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E. Howard Experimental Series, Major Find. "Click" to Login or Register 
IHC Life Member
Certified Watchmaker
Picture of Chris Abell
posted
I recently came across this watch and from the information available, I identified it to be one of the experimental series E Howards.

As far as I could tell, currently there are only three watches from the experimental range 3101-3300 known to exist. This one will be the fourth, similar only to 3202. Dr. Clint Geller confirmed my findings and added a great deal more information, including the fact that the 3202 is not in original case and poor condition.

I believe that this is the second (to 3202) watch in the USA market to have used an experimental Breguet overcoil hairspring; there is also an interesting hanging banking pin arrangement as shown in the photographs below. The plate is marked “Adjusted” and Reeds Patent. The inscription in the inside shows that it was presented on Dec. 25, 1862.

When I received the watch, unfortunately it was not in running condition . After consulting with a expert on cleaning methods, I carried out a careful and respectful restoration. Not shown clearly in the photographs is the crystal, which appears to be an original bulls eye crystal. This not of monumental importance, of course, but it is very nice to see a watch like this completely untouched after so many years.

Knowing we have the leading expert in Howards on our IHC 185, I asked Dr. Geller to insert a write-up at the end of this section, which he kindly agreed to do.

At this time, the watch is safely stored off-premises at an undisclosed, secure location, so no additional photos are available at this time.

 
IHC Life Member
Certified Watchmaker
Picture of Chris Abell
posted
p2

 
IHC Life Member
Certified Watchmaker
Picture of Chris Abell
posted
May fortune smile my friend on thee, and all thy wishes granted be

 
IHC Life Member
Certified Watchmaker
Picture of Chris Abell
posted
p4

 
IHC Life Member
Certified Watchmaker
Picture of Chris Abell
posted
p5

 
IHC Life Member
Certified Watchmaker
Picture of Chris Abell
posted
p6

 
IHC Life Member
Certified Watchmaker
Picture of Chris Abell
posted
p7

 
IHC Life Member
Certified Watchmaker
Picture of Chris Abell
posted
p8

 
IHC Life Member
Certified Watchmaker
Picture of Chris Abell
posted
p9

 
E. Howard Expert
Picture of Dr. Clint Geller
posted
The watch pictured here is the most important new Howard discovery in some time.

Aside from the Breguet hairspring, like S# 3,202 it has the balance pivotted under center (a feature otherwise restricted to I and K size movements in this period) and is engraved "Adjusted," making thes two movements the only Howard movements so marked until approximately S# 10,964. (The balance-under-center construction better accommodates a non-planar hairspring.) One will also notice the three-pillar construction. Three pillars appear instead of six (as on the slightly earlier divided plate movements), since this watch has one movement plate instead of two. (The escape wheel and pallet lever are located in a separate bridge - another unique attribute of this short experimental run.) These overcoil movements were the last Howard movements to have their plates up on pillars rather than being "hogged out," to borrow Mike Harrold's term. A more complete discussion of this movement will appear on the Chapter 174 website as soon as some technical difficulties are solved. Here is the link.

http://www.pockethorology.org/howard-research/experimental/experimental.html

S# 3,208 is in fact the fourth (actually the fifth, see the correction below) known movement in the experimental range Chris mentioned, the others being 3,120, 3,122 and 3,202. Townsend lists S# 3,122 as a "right angle escapement," from which we can deduce that it also has a helical hairspring like S# 3,120. Thus there were apparently two short parallel runs of helical and Breguet hairspring movements about 100 serial numbers apart. These were certainly the first Howard Breguet hairsprings made until the 1890's split plates, and the only ones made during Edward Howard's stewardship. As for whether they preceded the 20 Size Nashua movements, which I believe also had Breguet hairsprings, I am not certain without researching the matter.

The exceptionally well preserved original case of this watch provides an additional plum. The cuvette bears a presentation date of December 25, 1862 (someone had a merry Christmas!), obviously putting the movement's production prior to this date. Since the factory records relating to this particular movement have not survived, this information is especially fortuitous.
 
