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Discussion in 'Complicated Watches' started by John Pavlik, Aug 21, 2019.
Would anyone have an idea on the maker of this movement ? It is a split seconds chronograph.....
The regulator is an American Patent compound regulator that I have seen on an Agassiz example with an American name.
The plates have an "Agassiz look" to me also.
The most characteristic feature of your chronograph is its register mechanism.It is driven, unlike most registers, directly from the motion train. An advantage over the direct minute register is that it takes power from the second (center) wheel with high torque, instead of the fourth wheel with much weaker torque, therefore, exerting less impact on the escapement. The disadvantage is that it is more complicated.
The engagement is via two beveled wheels engaging vertically in the same way as in Lugrin’s chronograph. It is a system which was mostly used by Audemars Piguet. I have also seen it in a few C.H. Meylans. If it is Audemars Piguet (probably it is), it would be one of only four split seconds chronographs the company made up to that point (circa 1880).*
The rack and pinion micro regulator in the watch is nice but not very useful. They were in existence at least since the 1850’s. Mershon patented one in 1859 which was used in early Howards. Woerd, in 1870, patented one which Church improved in 1885 by adding in a tension spring**. Both were used a lot. All together there were at least twenty rack and pinion regulator patents granted in the States in the 19th century. In Switzerland the rack and pinion system was considerably less popular with only eight patents of which the most notable was, probably, Albert Didisheim’s patent of 1891.
Interestingly, as late as 1957, one Gene F. Guida from New Jersey, patented, both in the States as well as in Switzerland, a similar regulator to yours, with an addition of a slot in the rack** dragging the index with it. The index needed a play in the slot making it not a very practical idea.
Mershon 1859. . . . . . . . . . . . Woerd 1870 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Church 1885 . . . . . . . . . . . . Guida 1957
All experienced horologists who designed rack and pinion regulators, such as Mershon, Woerd, and Church, knew that to make small adjustments, the pinion must have an extension. Mershon did it by fixing a long lever, while Woerd and Church did by fixing the pinion to a larger star-shaped plate. In this watch an extension like this does not exist making the regulator not very “micrometric”.
* They made five more in a combination with a minute repeater.
** An inherent fault of rack and pinion regulators is that there is a play between the rack and the pinion which makes the final phase of fine regulating difficult because backing up is idle at first. Church, Didisheim, and followers tried to fix it by adding a tension spring to minimize the play. Woerd was aware of the problem and placed the star's pivot in an eccentric sleeve allowing for adjustment of the meshing, an arrangement that did not work very well, especially in the long run.
*** Effectively, copying A. Hill’s patent of 1866.
View attachment 547293
I am fairly sure the one on this watch is Oliver's patent. He lived in Brooklyn and the other example I saw had a date to identify it.
Phillip, very much appreciate you detailed response ... Would you care to comment on the serial number of 2200? Would that be inline with any known numbers associated with Audemars Piguet or Meylans ? The case has the date 1885 in typical fancy engraving on the rear cover...
Tom, appreciate the information you started on the regulator.... As far as an Agassiz relation, I have not seen a hairspring stud on an Agassiz like the one on my example... but, the plate demaskeen does have similarities ..
Oliver’s patent is based on how the rack is pivoted and how the rack moves the index. The rack is pivoted eccentrically, off of the balance staff and the index also has a slot that fits over a pin protruding from the rack. The farther the rack is pivoted from the staff, the claim was, the finer the regulation. Which is correct. Furthermore, the scale must be engraved on the rack, not on the bridge. I do not see these features in this chronograph.
Besides watches with Oliver’s patented regulators, there are some that just have the same shaped rack pivoted concentrically with the staff and the index is fixed steadily to it. The latter usually do not have a date engraved.
Interestingly, all of them, be it the original Oliver’s or fake Oliver’s, have scales engraved on the bridge. This indicates that, originally, they were intended for a simple index and at one point were converted. I have seen them only on watches for the American market (not just Agassizes) and all the date engravings were inferior to the other engravings on the watch.
Had Oliver leased the patent rights to a watch company we would not see scales on the balance bridges and the engraved date would be consistent with other engravings.
For those reasons, I believe that the conversions were done in Oliver’s shop (Oliver & Bloomfield) on 23 John St, in New York. The conversion was relatively easy. Attributing a watch, based on Oliver’s patent can be misleading.
Some years ago I researched Oliver for his chain stand, a clever device that is able to present watch chains in an unusually effective way. Cartier used it in some of their exhibitions. I found that Oliver was good in business but unlucky personally; he came from England and at the age of eight worked in his older brothers’ jewelry shops in Buffalo. His only son died in 1881 (while on a trip to Boston!), ten years later his son-in-law (and also partner), divorced his only daughter. Oddly, in court, Oliver, took the side of his son-in-law, and then, three years later died unexpectedly (leaving his part of the business to his daughter). Interestingly, in 1878, he placed an ad First Class Watchmaker desires a situation in the West or Southwest. Even this did not go as planned.
Philip, I would appreciate your views on the regulator of one of my Louis Audemars.
