Provenance, Provenance, Provenance

Discussion in 'Wrist Watches' started by Adam Harris, Apr 10, 2013.

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  1. Adam Harris

    Adam Harris Registered User
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    #1 Adam Harris, Apr 10, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2013
    I could have named this thread - 'always expect the unexpected' or 'in horology strange things happen'

    But remembering when buying property the adage 'location, location, location' I decided that in Horology its 'provenance, provenance, provenance.
    But where is this leading? well a few months ago while in Switzerland, I took time (as always) to visit my mentor and horologist Mme Cinette Robert. It is always so great a pleasure to meet and talk with her and this time being no exception.
    As always I started by showing her my latest acquisitions since our last meeting.
    I have gathered a lot of ephemera on the beginning of the wrist watch including some original pictures from the Boer War (1899 - 1901) with officers wearing wristwatches.
    I then progressed to showing her my new acquisitions of watches from WW1 - mainly American timepieces with offset crowns and Depollier cases. Once again with supporting adverts/ephemera from the likes of Depollier and Elgin.

    Anyway after handling and discussing these articles and timepieces, Cinette said - "I think I have a watch like that Depollier" That surprised me a lot, because Mme Roberts collection is mainly (from what I have seen) Swiss timepieces.
    Anyway, she goes out and returns with a little box which she duly opens and takes out a small piece of paper which reads:
    "This Waltham wrist watch was given to me while I was in training at Camp Johnson, Jacksonville, Fla. Dec 1917 to March 1918 when we were first sent to France. First one was lost or stolen from the mail; insured, they sent me a second one." (signed) EPN


    Cinette the passed me the box - Inside was a mint condition silver Waltham Depollier cased 'KHAKI' wristwatch. - 100% original with 'KHAKI' strap and box.
    Not any box, but THE ORIGINAL box to this timepiece as can be seen from both the watch serial number and the Depollier case number!
    The box and Waltham movement, with serial number 20394563 - Dating it to 1915. Center, 3[SUP]rd[/SUP] , 4[SUP]th[/SUP] and escape wheel are gold or gold on brass
    The box and Depollier silver case - marked Depollier and Son - Sterling. S/No:425820
    Wow!
    Here we have, a 1915 Waltham Depollier wristwatch in its original box with the 'provenance' of the US soldier who wore it in the trenches in France.
    Be honest - how many so called 'Trench Watches' ever saw an 'angry German' or got within 10,000 miles of France?

    Here, an original - 1915 - SILVER Waltham Depollier 'KHAKI wristwatch:
    39.jpg


    In its Original BOX:
    40.jpg

    41.jpg

    Box with serial number and case number:
    42.jpg

    43.jpg

    And beside my original advert that prompted Cinette's memory - NOTE the 'KHAKI' strap.
    44.jpg

    All, that PLUS the note from the original owner! Wow! We can learn - 'always expect the unexpected', 'in horology strange things happen' and 'provenance, provenance, provenance'


    You decide - All I know, is this is an AMAZING find - a very early (1915) American made Waltham wristwatch, with early patented (1912) Depollier case.


    Conclusion to this 'Fantastic Find' - I asked Mme Robert where she got this watch. Seems 'Dr Adolf L. Benz bought this watch about in 1980 in USA - Mme Robert purchased it from him, and its sat in Switzerland for past 33 yrs, and now its mine'


    ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Mme Cinette Robert
    Adam
     
  2. Sparcster

    Sparcster Registered User

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    Absolutely love it!

    I only have a few 'trench' watches that I have been able to get this level of information on - due to inscriptions. But to have the box, etc... is as you say... Amazing!

    Congrats (and a little bit jealous)

    Marc
     
  3. Jerry Treiman

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    Adam .. Can we see images of the clasp mechanism for the strap? Photos of the movement and inside case marking would also be enlightening. Thanks for sharing this marvelous time capsule.
     
