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    Rory formerly worked as Curator of Horology at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, where his role included day-to-day management of research and digitization projects, writing, public speaking, conservation, convening conferences, exhibition work, and development of acquisition/disposal and collection care policies. In addition, he has worked as a horological specialist at Bonhams in London, where he cataloged and handled many rare timepieces and built important relationships with collectors, buyers, and sellers. Most recently, Rory has used his talents to share his love of horology at the university level by teaching horological theory, history, and the practical repair and making of clocks and watches at Birmingham City University.

    Rory is a British citizen and currently resides in the UK. Pre-COVID-19, Rory and his wife, Kaai, visited HQ in Columbia, Pennsylvania, where they met with staff, spent time in the Museum and Library & Research Center, and toured the area. Rory and Kaai will be relocating to the area as soon as the immigration challenges and travel restrictions due to COVID-19 permit.

    Some of you may already be familiar with Rory as he is also a well-known author and lecturer. His recent publications include the book Harrison Decoded: Towards a Perfect Pendulum Clock, which he edited with Jonathan Betts, and the article “George Graham and the Orrery” in the journal Nuncius.

    Until Rory’s relocation to the United States is complete, he will be working closely with an on-boarding team assembled by the NAWCC Board of Directors to introduce him to the opportunities and challenges before us and to ensure a smooth transition. Rory will be participating in strategic and financial planning immediately, which will allow him to hit the ground running when he arrives in Columbia

    You can read more about Rory McEvoy and this exciting announcement in the upcoming March/April issue of the Watch & Clock Bulletin.

    Please join the entire Board and staff in welcoming Rory to the NAWCC community.

Pocket Chronometer Chronograph by Henri-Louis Matile

Warwian

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Hello,

I have a pocket chronometer chronograph, number 10790, by Henri-Louis Matile in Le Locle. It received a Class B Bulletin de Marche from the Neuchatel Observatory in 1881. It was adjusted by Fritz Borgstedt and placed 3rd out of 29 participants in Class B, which was the longest and most stringent of the pocket chronometer classes in 1881, and it was the best performing chronograph in the competition.

I am curious about the movement and the ebauche. Can anyone tell me anything about it? Is this also an example of the Piguet freres under-the-dial system as discussed in the following thread? https://mb.nawcc.org/threads/jules-jurgensen-pocket-watch-chronograph-s-n-12663.160406/
What about the base movement?

Regards,
Eric
Matile2.jpg
Matile3.jpg
1881Comp.JPG
 
Last edited:

Warwian

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Matile was a frequent competitor at the Geneva trials and seems to have sold a lot of watches in the US.

Here is a link to a very fine example of his work


I think this is a Robin escapement.
Geneva? I am not aware of them competing at the Geneva Observatory. Did they compete there before 1879? My archives of the Geneva trials start at 1879, and I do not personally have any of the records from before that. I know that HL Matile often participated in the Neuchatel Observatory trials, and that Fritz Borgstedt adjusted many, if not most, of their chronometers.

Yes, they certainly seem to have sold much in the US. They even exhibited watches with Bulletins from the Neuchatel Observatory at the Philadelphia Exhibition of 1876.

When I visited Le Locle in 2019, I tried to find where the HL Matile company was located, at rue de France 286/287, but sadly, it seems that the buildings there are long gone.
 
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Ethan Lipsig

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Warwian commented that HL Matile " certainly seem to have sold much in the US." I don't remember where I got this account of Mathey Bros. but it reports that Mathey was Matile's sold US agent.

JC.jpg
 
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Warwian

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Warwian commented that HL Matile " certainly seem to have sold much in the US." I don't remember where I got this account of Mathey Bros. but it reports that Mathey was Matile's sold US agent.
Thanks a lot for that, Ethan! Very interesting!
 

Philip Poniz

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HENRI-LOUIS MATILE

There were two or three watchmakers with the name Henri Louis Matile in Le Locle; a father (1817- ca 1893) and a son (1843 –after 1907). Boudin, who wrote a book about Le Locle’s watchmakers and provided the above dates (except 1907), adds that the father was also a politician.

Both were fabricants and négociants. The watches that bear their names reflect this division clearly, some of them, like this one, are superbly finished, some are just mediocre.

For watches bearing their names and dating between 1877 and 1887 it is hard to figure out which Matile was responsible for it. Your watch clearly falls into this category.

