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Worn on the Wrist: Designed in Berlin, Registered in Germany, Patented in England.

John Matthews

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I favour the term Worn on the Wrist rather than wristwatch :).

The subject of this thread is a watch-holder. It is example of one of many designs that were created in the period between about 1860 and 1920 to accommodate pocket watches and cased movements so that they could be worn on the wrist. This is an example that is made in silver, others were made predominantly in base metal and leather.

This post concerns the research I have performed while waiting for the item to arrive - I think it makes an interesting story.

Many watch-holders carry trade and brand marks, some carry registration and patent marks. In this example the back of the holder carries a German D.R.G.M. registration mark #527385. These initials stand for Deutsches Reichs-Gebrauchsmuster which is a design registration used between 1891 and 1945. According to WIKI:

The Gebrauchsmuster is slightly different from the patent. It mainly differs from the patent in that processes and methods cannot be protected by a Gebrauchsmuster, only products can. Furthermore, the term of a Gebrauchsmuster, that is its maximum lifetime, is 10 years from the date of registration. In contrast, a patent has usually a term of 20 years from the date of filing of the application.

I have read elsewhere an initial period of three years which could be extended for a further three years, giving a total of six years.

From the very beginning in 1877 the German Patent Office offered only the Deutsches Reichs Patents, but starting in 1891 two distinctly different forms of protection was offered to inventors. Records were kept of the D. R. P.'s or Deutsches Reichs Patents. Some are available for reference from the German web site. Researching details of the D.R.G.M registrations is more difficult and I have not been able to find a consolidated listing. This is discussed by D. K. Stevenson in German Patent Letter Clues (NAWCC Bulletin October 2000).

This article includes a list of registrations from 1891 to 1944, from which I was able to establish that #527385 was issued in 1912. I was then able to search a copy of Patentblatt: Vierteljährliches Namensverzeichnis 1912 [Patent Journal: Quarterly Index of Names 1912] -

German Patent listing 1912.JPG


Further research yielded: Goldwaaren Industrie BELMONTE & Co. were established in 1901. Located in Königstrasse 46h, later, Leipziger Strasse 97/98, Berlin. The business went into liquidation in 1939. Watches with their name are known, but I believe only designating them as a retailer.

Two advertisements from 1903 & 1905

Belmonte-1903.jpg
Belmonte-1905.jpg


I have not been able to find a German patent corresponding to the registration, however, searching the European Patent site for Belmonte & Co. resulted in:

1670507005151.png


From which I was able to download the UK patent

UK Patent 27,596 [1912].JPG GB_191227596_A.png

I will follow this post with details and photographs of the holder and the 1913/14 sterling cased imported Swiss watch it carries when it arrives.

John
 
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Bernhard J.

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These initials stand for Deutsches Reichs-Gebrauchsmuster which is a design registration used between 1891 and 1945
Sorry, but no. The "Gebrauchsmuster" was and is not a design, but a technical IP right, which is very similar to a patent. Differences are: shorter maximum duration, no examination proceeding in case of the "Gebrauchsmuster", lower official fees. In former times the novelty definition also differed from the novelty definition of patents. The "Gebrauchsmuster" is also called "kleines Patent" (= small patent). There was and is nothing similar in US patent law.

Otherwise the "Gebrauchsmuster" provided and provides essentially the same rights against infringers like a patent. If (and you need to find out yourself) it is effective, i.e. not anticipated or rendered obvious by the relevant state of the art.

A design was called "Geschmacksmuster", now it is called design. That is essentially the same like a US design "patent" (just in order to increase confusion in terminology ;) )

Best regards, Bernhard
 

John Matthews

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Bernard

I didn’t say it was a design, I said a ‘design registration‘ and it is through that registration that the IP rights are protected. Apology. My post lacked the clarity your post has provided.

John
 

Bernhard J.

