This 1814 Barwise pocket watch has some unusual and rare features

Discussion in 'European & Other Pocket Watches' started by Jon C., Sep 15, 2013.

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  1. shinytickythings

    shinytickythings Registered User

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    That's a very common and popular technique in ceramics to make multicolored patterns and designs. Variations on that process make a bunch of different fancy porcelains and ceramics.
    I haven't ever seen enamel dials done that way though. If they were porcelain it would be perfectly sensible.

    But it's my understanding that enamel for dials starts out as a crushed powder of glass which is melted and fused. I just don't imagine a practical way to control the details using that process. It's possible, but I think not practical.

    I am very curious now though. Look forward to hearing from Jon about it.
     
  2. MartyR

    MartyR Registered User
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    I agre with you on that last point, Shiny. I just can't conceive how the fine lines in the numerals could have been produced that way :???:
     
  3. shinytickythings

    shinytickythings Registered User

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    Yeah. I know it's not that difficult if you are just scraping away a soft slip glaze over green-ware porcelain.
    But I have a hard time imagining the same process with enamel.
    Before it's fired, it's a fine powder. After it's fired, it's basically glass. At no point in the process would it be conducive to remove parts of an over-layer. Even just doing two different color layers of enamel, I imagine that it melts together in a rather predictable but uncontrolled fashion. Seems like it would be hard to get the two layers even, then to remove a top layer of glass? etching it out?

    Maybe a resist mask is stamped on and it is acid etched through the top layer? That seems like a plausible way to do that with enamel. maybe.
     
  4. DaveyG

    DaveyG Registered User

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    The 'normal' process for white enamel dials is, as I understand it, to apply the layer of white enamel and fire it. The (normally) black numerals, chapter rings etc, which are also enamel but a mix that glazes at a lower temperature than the white, are applied by hand painting or whatever process and the dial is then re-fired at the lower temperature. I see no reason why this dial should be any different to that, just with the pigments reversed.
     
  5. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    #55 Tom McIntyre, Sep 23, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2013
    The order of enamels has to do with firing temperatures. The standard blacks fire at a lower temperature than whites, so they are applied last. Also, it takes several layers of white to get the proper appearance of translucence.

    Imagine a dial maker who made normal black on white dials and had the materials set up to do so. He makes a white dial and covers it completely with the black unfired material and then dries it in place and removes the patterns of the writing and numbers. He can then fire it as he would a normal dial. The dial is raised to a temperature where the top layer becomes enamel and the lower layers are unchanged.

    The Brits sometimes refer to these as "regimental" dials to imply an ease of use with difficult lighting conditions, and safety from unwanted reflections to be seen by opposing forces.

    -------------------------------------------
    I don't know why I did not see Davy's post before I made mine
     
  6. Jon C.

    Jon C. Registered User

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    Hi Tom,

    If I understand you and Davey correctly, instead of painting on the enamel numerals and other writing on this black dial (as is done with a normal white dial), in this case the patterns of numerals and writing were carved out from the black unfired enamel to reveal the white enamel below. This means there was an extra step in the process. Am I correct in assuming that the dial maker would have used a very fine knife to remove the black enamel to form the numerals, etc?

    Regards,

    Jon
     
  7. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    The number of enamel layers is the same. The top black layer is much more material than the lettering would have been but it is the temperature sequence that is most important. The bottom layer directly on the copper is the highest temperature melt. That layer is ground down to a smooth surface and a second layer applied which is also ground down. Typically a transparent layer is applied next and then the black. Finally on high quality dials a glass transparent layer is applied over the top of all.

    On the black dial, the first transparent layer is likely omitted and the black layer is painted. I do not have the carrier formula at hand, but i suspect it was something like egg white or possibly a thin hide glue with the glass enamel mixed in. The tools were likely wood and copper to do the cut through drawing. In black on white work, the tools were very fine single hair brushes. Sometimes the eyelash of the dial painter was used. There is a good article in the Watch & Clock Bulletin by Gerrit Nijssen on the O'hare Dial Company that discusses the enamels, their sources (French) and their properties.

    There should be a transparent layer on the top of your dial that you can see if you reflect light off it at a very low angle. You will see this same glass layer on the higher grade American dials and on all but the lowest grades of multicolor dials.
     
  8. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    By the late 19th century dials were almost all printed from engravings. In this system, the engraved dial image was filled with the enamel and a gum rubber ball was pressed into the master to lift the enamel and then the dial blank was slid under the ball and it was pressed on the dial. The process is actually magic. If the ball is pressed on the dial in exactly the same way it was pressed on the engraving, the resultant shape is exactly the same and the material is transferred to the dial exactly as it appeared on the engraving.

