Question about a Bailey Banks & Biddle gold pocket watch

Discussion in 'European & Other Pocket Watches' started by A DeMartino, Jan 15, 2020.

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  1. A DeMartino

    A DeMartino Registered User

    Jan 15, 2020
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    Dear Forum Members,

    I am new to this site and forum and would appreciate some help with this pocket watch.

    We are not sure how it came to the family. It has an engraving but none of the current or former family members match in their initials.

    The watch in question is a BB&B gold pocket watch. I have tried to do as much research on the internet as possible and have figured out the following information.

    The label on the face only says Bailey, Banks & Biddle. The missing "CO" indicates it was produced before 1894, when BB&B incorporated and changed the signature.
    It has a gold case with 3 lids (Hunter?).
    The face is 37mm across.
    The serial number is #56643 and appears in 3 places. As does the name Bailey Banks & Biddle Philadelphia.

    There is only the Bailey Banks & Biddle Philadelphia on the movement, no other name. The only other letters are S and F, assuming fast ans slow. Does that indicate a private label watch made for the American market?

    The movement has some kind of decorative patterning looking like stripes.

    The case seems solid 18k gold. The mark is Jeannot and Shiebler and also appears twice. There is a peacock and star pattern inside the lid.

    The watch has to be wound up and works. After a day it is about 5 minutes too fast.

    It has some scratched marks in the inside case, indicating repair and work.

    That is about all I could figure out and could of course be completely wrong. I'd appreciate any more information and help with this watch. Also, I am not a collector and would appreciate advise on what to do with a piece like that. It is beautiful and I am amazed about the fine detail of the movement and that it still works after such a long time.

    Here some pictures:


    IMG_2253.JPG IMG_2267.JPG IMG_2255.JPG IMG_2265.JPG IMG_2259.JPG IMG_2252.JPG IMG_2262.JPG IMG_2264.JPG
     
  2. musicguy

    musicguy Moderator
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    Hi and welcome to the NAWCC forum I am going to move this Swiss watch(movement)
    to the European section for better identification.
     
  3. A DeMartino

    A DeMartino Registered User

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    Thank you. I was wondering about that. I came across a Swiss Movement that looked mine. Just did not want to assume without more marks.
     
  4. Kent

    Kent Registered User
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    Hi A DeMartino:

    Welcome to the NAWCC American Pocket Watch Message Board!

    I don't know about the watch's movement, but I can confirm that your Watch Case is 18K solid gold and was made for BB&B, as you've discovered, by Jeannot & Shiebler.
     
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  5. Jerry Treiman

    Jerry Treiman Registered User
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    As noted, the case was made by Jeannot & Shiebler. They were one of the best American watch case companies, making custom cases for many of the better imported as well as American movements. The custom nature of the case is indicated by the case carrying the same serial number as the movement; it was made specifically for this watch. The movement shows many indications of being a high-quality movement but I can't guess who may have made it for BB&B. Others may recognize it though.

    Initials on watch cases are sometimes hard to interpret. I read these as RLG, although the central initial (L) is commonly, but not always, for the family name. Could that have been any ancestor? If there is a family connection it may be best to keep it in the family. It is a lovely watch that many would be proud to own.
     
  6. A DeMartino

    A DeMartino Registered User

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    Thank you Jerry. This was given to us by my husband's mother and she could not tell me much about it. She did not have a name with it. She has an extensive family tree that is well documented but we could not find the name that matches the initials. I also read it as RLG. Interesting though my husbands middle name is Russell and he is named after a grandfather. But from his father's side. His parents are divorced so I don't think the watch "crossed" over but it is a possibility. We will look into the names on that side.

    Interesting about the case made specifically for the watch.

    I am impressed with all your expertise and look forward to find out more.
     
  7. Les harland

    Les harland Registered User

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    Loomes Watchmakers and Clockmakers of the World lists:-
    Bailey, Banks & Biddle Philadelphia 1880s -c 1920 also agents for Patek Phillipe & Co
     
  8. A DeMartino

    A DeMartino Registered User

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    One more question Jerry. There is an 83 under the serial number on one of the lids. Could that be a year or production number? Thank you again.
     
  9. A DeMartino

    A DeMartino Registered User

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    Thank you very much for this information.
     
  10. Jerry Treiman

    Jerry Treiman Registered User
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    I have seen a second number like this on other J&S cases and cannot be sure what it represents. I have an example with "204" so I don't think it is a year. It may be a production or assembly number, or perhaps a style number. Unless someone tries to research this with lots of examples we may never know.
     
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  11. Keith R...

    Keith R... Registered User
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    Possibly Vacheron & Constantin maybe or Patek:???:

    Keith R...
     
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  12. A DeMartino

    A DeMartino Registered User

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    Jerry Treiman and all the other experts: We found several marks scratched inside the lids indicating regular maintenance. Do such marks take away from the value of the watch or does it indicate the owner took proper care? I read that in the old days watches were maintained on a regular basis and it was common practice.

