Rolex Tudor and The Forgotten Watchmaker

 

A popular misconception is that the Tudor watch brand was first founded by Rolex in 1946. In fact, Tudor was originally registered by the Swiss watchmaker Veuve de Philippe Hüther in 1926 for Hans Wilsdorf. Wilsdorf  then took over the Tudor trade name in 1936 and officially launched the Rolex Tudor brand in 1946 with some of the early examples carrying both the Rolex and the Tudor trade marks (Figure 1). However, little seems to be known about the watchmaker Phillippe Hüther.

Stainless Tteel Tudor Oyster Circa 1946 1

 

 

 

 

Figure 1: A stainless steel Rolex Tudor Oyster with a face carrying the Rolex Crown along with the Tudor Oyster signature, Circa 1946.

Phillippe Hüther had established a watch making company in Colombier in Neuchâtel Switzerland by 1917. On his death in about 1925 his wife took over the company renaming it Veuve de Philippe Huether. It was presumably under the direction of his wife that Veuve de Philippe Huether established the Tudor brand at the behest of Wilsdorf. The earliest Tudor watches carried the Tudor name but the association with Rolex was limited with the Tudor brand being linked directly to Rolex in just a very few examples. However, Rolex did guarantee the technical quality of these early Tudor watches. The link between Veuve de Philippe Huether did not just rely on the Tudor brand.  Like Aegler, Veuve de Philippe Huether supplied watch components to Rolex. In the late 1940s/early 1950s Veuve de Philippe Huether was restructured and renamed Hüther SA with the manufacturing base being moved to Solothurn near Biel, Switzerland. Hüther SA made watches under a number of trade marks including Brunela (registered in 1953), Cloquet (registered in 1955), Hermia, (registered in 1956) Mortima, (registered in 1954, although Mortima was also registered by the French manufacturer Cattin & Cie circa 1957), Puncto and Puncto-Matic (registered in 1955). Hüther SA seems to have survived the cull of Swiss watch manufacturers in the late 1970s and 1980s and is still registered as a watch manufacturer in Solothurn.

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Builth Wells Antiques Fair (4th and 5th of May 2013)

Come and visit us at the Builth Wells International Antiques Fair this weekend. Look for the above sign to find us and if you tell us tell us you saw it on WordPress, Pinterest or Twitter we will give you a 20% discount on any item or items on our stand. We will be  in Hall 2 Stand B10.Penrose Antiques sign

Happy shoping

Rachel and Morgan

The Charles II Restoration Chair (1660)

Ah, that’s better, great to get the weight of my feet. How many of us think something similar on a daily basis? This sort of brings us to the means of that relief, the humble chair. They come in all forms, the chairs for special occasions and for special people, down to the most functional and simple. All basically serve the same function, that of allowing one to sit down. The chair has been with us through the eons of time, the ancient Greeks used chairs, as did the Ancient Egyptians. Some of the earliest known pieces of furniture were chairs. These were of course status symbols sat in by monarchs, with the more lowly souls sitting on benches or stools. The importance of the chair is reflected in much of society, with a position of importance being associated with a particular chair. For example, in academia becoming a professor is referred to as acquiring a chair.Charles II Restoration Chair1a

Early English chairs were normally of local woods, such as oak and were typically constructed using large solid panels, so one didn’t sit on a chair but in it. These chairs were again status symbols and often carried ornate carved inscriptions and dates identifying the owners. However, by the restoration Period (1660-1665), European influences had been imported along with the restoration of the monarchy in the form of Charles the 2nd. These chairs were still major investments, but were of new exciting woods, walnut being the most popular. The designs were lighter and much more reminiscent of modern chairs (Figure 1A), but more ornately carved, with barley twist front legs inserted into a carved seat frame (Figure 1B) and barley twisted back legs that extended to form a long raking back terminated by finals  (Figure 1C) often of an acorn design. The seats were often of cane and cane or rushes and the backs of these chairs were very ornate with a central caned panel surrounded by pierced carvings often depicting floral scenes, sea beasts, cherubs and riders (Figure 3C). The cross stretchers in earlier chairs were purely functional, but by the Restoration period they had acquired a new function, that of ornate decoration.

One problem with these newly developed chairs was the long sweeping back legs extending up to form the long back. The angle of the back meant that they had a natural weakness at the joint between the back legs and the seat frame and the vast majority of remaining examples of the restoration chair have Georgian or earlier repairs, normally with a metal plate wrapped around this weak point (Figure 2). That these chairs were repaired, reflects their value. Their quality was remarkable and it is always a pleasure to find one in a good serviceable condition. They not only carry their history with a certain elegance, but have a real presence in a room or a large hall. Interestingly the style of the restoration chair was mimicked in the Victorian and Edwardian period in the form of the Jacobethan chairs (Figure 3). These much later chairs are very attractive and are easily distinguished from the originals in that the more modern versions are normally in oak, used more modern joints and have an arrangement of stretchers more resembling a modern chair.Charles II Restoration Chair 2a Edwardian Jacobethan chairs

The Watchmakers Box

Most people like wooden boxes. Visitors to antique fairs gravitate towards them, opening and closing the lid and drawers. The more compartments the box has, the better. The attraction is to have somewhere to put all the nick-knacks and small treasures that we accumulate during our lifetimes.

For some professions a well-designed and well-constructed box is very useful. For example a watchmaker uses a range of small tools, and needs somewhere to keep them along with small delicate mechanical watch components, so watchmakers boxes were designed to meet these needs.

The boxes needed to be compact, portable and not only provide adequate storage but also a non-slip and soft working surface. They often consisted of multiple felt-lined drawers or compartments of different depths mounted on some for of retractable felt lined worktop. These watchmaker boxes are hard to find and have often had rather a hard life.

We recently acquired a lovely example (figure 1). This box is made out of a lovely golden oak by DC Woodberry of Cardigan Road, Henleaze, Bristol (figure 2). It probably dates from the early to mid 20th century. The box is approximately the size of a large brief case but twice as deep, with a leather handle on the top. The simplicity of the design is stunning. It has 5 graduated felt-lined drawers arranged over a central felt-lined cubbyhole over a further 3 felt-lined graduated long drawers lower down. The retractable felt-lined working surface was designed to be removed and then function as the lockable box front. This particularly box is in very good condition.

Watchmakers watch 1

Figure 1 The early to mid 20th Century watchmakers box

At its first outing at the Bowman Antiques Fair March 2013 the box attracted a lot of interest, selling within 4 hours. The point here is that high quality, well-designed boxes with a clearly defined use are not just desirable, they are a hot commodity.

Watchmakers box2

Figure 2 The Makers label

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