  4. Sparcster

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    Guessing... it may have a 'standard' buckle.... I have seen similar, where there are no holes on the strap... instead you just push through the woven material... certainly 'no fuss'.... but that is just a guess and look forward to seeing what it is.

    Marc
     
  5. Adam Harris

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    Thanks to all your comments - its greatly appreciated. It makes both the 'hunt' and the 'write -up' more worthwhile.
    Actually I posted the wrong Depollier advert, so I post my correct advert here, it explains the glass better:
    47.jpg

    Jerry
    Sure I will take pictures of the clasp - its not so simple, took me a bit to work it out, but as Sparcster says no holes, it grips on itself?. The length adjuster seems silver (you can see it on the right of the advert).
    I will also open the watch for pictures, I only opened it once to get the serial number and inside case info, and I never had my camera at that time
    I will do it

    Regards
    adam
     
  6. R.G.B.

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    That's an amazing find Adam. It's like a NOS antique Waltham. The paper on the box looks like it was printed last week. You should blog this post so it gets the attention it deserves.
     
  7. Jerry Treiman

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    #7 Jerry Treiman, Apr 11, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2013
    This really is a great watch with the original box and strap and I don't want to take anything away from it, but you may have gotten a little carried away with your story. As near as I can tell, the Khaki model did not come out until 1917. That is also the Khaki trademark date. The special bezel and crystal also were not patented until 1917. Also, I do not see that dial in advertisements until 1918, although it might have been available a little earlier. The ads you show (what date are they?) clearly show different dial and hands on the Khaki model. So, although the movement serial number may have been assigned in 1915, I don't believe it was cased (perhaps not even finished) until a couple years later and your Khaki watch would therefore be from 1917 or maybe even early 1918. This may seem like quibbling, but is important for documenting the history of these early wristwatches.

    Secondly (and less importantly), considering the condition of the watch, and especially the strap, I doubt this particular watch was ever worn in the trenches. This soldier must have carefully packed away this gift from Uncle Sam and worn something else in France.

    Does your watch have the "Khaki Reg.USA" marking on the edge of the crystal? I can't see it in your otherwise excellent photos.

    Lastly, you state that it is in a 1912 patent Depollier case. What patent would that be? I can find no record of a 1912 Depollier patent.
     
  8. Adam Harris

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    #8 Adam Harris, Apr 11, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2013
    Well you of course may be right what we do know is
    Watch was surely made as a wristwatch, cased and boxed in 1915. We can see that from date on movement and the outside box substantiates that movement serial number and case = 1915

    2) The the soldier that owned it from his note, implies in my reading he wore it during (in) the trenches of WW1. He states clearly where it was given to him while training in US.

    3) My advert I believe is 1917 as that was the date given to me by seller who removed it from a magazine.

    4) I agree 100% that the strap could be a replacement from 1917 period, as I can not verify or disprove that. The strap buckle does have stamped on it :
    'Patented March 25 (I think its a 5) 1911' - Truly I am sure it says 1911!!

    I can not see anywhere on the crystal a patent mark. Where to look?

    Jerry
    I am 100% sure this watch was made, cased as a wristwatch and boxed 1915. It was sold to EPN in 1917. My point is that this is surely a very early original Waltham, Depollier wrist watch with original or early strap.

    Regards
    Adam
     
  9. Adam Harris

    Adam Harris Registered User
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    Thanks, I did that too.
    Regards
     
  10. gmorse

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    Adam, would this dial and hands originally have had radium luminous compound, as suggested in the advert?
     
  11. Adam Harris

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    I really dont think so, but that does perplex me.
    The dial and hands in my opinion are 100% original and never had radium on them. You can easily see how clean perfect they are.
    BUT - I also see that in the advert.
    All I can speculate is the advert is 1917, and probably covers 'improvements' to this earlier piece of 1915.
    Really I do not know
    Just spent over 1 hour searching US patents for this Depollier Strap - without joy.