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OK, same with me, I failed to mention that "Gebrauchsmuster" and "Geschmacksmuster" are both called "registrations", due to the fact that both are not officially examined. So, any application is instantly "registered". Whereas a patent is granted (after successful official examination).

Bernhard

P.S.: Perhaps confusion is best avoided by simply calling a "Gebrauchsmuster" a "small patent".
 

John Matthews

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The following photographs are of the holder and watch as received.

Point to note:
  • the registration mark on the underside of the holder;
  • the remains of the soft layer that was there to cushion the watch;
  • the 800 silver 'hallmark' on the clasp;
  • the safety catch on the clasp;
  • the similar degree of tarnish on the watch and bracelet;
  • the lack of tarnish on the watch back were it has been in contact with the holder;
  • the watch carrying the imported sterling silver hallmark for London 1913/14 and the sponsor's mark of George Stockwell;
  • the watch case has been modified by the removal of what I believe were wire lugs;
  • the ~30mm. diameter watch is a 15 jewel stem wind pin set Swiss straight lever with exposed pallets.
20221210 011.jpg 20221210 010.jpg 20221210 001.jpg 20221210 007.jpg 20221210 008.jpg 20221210 009.jpg 20221210 002.jpg 20221210 006.jpg 20221210 004.jpg 20221210 003.jpg 20221210 005.jpg

I would be most grateful if anyone is able to provide any setails of the watch.

John
 

John Matthews

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Many thanks I missed this in my search.

1670693293559.png
 
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roughbarked

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  • the ~30mm. diameter watch is a 15 jewel stem wind pin set Swiss straight lever with exposed pallets.
View attachment 740010

I would be most grateful if anyone is able to provide any setails of the watch.

John
Now it does have a cut through the plate but I believe otherwise it is the same watch. However, Ranfft lists this as 'unknown'.
 

John Matthews

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Thanks for the example from Ranfft.

1670713656699.png


My knowledge of Swiss movements is very limited. I would have thought that even if the 'pillar plate' (excuse English descriptor), i.e.the front plate beneath the dial, and the position of the train and escapement identical, but that the design of the back plates were different, that would imply that they would be designated as different calipers. Is that not the case?

It is certainly true that the two trains is very similar and this might well imply a common source, but it seems to me that in detail they are very slightly different.

John
 

roughbarked

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Differing plates were often used often after they had started making bridges rather than 3/4 plates. Sometimes it was because a different trade name was using the same watch. I know for example that Wyler had a different train bridge made by ETA for them only.

Put this way, this was the only pin set watch that came close to yours on the Ranfft site. There are slight differences but otherwise it probably came from the same maker.

Ranfft listed this one as 1910 manufavture.
This is another that is close. A later movement perhaps but read what David Boettcher has to say. Watch Movement Identification
 
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FreetzGrün

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Curious - how many lignes is the example you are showing from Ranfftt?

I am not 100% positive at the size of OP's, 30mm or smaller?

I do see the slight differences but they are numerous, including the click.

For me, there is not enough evidence here to conclude that they are the same unknown maker, size or the calibre -would need to compare setting works for the latter.

But that's just my opinion.
 
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John Matthews

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For the record the movement is 24.8mm - 11 lignes or possibly 10.5'''.

John
 
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John Matthews

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I have extracted all the circular movements in the Ranfft database into a spreadsheet and ordered them by size and features. Here are the only possible matches that are stem wind and pin set in the size range.

1670752955380.png


Unfortunately none match. The nearest is indeed the one that was identified by roughbarked in post #9 above.

1670753162502.png


However, it is of a smaller size (10''') , it has a sub second dial, and while the pin set is in the same position, what I believe is the stem release screw, is on the opposite side of the stem.

Having said that given the pillar plate (what is the Swiss equivalent?) does appear to be very similar, i.e. the way that the train is planted, I can understand that it may be possible that the two movements shared a common origin.

As I said, I have little knowledge of Swiss movements so all advice from those have would be much appreciated. eri231 any ideas?

