Richard Webster 'up-down' watch

Lychnobius

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Aug 5, 2015
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A correspondent has asked me if I can help with information on this watch. As it is stem-wound it can scarcely be earlier than about 1870, and so the Richard Webster named here must be the younger, who seems to have worked between about 1849 and 1881. I am rather at a loss regarding the hallmarks. The date-letter (I am assuming that this is the mark on the left) looks more like a lower-case Old English 's' (London 1873) than anything else, but I am not at all sure of this. The sponsorial mark appears to be AS in one place and AF in another. The unusual dial would seem to be a late example of the so-called 'doctor's' style, with centre seconds and a very subordinate hour/minute panel. The watch clearly belonged to somebody named Charles Edward Harris and the motto, Ubique patriam reminisci ('To remember the fatherland everywhere'), is also associated with the Harris name, but this name is too common to enable me to identify the individual. Can anybody add anything to this rather scanty information?

Oliver Mundy.

webster_14171_,marks.jpg webster_14171_,marks_2.jpg webster_14171_back.jpg webster_14171_case_back.jpg webster_14171_case_front.jpg webster_14171_dial.jpg
 

Allan C. Purcell

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Feb 9, 2013
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Hello Oliver,

The marks are not clear, but it appears to be a case made in America. It has the Eagle above the eighteen. The rest is research on the family. It could be an English gentleman who had his watch re-cased in America, finding it cheaper than London, plus all that engraving, which is first class.

Regards,

Allan.
 

Lychnobius

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Thank you, Allan! I should have thought of that, although perhaps the presence of the heraldry (an element not much associated with Americans) gives me some excuse.

I am beginning to wonder whether this is in fact a fusee movement and the crown is a dummy. I think I can see the pivot of a separate barrel to the left of the back-plate signature.

Oliver Mundy.
 

gmorse

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Jan 7, 2011
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Hi Oliver,

I am beginning to wonder whether this is in fact a fusee movement and the crown is a dummy. I think I can see the pivot of a separate barrel to the left of the back-plate signature.
It does appear to be the case. Does the 'crown' perhaps pull out entirely, revealing it to be a separate key?

Regards,

Graham
 

John Matthews

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Sep 22, 2015
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Oliver is there a chance of obtaining better photographs?

When I first saw the case, I thought it might be English and thought it was could be the work of Alfred Stram. The mark AS in an oval cartouche being his mark, and I thought the apparent AF being as a result of wear. This would require confirmation that the hallmarks are genuine London marks, as I agree with Allan, there has to be doubt, given that the photographs lack the necessary clarity to draw a firm conclusion.

Webster occupied 74 Cornhill from ~1855 to the beginning of the 1870's., which was contemporaneous with Alfred Stram.

However, I do believe the movement is a fusee driven half plate and I wonder if the case and movement have always been bed fellows.

John
 

SKennedy

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I think the large centre hand is the minutes and the sub on the left is seconds - it is directly over the fourth wheel in the movement and the wheel layout is otherwise conventional.

It could be keyless fusee, with a square left on the fusee arbor fir those untrusting in new fangled keyless winding! The crown has the look of an earlier keyless one.

Also it looks like there's a 'start/stop' button on the edge of the case opposite the pin set (around 23 minutes on the dial).

The case has a number punched that matches the movement. This is inside the dome with all the engraving (probably under the word Edward) and it would have been difficult to punch that later to match the movement if a recase without marking the engraving. So I think the case is original.
 

Dr. Jon

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Definitely a keyless fusee and lovely!

The case seems over complex. It looks liek it has a setting tab near the crown and a hacking lever near 6. If these are the functions done as I suggest what are teh bittons on thw case body?

Typicall a tab near the crown on a key less fusee is a wind engager, which locks out the stem from the fusee when the case is closed but this one is cut out to allow the tab to move sideways.

Does this watch have a flyback zero set for the seconds hand?
 

John Matthews

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The case has a number punched that matches the movement. This is inside the dome with all the engraving (probably under the word Edward) and it would have been difficult to punch that later to match the movement if a recase without marking the engraving. So I think the case is original.
Seth - you are far more knowledgeable than me and on reflection my comment implying a recase, was probably not justified.

My thinking was if the hallmarks are not genuine, then I wondered if the watch had been exported to America, where the original case was replaced by an American one that was made for the movement. As Jon has described 'seems over complex', the case style made me wonder if it is indeed American.

If the centre-hand is the minute hand, it will be the first I have seen with such an ornate design and seems unlikely if there is stop/start functionality - I would expect that to be associated with a centre-second.

We really need to know more about the watch functionality, its provenance and clearer photographs of the case marks.

John
 
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SKennedy

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The case seems over complex. It looks liek it has a setting tab near the crown and a hacking lever near 6. If these are the functions done as I suggest what are teh bittons on thw case body?
Typicall a tab near the crown on a key less fusee is a wind engager, which locks out the stem from the fusee when the case is closed but this one is cut out to allow the tab to move sideways.
I think the piece you are looking at on the band near the pendant is just the catch for the front dome? I also looked for a knock-out nib but I suspect it must have a version of rocking bar winding where the winding wheels are sprung to a neutral 'free' point until the crown is turned. The other nib (near 8 mins on dial) is pin setting button I reckon.
 

SKennedy

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Jan 5, 2017
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My thinking was if the hallmarks are not genuine, then I wondered if the watch had been exported to America, where the original case was replaced by an American one that was made for the movement. As Jon has described 'seems over complex', the case style made me wonder if it is indeed American.
If the centre-hand is the minute hand, it will be the first i have seen with such an ornate design and seems unlikely if there is stop/start functionality - I would expect that to be associated with a centre-second.
We really need to know more about the watches functionality, its provenance and clearer photographs of the case marks.
John
I agree we need to confirm the hallmarks! I was looking at it simply on a technical standpoint.
I also agree that the centre hand is most unusual and decorative if it is a minute hand but then you could say the same that the hand on the left subdial is most unusual if it were a minute hand!
Start/stop hacking devices were not I think always intended for timing events, but perhaps just as likely used to synchronise time with a 'master' clock or time signal.
 

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