    In principle you ought to have been able to do that with raised numeral engraving and black enamel everywhere except the writing.

    The other reason for putting black on white is that the white is not nearly as opaque as the black.
     
  9. Jon C.

    Jon C. Registered User

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    That's all very interesting, Tom!

    When you think about it, it's really amazing the amount of skilled craftsmanship that went into making these timepieces. Not just the large number of individual components that were incorporated into the movements and the cases, but also the intricate work that often went into making the enamel dials. Quite impressive, to say the least!!

    Regards,

    Jon
     
  10. DaveyG

    DaveyG Registered User

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    I think that you need to tell us Jon, whether the white elements are etched into the black or applied over the black, which should give us all a better idea as to how this particular dial was produced. Are you able to determine that visually?
     
  11. Jon C.

    Jon C. Registered User

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    Hi Davey,

    I'll check the watch tomorrow night and let you know whether the white elements are etched into or applied over the black enamel. I'm hoping that I can tell the difference!

    Regards,

    Jon
     
  12. MartyR

    MartyR Registered User
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    It should be fairly easy, Jon. Look through a loup horizontally along the surface of the dial. You should be able to see if the numerals are sitting up proud of the surface of the enamel, or are sunk.
     
  13. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    The only caveat on Marty's advice is that a clear coat, if present, might have a raised meniscus from pooling in the recesses. I have seen that occasionally on multicolor dials. Since the final clear coat is not ground and polished, it takes whatever shape it gets in the firing.
     
  14. Jon C.

    Jon C. Registered User

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    I checked the watch today, but I don't know whether what I found is going to settle this question.

    I examined the enamel dial with a loop horizontally along the surface, and I definitely did not see any numerals "sitting up proud." However, neither did I see them sunk. As best as I could tell, the white numerals and other markings are completely flush with the black enamel.

    Does that help or does it simply confuse things more?

    Regards,

    Jon
     
  15. DaveyG

    DaveyG Registered User

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    I think you're right Jon - doesn't really take us any further forward; makes me wonder if the white elements are actually painted on rather than enamelled. However, it isn't really important is it? Just trying to understand the different techniques that may have been used. It's still a fabulous watch.

    Tom, I don't recall ever seeing an English enamel dial with a clear glaze top coating, which hasn't been put there following a repair. Am I missing a part of my education here?
     
  16. Jon C.

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    Hi Davey,

    I agree that it's not really important, but I do enjoy solving mysteries. If someone with a more experienced eye than me was looking at the dial, he could very well see something that I'm missing!

    By the way, here's a picture I took that shows what I believe is the cylinder escapement of the watch (I've never seen a cylinder before).

    I'm also posting pictures showing the hallmarks on both the inner and outer cases. I may be wrong, but it looks like the maker's mark on the outer case is "W.J" (with a period), while the maker's mark on the inner case is "WJ" (without a period). According to Priestley, William Jackson of Clerkenwell used "WJ" starting in 1809, and "W.J" was used by William Jackson of Coventry (perhaps his son or grandson?) starting in 1861. I'm assuming that William Senior simply added the period by mistake... or maybe it's not a period after all?

    Regards,

    Jon
     

    Attached Files:

  17. Omexa

    Omexa Registered User
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    Hi Jon, it just crossed my mind that seeing my movement is only 2 numbers from your complete "Pocket Watch" my movement was probably very similar until some idiot sold the Case etc. Regards Ray
     
  18. DaveyG

    DaveyG Registered User

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    I don't think that you have quite captured the cylinder escape wheel in your picture Jon; you will need to get more between the plates and you should see a wheel with vertical teeth. The cylinder itself is a functional part of the 'balance staff' through which the escape wheel teeth pass. I think you would be hard pushed to get a picture of the actual cylinder without removing the balance or using some pretty tricky photo equipment. I've attached a picture of a cylinder escape wheel from a McCabe cylinder watch of c1800 - with what you may find an interesting watch paper.

    Hallmark punching was never an exact science and the two marks most definitely look to have been applied with different punches. I think you may be right in questioning whether this is in fact a dot - it may be the end of the curly portion of the J. Another point worth bearing in mind is the position of the 'dot' which is raised, and this is a significant pointer. The period in the Coventry registered mark is at the level of the bottom of the letters therefore different.
     

    Attached Files:

  19. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Jon,

    The "WJ" can't be from the later date, as both the leopard's heads have crowns, which places them before 1822. I think that spot is too high even to be regarded as being on the centre line, let alone on the baseline, and it's probably an artifact.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  20. Jon C.