To make the matter more difficult, in 1853 at the New York Exhibition of Industry of All Nations, there was an exhibitor from Locle, H. L. Matile, Jr, exhibiting “Fine gold chronometer-balance and independent-second watches; two chronometer movements”. This indicates that there was a third Henry Louis Matile; the son was just ten years old. This is confirmed by the existence of an independent seconds watch from that period, still key wound, signed on the cuvette by Henri Louis Matile, Locle and marked under the dial HL MF, meaning Henry-Louis Matile Fils. Speculating, maybe there was a grandfather, father, and son, all with the same names. When the grandfather was still alive the father used H. L. Matile fils, and after his death, he dropped the “fils”. The son did just that, he called himself fils until 1891, the year when the father died, then he dropped the “fils”.

In the beginning, Matile II and Matile III must have worked together. In the 1870 Neuchatel Observatory Timing competition, watch No. 9339 was listed as H.-L. Matile fils and the consecutive one, No. 9340 was under H.-Louis Matile et fils. I presume that the son was apprenticed by the father.

In the early 1860’s the father was listed at place du Marché 179 as Fabricant et négociant d'Horlogerie. In 1868 the address changed to rue de France 287. In 1883 he changed the listing to montres compliquées et de precision. Two years later, in 1885, the address was changed just by one digit - rue de France 286, which lasted until 1889. He disappears in 1890.

In 1877 the son established himself at rue de la Couronne 316 and advertised dealing in complicated watches. Six years later, in 1883, he was listed as the prefect of Le Locle, no address was given for his business. In 1887 he disappears from Le Locle but in 1890 he reappears as a prefect of the district de Boudry. I am guessing that Boudin mistook the father with the son, stating that the father was a politician. It is possible that at one point, around 1883 the son took over the father’s business consolidating both.

The earliest records of H.L. Matile competing at the Neuchatel Observatory Timing Contest is in the second half of the 1860’s. He was listed as Henri-Louis Matile fils and in the category C – timing for 15 days in one position - not the most sophisticated category – he placed second. In 1875 he is listed without the “fils”.

After that, he took part in every Neuchatel Observatory contest, for about 20 years. He was one of the strongest competitors. In 1870, when the Matiles submitted at least four watches with serial numbers ranging from 93xx to 11,xxx, the above mentioned Matile et fils, got the first place.

In 1880 Matile took the two first prizes in Category C. In 1882 he presented no less than 44 watches and a similar number a year later with very good results. The next year he vanished from the competition world and we do not hear of him again. There must be a story there. The story might be that his work for C.H. Meylan (he did the complicated pieces for him starting in the first half of the 1870’s) grew to the point that he did not have the time or desire to compete anymore.

It does not appear that he exhibited much, he did New York in 1853 and the Centennial Exhibition of 1876 where he showed complicated watches, but I do not recall finding him in European Expositions.

He was listed from 1884 to at least 1907 as a resident member of the Société d'émulation du Doubs.

He made tourbillons, repeaters, split seconds, perpetual calendars, independent seconds watches, and detent escapement pocket chronometers. The vast majority were of very high quality, superbly finished like the one that started this thread, with gold wheels, gold temperature and mean time screws, gold chatons, Nonius regulator, and most likely equidistant escapement. His minute repeaters in 1885, retailed by Mathey Brothers & Mathez in New York sold for $340. Patek Philippe’s minute repeater from that time cost 40% more. It was during days when overhauling a minute repeater cost $8.00.
H.L. Matile1.jpg
Minute repeater by Matile sold in 1885 for $340

I had two-train independent seconds watch of his with double chronograph and return-to zero function of unusual construction of very high finish. Interestingly, our Albert H. Potter sold one, almost identical.

For the chronograph part of the watch see my post at hhttps://mb.nawcc.org/threads/jules-jurgensen-pocket-watch-chronograph-s-n-12663.160406/#post-1415587

Philip Poniz
 

tick talk

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"négociants" What an interesting term; same as etablisseur?
 

Warwian

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Nov 2, 2015
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HENRI-LOUIS MATILE

There were two or three watchmakers with the name Henri Louis Matile in Le Locle; a father (1817- ca 1893) and a son (1843 –after 1907). Boudin, who wrote a book about Le Locle’s watchmakers and provided the above dates (except 1907), adds that the father was also a politician.

Both were fabricants and négociants. The watches that bear their names reflect this division clearly, some of them, like this one, are superbly finished, some are just mediocre.

For watches bearing their names and dating between 1877 and 1887 it is hard to figure out which Matile was responsible for it. Your watch clearly falls into this category.

