Surprisingly Good Watches by Unheralded Makers

Dr. Jon

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I was going to post the first watch in this thread as a Lovely Lady but this one is bit too large. It really does not belong in that thread and I suggest this might be nice thread in its own right.

I would like this thread to show very fine watches by makers no one has heard of. The line between obscure maker and private label is thin but I would like to see avoid private labels which are obviously the work of well known makers. I'd like each watch to have unique characteristics.

This one sold by Henry Begulin shows what I think is a good example. It has as strong resemblance to Jules Jergensens but Jurgensen bought in most of their watches and I do not believe the sold to private labels. There are a lot of Jurgensen like watches from this region. This is one of the finest I have seen.

Here is the front cover of this 10 size watch.

Front.png

This case is simply marked 18K and probably Swiss. I think it is hand engraved.

Here is the back.

back.png

the dial is nice but not unnusual,

Dial.png

It has a catalog kind of cuvette listing its features which is another reason it may not have been for a woman, but perhaps it was for a technically inclined woman or one with a technically inclined significant other.

cuvette.png

The movement is very typical of Locle work full_movement.png and has a strong resemblance to Jules Jurgensen. Like Jurgensen it has gold set caps and raised polished escape wheel tooth tips.


Several details sets this one apart from Jurgensens.

escape.png

It is a "knife edge" single roller but it much shorter than Jurgensen. The balance spring stud has slot so it can be removed without taking out the screw, something watchmakers appreciate. This also has a lovely center jewel gold chaton, which Jurgensen did not use.

IMHO this is better watch than Jurgensen was selling
 

musicguy

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I'm not sure if this fit's this discussion or not. If not please remove.
I have this one with some similarities to your plate layout(well after looking closely
not too similar).

20191205_184130 (2).jpg 20191205_184213 (2).jpg


Rob
 

Dr. Jon

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It certainly fits as a high grade watch by an unknown maker. I'd like if the text includes the maker's name. This way it shows in searches. One of my goals in moderating is to maximize the search-ability of the threads in this section.
 

Dr. Jon

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Interesting watch. Does the jumping 1/4 second hand return to zero on command? If you stop the split second sweep hand does the jumper stop?
 

gmorse

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Hi Dr. Jon,

Does the jumping 1/4 second hand return to zero on command? If you stop the split second sweep hand does the jumper stop?
As far as I can see, there's no provision to disconnect that flying seconds hand from the going train, or any sign of a heart-shaped cam to reset it to zero, so it appears that it wouldn't stop.

Regards,

Graham
 

Ethan Lipsig

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This watch has been with my excellent, but very busy, watchmaker for several years. I no longer recall how the second hand functions.
 

gmorse

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Hi Enrico,

Yes, I can see that's the flyback for the centre seconds, but how does that connect with the flying seconds?

Regards,

Graham
 

eri231

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it's a guess, because you don't see how the reset works. I have seen other similar movements, but not all of them have a reset , or a reset star
regards enrico

IMG_6898.JPG
 
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gmorse

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Hi Enrico,

Ah, I see, the four arms on the flying seconds arbor are hidden away between the plates, (blue circle), so very hard to see what else is under there.

IMG_6898_edit.jpg

Regards,

Graham
 

Ethan Lipsig

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Graham and Enrico, please explain in layman's terms what the two of you have been talking about.
 

Dr. Jon

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From what I can see, it looks to me that this is really a foudroyante with a reset rather than the more typical chronograph. There is no visible pivoted gear to engage the seconds hand from the main train. It is all done with the second train.

My guess is that since the jumper arbor is geared to the sweep seconds, both reset together. I think of the sweep second hand as the register for the jump seconds hand.

I am still looking for the way the split stop works. I think that is the function of the second ratchet wheel to the right.
 

gmorse

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Hi Ethan,

Graham and Enrico, please explain in layman's terms what the two of you have been talking about.
Sorry, we've lapsed into tech-speak.

In a chronograph, whether it has one or two sweep centre hands, (a 'rattrapante' like yours), the sweep hand(s) can be started, stopped and reset to zero without affecting the rest of the timekeeping train. There's a mechanism to engage with the train on starting, (by moving a wheel to connect the centre to the 4th wheel normally), another to disengage on stopping, (moving the connecting wheel away again and usually incorporating a brake), and a third to reset to zero, (bringing a lever sharply into contact with a heart-shaped cam on the centre seconds arbor, which is arranged to force the hand to zero). You can see the heart-shaped cam and the flyback lever, with its tiny roller on the end, in the centre of Enrico's post #11. With a split second instrument, there's another start, braking and cam arrangement for separating and re-joining the two 'split' hands.

