base watches are already incredibly well-adjusted; there are no bad watches in these quality levels.
3. Regular high-grade manufacture with factory adjustment to 5 or more positions
2. Level 3, adjusted by a regleur and then sold in the regular market, marked 'Extra'
1. Level 2, retained by the manufacturer and sent to observatory trials, markings vary, comes with observatory certificate if it passed the trials
0. Level 1, and achieving a very high score at observatory trials, sometimes the result is marked on the watch
After all these years is there any meaningful difference between an Extra and a regular movement?

I imagine the adjustment done by a regleur to be rather ephemeral even when the watch was new.
 

miguel angel cladera

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The 'Extra' marking on these high-end Swiss watches generally means that they spent some time being adjusted by a regleur (class of Swiss watchmakers specializing in fine adjustment) after the initial factory adjustment. Aside from the marking, they should look the same as non-extra watches.

Basically, they went through the extra adjustment process for observatory trial watches, and could be expected to be superior timekeepers. That is not the same as saying that they went through those trials, though!

Few watches went through the observatory trials, and only the very best from each company were sent there. If Ethan's watch were an observatory watch, there should be a record of that in Switzerland somewhere, and it would have been sold with its observatory certificate. However, the odds are against that.

In ascending order of precision, here is a list of adjustment levels. Each ascending level is selected from the best watches of the previous level. You should note that the base watches are already incredibly well-adjusted; there are no bad watches in these quality levels.
3. Regular high-grade manufacture with factory adjustment to 5 or more positions
2. Level 3, adjusted by a regleur and then sold in the regular market, marked 'Extra'
1. Level 2, retained by the manufacturer and sent to observatory trials, markings vary, comes with observatory certificate if it passed the trials
0. Level 1, and achieving a very high score at observatory trials, sometimes the result is marked on the watch
I was looking for extra classified numbers and found nothing in any of the marching bulletins about them, which is very much in keeping with their classification. I would like very much if you could cite a quotation from the companies that were engaged in this practice that would allow me to make the same statement. In other words, are there any documents from the factories themselves that corroborate this?

Did this happen in the European market or was it only for the American market?

It is a really interesting topic and one I would like to learn about. Right at the turn of the century, American-made watches began to exhibit more noticeable literature about their virtues as the high jewellery count grew. Is this a real trade war?

PD Edit, some companies did provide it
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Anotación 2020-06-04 211725.png
 
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miguel angel cladera

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After all these years is there any meaningful difference between an Extra and a regular movement?

I imagine the adjustment done by a regleur to be rather ephemeral even when the watch was new.
I would like to think that this adjustment lasted for a fairly prudent and prolonged period of time. It is quite logical that after so many years they are no longer effective, purely for reasons of logic and physics, but it does not deny that with a good service they are not still great timekeepers.
 

Incroyable

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I would like to think that this adjustment lasted for a fairly prudent and prolonged period of time. It is quite logical that after so many years they are no longer effective, purely for reasons of logic and physics, but it does not deny that with a good service they are not still great timekeepers.
I imagine it's similar to those watches that indicated they won Kew Observatory prizes. Once they got serviced by a regular watchmaker wouldn't all that extra regulation be null?
 

miguel angel cladera

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I imagine it's similar to those watches that indicated they won Kew Observatory prizes. Once they got serviced by a regular watchmaker wouldn't all that extra regulation be null?
Yes, but even if they were not repaired. Parts wear out, oils dry out... Time takes its toll on us all... I don't know what you are getting at, but I think that a watch with a special extra setting or prepared for an observatory is still a good intangible for a collector and watch lover today, as it is something that allows you to trace some of its history, even though it is obviously not effective today.
 
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thesnark17

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It is true that most, possibly all, of the extra adjustment that was put into these watches was ephemeral (aside from special materials: see below).

It is also true that they picked the best-performing watches to do these adjustments on. So there should still be a small performance difference in favor of the Extra and Observatory grades, assuming that they have not been abused.

A side point: Ethan has pointed out that his Patek has a special hairspring, probably made from palladium. This hairspring is non-magnetic, but the watch isn't marked for it, so that isn't the reason it was used. Specialist regleurs got much better temperature adjustment than a standard steel hairspring out of a minority of palladium hairsprings, and most of the rest turned out slightly better than a steel hairspring in performance (but at a much higher cost to work the material, as the compensation only exists after extensive work-hardening). Normal watches did not use palladium due to the expense, so if you find it in a watch of this era, the watch is either non-magnetic, competition-track, or both. The presence of a feature like this in a watch also gives benefits that are not ephemeral. In this case, the watch most likely has better temperature correction, and also resists magnetism to some degree.
 

Incroyable

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It is true that most, possibly all, of the extra adjustment that was put into these watches was ephemeral (aside from special materials: see below).

It is also true that they picked the best-performing watches to do these adjustments on. So there should still be a small performance difference in favor of the Extra and Observatory grades, assuming that they have not been abused.