To make the matter more difficult, in 1853 at the New York Exhibition of Industry of All Nations, there was an exhibitor from Locle, H. L. Matile, Jr, exhibiting “Fine gold chronometer-balance and independent-second watches; two chronometer movements”. This indicates that there was a third Henry Louis Matile; the son was just ten years old. This is confirmed by the existence of an independent seconds watch from that period, still key wound, signed on the cuvette by Henri Louis Matile, Locle and marked under the dial HL MF, meaning Henry-Louis Matile Fils. Speculating, maybe there was a grandfather, father, and son, all with the same names. When the grandfather was still alive the father used H. L. Matile fils, and after his death, he dropped the “fils”. The son did just that, he called himself fils until 1891, the year when the father died, then he dropped the “fils”.

In the beginning, Matile II and Matile III must have worked together. In the 1870 Neuchatel Observatory Timing competition, watch No. 9339 was listed as H.-L. Matile fils and the consecutive one, No. 9340 was under H.-Louis Matile et fils. I presume that the son was apprenticed by the father.

In the early 1860’s the father was listed at place du Marché 179 as Fabricant et négociant d'Horlogerie. In 1868 the address changed to rue de France 287. In 1883 he changed the listing to montres compliquées et de precision. Two years later, in 1885, the address was changed just by one digit - rue de France 286, which lasted until 1889. He disappears in 1890.

In 1877 the son established himself at rue de la Couronne 316 and advertised dealing in complicated watches. Six years later, in 1883, he was listed as the prefect of Le Locle, no address was given for his business. In 1887 he disappears from Le Locle but in 1890 he reappears as a prefect of the district de Boudry. I am guessing that Boudin mistook the father with the son, stating that the father was a politician. It is possible that at one point, around 1883 the son took over the father’s business consolidating both.

The earliest records of H.L. Matile competing at the Neuchatel Observatory Timing Contest is in the second half of the 1860’s. He was listed as Henri-Louis Matile fils and in the category C – timing for 15 days in one position - not the most sophisticated category – he placed second. In 1875 he is listed without the “fils”.

After that, he took part in every Neuchatel Observatory contest, for about 20 years. He was one of the strongest competitors. In 1870, when the Matiles submitted at least four watches with serial numbers ranging from 93xx to 11,xxx, the above mentioned Matile et fils, got the first place.

In 1880 Matile took the two first prizes in Category C. In 1882 he presented no less than 44 watches and a similar number a year later with very good results. The next year he vanished from the competition world and we do not hear of him again. There must be a story there. The story might be that his work for C.H. Meylan (he did the complicated pieces for him starting in the first half of the 1870’s) grew to the point that he did not have the time or desire to compete anymore.

It does not appear that he exhibited much, he did New York in 1853 and the Centennial Exhibition of 1876 where he showed complicated watches, but I do not recall finding him in European Expositions.

He was listed from 1884 to at least 1907 as a resident member of the Société d'émulation du Doubs.

He made tourbillons, repeaters, split seconds, perpetual calendars, independent seconds watches, and detent escapement pocket chronometers. The vast majority were of very high quality, superbly finished like the one that started this thread, with gold wheels, gold temperature and mean time screws, gold chatons, Nonius regulator, and most likely equidistant escapement. His minute repeaters in 1885, retailed by Mathey Brothers & Mathez in New York sold for $340. Patek Philippe’s minute repeater from that time cost 40% more. It was during days when overhauling a minute repeater cost $8.00.

Minute repeater by Matile sold in 1885 for $340

I had two-train independent seconds watch of his with double chronograph and return-to zero function of unusual construction of very high finish. Interestingly, our Albert H. Potter sold one, almost identical.

For the chronograph part of the watch see my post at hhttps://mb.nawcc.org/threads/jules-jurgensen-pocket-watch-chronograph-s-n-12663.160406/#post-1415587

Philip Poniz
Thanks a lot for the great answer, Philip! It really helped a lot! My watchmaker recently finished repairing this watch, and I am writing a short text about HL Matile for his blog. Thanks to my watchmaker's Myheritage profile, I was able to find some information about the different HL Matiles through there, which seems to align quite well with your thoughts and information. We found that there were at least 4 people with the same name, Henri-Louis Matile: HL Matile 1, 1757-?, HL Matile 2, 1790-?, HL Matile 3, 1817-1893, and HL Matile 4, 1843-1925. HL Matile 4 only had a daughter, so the tradition of naming every boy Henri-Louis seems to have ended there.
Thanks to the scanned records of the Neuchatel Observatory, I had the same theory as you did about the father naming his business H. L. Matile fils when the grandfather, who probably wasn't a watchmaker, was still alive, and that the son continued the same tradition of naming his company.
In 1868 and 1869, the father used the name "H.-L. Matile fils", and in 1870, as you already stated, we see both "H.-Louis Matile et fils" and "H.-L. Matile fils". Your theory about the son being apprenticed by the father makes a lot of sense, and it was also a thought I had when I saw the names in the lists. Thank you for helping me confirm this theory with even more information!