    Regards
     
  12. Adam Harris

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    Here are more pictures as requested. Face and buckle. I prefer not to again open the watch, unless anyone has a very firm must for that. I have nothing to hide, I am a 'horologist' and ready to learn more, but its a delocate, and 'special' piece to me:

    The face:
    53.jpg

    Buckle/Strap - I hope you can read patent date 1911 - I searched on US patent file but can not find it.
    54.jpg

    55.jpg

    56.jpg

    57.jpg
     
  13. Sparcster

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    Hi Adam,

    That could well be right and agree the movement has always been cased in that case! But as Jerry suggests, just because the movement was made in 1915... it may not have been cased (dial/hands applied) until later. At which point it would have been boxed and the serial number applied to the generic box. Its would be far easier to store a watch movement for 2 years, waiting to be cased/sold than a complete watch, boxed, ready for sale.

    Either way... its a stunning, complete example - whatever the age of the completed watch is(1915-1917), its a great find!

    (forgot to add - not seen a strap quite like that before - very interesting)
     
  14. gmorse

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    Adam,

    The reason I asked is that many of these dials with "outline" numerals did have a luminous compound like this one:

    IMG_0739.jpg IMG_0737.jpg

    As this dates from 1925 the compound as you can see is disintegrating, and being an enamel dial it will show absolutely no sign of it when it's cleaned off. The hands will also be cleaned, re-polished and re-blued to their original state, since they're beginning to rust, partly due to the nasty yellow nitro-cellulose crystal. I take this approach to conserve the fabric of the watch, and it will end up looking nearly as good as your excellent Waltham.
     
  15. Adam Harris

    Adam Harris Registered User
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    Graham. Fully appreciate all you point out.
    I have many pieces as you posted.
    And as I said that was also something I puzzled about.
    That said it just looks to me if they were never Radium (ed)
    But as you say I can not prove or deny it.
    Appreciate your input.
    Adam
     
  16. Adam Harris

    Adam Harris Registered User
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    Hi Marc
    First the strap. Yes it's mighty unusual
    And I am sure it says Patented March 25 ( or 21) 1911. But I can not find the patent.

    Onto the watch.
    Not sure we have any disagreement. We agree (I believe) it was manufactured 1915.
    We know (from the signed note) it was purchased in 1917, and worn during his training prior to
    Being shipped out.
    Was the watch on a shop in 1915/16. We have no idea.
    But it was manufactured in 1915 as a wristwatch.
     
  17. Sparcster

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    Hi Adam,

    I think the only confusion (on my half) is the term 'manufactured'.

    I am no expert on the watch production process and method of striking the serial numbers... so my understanding could be wrong.... and I want to learn!!

    By manufactured... do you mean the watch movement (only) was made in 1915? Or, do you mean the watch was fully assembled (Movement, Cased, Dial, Hands, etc) and boxed in 1915?

    I thought (from memory - so likely to be wrong), that the movement could have been made one year (in this instance 1915) in a batch and struck with its serial number. But until the order from a retailer/supplier came in, the movement may not have been cased (at which point a corresponding serial number was struck on the case) and finished until another year (say 1916/17 in this instance).


    As I only have Swiss trench watches... this may have been a different to the US anyway.


    Would be good to know!!
     
  18. Adam Harris

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    All correct/true
     
  19. ben_hutcherson

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    Adam,

    First of all, thanks for the great presentation on this watch.

    One comment I'll make that, at least at this point in Waltham history, the serial number/date tables are, at best, an aproximation. The serial numbers were typically assigned in blocks, and watches were not necessarily finished in serial number order.

    The Waltham ledgers are available and are online for serial numbers up to 1.5 million-spend some time looking through these and you'll see what I'm talking about. For a watch at this point in history, I'd be very cautious saying that a watch was produced in a certain year just because an available table says it was. These tables often have a fudge factor of 2-3 years, and possibly more depending on the sales of a certain model/grade.
     