John, you asked "Would [the 2200 serial number of the watch in my original post] be inline with any known numbers associated with Audemars Piguet or Meylans?" I can't answer for any but C.H. Meylan for which I maintain a serial number database in which I catalog and classify all the various C.H. pocket watch movements I have seen. See Dropbox - C.H. Meylan Serial Number Database.doc - Simplify your life. Factors that favor your watch being made by C.H. Meylan are these: Meylan was a major producer of fine rattrapantes. #2200 is in Meylan's serial number range. I have not seen another #2200. Your watch looks Meylan-esque. Jaques & Marcus PL'd Meylan watches. However, I have never seen a Meylan that looks like yours or that has its unusual regulator. For that reason, I am skeptical that your watch was made by C.H. Meylan, although I have come across a few seemingly unique Meylan movements. Your watch's movement could be one.
Thanks Philip for the more detailed view of Oliver. I thought I could see the slot in the top of the sector and of course the gear itself that had been on my Agassiz/Cleveland Watch Co. example. I had gotten the impression that they may have been applied locally. Too bad things did not work out for him.
Louis Audemars Company started using rack and pinion regulator at least from the first half of the 1870s. After the bankruptcy proceedings, the system was used by the new Louis Audemars Co., as well as by Audemars Freres, for example in No. 32947.
To put this device in perspective, it is good to remember that the rack and pinion regulator is one of the two very first regulating devices for hairspring balances. It was developed by Tompion around 1675 for the undersprung system. With the advent of the oversprung system (the spring placed over the balance) it was only a matter of time before someone would think of adopting it to the new system*.
Woerd Type I . . . . . . . . . . Louis Audemars 12583 . . .. . . . . . Lange 15083
Woerd patented his regulator in 1870 (see my thread above) which was applied to thousands of Waltham watches. Louis Audemars used a similar contrivance. The middle photo is from LA No. 12583 dating probably back to 1874.** Others also used it, like Adolph Lange for instance, who used it starting from at least 1882, as in the photo far right (SN 15083).
Woerd Type II . . . . . . . . . . . . Louis Audemars 14062 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Tissot from 1879
Woerd soon realized that the T-shaped design is not that good idea and modified it adding a second arm. Louis Audemars did the same thing but in a little more intelligent way, curving the arms and making the rack springy to decrease the play between the rack and the pinion (Middle Fig).
It is impossible to say whether Woerd or Audemars was the first one. It would be equally hard to judge who was the first that came up with the curved arms idea for regulators. The third figure is an example appearing to be the earliest, by Tissot, as early as 1879, three years before Oliver’s.
The curved-arm rack was used in other horological devices already in the 18th century, and probably considerably earlier which would be a logical consequence of the fact that the Renaissance clock wheels had curved spokes. A curved rack was just a sector of a wheel.
What is the serial number of your watch?
*In 1675, Isaac Thuret already used the oversprung system but not with rack and pinion regulation.
**Ineichen, Nov 14, 1988, lot 108.
Thanks, Philip. The serial number is 12,406.
Ethan, a similar Audemars with the same regulator and numbered pretty close ..appears the actual regulator rack has a bit less travel adjustment... Yours also has a different hairspring attachment that is seen typically on superior adjusted movements ..
Philip, the Oliver regulator uses the same basic concept as the Mershon. They all have the effect of making a very long index by using a compound lever where a very long arm can be simulated with simple lever action. The Elson regulator is rather more complex than the Oliver but works the same way.
In the Mershon design, the range is very small, but it can be adjusted in two different actions. In the Oliver and the Elson, the compound lever has a much larger range. In all three cases it is as though you had a simple regulator arm that was perhaps around 10 inches long.
The backlash is a problem in all regulators that do not use a spring loaded anti-backlash assembly. It is also a nasty complication on even simple regulators that have some interference between the pins and the hairspring. I think watchmakers must be taught in school to always adjust moving in the same direction to the desired adjustment point.
I got interested in this topic while looking at DeLong's patent regulator that looks like the one used extensively by Vacheron quite a few years earlier. The improvement in DeLong's is the anti-backlash spring that loads the screw.
I do not mean to derail this thread, we may want to start another one on all the wonderful and foolish patent regulator designs.
John, the watch, from its details, dates back to circa 1880. No. 2200 fits Audemars Piguet of that period, as well as C.H. Meylan (as noted by Ethan). The two Meylans with the motion train driven register, I saw, were, most likely, just retailed jobs. At the time, most of Maylan’s chronographs were based on Badolet ebauches* with a non-concentric clutch which are completely different than yours. On occasion, one finds a non-typical Meylan, with a movement bought from another company, some, possibly, from Audemars Piguet. It might be that CHM bought one to see what is new in the competition world. This is supported by the fact that AP sued Meylan for infringement.**
*Later ones from LeCoultre and, the most complicated, if I remember correctly, from Victorin Piguet.
**According to the records of Audemars Piguet, but I was not able to find it, even after spending days in the local archives.
Sure Tom, the vast majority of micrometric regulators, if not all, are like that. As for Elson’s, it is more challenging to make than Oliver’s, on the account that the disc on which the small index sits, always slips unless the groove is teethed (at least on one edge). I noticed that on a Howard with Elson’s regulator. The most interesting element of the Elson’s regulator is its similarity to Jones’ patented a year earlier. I am addressing this, as you suggested, in a new post here.
Phillip, the cover has an inscription date of 1885..
Right John, what is your point?
Hi Philip, I was only confirming your approx production date with what is engraved on the case.....Many thanks for your comments and observations ....