A side point: Ethan has pointed out that his Patek has a special hairspring, probably made from palladium. This hairspring is non-magnetic, but the watch isn't marked for it, so that isn't the reason it was used. Specialist regleurs got much better temperature adjustment than a standard steel hairspring out of a minority of palladium hairsprings, and most of the rest turned out slightly better than a steel hairspring in performance (but at a much higher cost to work the material, as the compensation only exists after extensive work-hardening). Normal watches did not use palladium due to the expense, so if you find it in a watch of this era, the watch is either non-magnetic, competition-track, or both. The presence of a feature like this in a watch also gives benefits that are not ephemeral. In this case, the watch most likely has better temperature correction, and also resists magnetism to some degree.
So in essence most of the Extra grades were just a marketing ploy?

Weren't platinum timing screws also used on certain early chronometers as well?
 

Ethan Lipsig

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There wasn't any industry-wide standard for "extra" designations. Some makers, perhaps most notably Touchon, labelled a majority of their watches "extra". I see little or no differences between "extra" Touchons and regular ones. Illinois made some "extra" Illini, but the differences between them and regular Illinis were modest. I don't recall ever seeing a V&C marked "extra". My one observatory grade V&C is just marked "Integral Balance". An NY jeweler's 1910 price list offered 18k Patek Philippe, Extras for $225 or $235, a small premium over the $200 it wanted for an 18k Patek Philippe, No. 1s, It wanted $175 for a 14k Ulysse Nardin, Superior but only $140 for a 14k Ulysse Nardin, Extra.
 

Incroyable

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There wasn't any industry-wide standard for "extra" designations. Some makers, perhaps most notably Touchon, labelled a majority of their watches "extra". I see little or no differences between "extra" Touchons and regular ones. Illinois made some "extra" Illini, but the differences between them and regular Illinis were modest. I don't recall ever seeing a V&C marked "extra". My one observatory grade V&C is just marked "Integral Balance". An NY jeweler's 1910 price list offered 18k Patek Philippe, Extras for $225 or $235, a small premium over the $200 it wanted for an 18k Patek Philippe, No. 1s, It wanted $175 for a 14k Ulysse Nardin, Superior but only $140 for a 14k Ulysse Nardin, Extra.
Vacheron did have their Chronometre Royal although I'm not sure if it was just a range of models or if they had special features.
 

thesnark17

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A marketing ploy, yes. Many watches were sold for a premium, where the user would have gotten the same performance from a regular grade. Were the watches higher quality? Perhaps. Definitely some were. But there comes a point where the end user will not notice a difference in performance (even assuming that there is one), and almost certainly all of these watches are past that point.

The 'Extra' marking helps to recoup sunk costs. Specially adjusted watches need a special marking, otherwise how can you prove to the buyer that the watch is special? And since these watches had extra time spent on them, they had to sell at a premium. That said, I'm sure that the profit margin was bigger on these watches than regular production!
 

miguel angel cladera

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There wasn't any industry-wide standard for "extra" designations. Some makers, perhaps most notably Touchon, labelled a majority of their watches "extra". I see little or no differences between "extra" Touchons and regular ones. Illinois made some "extra" Illini, but the differences between them and regular Illinis were modest. I don't recall ever seeing a V&C marked "extra". My one observatory grade V&C is just marked "Integral Balance". An NY jeweler's 1910 price list offered 18k Patek Philippe, Extras for $225 or $235, a small premium over the $200 it wanted for an 18k Patek Philippe, No. 1s, It wanted $175 for a 14k Ulysse Nardin, Superior but only $140 for a 14k Ulysse Nardin, Extra.
Corresponde a esta lista de precios?
1.jpg
 

musicguy

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That said, I'm sure that the profit margin was bigger on these watches than regular production!
It's just conjecture and I'm not arguing this point, but high-end products today
actually have a lower profit margin then lower end products, and as a person
very familiar with economics I would be surprised if it wasn't the same then.
It may sound counter intuitive but true :)


Rob
 

miguel angel cladera

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A marketing ploy, yes. Many watches were sold for a premium, where the user would have gotten the same performance from a regular grade. Were the watches higher quality? Perhaps. Definitely some were. But there comes a point where the end user will not notice a difference in performance (even assuming that there is one), and almost certainly all of these watches are past that point.

The 'Extra' marking helps to recoup sunk costs. Specially adjusted watches need a special marking, otherwise how can you prove to the buyer that the watch is special? And since these watches had extra time spent on them, they had to sell at a premium. That said, I'm sure that the profit margin was bigger on these watches than regular production!
So far we seem to have a variation of grades in qualities. This seems to be determined by the calibre adjustments, by the incorporation of some technical improvements (such as palladium) and arbitrarily by market dictates and its marketing rules, as in some cases we have seen that the marching bulletin was even at the customer's request.

My question is... Do we have any evidence, beyond the observations made by ourselves and the commercial catalogues, from the companies themselves that certify this fact (some record book, some diary...)?

Did this phenomenon exist within the European market?
 

Incroyable

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This practice doesn't seem to have survived to present day.

You won't find watches advertising themselves as being Extra adjusted or different grades of movements from a single company. A Patek is just a Patek today except with different complications.
 
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miguel angel cladera

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And I would like to go back to the initial questions I asked, in case someone can help me.

Who invented "wolf's teeth"? I have not found any Swiss patents, as they date from after 1888.