    Jon C. Registered User

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    Hi Ray,

    Yes, I'd say that's a good assumption.

    By the way, I'm still absolutely amazed that your movement is only 2 numbers from the movement in my pocket watch - case or not. Although I have no idea how many watches John Barwise made during his lifetime, I'd guess it could have been in the thousands. What a huge coincidence!!

    Regards,

    Jon
     
  21. Jon C.

    Jon C. Registered User

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    Hi Graham,

    Oh, I see. Okay, that makes sense - I agree that it must be an artifact. Thanks!

    Regards,

    Jon
     
  22. Jon C.

    Jon C. Registered User

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    Hi Davey,

    Well, that explains why I've never seen a cylinder. I'm certainly never going to remove the balance of this watch - I'd be afraid that I'd break something or find myself with leftover parts when I tried to reassemble the movement!

    That is an interesting watch paper. I only own 3 or 4 watches that have original papers, and I think they're all pretty cool.

    Thanks for explaining about the hallmark punching. I'm not sure whether the "dot" is part of the J or simply an artifact, but at least there seems to be agreement that it's not a dot.

    Regards,

    Jon
     
  23. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    I will need to get some of my examples out to check, but a clear enamel top layer is common on the higher grades of Swiss and American watch dials and I believe I have seen it on English examples as well. The over glaze you see on a repaired dial is almost an order of magnitude thicker than the naturally occurring ones that are real glass instead of acrylic. The way to spot a real glass enamel is to see if you can see reflections of objects in it when viewed at a low angle. The acrylics look smooth, but do not reflect.

    In American nomenclature there are enamel dials, hard enamel dials and glass enamel dials in increasing order of quality.
     
  24. DaveyG

    DaveyG Registered User

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    Thanks Tom. I have seen this effect on American 'fancy dials', most of which seem to have this covering layer cracked, but haven't noted it elsewhere. I'll have to keep my eyes skinned for reflective enamel dials and then perhaps investigate further.
     
  25. Jon C.

    Jon C. Registered User

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    Yesterday I emailed a full set of photos of my Barwise watch to the Horological Department at the British Museum, and I asked for their comments. I also inquired as to whether I could schedule an appointment with a docent at their Horological Student's Room if I was to visit London in the spring.

    I'll let you know how they respond! :)

    Regards,

    Jon
     
  26. MartyR

    MartyR Registered User
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    While I think about it, if you decide to bring your watch into the UK you need to get a temporary import permit (or similarly titled document) so you don't have to pay duty when you bring it into the UK, or again when you take it back to the USA.
     
  27. Jon C.

    Jon C. Registered User

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    Thanks, Marty. My game plan is indeed to bring several of my English watches and have them examined by a docent, so I'll definitely keep that in mind. I certainly don't want to have to pay any duties if that can be avoided!
     
  28. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    You will not have to pay US duty as they are exempt. The Brits might try to collect some sort of tax but that has never been my experience. Of course, I just walk through the "nothing to declare" line like everyone else. :eek:

    I have a beautiful document around here somewhere that is the treaty document I needed to bring my robots into the UK and get them back out again. It is covered with ribbons and seals.
     
  29. Jon C.

    Jon C. Registered User

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    Hi Tom,

    Hmmmm....so I can either play it safe and get a temporary import permit (as Marty suggested), or I can roll the dice and try to sneak through the "nothing to declare" line. I guess I'll have to wait and see how adventurous I am that day!!

    Robots, huh? Someday you'll have to tell me more about those!! ;)

    Regards,

    Jon
     
  30. MartyR

    MartyR Registered User
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    For the avoidance of doubt, the "nothing to declare line" at UK Customs is for those who are carrying no goods which are liable to import duty. If you are stopped and are carrying some pocket watches, you will need to prove that you are not carrying them for sale in the UK, nor are you going to leave them in the UK when you leave. It should be fairly obvious that it is almost impossible to prove that and therefore you will rely on your own plausibility and upon the degree of belief that your personality is able to instil in the Customs officer you are talking to. If he is unconvinced (or in a bad mood) he will be authorised at least to confiscate your watches and hold them for you until your return to the USA, and at worst simply to confiscate them period. Personally I wouldn't take that risk.

    A temporary import document is a guarantee to UK Customs. You prent it to Customs when you arrive here, they check the document against the watches, and then they do the same when you return to the USA and you won't be allowed to leave the UK without re-presenting the document.
     
  31. Jon C.

    Jon C. Registered User

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    Hi Marty,

    Okay, that settles it. I'll play it safe and get a temporary import permit.

