And now for something completely different - a watch post!

Few things are more enjoyable for this writer than digging into the history of a new watch.  What comes very close is digging into the history of a fellow Lounger's watch.  This picture was sent to me offline and had my immediate interest.

And now for something completely different - a watch post!

Yes, its a conversion and therefore by definition a frankenstein piece, but the movement itself merits our appreciation. With the owner's permission, I'd like to share this wonderful watch with you.

The details are amazing!  "Made for Shreve Treat & Eacret San Francisco".  George Shreve started in the jewelery trade in 1852 in San Francisco and incorporated Shreve & Co in 1894.  They are well known to vintage watch collectors as having offered many of the finest Swiss brands under their own name.  The business continues to this day.  Shreve Treat & Eacret was an offshoot business started by the founder's son, also George, in 1912 along with Walter Treat and Godfrey Eacret.  It ceased to operate during WWII.

This watch originated as an ebauche kit and not a complete watch, so a missing case doesn't invalidate its horological merit as much as if it had come from the factory already cased, at least in my opinion.  There are also other features of this piece that elevate it beyond the usual fleabay franken.

And now for something completely different - a watch post!

"Pat May 24 1904" engraved on the balance bridge draws our attention to the wonderful and precise micrometer regulator mechanism patented by V&C's supplier Brandt & Hofmann.  This company was also responsible for supplying some of V&C's secondary watches under the Pour Fabrique Vacheron & Constantin line.  This regulator was especially popular in the American market during a time when Railroad Standard timepieces were in demand.

And now for something completely different - a watch post!

"377635" movement serial number pins the date of manufacture to 1918.  Charles Vacheron noted in the Annales that American sales picked up tremendously beginning in 1917, so much that they started a label expressly for this market; Merimont.  1918 was also the year Albert Pellaton came onboard with V&C as technical director, although he was really to make his mark with IWC.

"21 Jewels 8 Adjustments" also marks the high quality demanded by the American market.  Many American brands already offered this, and even 23 jewels, to demonstrate their devotion to precision and the requirements of Railroad Standards as advertised in this 1908 publication.  

And now for something completely different - a watch post!

Others unscrupulously salted their movements with non-functional jewels to raise the count to sometimes ridiculous levels.  "8 Adjustments" does not mean adjusted to eight positions for, aside from the standard six positions of dial up/down, pendant up/down, and pendant left/right were added temperature hot/cold, and isochronism or the rate of oscillation.

"Integral Balance" is a term that should excite all those passionate about the history of chronometry.  This balance was the invention of Charles-Edouard Guillaume and was to revolutionize precision timekeeping.  It was a progression from his first laminated brass/Anibal "Guillaume" balance wheel, achieved with the substitution of the newly-developed Invar laminated balance wheel and Elinvar balance spring.  Watches with this balance mechanism were to dominate Observatory Trials henceforth and won its creator a Nobel Prize in Physics.

And now for something completely different - a watch post!

The owner of this watch was aware it had competed at the Kew Trials of 1918/19 but was stymied in finding further details.  Here I was glad to help.  Inquires were launched with both the Geneva Observatory and the Royal Observatory Greenwich, keeper of the old Kew records.  Geneva responded that they had no record of this movement but, most unusually, Kew (actually the National Physical Laboratory at Teddington by this date) answered in the affirmative.   This was the first case I've come across where a V&C Observatory watch was sent to Kew but not Geneva...a mystery!

Here we have some of the documents provided those fantastic friends of chronometry at Greenwich.

And now for something completely different - a watch post!

 

The ledgers show the watch was received on September 19 of 1918 by Insured Box from Vacheron directly, in a shipment of two watches.  This addressed the question of the watch having been directly submitted to Kew by a private party, thusly circumventing the Geneva Observatory.  Not the case!

And now for something completely different - a watch post!

 

Here we have the outgoing record, and the results for both V&C watches being recorded as an A Class Certificate with Especially Good results.  Interesting to note the margin scribble which states "Returned in 1 box insured for 600 francs to Censor of Parcels on November 5th".  During WWI and II, many countries including Great Britain applied postal censorship and routinely examined both letters and parcels for confidential information or contraband material.  Parcels sent to neutral Switzerland were probably treated with even more suspicion.

And the results...