    What should we do with it maintenance wise?

    And I know we can not discuss value in this forum. If we decide to maybe sell it, what would be my next steps? Again, thank you for all your help.
     
  13. Dr. Jon

    Dr. Jon Moderator
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    The movement is almost certainly by Patek Philippe,, about as good as it gets!
    The serial number dates to the early 1880's.

    The balance is a very advanced type for its era and it shows the movement to be very high grade even for Patek.

    YOU can get an "Extract from the Archives" from Patek Philippe if they agree this is one of theirs, and I am sure they will. This will add value comparable to the cost of the certificate and provide a date of manufacture.

    The US was a major market for Patek Philippe so they made a lot of watches to fit US made cases. J&S often matched the case serial number to that of the watch as they did with yours.
     
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  14. roughbarked

    roughbarked Registered User

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    I'd have thought that the pallets were a good indicator.
     
  15. A DeMartino

    A DeMartino Registered User

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    #15 A DeMartino, Jan 16, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2020
    Thank you so much. Do you know if Patek let's you do this in person? I know that sounds unusual but I am German and travel to Europe a lot. In fact I was just in Switzerland over the holidays. I might go back in the summer. Would be interesting to visit the company.

    In the meantime I will have to learn about watches. I learned a little bit about it growing up. But my watch vocab is all in German, like balance is Unruhe And aren't pallets the little tiny hammers or ankers? :)

    Looking at a watch mechanism is impressive. To think it is about 140 years old and works as intended and without problems. The precision is truly amazing! How did they do that back then....

    Again thank you for all the valuable info. I really appreciate it.
     
  16. Dr. Jon

    Dr. Jon Moderator
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    I believe they can do this by electronic mail. You inquire and send pictures of the watch; but consult them and their web site for detail.

    Patek Philippe has a museum in Geneva and I suspect that they can authenticate it there if you make arrangements in advance. They also give guided tours and private tours (for which they charge extra) It is an excellent museum if you are in to watches. There are also a lot of Patek boutiques in Geneva as well as most major cities in Europe.

    They also have boutiques in many cities where you can inquire about authentication.

    Dresden has several antique watch shops and new ones also that can also give you contact with Patek.

    German watch vocabulary is unique and unknown to on-line translators. It is also very context dependent. For example an uhr is an hour, a clock, or a watch. Anker generally refers to a lever which is the most common watch escapement in use since about 1880.

    If you want to read in German Uhrenliteratur - Uhrenbuecher - Uhrenbuch - Horological books - Livres d'horlogerie reprints old books related to clock and watches in German and their prices are very reasonable.

    You can visit sites such as Das Spezialauktionshaus für hochwertige Uhren an auction site which readily switches between German and English and compare descriptions to get the better translations.

    What I enjoy about good lever watches is that they last hundreds of years and I regularly carry pocket watches well over a hundred years old.
     
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  17. A DeMartino

    A DeMartino Registered User

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    Dr. Jon Funny that you mention Dresden. I have family there and spent a lot of time in this great city, all the way back as a child, before the wall even came down. And now. I grew up in Thueringia. It was actually in Dresden where I went to the Zwinger Museum, in the Mathematisch Physikalischer Salon, where I saw the history of timekeeping and was fascinated.
    You gave me an impressive reading list and your German is very good. I like that you understand my predicament with the translations.

    And I will share what I find out about our pocket watch.
     
  18. Dr. Jon

    Dr. Jon Moderator
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    If you have not visited "The Salon" recently, it is worth another trip. They reopened it a a few years ago. I had not seen it before but what I saw this time was very impressive.

    The painting museum is wonderful. Two of my favorite painting are there by Heda and Claez. They were Dutch still life painters and both paintings there have watches in them painted in about 1600!

    the Cranach's there are amazing.

    Dresden has a very large number of high end watch places for a city of its size. You can probably get started on an extract in Dresden but Geneva and the Patek people there are more direct
     
  19. Ethan Lipsig

    Ethan Lipsig Registered User
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    #19 Ethan Lipsig, Jan 16, 2020
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 17, 2020
    Angela DeMartino, just in case you have any doubt about Dr. Jon's attribution of your watch to Patek Philippe, compare its movement to that of this signed Patek Philippe in my collection, S/N #75,707, which is not much higher than the serial number on your movement. To my eyes, the two movements look virtually identical apart from the inscriptions.

    IMG_5881_edited.JPG

    As further support for the PP attribution, you should know that my watch is in an 18k Jeannot & Shiebler case, as is yours. Further, both watches are ladies hunters of about the same size. My watch was made in 1885 and bears inscriptions indicating that it was an 1888 Christmas gift.

    As further support for the PP attribution, I have a Bailey Banks & Biddle PL Patek Philippe of a different design. So BBB clearly private-labelled Patek Philippes.

