Hi, I'm a new member and I really like this forum. I have this old pocket watch and I was wondering if anyone knew anything about it. The face has no name. And the back has written on it, on top "patent lever" then "2 full jewelled" someones engraved name, then "liverpool" at the bottom.
Posts: 20 | Location: San Francisco, California USA | Registered: July 02, 2009
Hi- your watch was probably Swiss-made for the English market. During the 1800s Swiss watchmakers provided many thousands of these bar movements to the secondary market (jewelry stores, etc) in England and the US, where they were cased and sold. If you look at some old newspaper advertisements from the Civil War period you can probably find ads for these types of watches. Until American watchmakers started mass marketing relatively inexpensive watches in the 1870s/1880s, Swiss watches were the most common watches carried here in America. The circumstances were a bit different in Britain, where the American system of mass-produced watches with interchangeable parts didn't catch on until around the turn of the century. If I had to guess, I would say that your watch was made in the latter half of the 19th century.
Posts: 1 | Location: Millis, Massachusetts in the USA | Registered: June 12, 2009
Melvin, These watches were "ebauche" movements made by the Swiss "guilders" and sometimes when they were exported for finishing and casing they had no names at all because that would have involved about 10 or 15 different "cottage" industry parts makers and 1 assembler-exporter.
The "lever" type was easier to fix than the "cylinder" type, and also dates this watch to about 1860 - 80.
The importer-finisher of the movement in England may have "struck" a "mark" under the dial on the top face of the movement, but to see that you need to remove the dial. Then to ID the maker you would need a chart of 19th century British Watchmakers marks.
That research could be done if and when it is cleaned and restored.
Posts: 6492 | Location: Southern California in the USA | Registered: July 19, 2007
It was very commom for this type watch not to have any maker's marks on them, certainly those imported into the UK anyway! You may get lucky with a maker's mark on the dial plate, but just to muddy the waters, this could just as easily be the foundry that cast the original plates!
Watches that came into the UK that did have names, would as has been said, been made by retailers who bought in the raw ebauches and cases, but then had the dials manufactured and fired with their name on. It was an easy fix to have an engraver shove a name on them, but not too often done unless it was something Really nice or an upmarket jewellery dealer.
To be able to tell more about it's origins, we really need to see a shot of the case hallmarks, because from its appearance, the caseback engravings looks distinctly 'Continental, and I think it 'may' have started life as a whole watch in either Switzerland, France or Germany - the marks would help establish that.
Although there were strict import controls on watches into the UK, and especially of precious metals, there were few if any restrictions on 'personal imports', and if it Was a controlled import Anywhere, the silver grade and assay marks would be of the offices of the country it entered.
Posts: 1282 | Location: Northern England, United Kingdom | Registered: January 07, 2006