The relationship between the father and the son, and their respective businesses?, is still confusing to me. In 1870, the "H.-Louis Matile et fils" certainly seems to indicate that the son was apprenticed by the father. In 1877-1879, we see "H.-L. Matile" och "H.-L. Matile fils" (H.-L. Matile Son in 1877) as competitiors with mostly separate serial number ranges (there is some overlap one of the years if I remember correctly).
Do you think that they had entirely separate businesses by then, or did they still cooperate closely? I assume that they must have cooperated, given that they were father and son, but I am still confused. What about the company HL Matile? Between 1880-1883, the only name to be seen in the Observatory lists is "H.-L. Matile". Do you think that this is the father's company, or an entity representing the two together?
The fact that both of them had businesses listed on separate addresses seems to indicate that they perhaps did not cooperate as closely by that time? My chronometer, and others from this time, seems to follow the serial number range used by the father in 1877-1879, so I am guessing that either he or his company was responsible, but I guess it is impossible to say for certain. If he was responsible, what did the son do instead?
You mention that the son advertised in dealing in complicated watches. Could that mean that he sold his father's watches? Or does it mean that he made his own somehow?

What do you think happened to HL Matile? The watchmaking business seems to have stopped around 1890, and the father died in 1893. If we assume that the son consolidated the two watch-related businesses in 1883 and that they were one company after that, can we then assume that the son was responsible after 1883? Perhaps the son ended the watchmaking business around the time his father died, in 1893, to focus on his political career instead? After 1883, it sounds plausible that the company? HL Matile, or was it the father or the son?, focused on the complicated watches they made for Charles Meylan instead. Perhaps they stopped branding watches with their own name altogether after that.
I tried to find a reference for the work with Charles Meylan, but I was unable to do so. How did you find that out?

I apologize for all my wild speculation. I do not know much about how Swiss companies worked at this time, but I found this really interesting.

Thank you for the information about the son also being the prefect of Le Locle. I had only found references to him as the prefect of Boudry, with the latest references being from 1902 if I remember correctly.

To me, it is interesting that there seems to be so little written about HL Matile given how impressive many, if not most, of their watches were.
 

Ethan Lipsig

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You asked for a source for the C.H. Meylan/H.L. Matile connection. Philip likely has additional sources, but the “Commissioners” report to the UK Parliament on the 1876 Philadelphia International Exhibition, states that C.H. Meylan’s complicated watches were made for his company based on his designs by H. L. Matile. See
Meylan+is+a+resident+of+New+York,+but+the+complicated+watches+upon+his+plan
+are+constructed+by+Mr.+Matile,+...&source=bl&ots=sAseKNCpmt&sig=62YAPSQLQ
zjJqSlYaaIeQyG1x3A&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwig-
c_sqb3NAhXs5IMKHR07C_4Q6AEIGjAA#v:^nepage&q=Mr.%20Meylan%20is%20a%
20resident%20of%20New%20York%2C%20but%20the%20complicated%20watches%20up
on%20his%20plan%20are%20constructed%20by%20Mr.%20Matile%2C%20...&f=false
 
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Warwian

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You asked for a source for the C.H. Meylan/H.L. Matile connection. Philip likely has additional sources, but the “Commissioners” report to the UK Parliament on the 1876 Philadelphia International Exhibition, states that C.H. Meylan’s complicated watches were made for his company based on his designs by H. L. Matile. See
Meylan+is+a+resident+of+New+York,+but+the+complicated+watches+upon+his+plan
+are+constructed+by+Mr.+Matile,+...&source=bl&ots=sAseKNCpmt&sig=62YAPSQLQ
zjJqSlYaaIeQyG1x3A&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwig-
c_sqb3NAhXs5IMKHR07C_4Q6AEIGjAA#v:^nepage&q=Mr.%20Meylan%20is%20a%
20resident%20of%20New%20York%2C%20but%20the%20complicated%20watches%20up
on%20his%20plan%20are%20constructed%20by%20Mr.%20Matile%2C%20...&f=false
Very helpful!! Thanks a lot, Ethan!
 

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