And now for something completely different - a watch post!

I know a few people who have great insight into these numbers, unfortunately I am not one of them.  Our featured watch scored slightly better than its compatriot V&C, atlhough both obtained the coveted A cert with Especially Good notation.  Whether this is born from chauvanism or not, I'm led to believe by the aforementioned chronometric gurus that Kew tests were somewhat less rigorous than Geneva's.  We also know that V&C was in the habit of withdrawing movements from Geneva trials when they did not achieve a 1ere Classe designation, selling them as "demi-chronometers"; a term with no official meaning.  Perhaps this explains the path taken by this watch which led to Kew?

Kew was nevertheless an important reference point for international bragging rights and the 1918/19 results were dutifully reported in the Swiss trade journals.  You will find our watch 377635 towards the bottom.  V&C was well represented and note that most had either the Guillaume or Integral Balance, with a couple of non-invar Crausaz hold-outs still making a good showing.

And now for something completely different - a watch post!

This was a most interesting exercise and I hope you've enjoyed following along.  Cheers smiley

 

Tick-Talk comes through again!
08/18/2016 - 06:04

Great post my friend, very informative.  I'm sure the watch's owner will be very happy with what you created. yes

I know you must have started putting this together before your trip into the wild.  If you only started this after just getting back...I will stop posting on watch forums (too unworthy).

I did not know the exact meaning of "Integral Balance" before and how it related to the Guiillaume balance, thanks!  It is more like a second generation version of the Guillaume that inclusdes both Invar for the balance wheel and Elinvar for the hairspring?  It's a tiny detail but I wonder if "integral" is used to denote the new Invar balance wheel, or if it is meant to describe the Invar + Elinvar balance as a "system"?

I know Kew's records state that the watch came from "Vacheron", but if it was sold and shipped to San Franciso as an ebauache...how would VC have directly sent it to Kew, fully assembled and cased in an "Observatory Testing" style case?  (I understand the cases used for Observatory Testing were specialized and not the end-user cases that the watches were actually sold with).

I'm not sure if you can tell by the time period how these watches/components were shipped to the US?  My understanding is all variations were possible:

- Just the movement ebauche was sent to the US.  Case, dial, hands, etc. all sourced in the US

- The movement ebauche, dial, hands were exported to the US (possibly in different shipments to avoid Customs issues).  Case sourced in the US

- All components exported to the US, including the case (again, possibly in different shipments to avoid Customs issues).

I checked with VC and they told me they had no records of this movment being sent to Kew.  So I suspected that it was Shreve Treat & Eacret that sent it to Kew, perhaps at a customers request or on their own.  I was also assuming it was easier for an American to send it to Kew if langauage was an issue.  As a pure guess I thought Kew wrote down "Vacheron" as the source of the watch because either that was the movment mfg. or a VC Authorized Dealer.

Very interesting!

Lots to deal with here Dan
08/18/2016 - 15:46

I did not know the exact meaning of "Integral Balance" before and how it related to the Guiillaume balance, thanks!  It is more like a second generation version of the Guillaume that inclusdes both Invar for the balance wheel and Elinvar for the hairspring?  It's a tiny detail but I wonder if "integral" is used to denote the new Invar balance wheel, or if it is meant to describe the Invar + Elinvar balance as a "system"?

"Guillaume" balance refers only to his laminated brass/Anibal balance wheel.  "Integral Balance" was the system consisting of both the newly developed Invar laminated balance wheel and Elinvar hairspring.  Guillaume was constantly correcting the misapplication of these two terms, which continues to this day.

I know Kew's records state that the watch came from "Vacheron", but if it was sold and shipped to San Franciso as an ebauache...how would VC have directly sent it to Kew, fully assembled and cased in an "Observatory Testing" style case?  (I understand the cases used for Observatory Testing were specialized and not the end-user cases that the watches were actually sold with).

I think we have to default to the written records at Kew indicating the watch was both received from "Vacheron" and returned to them.  Although I use the term "watch" correctly, it was just the movement in a rudimentary brass holder that would have been shipped.  It probably did not even had its final dial or hands mounted.