  20. Adam Harris

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    #20 Adam Harris, Apr 11, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2013
    Thanks Ben - yes I knew that, but thanks for pointing it out.

    You know, I see people posting and defending wrist watches of dates 1913 and even 1907!!!, yet this watch that all seems correct for manufacture of 1915 and we know purchased 1917 (from original owners note).
    Yet these other 'examples' get no one but myself trying to explain the 'accepted' date of American wristwatches.
    I am MOST happy these discussions, that is what Horology is all about - I hope we can all accept this too, but If I question a manufacture date of 1907 OR even 1913 _ hope I am allowed as much respect.

    Regards
    adam
     
  21. Literustyfan

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    I have some information about all of this that you guys may find interesting.

    First off the strap on this Waltham is not the original strap, it is a replacement and it is called "The Pershing Khaki Wrist Watch Strap".

    The strap was manufactured by the Sussfeld Lorsch Company and the earliest reference to this strap that I have found is from April 1918.

    168.jpg

    Depollier first started using the name "KHAKI" on or about March 23, 1917.

    Then on October 16, 1917 they had the name "KHAKI" trade marked.

    Lawsuits were flying everywhere over the use of the name "KHAKI", everybody wanted to use the "KHAKI" name for their products including Sussfeld & Lorsch for their "Pershing Strap" as pictured above.

    Below is the announcement from Depollier.

    58.jpg

    If the strap was an original "Depollier Khaki Strap" the clasp would have been stamped "Khaki Reg USA Pat July 25, 1916 as seen in the advert below.

    This advert also shows the rare Depollier cushion model that had fixed lugs, this case had 18.6 grams of sterling silver (double the normal weight).

    59.jpg

    Now, it looks like somebody over the years transfered an older clasp onto this "Pershing Strap" that was originally on a "Depollier No Fuss Strap".

    Here are Adam's pictures of the clasp from earlier in this thread.

    55.jpg

    54.jpg

    Now here is a Depollier advert from April 19, 1916 that shows this clasp pictured above.

    I can't be certain without holding it in my hand but it looks to be the same clasp pictured below.

    Straps using this clasp were available in either silk or leather as stated in the advert.

    60.jpg

    A couple of things tell me Adam's watch case is one of the first models of this watch.

    First, it does not have the "Patented Clinched Bezel" which came out on September 11, 1917.

    This "Double Clinched" bezel feature was used on ALL Depollier Military Watches after this date.

    The "unbreakable glass crystal" was available in two degrees of transparency: "Perfectly Clear" and "Darker Tone".

    "Perfectly Clear" was used for civilian use while the "Darker Tone" was recommended for military use.

    Here is the advert from October 30, 1918 stating these facts.

    61.jpg

    Second, the early Depollier models did not have a "KAHKI" signed crown, like I said before Depollier did not strat using the "KHAKI" name until around March 23, 1917 but they had it trade marked on October 17, 1917.

    I have had several early model Waltham Depollier Trench Watches from 1915 & 1916 that did NOT have "KHAKI" signed crowns but they were in FACT the factory original crowns.

    The Shadow Box dial on Adam's watch was available in 1915 so were the skeleton hands.

    Either the Arabic numeral dial or the Shadow Box dial would be correct for this watch.

    So, with all of this being said empirical evidence leads me to believe that this watch sat around for a year or two then in late 1917 a "Khaki" strap was added and it was placed in a "Khaki" box.

    Real bummer that the original "Khaki" strap not still with this beautiful WWI timepiece ! ! !

    A truly SUPERB piece Adam, box and all ! ! !
     
  22. Adam Harris

    Adam Harris Registered User
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    OUSTANDING INFO - Stan
    GREATLY appreciated
    Thanks - truly impressive.
    I will do more research into finding the strap patent now I have both a date and an owner - thanks
     
  23. Literustyfan

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    Thank you Adam!