There are obviously mechanisms to prevent any of this happening out of sequence, for instance applying the flyback lever with the hand still running or with the brake still on, would be potentially damaging. This is the function of the two wheels under the dial near the top in Enrico's post #13. These ratchet tooth wheels conceal underneath them structures called pillar wheels which allow the various levers to move in and out of the spaces between the pillars in a strict sequence. These wheels are more often mounted the other way up, with the ratchet wheels underneath, as in this example which shows the mechanism more clearly. The wheels are rotated or indexed by the push pieces in the case band.

IMG_0324.JPG

The small 'sub-seconds' hand at 6 in the commoner chronographs is like the seconds hand in a plain watch, it's always running when the watch is going. However, the question here is whether this particular type of hand, which runs at a much higher speed of one revolution per second, behaves in the same way, or is linked to the start, stop and reset functions of the sweep centre hand(s), which is much less common.

Hope this illuminates somewhat.

Regards,

Graham
 

Ethan Lipsig

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Many thanks, Graham.
 

John Matthews

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the question here is whether this particular type of hand, which runs at a much higher speed of one revolution per second, behaves in the same way, or is linked to the start, stop and reset functions of the sweep centre hand(s), which is much less common.
Practically, I would have thought if your were using the timing function all you would need to do is focus on observing the position of the jump sub-seconds dial at the point when you stopped the sweep second - I really cannot see the point of stopping the jump sub second hand - has anyone seen an example?

John
 

Dr. Jon

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I'll try another take.

The chronograph was we know it today was patented by Adolph Nicole in 1862. As Graham wrote it operates by moving a gear to engage the center seconds hand with the driving train of the watch. This invention has two major advantages of all two train forms of independent seconds watches and made them obsolete.

The first benefit is that only one mainspring is needed to to do all the chronograph things.

The second is that when the chronograph is not running its parts are disengaged from the watch drive train. Functions like stop and start can be done without disturbing the regular time running of the watch. This is why chronographs typically have a continuously running sub seconds hand.

The drive on an independent seconds hand watch is delicate and this Huguenin is the only one I have seen that had a reset. This ability to reset easily is what finished off the the independent seconds watch as a tool for timing events.

The problem resetting a foudroyante is that independent seconds watches engage the seconds and/or jumps seconds with a small arm on a gear that rests on a second pinion mounted to the escape wheel. This train is stopped by holding it away from this pinion. I suspect that makers feared that a reset might put too much force on this element so rarely tried to do it.

The split action is usually fairly simple. The split hand rides with the primary seconds hand via a spring that holds it on synch. It is stopped by a clamp that closes to hold a wheel attached to this seconds second hand, The spring the auxiliary hand in synch is weak enough that the hand then slides against its block on the primary seconds hands.

Obsoleting the two train watch left makers with some very fine movements they could no longer sell.

What Hugeinin did was to take the risks to the foudroyante because that was the only way to sell one of these very expensive but obsolete movements.
 

Jerry Treiman

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I think this watch qualifies for this thread on two counts - movement and case maker.

The movement is based on a somewhat common, thin ebauche by Louis Elysee Piguet et Fils which was used by many fine finishers. Initially a 17-ligne movement it was reduced to 16-lignes and finished to a high degree by Niton S.A. in 1924, when it received two Poincon de Geneve. This is a fairly thin movement with a hanging barrel, but I have not measured its thickness. The footed dial was made by Stern Freres.

8685fm.jpg

The movement was one of ten movements purchased from Niton by H.W. Matalene who had, until 1924, made cases exclusively for Waltham. This fine hand-made case was made in 18K white gold around 1925. It includes Matalene’s patent two-piece pendant construction (U.S. Patent No.1050965). Matalene is still a fairly obscure case maker (in spite of my intermittent postings), and over his roughly 15-year career as a case maker he probably made fewer than 9,000 cases.

(Some of the ten Niton movements were eventually cased in cases by other manufacturers).

Excellent research on Niton has been published on-line by Sander (alias ticktack on this MB) -- www.nitonsa.com
 

Ethan Lipsig

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Another unheralded maker is Wilka. There have been a few threads about Wilka on this message board, but the information in them is scant.

See More Info on Wilka Watch, stating that "'Wilka' is the trade name of the Wilka Watch Co. in Geneva. The name derives from WIlhelm KAufmann. (By Mikrolisk 'Wilka' was also a mark used by the Golana Watch Co. in Biel but registered in 1977 and your watch seems older than that)."

See also Wilka, in which I said that "I have a very nice circa 1910 Wilka pocket watch with a mother of pearl dial in an unusually shaped two-tone 18k case. The NAWCC museum has a Wilka masonic pocket watch prototype that aimed at the Dudley market. See National Watch & Clock Museum. The April 27, 1921 Jeweler's Circular contains this ad.