I'm not sure if you can tell by the time period how these watches/components were shipped to the US?  My understanding is all variations were possible:

- Just the movement ebauche was sent to the US.  Case, dial, hands, etc. all sourced in the US

- The movement ebauche, dial, hands were exported to the US (possibly in different shipments to avoid Customs issues).  Case sourced in the US

- All components exported to the US, including the case (again, possibly in different shipments to avoid Customs issues).

The ebauche kit provided by V&C consisted of the movement, dial and hands.  Mounting in a suitable case was the responsibility of the retailer and often the choice of 14k or 18k was left to the customer.

I checked with VC and they told me they had no records of this movment being sent to Kew.  So I suspected that it was Shreve Treat & Eacret that sent it to Kew, perhaps at a customers request or on their own.  I was also assuming it was easier for an American to send it to Kew if langauage was an issue.  As a pure guess I thought Kew wrote down "Vacheron" as the source of the watch because either that was the movment mfg. or a VC Authorized Dealer.

I'm afraid VC archives are not flawless in this matter.  You recall I have a V&C deck watch with Geneva certificate that wasn't recorded either.  The complete ledger page from Kew shows that indeed they did record the "Sent By" under the retailer's name if that was the case, ie, North & Sons sent in a Dent chronometer and Sidney Better submitted a Barraud & Lunds.  As this watch was recorded as V&C for both sender and maker, I tend to believe the piece was sent to Kew by V&C before being shipped off to San Francisco.

Thanks for the additional info and your insights
08/19/2016 - 05:16

I've seen dials that have only included the US reatailers name: JE Caldwell, Merrimont, Shreve, EE Roberts, etc. before.  I had always thought these dials were not provided by VC.  Do you know if VC had their dial makers produce these for their US retailers and exported to the US as part of the kit?  I quickly pulled 2 JE Caldwell dials from the Bay for illustration.

Thanks for the additional info and your insights

Thanks for the additional info and your insights

 

I agree records are not infallible, but if VC directly sent watches to Kew in the UK as opposed to the Geneva Observatory...I'd expect there would be an interesting  back story as to why. smiley

Hard to say definitively
08/19/2016 - 17:31

With American private labels, its generally agreed that dials were provided by the manufacturer.  OTOH, there is less info about European private labels.  It stands to reason, however, that if V&C took the time to engrave a retailer's name on the movement, they would also provide the dial.  That doesn't account for PLs with blank dials or where only the dial had the retailer's name.  As the ebauches were provided in standard sizes 16 and 18 to fit American cases, one cannot dismiss the notion that some dials may have been sourced by the retailer but order sheets that I've seen to order ebauche kits have included a dial.

With Merimont, I'd say V&C almost certainly provided the dials.  Merimont was not a private label but rather an American-specific model.  Again, the movements were engraved Merimont at the factory (Merimont-Vacheron & Constantin later on) and dials should have been part of the kit as well.  

The question would best be answered by VC but I'm not holding my breath - I understand they are going to be rather busy for the next 36 years! 

Say, if you have a picture of an EER dial or movement please post as I haven't come across one, only their marked cases.

The importance of Private Label watches
08/19/2016 - 17:48

Private Label's accounted for a good deal of production from V&C for the International (mostly-American) market and I've collected this list over the years.  Please send any missing, but must include a dial and movement picture to verify.

