Probable 19th century replica of ~1600 rock crystal pre-balance spring verge

Benjamin E.

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Hello everyone, I recently bought a rock crystal watch that was advertised as a replica watch, probably mid-19th century. The case appears to be brass or silver gilt and the movement with brass plates and train. The cock is screwed and not pinned in place indicating manufacture or an original subject of 17th century. The fusee line is gut and has snapped. Ratchet wheel setup for the mainspring. The watch has definitely been around the block as the balance and staff is rusted and has broken pivots and the crown wheel has at least one broken pivot. The contrate wheel has some bent teeth. The plates are also out of parallel. I understand that the hand was meant to be moved with the finger, but this one doesn't want to budge and I won't force it. The frame of the case is bent below the stem and there is a peg or bolt missing that holds the other side in place.
There are a few curious features. The signature is on the foot of the balance cock and is signed A. Rene. Next is what is usually the ornamental fusee stop is on the other side from the fusee. More confusing is the apparent absence of a center wheel. The contrate wheel has a pinion that is just visible above the pillar plate, so I imagine it engages with a center wheel hidden between it and the dial. Is this standard for verges of the period?
I would love to hear people's opinions on when it appears to have been made and also if anyone has an approximate idea on how much it would cost to fix, given the above stated issues.
Thank you!

PXL_20210613_122822196.jpg PXL_20210613_122830226.MP.jpg PXL_20210613_122841259.jpg PXL_20210613_122844622.jpg PXL_20210613_122917736.jpg PXL_20210613_122927873.jpg PXL_20210613_122934825.jpg PXL_20210613_122937099.jpg PXL_20210613_122943871.jpg PXL_20210613_123006311.jpg PXL_20210613_123023254.jpg PXL_20210613_123035487.jpg PXL_20210613_123045596.jpg
 

aucaj

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Feb 2, 2021
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Hi Benjamin,

That is a really interesting watch! Congratulations!

You mention that it is a reproduction with curious features, one of which is the absence of a center wheel. Years ago, I serviced a similar 'reproduction' for a friend that also lacked a center wheel. The watch below was probably made in the last quarter of the 1600s. It is a single-hand watch by Richard Rooker. You can see that there is a gear under the dial attached to the end of the fusee post. This drives a center gear under the dial. The other unusual feature is the design of the fusee cone. It is two pieces. The base has a long smooth spike that the top portions rotates upon.

I don't know if this helps with your question, but I have seen this similar curiosity up close.

Kind Regards,
Chris

1.JPG 2.JPG 3.JPG 4.JPG 5.JPG 6.JPG 7.JPG 8.JPG
 

gmorse

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Hi Chris,

...a reproduction with curious features, one of which is the absence of a center wheel...
A single-handed watch doesn't need a centre wheel which rotates once in an hour. I believe that Benjamin's watch, judging by the very crude workmanship and engraving, is indeed a reproduction or more kindly a 'homage' piece. The originals were very expensive objects and the standards of the work were higher than this.
The other unusual feature is the design of the fusee cone. It is two pieces. The base has a long smooth spike that the top portions rotates upon.
The two-part fusee is something I've come across in a movement from about 1690, made by a Huguenot refugee in Southampton.

DSCF1284.JPG DSCF1289.JPG

Regards,

Graham
 

aucaj

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Hi Benjamin:
Even though the watch is a reproduction, it is still very rare to see a rock crystal case. It is a very interesting piece. I recently saw a pedal watch case reproduction come up for sale. It is the case style with three hinged sides. The original design dates from the 1600s, but this one was a modern reproduction made probably in the 1980s. Based on the hammer price, there is a strong market for reproductions.

Hi Graham:
I hope Benjamin doesn't mind me asking you this unrelated question. Before I got a look at the Richard Rooker momento mori watch, I assumed that the implementation of the Tompion regulator was concurrent with the addition of the minute hand. Now, I assume that there was a transitional period where makers applied the balance spring regulators to single-hand watches. Is this consistent with your knowledge and experience on the subject?

Kind Regards,
Chris
 
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gmorse

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Hi Chris,

The concept of a regulator disc was in use before the introduction of the balance spring; the difference was that it acted on the setup of the mainspring, since that was the only way of influencing the rate of a verge. The addition of a rack moved by the toothed wheel under the disc and carrying the index pins to alter the effective length of the balance spring probably wasn't the invention of Thomas Tompion but has come to be associated with him. The rarely seen Barrow regulator, which coexisted with the Tompion type for a short while in the 1680s, was a sort of transitional development, using a tangent screw, (worm), to move the index pins along a straight portion of the spring. It used most of the same components as the mainspring type of regulator. It seemingly soon fell out of use and few examples have survived, possibly because the balance spring had to have a straight outer portion.

Regards,

Graham
 
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DeanT

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Mar 22, 2009
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Hi Chris,

The concept of a regulator disc was in use before the introduction of the balance spring; the difference was that it acted on the setup of the mainspring, since that was the only way of influencing the rate of a verge. The addition of a rack moved by the toothed wheel under the disc and carrying the index pins to alter the effective length of the balance spring probably wasn't the invention of Thomas Tompion but has come to be associated with him. The rarely seen Barrow regulator, which coexisted with the Tompion type for a short while in the 1680s, was a sort of transitional development, using a tangent screw, (worm), to move the index pins along a straight portion of the spring. It used most of the same components as the mainspring type of regulator. It seemingly soon fell out of use and few examples have survived, possibly because the balance spring had to have a straight outer portion.