Wilka.jpg

Here's the Wilka watch I referred to in that posting.

Wilka 1.jpg Wilka 2.jpg IMG_6332_edited.JPG IMG_6333_edited.JPG

Cf. Where to now???, wilka watch date, both asking about a Wilka watch, but providing no information.
 

Ethan Lipsig

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Even more obscure than Wilka is Frankfeld Freres. There have been no prior references to Frankfeld on this message board. I know nothing about the firm.

Frankfeld made at least the 18j/4adj movement in this high-grade platinum extra thin Dreicer PL watch, my only Frankfeld. Dreicer was one of the top jewelers in New York. It closed in 1923.

Z Frankfeld.jpg IMG_9633_edited.JPG IMG_9630_edited.JPG IMG_9631.JPG IMG_0156_edited.JPG

One sees Frankfeld Freres watches for sale occasionally. Such as this platinum Dreicer PL that Heritage auctioned in 2008.

64298778_4_x.jpg

And this diamond, platinum wristwatch that Artcurial sold in 2009 for 15,939 Euros.

1759_10280909_0.jpg

I have found a doctoral thesis entitled "Dreicer, Forgotten Jeweler of the Gilded Age." file:///C:/Users/Ethan/Downloads/A.%20Rasche%202018%20Thesis%20Deposit%20Copy%20-%20Dreicer%20&%20Co%20(1).pdf, but all it says of Frankfeld is that is was a Dreicer supplier.
 

John Matthews

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Practically, I would have thought if your were using the timing function all you would need to do is focus on observing the position of the jump sub-seconds dial at the point when you stopped the sweep second - I really cannot see the point of stopping the jump sub second hand
Apology - Sorry, my statement was completely illogical.

Clearly, for the jumping split-second dial to be of any significance in a timing sequence, it must have been at stationary at the start of the timing, ideally at zero.

Ethan - was the watch functioning correctly when the photographs in your original post (#4) were taken?

I am wondering how to interpret the third photograph; the sweep second hand is at zero and the jump split-second hand at 0.75s.

John
 

Ethan Lipsig

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Ethan - was the watch functioning correctly when the photographs in your original post (#4) were taken?
Except for the winding problems, I think it was functioning properly, but I haven't seen the watch for years.
 

gmorse

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Hi John,

I am wondering how to interpret the third photograph; the sweep second hand is at zero and the jump split-second hand at 0.75s.
Ah, but one of the rattrapante centre seconds hands isn't at zero, it's at 0.75 second before.

Regards,

Graham
 

John Matthews

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Ethan - thank you for your quick response.

Graham - a very good point - but I still don't fully understand what has been captured in the photograph. It must because I don't understanding of the rattrapante functionality.

I thought with a rattrapante chronograph, when the timing event is initiated by one button, both sweep second hands rotate together, but by operating a second button the rattrapante hand can be stopped independently of the other, when that button is depressed again, the rattrapante hand 'catches up' with the rotating hand. This function can be activated repeatedly. Depressing the first button stops both hands, depressing that button a second time resets both hands to zero. I didn't think it was possible to re-zero the rattrapante hand independently.

If my understanding is correct what has been captured is not impossible, but it does rather specific conditions.
  • if the jump sub second hand works with the rattrapante hand, it has been stopped and the photograph was taken when the other hand was precisely at zero (either the instant captured by the camera, or it had been stopped at zero - by pressing the first button after a single depression of the second).
  • if the jump sub second hand works with the non-rattrapante hand, the rattrapante hand has been stopped precisely at zero.
I have to admit I am also having difficulty understanding what type of events you would time with a watch having this functionality and not having a minute counter. I cannot get my head around timing sub-minute events and my understanding of a rattrapante - I must be missing something.

rattrapante from rattrapage = to catch-up [FR]
foudroyante from foudroyer = to strike down [FR]

John
 
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Dr. Jon

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Graham makes a good suggestion.
I was checking my new found powers and find I can't move part of a thread. If I could I would move the discussion on Ethan's foudroyante to Phil's complicated watch section and continue discussion of it there. So, can those of us who have made comments simply copy (and edits as desired ) them and put them in a new thread there?
 

John Matthews

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Jon - I think the way Graham has posted, the named contributors will receive an alert to this thread ..

John
 

gmorse

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Hi Dr.Jon,

I'm sure splitting part of a thread off to start a new thread has been done before by moderators; whether it's possible to do exactly what you intended is rather above my pay grade, but someone else on the mod team should be able to advise.

John's comment about referencing other contributors by name in this way is true.

Regards,

Graham
 
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