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Unknown Escapement, Possibly a Massey Lever Escapement?

tooly111

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May 9, 2012
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Hi,
I've got a movement that I can't identify the escapement in. It looks like a Massey Lever Escapement but the escape wheel is not the usual ratchet toothed wheel.
The dial and movement are signed and numbered "Lewis Woolf Liverpool, 9006". The movement also has a stop/start button to the side which puts pressure on and off the escape wheel.
Any help with the identification of the escapement would be greatly appreciated.
Woolf, Lewis (Escapement)a.jpg Woolf, Lewis (Escapement)b.jpg Woolf, Lewis (Escapement)c.jpg Woolf, Lewis (Escapement)d.jpg
 

Jerry Treiman

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Very nice. It looks like a Pouzzait Lever escapement.
 

gmorse

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Hi tooly111, and welcome to the Forum,

I believe that you are the very fortunate owner of a Massey Type IV escapement. These are by far the rarest of Edward Massey's escapements. The roller is the same as a Type III, but the lever is designed so that any extra heavy jolt will allow an extra rotation into the outside lever slots, thus protecting the impulse pin. It is a seconds-beating escapement, with a very large balance wheel, which were fashionable in the early years of the 19th century. It may initially look like a rack lever, but it is a true detached escapement, whereas the rack is not.

It's a rare privilege to see one, thanks for posting it here.

There are some signs of corrosion here and there, so I think it's well worth a proper restoration.

Regards,

Graham
 

MartyR

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Graham, is that escapement wheel with the contrate teeth an essential component for the Massey IV?
 

gmorse

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Hi Martin,

Yes, it is. The circular pallets are very evident here as well. Notice the very high count pinion on the escape wheel.

MasseyPage001.jpg MasseyPage002.jpg MasseyPage003.jpg
These notes were part of a presentation by Alan Treherne to our BHI branch some years ago.

Regards,

Graham
 

tooly111

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May 9, 2012
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Wow, thanks for all the help and information on the watch. I'm pleased started a post on it :)
Any idea what it might be worth in its current condition?
Regards,
Shane
 

DaveyG

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You are very fortunate to have come by one of these tooly111. I have handled just one of these in the 20 years I have been collecting and it is a rare privilege to see another. Just as Graham says, there are very few of these about and I agree with him that a proper restoration would be advisable.

Whilst we are not permitted to offer valuations here I think it fair to say that, no your watch would not be attracting the sort of money asked by the dealer in your link, simply because it would not be wholly original (assuming that you do not have the original case). However, it is valuable just as it is due to the rarity of the escapement type.

Also, congratulations on the quality of your photographs.
 

tooly111

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May 9, 2012
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Hi,
Thanks for your reply and sorry I didn't realize that asking about value was not permitted, I'll remember that for the future, first post I've done :)
I can't believe this is such a rare watch, I thought it was different but not to that extent.
Gives me a lot of motivation to get if restored now so I will look around for a competent restorer. Hopefully I can find one here in New Zealand otherwise I might have to send it overseas.
Also, thanks for your comment on the photographs, will list more if I get it restored!!
 

gmorse

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Hi Shane,

The watch in your link has almost certainly been re-cased, since the date of 1888 is really very late for any Massey, and the brass lever shows every indication that it's also a replacement, and a very poorly-finished one at that. Yours is far better, and I think original; just look at the flat polish on the steel-work. The price reflects the rarity, as with most things, and I guess that the rarity wins over originality in this instance!

Edward Massey's workshop actually made and fitted most of the escapements bearing his name, regardless of who made the rest of the movement.

Regards,

Graham
 

Tom McIntyre

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One of the reasons we avoid value discussions is that the details of a particular item are never really known accurately.

I agree with Graham that your movement is substantially better than the one that was sold. The case and dial on that watch were both non-original and the dial had been "fully restored" which is watch trade talk for made up new.

With a purpose made case and in at least equal condition, your watch would probably be worth more.

The second caveat is that no one knows what the linked watch sold for except the buyer and seller. It might have been nowhere near the listed price. These sell so rarely that no one really knows what they are worth.
 

tooly111

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Hi Graham,
That did catch my eye as being odd when I looked at it and was something i was meaning to ask, so thanks in advance. I'm really looking forward to getting this one restored now!!
I also found another example on ebay but the balance doesn't look the same? its under the heading "Massey 4 Pocket Watch". Just wondering what you take on that one is, fake, restored, original? They don't show the escapement unfortunately.
Also one of the members mentioned a Pouzzait Lever escapement. Does that have any thing to do with this watch?
As I found this diagram (matches mine exactly) which indicates that "Pouzzait" is the name of the escape wheel.
Regards,
Shane
 
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tooly111

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Hi Tom,
Thanks for your feedback :)
I notice you mentioned that the dial on the other one had been restored. Do you think its worth restoring the chips around the edges on mine or keep it original?
Also If i got it repaired would it be worth re-gilding the plates?
 

Tom McIntyre

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Your dial should be left alone, as should the gilding on the movement. When the watch is cased, the damage to the edge of the dial will be invisible or nearly so.

