Chronometry: Roth Bros.

Paul Regan

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Here are a couple of :???: navigational aids that were put together by the Roth Brothers leading up to WW II. It seems that leading up to WW II there was a shortage of military timepieces available as Hamilton had not yet ramped up production of the 22 and 21. While using the same case and gimbal hardware it seems they fitted any good quality watch movement. They also supplied the dial. Besides the pictured Hamilton and Waltham examples I have seen Illinois and some European versions including one with a detent escapement. In the examples pictured there is a 15J Waltham 83 and a 21J Hamilton 940.
Please feel free to post other Roth examples you may have.
Paul
 

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Tom McIntyre

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Nice looking pieces Paul. I think there are more of these than we know about because a lot of people have rejected them as fakes of some sort. The Walthams in flat boxes are probably by Roth or another outfitter with the same plan.

I have an Elgin 8 day made into an signal room clock by roth Brothers and some other instruments as well.

SextantInBox.jpg FactoryCert.jpg Signature.jpg

Below is a Jurgenson detent chronometer mounted in a tub, I think by Roth. Gary Sellick assures me that the box is an accurate copy of a Roth WWII box.

FaceInBox.jpg Movement2.jpg

Here is the Elgin/Roth Signal Room clock.

Front.jpg MvtBack.jpg MvtUnderDial.jpg
 

Jim Haney

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This is a Hamilton 940, which is a 21J 18size pocket watch that was in production for 20 years and helped Hamilton build the following for RR watches.

Kent has an ad for these from Roth Bros that they ran in newspapers to buy good watch movements. I will contact him for a copy.
 

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Kent

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Here's the ad to which Jim referred:

attachment.jpg
 

Paul Regan

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I recently added this Illinois version of the Roth Bros deck watches. The movement is a 23 jewel Bunn special. A nice extra is that it came with its last Rating Certificate. Looks like it was a nice time keeper. I guess I will have to look for more of these as I have now started a sub-collection.
 

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novicetimekeeper

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Wow, They must have been pretty desperate for any chronometers they could get their hand on !
Shipbuilding was going on at an enormous pace and rather than ships being scrapped they were being sunk, so presumably that had an effect on the secondhand market!
 

Accutronitis

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Shipbuilding was going on at an enormous pace and rather than ships being scrapped they were being sunk, so presumably that had an effect on the secondhand market!
Before they were sunk weren't they stripped of anything useful ? Say like a chronometer ?
 

novicetimekeeper

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I think when you are racing for a lifeboat after being torpedoed that isn't going to be the first thing on your mind.
 

novicetimekeeper

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I imagine the emergency shipbuilding programme was a major contributor to the shortage. That was to build merchant ships while the US Navy was already using up most of the available yard space to build its own ships. Add to that ships were no longer being scrapped so readily because there was a huge demand for them and those lost at sea were no source for parts.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emergency_Shipbuilding_program
 

Paul Regan

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Just when I thought it was safe, another Roth came along. Up until yesterday I had three (Hamilton, Waltham, Illinois) now I have four. Well an Elgin was spotted and I could not resist. Basically all Roth's are the same except for the movements. This one is an Elgin 21J Veritas. One interesting difference is that the Elgin dial is Roman.
After all why not have one each of the big four manufacturers at the time. Glad to have it! Now what?
Paul
 

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Jim Haney

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I found this Roth Bros. Chronometer at the Mid-South Regional show in Chattanooga on Friday.

They used a Waltham Vanguard 18s movement serial # 9517716.

The dial and brass case and gimbals are correct but the box is very supect, but it is what it is, and I may find a box SOMETIME... Nutjob 315132.jpg 315133.jpg 315134.jpg 315135.jpg 315136.jpg 315137.jpg
 

JB Books

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It's been 3 years since the last post so I don't know if anyone will see this but I recently acquired a marine chronometer and had a question about it.
The inner box is marked Elgin but the watch itself is a size 18S Illinois Bunn Special.
Does anyone know if the Roth Brothers used Elgin marked boxes with movements other than Elgin?
Thank you,
JB

DSCF2624.JPG DSCF2673.JPG DSCF2639.JPG
 

Andy Dervan

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A nice acquisition - I think collectors are beginning to appreciate them as they are WWII survivors.