1. James Allan & Co., Charleston, So. Car.2. Anderson & Houghton, Little Falls, N.Y.3. Anderton & Eberhardt4. Ball’s Standard, Cleveland O.5. A.C. Benedict & Co., New-York6. Emile Bernheim, Bruxelles7. Chris Bernloehr & Bros., Indianapolis8. Bigelow, Kennard & Co., Boston9. Henry Birks & Sons, Montreal10. Black, Starr & Frost, New York11. Ira G. Blake & Son, Worcester, Mass.12. J.C. Bloom & Co., Denver13. C.R. Boas, Harrisburg, Pa.14. The Bohm Bristol Co., San Francisco15. Frank F. Bonnet, Columbus, Ohio16. Bowler & Burdick Co., Cleveland, Ohio17. Boyd Park Jewelry Co., Denver18. F.W. Bromberg, Birmingham, Ala.19. J.E. Caldwell & Co., Philadelphia20. Charlton & Co., New York21. Clark & True, Middletown, Conn.22. Cowell & Hubbard Co., Cleveland, Ohio23. Critzer Bros., San Antonio, Texas24. J.W. Cusack, Troy, N.Y.25. Davis & Freeman, Atlanta, Ga.26. José Luiz de Araujo Dias (South America?)27. I.G. Dillon & Co., Wheeling, West Va.28. Geo. A. Disque, Eric, Pa.29. F.W. Drosten, St. Louis30. Edwards & Le Bron, Chattanooga31. Ellis and Ryrie, Toronto32. L. & E. Fabre, Buenos-Aires33. G.E. Feagans, Joliet, Ill.34. J.J. Freeman & Co., Toledo, Ohio35. R. Garbarini, Buenos-Aires36. E. Gubelin, Lucerne37. A.L. Haman & Co.38. Hamann & Koch39. Hamilton Jly. (Jewelry) Co., Colorado Springs, Colo.40. Samuel Hammond & Co., New-York41. Hansel Sloan & Co., Hartford, Conn.42. Harris & Shafer, Washington D.C.43. R.A. Heggie & Bro.44. F.M. Herron, Indianapolis45. Hight & Fairfield, Butte, Mont.46. Hope Bro. & Co., Knoxville, Tenn.47. Henry J. Howe, Syracuse, N.Y.48. Humburch Bros., Rochester, N.Y.49. F.L. Hunke, Albany, N.Y.50. Hyman, Berg & Co.51. E.E. Isbell & Co., Cincinnati52. Jaccard Watch Co, Kansas City, Mo.53. E. Jaccard Jewelry Co., St. Louis, Mo.54. Saml. Kirk & Son Co., Baltimore55. Thos. Kirkpatrick, New York56. R. Klarenaar57. Wm. F. Ladd, New York58. L.H. Leyson Company, Salt Lake City59. F. L. Löbner, Potsdamerstrasse 23 Berlin W. (1913)60. T. Martin & Co., London61. McAllaster & Humburgh, Rochester, N.Y.62. Mermod Jaccard & Co., St. Louis63. Nowlan Co. of Richmond, Virginia64. The Nowlan Co., Richmond, Va.65. W. C. Potter, Chicago66. Carl Ranch’s EFTF, Kjøbenhavn (Royal Watch and Chronometer Maker, Copenhagen)67. J.R. Reed & Co., Pittsburgh, Pa.68. F.A. Robbins Company69. Roehm & Son, Detroit, Mich. (also R.J.F. Roehm)70. George B. Rose, La Crosse, Wis.71. O.L. Rosenkrans & Thatcher Co., Milwaukee, Wiss.72. Frank B. Ross, Columbus, Ohio73. C. F. Rudolph74. C.L. Ruth, Montgomery, Ala.75. W. & E. Schmidt, Milwaukee76. Sheafer & Lloyd, Pittsburgh77. Geo. C. Shreve & Co., San Francisco78. Shreve, Treat & Eacret, San-Francisco79. H. Silverthorn, Lynchburg80. Hal B. Smith & Co., Logansport, Ind.81. Spaulding & Co., Chicago 82. H.N. Squire & Sons, New-York83. Theodore B. Starr Inc., New York84. J.P. Stevens & Bro., Atlanta, Ga.85. Jean R. Tack, Newark, N.J.86. T.C. Tanke, Buffalo, N.Y.87. Tiffany & Co.88. Traub Bros. & Co., Detroit89. J.B. Trickey & Co., Lincoln, Neb.90. Udall & Ballou, New York91. Julius C. Walk & Son, Indianapolis92. Weld & Sons, Minneapolis93. C.J. Wells, Oneida, N.Y.94. Welsh & Bro., Baltimore, Md.95. Geo. W. Welsh’s Sons96. J. Wetherell & Son, Parkersburg West Va.97. Aug. Wetteroth, St. Joseph98. W.B. Wilcox, Utica, N.Y.99. William Wise & Son, Brooklyn100. J. Wittlig & Sons, Marietta O.101. Woods & Hosley, Springfield Mass.102. W.L. Young & Co

I'll try again
08/19/2016 - 17:50

Formatting problems angry

 

