Poitevin Minute Repeater

Ethan Lipsig

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I've just acquired an 18k Poitevin minute repeater. The ebauche looks like a LeCoultre to me, but is it and, if so, which caliber is it? The initials on the case front look like they might once have been enameled, but I am not sure, given how decorative they are without enamel. Do you think they originally were enameled?
 

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MartyR

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Ethan, do you think the monogram is "JJ" ? I've never seen a double letter with two different fonts like that.

Obviously it's hard to see from the photo, but my suspicion is that the monogram was enamelled. The "shading" visible on one of the letters simply is not convincing in the context of the quality of the case and the watch - I suspect it is there to provide an anchor for enamel rather than as explicit decoration. And the outline of the letters looks raised to me (is that so?) as would be done to let in enamel. It may be that only one of the letters was enamelled.
 

tick talk

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The piece looks gorgeous! Is that pinned center wheel unusual?
 

Ethan Lipsig

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Thanks. I cannot decipher the initials. Opinions are mixed as to whether they were originally enameled. If no, I think they would have looked better enameled. My enamel restorer has told me, based on a photo, that she can restore the enamel. I will have my jeweler and enameler examine the watch. If they both think it was originally enameled and can be successfully re-enameled, I will have it re-enameled. If they are unsure, I may still have it enameled if I am assured that the enameling can be removed without harm to the case if I don't like it. If the initials were enameled, they likely were in contrasting colors, such as the initials on my Cronometro Victoria shown below.

As for the center wheel pivot "pin," a friend told me "I believe this movement has a pin on the cannon pinion (perhaps part of the cannon pinion) that goes through the hollow shaft of the center wheel. The taper pin that you see holds the cannon pinion shaft in place and, with a washer or some other arrangement, provides friction so that the hands will carry with the time and set at will."
 

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Dr. Jon

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Lovely watch!! Poitvan is much under appreciated. My vote is that it was enameled. I have a simiar one and got is as the enamel was coming out. I glued it back in. Some idiots when they see some enamel come out, chip all of it out.

That pin is fairly common in 1880's vintage high grade watches. I believe, and I am sure Phil will soon correct me on this, that this was done to protect the lower center wheel jewel. My theory is that they were worried about the pressure on it when removing the cannon pinion. Instead they they had some form of spring and a hollow center wheel arbor. The pin held te cannon pinnion under tension. Pull the pin the pinion comes out without stressing the jewel.
 

Philip Poniz

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Ethan, what prompted you for attributing it to LeCoultre? Take a look the way the click is pivoted.

Besides the best known; LeCoultre, Audemars Piguet, Louis-Elisee-Piguet, Victorin Piguet, Le Phare, you can also choose from: Les fils de Ls Cl. Piguet, Paul Piguet-Capt, Barbezat Bole, M. Goy-Baud, Jules Monard, Robert Montandon, Paul Nicole, Charles Piguet, Piguet Freres, Piguet-LeCoultre, Aubert Freres, Mathey-Tissot, Walter Meylan, and many, many more who were making complicated ebauches ca 1900 ± 25.

It is very difficult to come with correct ebauche attribution. It is easier with complicated watches than with time-only but still difficult. Unless you know a characteristic feature associated only with a given maker or you know the caliber you are apt to misattribute. In your case, fortunately, the caliber is known, it was made by Paul Nicole.

The initials look like IJ. This type of engraving was always intended for being filled with enamel. The rather worn vermicelli pattern suggests that the enamel was scratched or chipped and eventually removed.

The pin sticking in the middle of the back plate is an integral part of the device comprising: the canon pinion, the minute cam, the quarter cam, and the safety plate for assuring correct striking at the even hours. The stability of the early systems, which were build around hollowed canon pinions, was not so great, hence the change to this system (introduced by H. Golay, I believe) which secures the friction fit by a steel plate (in your watch replaced by a brass) fixed by a steel pin (in your watch brass again). The hands do not fit much here, I suspect they are replaced.

Philip Poniz
 
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Ethan Lipsig

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Thanks, Philip. "Ignorance" is what prompted me to think this might be a LeCoultre ebauche. It looks similar to some LeCoultres I have seen. Thanks for the attribution to Paul Nicole. I'd never heard of him. All Pritchard says about him is that he was based in Chez le Maitre and listed in 1923-24. Don't you think this watch dates back much earlier?

What do you think the original hands would have looked like?
 

Philip Poniz

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Ethan, the note in Kathy Pritchard's book refers to a specific piece of information she found about Paul Nicole. It does not pretend to extend the entire life of Nicole. By the way, Antoine Simonin foresees to expand and update Kathy's Swiss Makers. Kathy did a monumental work (for which she was awarded the Gaia Prize) and she did it all herself. She was browsing the Swiss horological literature book by book, page by page including periodicals. It takes more than a lifetime. She often joked that maybe I had additional information regarding a specific subject but that I was not able to find an error in her book. It was Kathy's frustrations with the speed of the work and my observations regarding her time utilization that prompted me to launch an electronic horological library project. Fifteen years later … but this is a different story.