    My Waltham & Depollier files are pretty detailed.

    Just glad that I could offer some assistance to this great thread!
     
  24. Adam Harris

    Adam Harris Registered User
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    Yes, its really cool - Sincerely thanks
    I am just getting frustrated I can not find either Sussfeld Lorsch Or the patent on my strap that 'APPEARS' to be 1911 - because that would be amazing.

    Stan
    I am not allowed to post on WTF, but if you want to post my thread and your reply that would be OK to me
     
  25. Literustyfan

    Literustyfan Registered User
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    Sussfeld Lorsch Company were major importers before and during and after the Great War of many products for the jewelry and watchmaking trades.

    Looks like they sold crystals, straps, display cases tools and so on..........................

    The name was later changed to Sussfeld, Lorsch & Schimmel Company in the mid 1920's (give or take a couple of years, I think).
     
  26. Adam Harris

    Adam Harris Registered User
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    Once again thanks those outstanding adverts. Brilliant.
    I am happy this watch was agreed manufactured/cased 1915 with 100% original dial but the strap is a 1917 replacement. Makes sense.
    Thanks to that.
    What is now most important to research is the patent of 1911 on that strap. That's now the most important point.
    Regards and Thanks your contribution.
    Adam
     
  27. Adam Harris

    Adam Harris Registered User
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    OK
    That compant was just an importer, not the designer.
    I am absolutely certain the patent date is March 21st 1911.
    BUT NOTHING on Patent search - that might be applied date.
    Argh - who designed that strap:???:? Maybe General Pershing lol
     
  28. Literustyfan

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    The buckle design may have been patented in 1911 but I'm pretty sure that Khaki Straps were not around in 1911.

    I would not search the patent database for the names Sussfeld & Lorsch as they were just the importers.

    You would have to search every single last patent that was granted on the date that is stamped into the buckle.

    I have had to search through over 10,000 patents from a single day in order to find what I am looking for.

    This took several days searching for 8-10 hours a day, my eyes were toast after the 2nd day of searching, double vision.

    Keep in mind that some patents are missing from the database or the wrong patent pictures show up as they were misfiled, this can be very frustrating ! ! !

    Good luck !
     
  29. Adam Harris

    Adam Harris Registered User
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    Yep, all correct and agreed
    Surely nothing in US patents under wrist watch strap.
    I have looked at over 300
    Working on Swiss now. Found a Khaki 1917 but its not downloading --- ARGH!!
     
  30. Jerry Treiman

    Jerry Treiman Registered User
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    Adam, since you have urged me to offer a response, first let me give hearty thanks to Stan for his invaluable information and research. Based on material he presented I can accept that the watch (case and movement) must have been assembled by Depollier prior to September 1917 when the "clinched bezel" came out, although how much earlier I couldn't be certain. 1915 or 1916 are certainly possible. However, the "Khaki" box with matching numbers tells us that Depollier did not package this watch for sale until sometime in 1917, since this box did not exist earlier. It may have already had a strap or they may have put a Khaki strap on it in 1917. With the knowledge that the original strap has been replaced, probably a long time ago, it becomes believable that watch did see service in the trenches. Since the box is marked "cat.no.202K-Rad" I would assume that the dial and hands originally had luminous material that has since been removed.


    The buckle remnant on your strap (the one that does not seem functional in the current arrangement - see photos 2 & 3 in post #12) may be from the original Khaki strap and seems to match Depollier patent 1202271, issued October 24, 1916. (... or does that mid-strap buckle somehow work with the other buckle (photos 4 & 5)?)
     
  31. Adam Harris

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    Hi Jerry
    Thanks your endorsement to age/provenance and Trench Watch.

    On the strap - buckle - it is most "functional" the strap and buckle work to-gether perfectly. I admit it took me a few trier to work out, but after I did it the mechanism works extremely well. Guaranteeing it could not come adrift

    Regards
    adam
     

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