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Wm Upjohn fusee verge

Erik_H

NAWCC Member
Nov 9, 2008
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This is my William Upjohn fusee verge. The movement is hinged at 12 o'clock in a gilt case of about 47 mm diameter, there are no case hallmarks. The case has a bullseye crystal. It has a steel three arm balance and Tompion regulator. Movement is marked Wm. Upjohn, Exeter, and with serial number 773.

It has been serviced and works well, about 5 - 10 minutes slow after 24 hours.

I am trying to determine age of this watch, and I am very new to verges so I am hoping for some help. There are two William Upjohn (Exeter) mentioned in Loomes: William I who died in 1768, and his son William II born 1754 and active 1775 to 1803. I believe William II is the most likely watchmaker behind this? And if so, do anyone know his output, so that I may see when number 773 might have been made?

Erik_H

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Jerry Matthews

Registered User
Sep 20, 2005
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Eric,
A very handsome watch and a good timekeeper for its age. In fact, I doubt that it kept better time when it was new.

Sadly, gilt cases were not hallmarked so no possibility of dating it there. There was quite a family of Upjohns in Exeter, but I would agree with you that this watch is more likely to be the work of William II, and I would place it nearer to 1775 than to 1803. I am unaware of any record of number of watches he made, and in any event serial numbers were not always issued in sequence and are not usually of much help in dating an English watch.
 

Erik_H

NAWCC Member
Nov 9, 2008
49
2
8
Country
Thanks a lot Jerry.
I have attached some pictures of the gilt case. Most of the gilt has worn off on the outside. I presume it is the original case but would like to hear whether it is considered correct for the period? Being gilt brass it would probably have been a more affordable choice back then.

Erik_H

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John Pavlik

NAWCC Member
Dec 30, 2001
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Pretty unique case.. appears to be a pair case but it is not.. I have never seen a Double bottom back to faciltate winding from the back..with the crystal mounted to the front bezel.. and the movement hinges out from the front..Most cases like this have the winding arbor thru the dial and no double back with a wind hole.....It also appears the front bezel and rear cover hinged from the same point.. Am I seeing this correctly??
 

Erik_H

NAWCC Member
Nov 9, 2008
49
2
8
Country
.....It also appears the front bezel and rear cover hinged from the same point.. Am I seeing this correctly??
John, that is correct. The front bezel and back cover are hinged from the same point.

Erik_H
 

Jerry Matthews

Registered User
Sep 20, 2005
961
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Sussex, England
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A most unusual and handsome case. I have no doubt it is the original. Gilt cases were very much in fashion in the 18th century, and not necessarily the "cheap" option.
 

Erik_H

NAWCC Member
Nov 9, 2008
49
2
8
Country
Just one more question, this watch has according to previous owner a feature I do not fully understand: 'The fusee does not have maintaining power, but the spring set up is by the much more elegant worm and wheel'. Please help to give a brief explanation?
 

Jerry Matthews

Registered User
Sep 20, 2005
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Sussex, England
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Maintaining power is what keeps the clock or watch going while it is being wound up. I haven't come across the term "worm and wheel" before, but I wonder if the reference is to Harrison's Maintaining Spring. This is a device introduced by Harrison to prevent the timepiece stopping during winding. There is a detailed description of it in Britten's Dictionary & Guide under the entry Maintaining Power.
 

John Pavlik

NAWCC Member
Dec 30, 2001
2,334
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Green Bay, Wi
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Erik and Jerry,

The worm and wheel is the device under the mainspring barrel used to set the preload on the mainspring.. It is not related to the maintaining power click and setup of the fusee..if you view the first picture you will see a square under the mainspring barrel.. Instaed of turning the arbor with a click usually located under the dial, for preload, this square with a worm gear was used..
 

Erik_H

NAWCC Member
Nov 9, 2008
49
2
8
Country
Thanks Jerry and John. I contacted the previous owner of the watch with the same question and he (Chris) replied as follows, confirming what you already stated:

Quote:
During the winding of a fusee watch, force is applied in the opposite direction to that from the spring and hence against the train. In other words power is removed from the train during winding so there is a tendency for the watch to slow down or even stop when it is wound. John Harrison realised this was a problem in the late 18th century when he was designing his marine chronometers and invented a device that continued to apply force to the train during winding known as maintaining power. This was not usually used on verge watches like yours.

‘The worm and wheel set up’ refers to the method used to pre tension the main spring so that the more linear part is used. On later watches this was done with a simple ratchet under the dial but on your watch, as was common at that time, uses the worm and wheel method. This consist of a worm which can be turned with a key which engages with a wheel under the spring barrel. As you turn the worm so the wheel rotates there by tensioning the main spring.
Unquote.

Erik_H
 

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