Nicole, was an important ebauche maker with clients such as Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantine, Black, Star and Frost, Jules Jurgensen, and many more. I have copies of his bills of sales and other documents spanning from 1903. From other sources I know that he was making and selling ebauches already in 1899. The last document, from 1930, refers to LeCoultre which could mean that the company was absorbed by LC or, at least, that such transaction was anticipated.

Regarding the hands, Poitevin favored spade ones.

Philip Poniz
 

MartyR

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By the way, Antoine Simonin foresees to expand and update Kathy's Swiss Makers.
I first heard that three years ago!!! :) I think Simonin might make a start by digitising the existing book and publishing it in digital form. Then he could think about expanding it.
 

tick talk

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Very enjoyable discussion :) Thanks to Philip and everyone for sharing your knowledge!
 

dshumans

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Nice watch! I have cleaned and repaired many minute repeaters such as this. All of them that had this pinned shaft arrangement used a canon tube with the pin as shown simply to hold the staff in place. There is no canon pinion on these repeaters. Friction for setting vs. running is supplied by the tight fit of the center staff in the tube of the center wheel. The center staff is one solid piece with the quarter snail, surprise piece and minute snail usually held together on the dial side with a tight steel bushing around the base of the staff. The pin on the other end ensures the correct alignment of these parts to interact with the hour star wheel as they turn.
 

Ethan Lipsig

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Thanks all. Philip, here are the spade and whip hands on two of my other Poitevins. Are these the sort of hands that you believe the minute repeater originally sported?
 

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Philip Poniz

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Exactly what I recall from other Poitevins I have seen.
How are the regulators? Osvaldo Patrizzi mentioned once that he saw Poitevin's papers from which it followed that he invented or worked on a new version of micrometric regulator.
 

Ethan Lipsig

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I am having the initials re-enameled. When I get the watch back, I will post a picture of it, hopefully also with a proper set of spade and whip hands. I have another Poitevin with a similar pebbled finish and enameled initials, although it is a very small ladies watch. It will give you an idea of how the minute repeater should look when the initials (JT, IJ, JJ, whatever they are) are redone. See the photo below.

As for regulators, all four of my Poitevin have simple regulators.
 

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astonvilla

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The pinned center wheel to me is a "signature" of Louis Audemars. Many L Audemars pocket watches has got the pinned center wheel.
I do not think L Audemars bought movements from other makers , but made everything themselves .
I have read somewere that over a period The house of Audemars and Lecoultre cooperated . Maybe this is the reason why Audemars and
Lecoultre repeaters look so similar ?
H Sandstrom
 

Ethan Lipsig

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I have had the initials on the Poitevin minute repeater that is the subject of this thread re-enameled, IMG_2570 (470x640) (470x640).jpg
and replaced its hands with moe appopriate spade and whip hands. IMG_2571 (640x615) (640x615).jpg

I still am clueless as to what the initials are. I'd appreciate your guesses or views..
 

MartyR

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Super job, Ethan - I envy you your jeweller :clap:

The mo nogramn seems clear to me - it's JT ... although it might just be TJ :rolleyes: I have seen blue/red monograms before with supporting inscriptions which clearly proved the sequence of the letters to be blue followed by red, but did your jeweller know that?
 

Ethan Lipsig

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I am fortunate to have found both an excellent watchmaker who can repair even the most complicated pocket watch and, much closer to my home, an excellent jeweler who can do any kind of case repair. My jeweler simply followed the color scheme from another of my Poitevins, shown in posting 15 in this thread.
 

Philip Poniz

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Usually, in the early 20[SUP]th[/SUP] century, there were three letters in a monogram. I think no one have a problem with the red letter, which must represent the last name, being "J". The blue ones could be "JC" or "SI" (IS?). If the blue one is a single letter, unlikely I believe, it could be "J". Letter "I" was engraved similarly but with even lower curves on both sides. For "T" the lower part seems too small.
Did you have it re-enameled in hard or soft enamel?
 

Ethan Lipsig

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I don't know if the enamel is hard or soft, but I was told it was "cold," i.e., not fused.
 

kurtnz

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The blue letter looks like it is bonded/ tied together, that could mean two letters for double christian names. Like James, Christian or similar. It does look like two letters.
 

MartyR

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I think no one have a problem with the red letter, which must represent the last name, being "J". The blue ones could be "JC" or "SI" (IS?). If the blue one is a single letter, unlikely I believe, it could be "J". Letter "I" was engraved similarly but with even lower curves on both sides. For "T" the lower part seems too small.
I disagree. The red letter is a classic form of the letter "T" in a cursive script - the following is a font called "French Script" -

T

I agree that the "kink" in the upright, and the tail, are odd, but I put that down to artistic licence ;)

The blue letter is obviously J, and I'm struggling to see why anyone has any doubt about that. :confused:
 
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Dr. Jon

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The description of the enamel suggests it is "Ceramit" This is an epoxy product. It comes with a binder and selection of pigments. Getting colr s right and a good surfacfe i s tricky but the materail is fairly hard and adheres well.

A very nice restoration of a great watch.
 

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