Picture of Ron Birchall
posted
Nothing short of stunning! Cool Cool Cool
 
IHC President
Life Member
Picture of Lindell V. Riddle
posted

Yes, indeed...


 
posted
An amazing watch, congratulations! But it was my understanding that there were more than four of these experimental pieces in existance. I can state, off the top of my head, that the Howard/John T. Gold #3126 with a Robin escapement, should be included on the list. If not, why?

Again, congrats on your find. I'm looking forward to learning more about it!
-Cort
 
E. Howard Expert
Picture of Dr. Clint Geller
posted
Cort,

Obviously, you're absolutely right. I was thinking only of the movements specifically with experimental hairspring configurations and # 3,126, which is actually pictured in my book, slipped my mind. (The book actually refers to a "Robbins escapement," which is a perfect example of an editor "correcting" a mistake that wasn't a mistake. My friends in the editorial department at HQ have promised to correct this in the next printing.)
 
posted
Well, every thing I can see in the pics bolsters the fact that this is a truly great discovery.
Mazeltov!
Two things that I wish I could see closer are the case back marking and the initials on the top plate near the mainspring("N.N." ?).

Man, I can't believe how crisp and fine this watch looks!

The clincher is the ridiculously appropriate inscription on the floral decorated back paper.
Its so good it hurts!
-Cort
 
posted
I can't stop looking!
Are the pallet stones "covered"?
Are there other Howards that screw to the case from the bottom plate?

I see some style points that connect this watch to the ones I've studied and am looking forward to comparing the plate layout to the watches I've studied before. What a windfall!
-Cort
 
E. Howard Expert
Picture of Dr. Clint Geller
posted
The perfect original gilding is to die for. I haven't figured out "N.N." yet, but I think I have seen it before. I will have to go and find my original 35 mm slide of S# 3,202 to see if it is similarly marked. One N would be easy to understand, but "N.N." looks more like someone's initials (but whose?) than the movement size. Its a puzzle!
 
posted
I am not sure but I don't think this is a John T. Gold dial. It begs the question, who else if J.T.G. has his name on #3126? I don't know.

Such a nice watch!
-Cort
 
IHC Life Member
Certified Watchmaker
Picture of Chris Abell
posted
Regarding N.N. Here is a theory that I like.
N size watches are usually marked simply N
In Latin, N.N. stands for 'nomen nominandum' which means 'still to be named'.

 
Picture of Clyde Roper
posted
Guess I'm in the "Wow!" crowd. Amazing watch and discovery. Smile
 
IHC Life Member
Certified Watchmaker
Picture of Chris Abell
posted
Hi Cort,

Here is a better picture of the inner cover.

 
E. Howard Expert
Picture of Dr. Clint Geller
posted
Chris,

You have an interesting suggestion for the origin of "N.N." Here are some arguments both for and against your proposal:

For:

The earliest known helical hairspring Howard movement, S# 1,105, has a dial inscribed "Isochronon" (although the movement is engraved "E. Howard & Co." in the usual manner). This fact could be interpreted to suggest that Howard had at least contemplated giving his helical hairspring models a distinctive name, but then never followed through. If so, it would stand to reason that he might have considered naming the overcoil hairspring movements as well.

Against:

First, unlike other American manufacturers, Howard did not name his watch models. They were all engraved simply "E. Howard & Co." (The two exceptions to this statement, the Prescott and Eustis models both made in the late 1870's to early 1880's, were of lesser quality than Howard's standard production. [The Prescotts were reworked, former Cole's escapement movements of dubious quality, and the Eustis was an attempt at economical production that featured a standard going barrel in place of Howard's more expensive safety barrel]. Thus the intent of these model names was to distance the Howard name, to some degree, from the products on which they appeared. Contrarily, S# 3,208 is clearly one of Howard's premium products.)

Second, if Howard had intended to name the Breguet overcoil watch model but hadn't yet done so, it is not clear what the point would have been of engraving "N.N." rather than nothing at all. After all, model names are intended primarily to help sell the merchandise (although they have also been used to recognize supporters or employees), and an obscure "N.N." marking would hardly have served these purposes.

In answer to Cort's separate question on case screw locations: late Series I's and Series II's had case screws down on the pillar plate as well, as did Howard's I and K Size movements. (The S#'s of the I and K Size runs bracket S# 3,208.)

Clint
 
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