A Pouzait escapement includes a pirouette wheel to allow the balance to make several turns before releasing the escapement. Where did you find the image you posted above? If you did not take the picture you need to at least credit the source if it is not from a recent publication. If it is from a recent publication, you need permission from the owner of the image.

Frankly, I think the picture is mis-captioned and is a Massey IV, not a Pouzait.
 

tooly111

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May 9, 2012
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Sorry that was from a recent publication 'price guide to watches book', so I'll go ahead a remove that.
How about the screws, would they be best replaced or just polished as they are to remove the rust?
The regulator and the piece that holds the hairspring are also rusty but I'm guessing they should be polished.
Just thought I'd mention also that the center wheel pivot for the seconds hand is broken off.
 

gmorse

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Hi Shane,

...I also found another example on ebay but the balance doesn't look the same? its under the heading "Massey 4 Pocket Watch"...
Without a clear closeup of the lever/escape wheel, it's impossible to say, but I agree, the balance wheel looks far too small for a Type IV. That watch has been on the bay for absolutely ages, by the way, (and that seller never seems to sell anything; make of that what you will), so perhaps it isn't quite "pukka".

I think any restoration you have done should concentrate on conservation, keeping as much as possible of the original fabric of the movement whilst preventing further deterioration. Ask any potential restorer the exact details of how they propose to tackle it, and make sure you see examples of their work. Steel-work can be re-polished, (achieving this flat so-called "black" polish is an art in itself), screws polished and re-blued where appropriate, and any re-pivoting to return it to fully running, but you'll never be able to reproduce that original fire-gilding on the plates, so they should just be cleaned. The dial again will benefit from cleaning, but otherwise I'd be reluctant to try and patch it up; this always shows.

Regards,

Graham
 

DaveyG

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I must admit that I did not note the dating of the case on the linked watch :glasses: However, it seems to me that that watch remains for sale at the listed price and is not yet sold. I can say with confidence that the watch that I handled about 8 years ago, which was all original sold privately for £8000.

I think that I can guess, without looking, who the bay seller is offering his 'Massey Type IV' :eek:

Graham is absolutely correct to point out that 1888 is far too late for a Massey escapement of any type. The Liverpool Museum Horology Database has the first mention of Woolf, Watch Manufacturer, in 1832 at 91 Bold Street, Liverpool. He went on to become a respected watch and chronometer maker working into the 1860's
 

MartyR

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Sorry that was from a recent publication 'price guide to watches book', so I'll go ahead a remove that.
I'm confused about this, Tooly :???: Are you saying that one of the images you posted was from the Gilbert/Engle "Price Guide"? If so, which one? You won't now be able to remove an image but I can do it for you. In fact if you take the trouble to contact the publisher of the book, they will probably grant you permission to use the image.

On the subject of restoration, I'd like to echo Graham's advice. If this were my watch, I would make no effort to restore it to an "as new" condition, or indeed anywhere close. I would want to remove any rust and stabilise the metal of the movement to prevent any further degradation, but no more than that. You mentioned a broken pivot, and I would have that repaired if possible, but otherwise replaced. I think this really is a case of "less is better".

And whoever you get to do the work must be somoene you trust, who can give top-class references, and who wants to talk to you at length about how you want the work done. If you can't find the right person in New Zealand, please feel free to PM me and I can give you a couple of names of a couple of experts in the UK. Nothing should be too much trouble for this watch!
 

Omexa

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Hi, I thought right from the start of this post that something did not gel. I wondered about the photos of the escapement when the person had not dissembled the movement. If it is all Kosher it is a wonderful find; I might have to slip across the Tasman Sea and pinch it. Regards Ray
 

tooly111

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May 9, 2012
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Hi MartyR,

The book was the Gilbert/Engle "Price Guide", it was on page 600. Good idea, I'll have a go at contacting him and see what happens, if he grants permission I'll put it back up :) He might be able to shed some light on the watch himself.

I agree, less will be better to keep it all nice and original. I'm fortunate to have a jeweler friend here who was the head of the jewelers and watch makers association for many years and he knows almost every watchmaker in new zealand so will go straight to him. If I have any trouble finding the right person for the job I'll definitely PM you, thanks very much for that!!

By the way, Thanks to everyone for your help, I can't wait to get this restored.

Regards,
Shane
 

Omexa

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Well I did have my Life Savers Certificate, but being 73 years old it may be an effort; having worked in the Marine industry for many years I might have to pinch a Boat to get there. Regards Ray
 

tooly111

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May 9, 2012
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Just to clarify, I obversely did dismantle this watch to get the pictures of the escapement. The watch came with a lot of other regular movements but this one caught my eye due to the large balance which made me want to investigate it further and to see what the damage was. I'll probably take some more pictures as some stage to document it properly.
 

Tom McIntyre

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We have said this many times but it clearly needs repeating here. The "Price Guide" is not a bible or even an authoritative secondary reference. In the case of the picture that was posted earlier, the page has two examples labeled Pouzait. The second one is a Pouzait while the first is a Massey IV. The pictures look like they may have been "borrowed" from Alan Treherne but are not attributed.

My recommendation on the pivot would be to have it repivoted rather than making a new pinion. I am pretty sure the pinion teeth have close to the same level of polish as the rest of the steel work.
 
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