1554 US merchant ships were sunk during WWII and many sank very quickly, so crew hopefully had time to get into lifeboat. .

Roth Bros. probably had difficulty keeping up depend for these timekeepers; they probably other countries merchant marine ships.

US Navy might have even used them on coastal patrol boats that needed a good timekeeper and saved higher precision chronometers for larger ships crossing the oceans.

US battleships and airplane carriers each had 3 Hamilton 21 chronometer mounted in a special cabinet in the ship.

Andy
 
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179

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Another company also in N.Y., M. Lowe did the same conversions as Roth Bros. These appear to look the same, i do not know how to tell them apart. Both had dials approx. 1/4 inch larger than the orig. 18s dials. The set levers had pieces welded on to reach the outer edge of the dial. The tubs look much like the Elgin 18s free sprung models.
 
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Paul Regan

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Another company also in N.Y., M. Lowe did the same conversions as Roth Bros. These appear to look the same, i do not know how to tell them apart. Both had dials approx. 1/4 inch larger than the orig. 18s dials. The set levers had pieces welded on to reach the outer edge of the dial. The tubs look much like the Elgin 18s free sprung models.
i wonder if this and Tom’s Jurgensen are products of M. Lowe. They both vary from Roth’s in the boxes used as well as the tubs.. Though the tub looks Hamilton, as can be seen in the photos there is no provision on the tub for ever having a winding pendant or setting pin. The mounting of the movement is the same as would be in a large box chronometer. The winding is through a slip cover at the bottom of the tub. A lot if these Roths and Lowe’s I have owned have Southwest Instruments tags on them.
This one is extra cool since it has a T.S. & J.D. Negus movement.
Enjoy, Paul

103B84D2-18A8-476A-A790-09B4E14B0B34.jpeg D80B3F4E-C7F5-46E2-857C-DB57A01B281C.jpeg F57EDD01-A44A-4251-A027-3F6D0CE6C951.jpeg C520A6AF-80BF-4926-9A1F-0B550CCBBCDD.jpeg 06E207DD-4C3A-4151-BD62-8AAA27AF012D.jpeg
 

179

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I think Lowe and Roth used Whatever they could get their hands on. The objective was to get as much product as possible into service.
 

Ned L

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I have what looks to have been an Elgin. Unfortunately I have only the case (tub) with the dial. Included inside is the extended lever set lever. I am sort of keeping my eyes open for an appropriate movement to put in it.

843BE1D7-F09E-4E26-93BB-93C7BD7A3792.jpeg
 

Ned L

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I also have this Walth. I found the outer box separately. The box belonged to the previos owner’s father, who did service on a PT boat in WWII. This box I was told came off that PT boat. It still has the Waltham papers with it.

ED088B7D-8DE1-4394-A843-054365DF475B.jpeg
ED590E0C-2AE4-460F-919B-47EA37961478.jpeg FD4A79C3-9181-4864-BFF3-28BEF74245B5.jpeg 193C5FAD-BFF7-4A00-A348-6878FF177B50.jpeg
 
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KipW

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Ned, You realize the papers are for a 37-size 8-day, not the movement shown in your pictures - right?
 
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Ned L

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Yes, ..... Thank you. I didn't intend to imply the paperwork was related to the watch. The paperwork came with the outer box.
 

Karl Kröte

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I have this Longines. There are no markings in or on the box. Any idea how to find out if it was made by Roth Brothers?
Thanks!

Bildschirmfoto 2021-05-08 um 19.17.21.png
 
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Paul Regan

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I have this Longines. There are no markings in or on the box. Any idea how to find out if it was made by Roth Brothers?
Thanks!

View attachment 719671
Karl, we may never know the answer to your question. The box has witness marks in three locations where there would be tags for the Hamilton Model 22 yet the gimbal lock is in the location of a typical Roth or Max Lowe conversion. It appears these companies used the Hamilton style box and gimbal for higher grade chronometer conversions but would they use a “used” one? In any event, you have a very nice chronometer!
Paul
 

Jim Haney

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Karl,
I would vote no to it being a Roth bros conversion because of the gimbals hardware is different from the example in this thread.

Yours has extra brass work in the front and the screws in the sides are different.
 
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Karl Kröte

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Thanks, Paul and Jim!
I learned here that there is something about Longines in "Whitneys"on page 389-390, but I don't have the book.
 

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