Regards,

Graham
is this what you are referring to Graeme by Barrow regulation?

11165856_fullsize.jpg
 

gmorse

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Hi Benjamin,

Looking closely at the movement again, I notice that the fusee ratchet is cut for the normal rotation, but the cone groove is cut the opposite way, so I must conclude that this has never worked and would not now, however much you spent on it!

Regards,

Graham
 

DeanT

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Mar 22, 2009
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Hi Benjamin:
Even though the watch is a reproduction, it is still very rare to see a rock crystal case. It is a very interesting piece. I recently saw a pedal watch case reproduction come up for sale. It is the case style with three hinged sides. The original design dates from the 1600s, but this one was a modern reproduction made probably in the 1980s. Based on the hammer price, there is a strong market for reproductions.

Hi Graham:
I hope Benjamin doesn't mind me asking you this unrelated question. Before I got a look at the Richard Rooker momento mori watch, I assumed that the implementation of the Tompion regulator was concurrent with the addition of the minute hand. Now, I assume that there was a transitional period where makers applied the balance spring regulators to single-hand watches. Is this consistent with your knowledge and experience on the subject?

Kind Regards,
Chris
Its kind of a large watch and single handed...

H3116-L116306539.jpg H3116-L116306544.jpg
 

DeanT

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Mar 22, 2009
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Hi Benjamin,

Looking closely at the movement again, I notice that the fusee ratchet is cut for the normal rotation, but the cone groove is cut the opposite way, so I must conclude that this has never worked and would not now, however much you spent on it!

Regards,

Graham
That was also my view and feel it has been cast off other pieces as a show piece rather than actual watch. It does look very interesting.
 

gmorse

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Hi Dean,
is this what you are referring to Graeme {Graham} by Barrow regulation?
No, your example uses the same worm and wheel setup but is applied to the mainspring arbor, there's no balance spring here. I'll try and find an illustration.

Regards,

Graham
 

gmorse

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Hi Dean,

Images from a watch from 1678-80 on page 113 of 'The English Watch 1585-1970' by Terence Camerer Cuss:

DSC01257.JPG DSC01258.JPG

Regards,

Graham
 
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aucaj

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Hi Dean,

Images from a watch from 1678-80 on page 113 of 'The English Watch 1585-1970' by Terence Camerer Cuss:

View attachment 658920 View attachment 658921

Regards,

Graham
Here is a link to a version that Thuret was working on just before meeting Christiaan Huygens. I tried to tell them it was not a contemporary Barrow and was an experimental bench piece considering all the holes.


I believe it may have been the invention Thuret offered as an explanation for the misunderstanding between him and Huygens.

"He signed a letter, dated 10 September 1675, drafted by others, in which he plainly admitted to consider the spiral spring as the exclusive invention by Huygens, but not after having suggested that the displeasure of Huygens might have had its origin in the fact that Thuret had recently succesfully made some clocks provided with a pendulum attached to a straight spring instead of the usual thread."


Kind Regards,
Chris
 

gmorse

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Hi Chris,

Surely the one-piece enamel dial must have raised some doubts about its authenticity?

Regards,

Graham
 

aucaj

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Hi Chris,

Surely the one-piece enamel dial must have raised some doubts about its authenticity?

Regards,

Graham
Good point. That is problematic; maybe it was a later 1720s addition? It is screwed in place, so it could be a replacement.
 

Benjamin E.

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Sep 7, 2015
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Thanks for all your replies! I knew it wasn't going to be an Edward East, but didn't expect a static exhibit. If the watch will never run, what would you do with a dud? As well, if the movement is truly trash, is there any advice on how to remove the hand so I can remove the dial?

Graham, can you expound on your point about the click and direction of the fusee?

As well, how were you able to set the time on these early verges without interfering too much with the going of the watch? Was there a friction fit collar that the hand was attached to?
 

gmorse

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Hi Benjamin,
Graham, can you expound on your point about the click and direction of the fusee?
Yes, the ratchet and click, (I'm assuming there is a click but anyway, going by the angle of the ratchet teeth), on the fusee are arranged so that it can be wound anticlockwise when viewed from the top plate, which should wind the gut line onto it and off the barrel. However, the direction of the fusee groove is such that winding the fusee in that direction would unwind the gut, not wind it on.

Regards,

Graham
 
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SKennedy

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Jan 5, 2017
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This is a really difficult thing to piece together. My personal experience of earlier 17thC (and older) watches is rather limited but this does have some unusual things going on. I agree with Grahams observation about the incorrect fusee groove direction but I've also just realised that there's the decorative fixing that ought to have the stop arm pivoted to it, attached to the top plate. But not in a place where it could function! Its almost a bit like someone who didn't really know how watches worked has been shown some bits and asked to put them together.

Did any fusees ever have grooves running in the direction of this one? If any watchmaker (or rather a speclialist fusee maker) were asked to make a fusee in the 18th/19th C they surely would not have cut one like this. If the ratchet teeth had been cut to allow this one to be wound clockwise, then when running the watch hand would go backwards!
 

gmorse

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Hi Seth,
Its almost a bit like someone who didn't really know how watches worked has been shown some bits and asked to put them together.
Of course, if the gut was attached to the fusee at the narrow top end, the groove would work, but then the mechanical advantage of the fusee would be lost. I agree with you, this was made by a species of sculptor, not a watchmaker.

Regards,

Graham
 

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