  1. James Allan & Co., Charleston, So. Car.
  2. Anderson & Houghton, Little Falls, N.Y.
  3. Anderton & Eberhardt
  4. Ball’s Standard, Cleveland O.
  5. A.C. Benedict & Co., New-York
  6. Emile Bernheim, Bruxelles
  7. Chris Bernloehr & Bros., Indianapolis
  8. Bigelow, Kennard & Co., Boston
  9. Henry Birks & Sons, Montreal
  10. Black, Starr & Frost, New York
  11. Ira G. Blake & Son, Worcester, Mass.
  12. J.C. Bloom & Co., Denver
  13. C.R. Boas, Harrisburg, Pa.
  14. The Bohm Bristol Co., San Francisco
  15. Frank F. Bonnet, Columbus, Ohio
  16. Bowler & Burdick Co., Cleveland, Ohio
  17. Boyd Park Jewelry Co., Denver
  18. F.W. Bromberg, Birmingham, Ala.
  19. J.E. Caldwell & Co., Philadelphia
  20. Charlton & Co., New York
  21. Clark & True, Middletown, Conn.
  22. Cowell & Hubbard Co., Cleveland, Ohio
  23. Critzer Bros., San Antonio, Texas
  24. J.W. Cusack, Troy, N.Y.
  25. Davis & Freeman, Atlanta, Ga.
  26. José Luiz de Araujo Dias (South America?)
  27. I.G. Dillon & Co., Wheeling, West Va.
  28. Geo. A. Disque, Eric, Pa.
  29. F.W. Drosten, St. Louis
  30. Edwards & Le Bron, Chattanooga
  31. Ellis and Ryrie, Toronto
  32. L. & E. Fabre, Buenos-Aires
  33. G.E. Feagans, Joliet, Ill.
  34. J.J. Freeman & Co., Toledo, Ohio
  35. R. Garbarini, Buenos-Aires
  36. E. Gubelin, Lucerne
  37. A.L. Haman & Co.
  38. Hamann & Koch
  39. Hamilton Jly. (Jewelry) Co., Colorado Springs, Colo.
  40. Samuel Hammond & Co., New-York
  41. Hansel Sloan & Co., Hartford, Conn.
  42. Harris & Shafer, Washington D.C.
  43. R.A. Heggie & Bro.
  44. F.M. Herron, Indianapolis
  45. Hight & Fairfield, Butte, Mont.
  46. Hope Bro. & Co., Knoxville, Tenn.
  47. Henry J. Howe, Syracuse, N.Y.
  48. Humburch Bros., Rochester, N.Y.
  49. F.L. Hunke, Albany, N.Y.
  50. Hyman, Berg & Co.
  51. E.E. Isbell & Co., Cincinnati
  52. Jaccard Watch Co, Kansas City, Mo.
  53. E. Jaccard Jewelry Co., St. Louis, Mo.
  54. Saml. Kirk & Son Co., Baltimore
  55. Thos. Kirkpatrick, New York
  56. R. Klarenaar
  57. Wm. F. Ladd, New York
  58. L.H. Leyson Company, Salt Lake City
  59. F. L. Löbner, Potsdamerstrasse 23  Berlin W. (1913)
  60. T. Martin & Co., London
  61. McAllaster & Humburgh, Rochester, N.Y.
  62. Mermod Jaccard & Co., St. Louis
  63. Nowlan Co. of Richmond, Virginia
  64. The Nowlan Co., Richmond, Va.
  65. W. C. Potter, Chicago
  66. Carl Ranch’s EFTF, Kjøbenhavn (Royal Watch and Chronometer Maker, Copenhagen)
  67. J.R. Reed & Co., Pittsburgh, Pa.
  68. F.A. Robbins Company
  69. Roehm & Son, Detroit, Mich. (also R.J.F. Roehm)
  70. George B. Rose, La Crosse, Wis.
  71. O.L. Rosenkrans & Thatcher Co., Milwaukee, Wiss.
  72. Frank B. Ross, Columbus, Ohio
  73. C. F. Rudolph
  74. C.L. Ruth, Montgomery, Ala.
  75. W. & E. Schmidt, Milwaukee
  76. Sheafer & Lloyd, Pittsburgh
  77. Geo. C. Shreve & Co., San Francisco
  78. Shreve, Treat & Eacret, San-Francisco
  79. H. Silverthorn, Lynchburg
  80. Hal B. Smith & Co., Logansport, Ind.
  81. Spaulding & Co., Chicago
  82. H.N. Squire & Sons, New-York
  83. Theodore B. Starr Inc., New York
  84. J.P. Stevens & Bro., Atlanta, Ga.
  85. Jean R. Tack, Newark, N.J.
  86. T.C. Tanke, Buffalo, N.Y.
  87. Tiffany & Co.
  88. Traub Bros. & Co., Detroit
  89. J.B. Trickey & Co., Lincoln, Neb.
  90. Udall & Ballou, New York
  91. Julius C. Walk & Son, Indianapolis
  92. Weld & Sons, Minneapolis
  93. C.J. Wells, Oneida, N.Y.
  94. Welsh & Bro., Baltimore, Md.
  95. Geo. W. Welsh’s Sons
  96. J. Wetherell & Son, Parkersburg West Va.
  97. Aug. Wetteroth, St. Joseph
  98. W.B. Wilcox, Utica, N.Y.
  99. William Wise & Son, Brooklyn
  100. J. Wittlig & Sons, Marietta O.
  101. Woods & Hosley, Springfield Mass.
  102. W.L. Young & Co
Great list Dean, and quite longer than I would have expected.
08/20/2016 - 03:01