    The main reason for my visit to London would be to have my watches examined at the British Museum, so I'd be less than thrilled if they were to be held (or even worse, confiscated) by UK Customs. That's the same reason why I told the person who sold me the ivory/wood watch that he should get a CITES certificate rather than risk mailing it to me without one (except the risk in that case involved U.S. Customs).

    Better safe than sorry!

    Regards,

    Jon
     
  32. Omexa

    Omexa Registered User
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    Come on Martin "my robots into the UK" now you have me intrigued. I have a good imagination but this completely eludes me. Are you the original "James Bond"? Regards Ray
     
  33. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    #83 Tom McIntyre, Oct 8, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2013
    The document you need for the transfer in and out is called a Carnet or an ATA-Carnet. The minimum processing fee to issue a Carnet is currently around $233 for a $9,999 value and goes up in a few steps.

    http://atacarnet.com and http://carnetsonline.com seem to be the available agents.

    I think those were my robots. We were building robots to work inside oil wells in the North Sea and were demonstrating to various oil and oil field service companies. The first time I took the robot in I bought 3 large gun cases to hold it and its power systems and took it as checked luggage. There was no problem at all going in, but US Customs gave me a hard time coming home. I used a Carnet the second time I carried it. You could alternatively ship the watches to a receiver in the UK and ship them back which is what we did with the robot eventually when luggage was no longer available as an option.
    .
     
  34. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    I have just come across this board while looking for more information on John Barwise.(B. Cockermouth 1755-56 d. London 1842) The history of the family can be found in John Penfold´s book "The Clockmakers of Cumberland" ISBN 0 903512 11 4. In the Autumn copy of AHS page 240 there is a very good article by David Thompson of British museum fame, about the numbering of Barwise watches. Which brings me onto the date of your watch Jon C. It was made in 1802, and would more than likely have been in a gold case, and I think the owner sold the gold case and had his watch put in a much cheaper case of Silver-this case though correctly HM for 1814. In the March issue this year of AHS page 621, there is a very good article on John Barwise and his sons, plus a letter on page 715 adding more numbers to Mr. Thompson´s lists. Since the letter was written there are a few more, the two on this board included.

    But just for you Jon c. here are a few of the early numbers.

    2537 cylinder Silver case HM 1840 (another re-case)
    2863 Duplex-converted to Lever Gold case HM 1802
    3005 Cylinder M only.
    3007 Cylinder Silver case 1814
    3085 Cylinder Silver case HM1802
    3275 Cylinder Silver inner case HM1803
    3291 Duplex Gold Case HM 1849 (an upgrade?)
    3575 Cylinder Gold Case 1805-05
    3690 Verge Gold case HM 1804.
    3763 Lever Silver case HM 1831 ( If the first number were an 8 this would then be correct for 1820-21)
    4014 Detent Pocket chronometer Gold Case HM 1806

    Mr. Thompson´s list ends in 1861 with 12/393

    John Barwise died in 1842 and his turnout would be about 10,000 items this includes think some of the clocks.

    I will go one further and say I have not seen a watch signed Barwise and Son-only clocks signed that way-it would be nice to be proved wrong.

    Best wishes to you all,

    Allan C. Purcell.
     
  35. Jon C.

    Jon C. Registered User

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    Hi Allan,

    Thank you very much for sharing this extremely helpful information about the numbering of Barwise watches. I apologize for my long delay in responding to you, but I've been distracted by business matters that have kept me overly busy these past few months.

    The info you provided is fascinating. I currently have about 75 antique pocket watches in my collection, but this black-dial Barwise watch is one of my very favorites. That's why I'd like to learn all that I can about the watch itself and about John Barwise Sr.

    As you point out, the AHS article mentions a date of 1814 for my Barwise watch (serial number 3007), which matches the hallmark on its silver case. Why do you believe that it was actually made in 1802 and was originally in a gold case? I'm especially curious to learn what led you to think that the owner "sold the gold case and had his watch put in a much cheaper case of silver."

    I'd love to know the complete history of this watch, and you're certainly offering some truly interesting clues!! :D

    Best regards,

    Jon
     
  36. Keith R...

    Keith R... Registered User
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    #86 Keith R..., May 3, 2016
    Last edited: May 3, 2016
    I selected this Barwise thread as it has both John C's Barwise & movement from
    Ray, (Omexa). One can also find most of the pertinent data about this watch maker
    in this thread. I have picked up a Barwise cylinder, #3979 in inner case only. If you
    look above us, Allan Purcell has a cylinder attributed to 1805, (#3575), so I might be
    safe to add say a year out to this one for 1806, his pocket chronometer has a sn#
    4014 for 1806. She is currently ticking, as I will have to find it an outer case. The
    inner case measures close to a 16 size watch, yet 3/4" thick.