    As for getting an extract from the PP archives, I recommend that you order one from the PP website. Patek Philippe | Extract from the Archives I doubt that you would save time, money, or effort by showing up e.g., at a PP shop or at the PP museum in Geneva (which is well worth a visit -- it is full of treasures). I would expect them to tell you to make your request via the website.

    The person at PP who handles such requests is (or at least was when I last checked) Béatrice Meissner (Beatrice.Meissner@patek.com) in Geneva. If you won't request an extract using the website, I'd contact her. She was very helpful in getting me an extract when the normal system failed me.
     
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  20. richiec

    richiec Registered User
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    As for the watch running fast, it probably needs a good servicing, noticed that the regulator is set to maximum fast, you might try moving the regulator to the center and see how it does time wise but not knowing when it was last serviced, I would highly recommend that you get it done ASAP to prevent any damage from dirt and moisture. I will probably cost a pretty penny but make sure you find a good watchmaker to take care of it, no amateurs or wanna be's.
     
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  21. A DeMartino

    A DeMartino Registered User

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    Ethan Lipsig Please call me Angela. :) Thank you for sharing your watch and all your knowledge. I have thought about this being a lady's watch do to size and we will go through the names in the family again to look for matching initials.

    I will also contact Patek Phillip and work on the archive extract.

    I am attaching two more photos in better light. The second is through my jewelry loupe and I did find a difference to yours. I crudely marked it up since I am not 100% sure what it is called. It is under the ballast. Yours is more rounded, curved and mine is more straight. Not sure if it matters but I thought I share.

    P1.jpeg plouped.jpeg

    Best,

    Angela
     
  22. A DeMartino

    A DeMartino Registered User

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    richiec Thank you so much. I was debating having the watch serviced. I will have to do some research to find the right watch repair shop. I am very concerned about their expertise. I am in the Boston area if you know somebody....
     
  23. Ethan Lipsig

    Ethan Lipsig Registered User
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    Oops! My apologies. Most posters here are male. I appended "Mr." to your user name because I didn't want to call you "DeMartino." Perhaps I missed it, but I didn't see your first name in any of the earlier postings, nor did I see anything to suggest that you were female. For that matter, I don't see how anything in the circled area in the magnified photo of your watch's escapement differs from my watch's escapement.

    If no one suggests a watchmaker in the Boston area, send me a private message. I will send you several suggestions outside the Boston area. Many of us use watchmakers who do not live near us. Sending watches to them by insured registered mail is safe. I've never had a problem.
     
  24. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Ethan,

    I think the lever bridge is a slightly different shape, but since these watches were hand finished, it doesn't really have any consequence.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  25. musicguy

    musicguy Moderator
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    I changed Mr to Angela in Ethans post:)


    Rob
     
  26. Dr. Jon

    Dr. Jon Moderator
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    The thing you marked is part of the regulator. The rest of it is a ring around teh balance jewel setting to allow it to pivot. The small circles are the ends of teh regulator pins. They reach down and capture part of the balance spring. The adjustment of the clearance of these pins is one of the essential elements of setting up a watch.

    In German (according to Elseviers Dictionary of Jewelry and Watchmaking) it either Ruckerverichtung or a Regulierverichctung) The 'u' in "Rucker" needs a umlaut I can't produce on this keyboard. The French term is "Racquet" because the device when removed look like a tennis or badminton racket.
     
  27. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Dr. Jon,

    As Angela referred to the part under the balance, I understood her to mean the lever bridge, which is a slightly different shape to Ethan's, so perhaps she could clarify this for us?

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  28. A DeMartino

    A DeMartino Registered User

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    Don't worry about the name. But you all are correct, there seems to be more men here. I can always pretend to be one. ;-) Just kidding.

    The piece I see different is under the balance but sticking out. I don't think it is the regulator, but is under the regulator's short side. Maybe it is the lever bridge as gmorse points out. It has 3 screws in both our sets.

    Here is an unconventional sketch....

    scetch.jpg
     
  29. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Angela,

    Thanks for clarifying this, it certainly is the lever bridge, which is held in place by the two screws at the sides, but the top one isn't a screw, it's the hole jewel where the lever's top pivot sits. The lever underneath it transmits the rotary movement of the escape wheel to the oscillation of the balance wheel, allowing one tooth of the escape wheel to escape with each swing of the balance, and it looks something like the one in this recent post.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
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  30. Dr. Jon

    Dr. Jon Moderator
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    I have one of these too and mine looks like Ethan's.

    Mine is marked "Bailey Banks and Biddle" and also a private label. It has the signature Patek under dial work of Patek Philippe so it is almost certainly one of theirs although I have not had it authenticated by them.

    It is a woman's watch given by a husband to his wife.

    Angela's is the earliest and Patek probably changed it later. This sort of thing happens often.

    The parts of the escapement, the lever and escape wheel were made by specialist makers rarely by the watch manufacturer. This group of parts was called "the Assortisment" . Patek may have changed the design or vendor for these parts.
     
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