I'm sure it will be invaluable to Private Label and vintage VC enthusiasts! yes

I remember seeing an EER dial once a couple of years ago, but didn't save the picture.  If I see one again I'll definitely let you know!

speaking of Caldwell
08/21/2016 - 00:07

You might enjoy this vintage ad from an 1898 American publication

speaking of Caldwell

There were two other V&C Private Label retailers advertising in the same publication, one also mentioning V&C.  The brand clearly had some pull with their clientele!  Too bad about the spelling though...

speaking of Caldwell

Another big V&C PL retailer from Baltimore; Samuel Kirk:

speaking of Caldwell

Lastly, thanks to those who provided two new names for my list of V&C Private Label merchants.  Please add:

  • Chapman & Gale, Norfolk, Va.
  • A.F. Hall & Co., Janesville, Wis.
a Patek example
09/03/2016 - 05:19

this extract from the archives issued by PP for an 1879 private label watch is very helpful to our discussion.

Not V&C, but a Patek example

Not V&C, but a Patek example

Elinvar: Elasticité invariabile
08/18/2016 - 10:01

Love Guillame balance wheels. Paul Perret, master watchmaker and regleur, played a big role in this story, supporting Guillame researches and making them practical.

Thanks for posting this interesting topic, Dean yes

 

 

Re: Elinvar: Elasticité invariabile
08/18/2016 - 16:07

I'd love to know more about Perret's collaboration with Guillaume.  Here he is advertising in 1901.

 Elasticité invariabile

Re: Re: Elinvar: Elasticité invariabile
08/19/2016 - 09:30

I took these information from a collection of biographies, which includes Guillame's one, if you want I can send it to you.

Here's a brief extract from Guillame's Nobel lecture:

"For this study I had the valuable assistance of a skilled regulator, Paul Perret, who had taken the initiative in offering me his services soon after my initial publications on invar; later, the experiments were conducted under my control by the technical laboratories of the Sociétè des Fabriques de Spiraux Réunies."

 

Thanks for the reminder of Perret's role
08/19/2016 - 17:35

&

THL Becoming #1 Research Resource
08/21/2016 - 10:41

With posts like this, The Hour Lounge is becoming the number one resource for informaiton about Vacheron Constantin! Thanks for this Dean!

 

I hope there is always a place for THL in the big picture
08/22/2016 - 18:34

Thanks Billl.  While most activity is directed to Facebook these days, its really only a one-way communications medium.  IMHO forums like THL will remain valuable for sharing knowledge between collectors and enthusiasts.  Still, there are independent forums to perform this role so the participation of VC can never be taken for granted.  The  knowledge base accumulated here over 10 years is substantial!

Back to watches; Caldwell's vintage ads often refer to their Century watch made by V&C and priced at an even $100 (hence the Century name I guess).  There were ads for this model throughout the 1880-90s.

1887

I hope there is always a place for THL in the big picture

1890

I hope there is always a place for THL in the big picture

An 1884 advertisement by the official American agent for V&C, Charles Abry of New York, listed movements with Brandt micrometer regulator "used on some American Railroads" at a trade price of $50, which gives a sense of Caldwell's profit margin.