    Edit, the inner case is a re-case so year is irrelevant, (case holder, although a pretty
    good one). ***Reference post #84 by Allan Purcell for dating a Barwise movement.

    Keith

    103_0271 (800x600).jpg 103_0275 (800x600).jpg View attachment 301831 View attachment 301832 barwise5 (800x600).jpg
     
  37. Omexa

    Omexa Registered User
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    Hi Keith, you have moved into the "Upper Crust" English Pocket Watch area. It sort of compares to going to Eton or Harrow and on to Oxford. My humble education ended up with 5 years at UTAS (University of Tasmania). All bull-dust aside I love it your new Pocket Watch. I think that I have a few more Barwise movements, all have been orphaned from their Home (Cases). Regards Ray
     
  38. Keith R...

    Keith R... Registered User
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    Thanks Ray, my line of thinking is add to a thread, where all the players and all the study lead to
    Barwise watches. I just don't believe in reinventing the wheel. While doing research, I found your
    Barwise, as well as Jon C's in this very thread, so why not combine all three Barwise products
    together for future study. This one's case would probably have been gold, as so for your orphaned
    movements, as a guess.

    Thanks Ray, I love owning a great piece of history.

    Keith
     
  39. Keith R...

    Keith R... Registered User
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    I began timing her with Meyer Isaac at 6:18 PM EST.

    Keith

    103_0278 (800x600).jpg
     
  40. Keith R...

    Keith R... Registered User
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    Does anyone have any idea how many surviving examples there are for Barwise cylinders,
    (John Senior)?

    Keith
     
  41. Keith R...

    Keith R... Registered User
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    BTW, the case hallmarks are for 1834, however, the style of the inner case looks pre-1800
    to me.

    Keith
     
  42. Keith R...

    Keith R... Registered User
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    #92 Keith R..., May 4, 2016
    Last edited: May 4, 2016
    OK, embarrassment or not, I do OK with Verges, Rack Levers and English levers. This
    Barwise cylinder is in an inner case with hallmarks for 1834, (king lost his crown). However,
    the case more closely resembles a a period closer to one with a hallmark of a small t from
    London 1794. I own verges and levers from the 1830's and the inner pair case looks nothing
    like this.

    Now I will say this, I'm glad I bought it, knowing it's a re-case. The hallmarks just don't seem
    to fit periods as I know them. Clues would be appreciated. PL could have a clue. I do recall
    seeing the hallmark of a monkey's head once.

    Edit, I feel confident I can pin the movement down to 1806.

    Keith

    barwise9.jpg 103_0271 (800x600).jpg
     
  43. Keith R...

    Keith R... Registered User
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    The Barwise completed it's full run of the chain and finished at +6 minutes. Keith
     
  44. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User
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    Do you get a gold escape wheel with a Barwise?
     
  45. Keith R...

    Keith R... Registered User
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    Some Barwise cylinders have them Nick. Keith
     
  46. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User
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    what about yours though?
     
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  47. Keith R...

    Keith R... Registered User
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    Not, I'd say Nick. Keith
     
  48. Clodagh Barwise

    Clodagh Barwise New Member

    Mar 18, 2019
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    so excited to read about this watch and to see all your comments - I am one of 3 Barwise's left descended form this linage - and indeed have one brother but no male offspring!
    But just to let you know that I have a grandson named Weston to keep alive the Barwise spirit! Totally off the line but my excitement was great = thank you
     
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  49. Keith R...

    Keith R... Registered User
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    #99 Keith R..., Mar 18, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2019
    Keep up the spirit!! #3979 1802 cylinder, John Barwise.

    Keith R...

    Barwise 2 (600x800).jpg
     
  50. Clint Geller

    Clint Geller Registered User
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    #100 Clint Geller, Mar 19, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2019
    The black dial Barwise is a gorgeous watch. I hadn't realized that black dials, which I love, ever were used that early. In the numismatic world, they would call the edge of that case "reeded." On coins, reeding and other forms of milling were used to discourage coin shaving. On watch cases, reeding improves grip, as well as being decorative. I have seen David Penney refer to a case very similar to that of the Barwise watch shown here as a "barrel case," which is akin, if not necessarily identical, to the "drum style" term that is attached to some American watch cases of a later period. Black dials and barrel, or drum style cases are my favorite styles.
     
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