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This watch was given to me as a gift by the widow of a good friend of mine who died last year. Her husband had been in Patton's Tank Corps during WWII and he'd spent considerable time in Europe.
This is a very large watch, approx. 65 MM in Dia. The marking on the inside of the case is Argentan which I believe stands for some type of Swiss alloy.
I'd like to request help from my IHC pocket watch colleagues to help identify the vintage and type of watch this is.
Thank you in advance.
IHC Member 321
IHC Member 321
IHC Member 321
Argentan is a PLACE in France:
In 1944, during the June 6th bombing preceding the Allied landings at Normandy, the city was partially destroyed by B-17s. The majority of the city was, however, destroyed at the end of August the same year. The U.S. Third Army, under the command of general George S. Patton liberated Argentan after eight days of violent combats against the 9th Panzer Division and soldiers of the 2nd SS Panzer Division. It was the U.S. 80th Infantry Division which liberated the city, in the morning of August 20. The city burnt again.
I have no idea about the watch, but it IS interesting, and from what is listed above, and your friends history, I would bet it's a french watch.
Does it say anything else on it other than Argentan? Nice looking watch.
Argentan is an alternative name for Nickel Silver or German Silver. It is a Copper based alloy with about 20% Nickel and 15/20% Zinc. Sometimes other metals are added such as manganese. It is similar to Coin Silver and used typically were a silver like finish is required that is more durable in terms of wear and corrosion. It is often used in coins, watch cases, military uniform adornments and also horse adornments, amongst other things.
I've just spoken to the widow who gave me the pocket watch with the Argentan name on the inside cover, and guess what she told me. Her husband had brought it back to the U.S. at the end of WWII and he'd got the watch in one of the towns in France that the Tank Corps had been in. ( Spooky eh ??)
Brian, thank you also for your information.
My guess is the watch came from Argentan France, and is made of Argentan Nickel Silver.
Coincidence ?, I don't think so.
It's researching, and piecing toghether various bit's of information that makes collecting of old time pieces of all types so very, very interesting.
IHC Member 321
Dave: Did you ever discover the make and model of the watch? Looks like I found a similar relic. Thanks
Sure looks like you found a "cousin" to Dave's watch.
At their bigger-than-big size such a watch would make a serious lump in your watch pocket!
Both of them have memorable dials too.
What is the best way to clean the dial?
|IHC Life Member|
Completely remove it and test some cleaners on the back side before trying anything on the front. I would start with a silver cleaner dip.
A silver cleaner dip on the dial?
As Peter says, Argentan is the alloy the dome is made from and Not the town the watch was made. (Argent is the French name for silver).
In Europe, any metal with the appearance of a precious metal which differs from the material the rest of the case is made from, or, with the appearance of a precious metal, must by law by marked as such to prevent deception.
If you look at the inner domes particularly, of many European and imported English watches, especially with silver cases, you will find that although they may have the appearance of silver, they will often be marked 'Argentan' or 'Cuivre' which are essentially Nickel and Copper respectively.
'Cuivre' often also appears on Gold or gold plated cases.
It's largely a cost cutting exercise because the inner dome is rarely seen except when the watch is being wound, so can be made from a less expensive material and/or plated to match the rest of the watch - the possibilities for deception are obvious!
I strongly doubt your watch went anywhere near Argentan, and unless you can find bullet proof provenance to support the theory, I'd forget it and enjoy the watch for what it is and enjoy the history of what it lived through, otherwise you could end up deceiving yourself.
Sorry if you find this information disappointing.
Mark, as others have suggested, you should be able to buy a product called 'Silver Dip' via eBay - or something very similar used for cleaning silver jewellery.
Wipe the dial with the fluid using those cotton buds on sticks (raid your wife's cosmetics bag, she's sure to have some - but don't say I told you).
You'll need to be careful with the plaques as they may become unstuck and fall off!
I just wanted to make sure I understood correctly. Thanks
Argentan is also the name for German Silver made of Copper, Nickel, and zinc.
Is common name is Nickel Silver and actually has many names like:
Other names include "British Plate", "Albata", "Virginian Plate", "Argentan" and "Alpakka" or "Alpaka".
Nickel can also induce skin problems and allergies, so it's not often used in jewelry today.
Heck Sheila, Nickel seems to have more I.D's than the Scarlet Pimpernel thanks for listing them!
The issues regarding allergic reactions to the alloy are very real too, and great that you mentioned this as I'd quite forgotten.
As far as I'm aware Nickel is now totally outlawed for watch and jewellery manufacture throughout Europe, and I vaguely remember the British Horological Institute covering the problem in some detail a while back.
For anyone wearing vintage watches with bare nickel showing or with any worn plating exposing the alloy, check regularly for rashes appearing on your wrists - if you have a problem with the stuff and can't bear not to wear your pride and joy, use a sticking plaster or some other protection under the case back.
Firstly, "Hi!" to you all from a new member. Wasn't sure whether to add to this thread after six years, or start a new one but opted for the former. I am new to this, so I hope you will excuse my layman's vocabulary.
Judging by Dave Freeman's photographs at the start of the thread, I have an almost identical watch. However mine has two marks stamped inside the outer lid. The first, located immediately above the word "ARGENTAN", is a lozenge- or diamond-shaped mark containing the letters "P" and "F" either side of a symbol resembling a little tree -- a trunk or stem surmounted by a roundel of foliage. Below is an approximation of the mark, though in reality the "tree" is more tree-like and the letters are in a serif style font.
The other mark is simply a "W" stamped half an inch or so above and to the left of the lozenge. The only other marks are a number (89491) stamped centrally towards the bottom of the lid, and a couple of repairer's numbers scratched elsewhere on the lid.
The inner lid also has the number 89491 stamped on it, but that's all, and there is no identification of any sort visible on the movement, though the latter hasn't been removed from the case.
I am hoping that the lozenge mark and "W" might be identifiable, but so far I haven't got anywhere with my own rather random attempts to do so. If anyone can point me in the right direction I would be most grateful.
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