I have been able to trace the use of the "moustache anchor lever" back to Moritz Grossman and Gruen, but I have not seen any patents for it either.

The calibre is remarkably similar to other Vacheron calibres. Is it possible that it is an ebauche, and if so, who made it?

Fred+Gruen+sketch+first+GRUEN+watch.jpeg
 

miguel angel cladera

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Well, I answer myself to the first question. The first watchmaker known to have invented the "wolf's teeth" type was Lepine.

denti di lupo.jpg

This movement its so curious too (circa 1850)

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Ethan Lipsig

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Corresponde a esta lista de precios?
View attachment 720989
I got my numbers from that ad or from this one.

ad.jpg

In my C.H. Meylan database (see the link below) I analyzed the different quality levels C.H. Meylan used, as follows:
  • Adjusted. These are very common.
  • X Adjustments, e.g., 6. These are very common.
  • Precision. I have only seen two examples, ##42,507 and 42,518, both on Cressarrow PLs. This may be a Cressarrow designation, although I don't recall ever seeing it on other Cressarrow PLs. That's why "Precisions" as likely no higher grade than "Adjusted" grade movements
  • Superior Adjustment. These are fairly common. There are over 50 examples in the database. One watch in the database was marked "Adjusted Superior," #4,903, a grand complications watch.
  • Superior. These are uncommon; there are around seven in the database. This may just be a variation on the more common "Superior Adjustment," but I am speculating that it is a higher grade since "Superior" implies that it is superior in more respects than just adjustment.
  • Special. I have seen this on a Benedict Brothers PL and a signed C.H. Meylan. I am not sure how special "Specials" were, but the C.H. Meylan "Special" had an gold jewel settings. See No. 16,532.
  • Extra Adjusted or Extra Adjustment. These are uncommon. I have only seen six examples, ##9,270, 18,870, 19,270, 19,480, 22,556, and 100,578.
  • Extra. These are uncommon. I have only seen three examples. ##18,010, 35,653 and 41,775. I think it likely is a higher grade than "Extra Adjustment" because "Extra" implies that it is "extra" in more respects than just adjustment and because #18,010 has a cam type regulator that I have never seen used in any C.H. Meylans apart from ¾-plate time-only or rattrapante movements.
 

mosesgodfrey

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Does not indicate jewellery count (18-20) I imagine to avoid paying certain import taxes.
This was not to avoid duties. There were no US duties on jewel counts before 1897, so there was no reason to stamp it.

The case is original to the watch, in sterling silver with gold inlays such as trim, hinge and crown.
Would this be what the Swiss refer to as "galonne?" I do not know what the American term was. It seems to have been quite popular in its own time. Certainly a step up from a sterling case.

The calibre is remarkably similar to other Vacheron calibres. Is it possible that it is an ebauche, and if so, who made it?
It could certainly have been made entirely in-house. Likely was, but I cannot refute the (heretical?) possibility that Vacheron supplied the ebauche. Vacheron & PPCo were both selling ebauches, etc. to other firms in the mid-1800s, and I have seen PPCo advertisements in the ebauche/contract maker sections of global address books decades later. Here is a translated excerpt of Chatelain & Retor (predecessor to Husson & Retor) history (1908 Staats- und sozialwissenschaftliche Forschungen, see p15). Point is, they had the full, in-house capability at some scale by 1847/48, but they also brought in other ebauches--IMO where it made financial sense and added scale over time.

The idea of mechanical goods production, which had long been recognized as the answer but had not been tested enough at the beginning of the [19th] century, was now being realized thanks to the improved technical equipment that had been acquired over the years. It was Georges Leschot who, in 1840, organized the mechanical manufacture of all parts of the rough watch movement (ébauche and finissage) at Vacheron & Constantin on the basis of their interchangeability.

The example given was followed in 1847/48 by the company Patek, Philippe & Cie., and in 1854, at the instigation of a number of establishments, to whom the the two aforementioned companies supplied raw materials and wheels not at cost, but with a surcharge, and who were therefore no longer able to compete with them, founded a new factory (Chatelain & Retor), which provided them an ebauche with (cylinder or anchor) escapement of excellent quality and at much more favorable conditions.

The 'Extra' marking on these high-end Swiss watches generally means that they spent some time being adjusted by a regleur (class of Swiss watchmakers specializing in fine adjustment) after the initial factory adjustment.
Sadly, my watch is not an observatory watch, just an "extra". It doesn't look exactly like lesser grade PP's of the same design because it has a special white (likely palladium) hairspring.
I am of the opinion that the "Extra" marking implies that there was a bulletin of some kind. I think the "Extra" in the price list above reflects a standard bulletin markup, and $25 was not chump change. The annual Concours winners were few and likely not obtainable by any Joe's Jewelry. There are standard bulletin watches out there--I have even seen one watch that may have been a PP&Co Class A failure (it was scrubbed). There were also special competitions at Geneva, beyond the usual bulletin process. The issue is, there are simply too few results with serial numbers visible to us in the documentation to verify which & where. Most observatories only published the prize winners in the top class, representing about 6-8% of total bulletins in each year.
 

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