John
 

John Matthews

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Yes, I did read the link, but I think I have found a better match - this item currently for sale. If I am correct then it points to an import via George Stockwell from Stauffer, Son & Co. (SS&Co) rather than through their London office of Stauffer & Co (S&Co) (see here).

I would grateful if those more familiar with Swiss movements would indicate whether this is a reasonable working assumption.

John

EDIT - I admitted to say that I am assuming that the SS&Co on the item for sale, is evidence that the watch was produced/finished in their factory in La Chaux-de-Fonds - this is what the working assumption depends upon.
 
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roughbarked

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Yes the e-bay item is exactly the same as yours, apart from the exposed escapement.
Stamped SS&Co doesn't necessarily make it an IWC.
SS&Co imported from several Swiss makers. There still stands no reason why they could not have imported from Helvetia/General Watch Co. IWC, the International Watch Co.
If you peruse the above page, this image should be observed with it's note.

Screen Shot 2022-12-12 at 2.13.19 am.png
 
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FreetzGrün

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As far as I know, the one you are showing for sale is an ebauche from General Watch Co.
Branded one from my collection:
20221211_080936.jpg
 
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John Matthews

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My understanding is that SS&Co is a mark most likely applied to watches that passed through the Swiss factory of Stauffer Fils & Co (i.e. Stauffer Son & Co) who originally did fabricate movements. This was the parent company of Chaux-de-Fonds formed in 1830. The London company was established by the 'Son' and was Stauffer & Co. While they did use the parent company on their letterheads, they were solely importers.

The trademark on the watch currently for sale, as reproduced above in post #18, I believe implies that the watch was at least 'examined' in the Swiss factory and was designated as a third quality watch. As David explains this is actually the top of the range!

To quote David Boettcher -

At first sight it appears to be rather a mystery why Stauffer would want to make such a song and dance about their "third quality" watches. A native English speaker might think that it would be better to promote one's first quality products, perhaps offer the second quality at a bit of a discount, and keep rather quiet about third quality items.
This trademark was not used exclusively on movements made in Stauffer's own factory; Fontainemelon calibres have been seen stamped with this mark. The same calibres are also seen with the "S&Co" under a crown in an oval trademark. It is not clear why or when the different marks were used, but the use of the "SS&Co." under 3 small triangles does not definitively identify a watch made in Stauffer's own factory. Perhaps it shows that a movement from one of the ébauche factories such as Fontainemelon was inspected and cased in the Atlas factory.
The factory in La Chaux-de-Fonds was called Atlas and in the nineteenth century lever watches produced there were called "The Atlas Watch"
So taken with the General Watch Co example from FreetzGrün, it would appear that the item currently for sale was a General Watch movement that was examined in the Atlas factory and stamped with SS&Co's third quality (top of the range) trademark.

This would therefore support the hypothesis that the watch in the holder is a General Watch Co. movement that early in its life had wire lugs to accommodate a strap, but these were removed when it was fitted into the silver watch holder and bracelet. To be clear there is no connection between the 'holder watch' and Stauffer - the connection is between the watch currently for sale and Stauffer, that has led to the General Watch Co.

So in my composite photograph do we have three movements from the same factory?

1670777476534.png


After a little TLC ...

20221211 004.jpg 20221211 005.jpg

John
 
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gmorse

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Hi John,

One feature they all have in common is a cylindrical balance spring stud with a slotted top, held in place by a set screw, both unusual to find in Swiss watches. The slot is probably to make adjusting the angle of the pinning point easier to do from the top. Many are cylindrical but only retained by friction in the balance cock.

Regards,

Graham
 
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John Matthews

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I would not expect there to be any Stauffer marks. I believe that George Stockwell will have acted as the agent for whoever manufactured the watch (or at least the case) and there is no evidence that Stauffer was involved in the Swiss manufacture, nor that Stauffer's London office was was the importer or the retailer.

David Boettcher's page explains Sockwell's role and also the process of assaying watch cases ...

English watch cases were submitted to the assay office for hallmarking in a complete but unfinished state. This was because the hallmarking process would have damaged the smooth and highly polished surface of a case that was finished. After hallmarking watch cases needed extra work, called "rectification" by English watch case makers, to restore their shape and finish before final polishing. This extra work was said to add considerably to the cost of making a watch case.

In 1907 the British law changed to require that all imported gold and silver watch case be assayed and hallmarked. Many Swiss manufacturers did not have offices in Britain and could not organise this themselves, so Stockwell & Company registered with several assay offices in order to submit items for hallmarking on behalf of their customers. Stockwell & Company did not own the goods, so they were not importers in the strict sense of the word but acted as "Assay Agents" for their customers.
Stockwell & Company registered a large number of punches with their "GS" sponsor's mark. At least some of these, if not all, would have been sent to watch case makers in Switzerland. The case maker the applied the sponsor's mark to the rough case during production, before the case was finished. Stockwell and Company then transported packages of cases from the case maker in Switzerland to the London Assay Office for hallmarking, and returned them afterwards. Stockwell & Company probably never even opened the packets to see what was inside. The Swiss case maker then finished the case - straightened the dents from hallmarking and polished it. The case was then sold to a Swiss watch manufacturer, who punched serial numbers in the case for their records and put in the movement. The completed watches were then sent to Britain for sale to British retailers.
One feature they all have in common is a cylindrical balance spring stud with a slotted top, held in place by a set screw, both unusual to find in Swiss watches. The slot is probably to make adjusting the angle of the pinning point easier to do from the top. Many are cylindrical but only retained by friction in the balance cock.
Graham - I have seen this feature on chronometers and it is shown on such movements in the 1940s Catalogue Officiel that I have. I also believe it is present on better quality levers from that time, so I don't believe it was at that time manufacturer specific. However, my knowledge is very superficial and I have no information regarding small movements from the 1Q C20th. I do note that it was also present on the 10''' movement identified by roughbarked.

So over to the Swiss experts - in 1910-15, which manufacturers of small ebauches (10''' to 12''') were using this design of balance spring stud and screw (as shown in the red circle)?

cylindrical balance spring stud with a slotted top, held in place by a set screw,.jpg

John
 
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roughbarked

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As Graham said, this was quite rare and likely in early 20th century. If you scroll down David Boettcher's watch movement ID page, you'll see that both Fontainemelon and A. Schild used a variety of stud designs and maybe it depended on how much the buyer wanted to spend on the watch.
This photo (snapped from that page) in relation to the General watch co, shows different studs as well as the different plates and finish.


Screen Shot 2022-12-12 at 10.40.29 am.png
 

John Matthews

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I spent some time this morning looking through movements in the Ranfft database, the Swiss lever section of Shenton and the Official Catalogues I have. Many of the illustrations lacked sufficient resolution to be certain of the detail. It did confirm that the use of this design of stud and screw was uncommon as Graham observed. However, even allowing for the lack of resolution, it does appear that it was used by other manufacturers, e.g. Langendorf, Movado, Recta. Angelus & Tissot, but all the examples I found were later. In Shenton I did find it used on another General Watch Co (Helvetia) pocket watch, retailed by Bravingtons of London.

On the European forum it has been noted that Swiss bimetallic balances, which appear from casual inspection to be a standard compensated balance, are uncut or in some cases 'slotted'. This balance is an example of the 'slotted' variant.

20221210 005-3.jpg

I cannot think why this was done, other than an attempt to deceive the buyer that the balance was compensated. Am I missing something?

John
 

gmorse

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Hi John,
I cannot think why this was done, other than an attempt to deceive the buyer that the balance was compensated. Am I missing something?
This is very common in lower and middle range Swiss balances, and I can't see that it can have any functional purpose. Thus it seems that you're right in your assessment.

Regards,

Graham
 

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