Movado Watches a History of Stylish Innovation

The luxury watch brand Movado has a long and highly illustrious history. The company was founded in 1881 in La Chaux–de-Fauds, Switzerland by Achille Ditisheim. Within a mere 8 years Movado watches were starting to gain awards and the company invested heavily in research and developed the ground breaking Polyplan watch in 1912. This top winding wrist watch was not only one of the first bespoke wrist watches but was renowned for its movement which was built over three Figure 1planes allowing it to fit into a superbly curved stylistic elongated tonneau case. By the 1930s Movado was producing some absolutely stunning art deco design watches often marketed by top retailers retailers. A nice example of this was their truly lovely art deco drivers watches (Figure 1) produced for and signed Tiffany & co. These tank watches were equipped with the top end Movado 440 15 Jewel chronometer grade movements and were designed such that the case extended to outwardly curved flexible lugs allowing the watch to either be worn normally or on the side of the wrist when driving. These watches in good working order are increasingly hard to find and as a consequence are highly sought after by collectors.

By the 1940s Movado’s position as a leading designer of cutting edge watches was assured. However, ever an opportunist retailer the company moved on to market the now famous Nathan George Horwitt designed museum watch. This watch was initially designed for Vacheron & Constantin-Le Coultre in 1947, but Movado copied it in 1948. The watch was revolutionary in that it consisted of a black face with a single dot at the 12 o;clock position representing the sun at its meridian. Even today the design is striking, but in its day it caused a considerable stir. So much so that in 1969 it became the first watch to be exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. This resulted in the watch subsequently being sold by Movado as “The Museum Watch”.

Figure 2Figure 3Movado’s innovation was not limited to fashionable designs, by the 1950s, and 1960s Movado was making the Kingmatic automatic watch (Fig. 2). However, even with these watches Movado added little touches to the design of the movement, such as lightweight cut out rotor blades based upon the Movado logo (Fig. 3). That these were never seen by the wearers of the watch is beside the point, it reflects the companies tremendous attention to detail.

Movado is still in operation today. It was bought by Gedalio Grinberg 1983 and is currently run by his son Efraim Grinberg. Movado now concentrate on the production of luxury quartz based chronometers.

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Meadowlands: An Iconic Art Deco Burleigh Ware Pattern

Of the many English pottery companies Burleigh is one of the great survivors. Established in 1851 as Burgess and Leigh the business has had its ups and downs. One of the greatest periods for Burleigh was the Art Deco period of the late 1920s and 1930s. During this time Burgess and Leigh had an incredibly creative team of modellers and designers, including Earnest Bailey and Harold Bennett. Harold Bennett at this time functioned as the Art Director of the company and was responsible for introducing Art Deco tableware modelled by the Earnest Bailey to the UK market. Many of these designs were revolutionary, such as the wonderfully angular Zenith designs decorated with patterns such as the beautifully colourful and striking Meadowlands which swept the market. It isn’t hard to see why the period between the late 1920s and the Second World War has been described as the golden age of Burleigh Ware.

Today Burgess and Leigh Art Deco pottery is gaining again in popularity. Good examples are rare but do occasionally become available on the collectors market where they achieve quite good prices.

Above is nice example of a Burgess and Leigh Art Deco Zenith design Meadowlands patterned china coffee set consisting of a  coffee pot, six cups and saucers, a milk jug and a sugar bowl. Full sets like this are rare and extremely hard to find largely because dealers often sell pieces individually. As a result of this full sets like this do not stay in a display long. For example this particular coffee set was sold by Gloucester Antiques Centre within a week of being displayed. The buyer intended to display it and occasionally use it.

The English Waltham Watches

by Morgan Denyer (Penrose Antiques Ltd)

Here is a bit of a horological heresey, the English Waltham! The Waltham watch company was steeped in American History, the company was founded by David Davies, Edward Howard and Aaron Lufkin Dennison who  in 1850 set up a company in Roxbury Massachusetts to manufacture watch parts. The company was reputedly set up under a cloud of secrecy because David Davies, Edward Howard and Aaron Lufkin Dennison were going to do something quite inventive, set up a watch manufacturing company in which all the components were made in their watch factory subject to strict quality control. This was quite unheard of and pretty much a world first. The watches they produced represented  a revolution in watch making, they could mass produce watches with interchangeable parts.

The first watches were made in 1852, and the company was named the Boston Watch Company in 1853. However the cost of production and retooling took its toll and the company was declared bankrupt resulting in the sale of the factory and larger machines to Royal E Robinns in 1857. He renamed the company Appleton Tracy & Company (ATCo) and retained Aaron Dennison as the factory superintendent. That year the company completed the development of the Model 1857 movement. By 1861 and the start of the American Civil War, ATCo had started to manufacture the William Ellery Model 57 watch. These watches were cheaply mass produced and became popular with Union soldiers who could buy them from roving merchants for a mere $13 or so. It seems that by the end of the civil war in 1865, the William Every Model 57 (Figure 1) accounted for 44.6% of the Waltham sales with the American Civil War Ellery watch serial number reaching around 161,000. (see  “Origins of the Waltham Model 57”   and “A closer look at a Civil War watch “ ).

Figure 1 Blog2Heated debate about the Ellery 57 Model watch represented a turning point in the career of Aaron Dennison. He fell out with Robinns in 1861 and Robinns eventually dismissed him for being a “vocal Dissenter” in 1862. One can imagine that this was a bit of a blow, but the success of the Ellery 57 and the perceived vindication of Dennison’s views seemed to drive him on to his next commercial venture.  In 1864 Dennison took the opportunity to set up the Tremont Watch Company with A. O. Bigelow. The idea here was to assemble watches in the US from fine parts sourced in Switzerland and larger parts sourced in America. Seemed like a good plan, but whilst Dennison was away in Switzerland organising the transport of components, his partners decided to move the company to Melrose and manufacture complete watches there. Needless to say Dennison was not pleased, he left the new company predicting utter disaster and moved to Birmingham England in 1871 where he established a watch case making business in 1872. His timing was perfect because of the opening in 1874 of the London office of the American Watch Company by N.P. Stratton, (assistant superintendant to Dennison in 1857, see “Watches Factories of America; Past and Present” by Henry G Abbott). Here was a ready market for Dennison’s cases and the person he had to convince of the value of his watch cases was none other than his old assistant superintendent at the American Watch Company. Unsurprisingly the majority of  the output of Dennison’s new watch case manufacturing business ended up being used by the London branch of the American Watch Company. What was particularly interesting about this though was that these early Dennison cases did not carry the Dennison makers mark, but AWCo, presumably because Robbins wouldn’t tolerate a Dennison makers mark on his watches.

Fig 2 Blog 2The association between the Dennison Watch Case Company and AWCo and the Later Waltham Watch Company, was maintained long after Aaron Dennison’s death in 1895. The success of this collaborative venture was exemplified by the Waltham Traveler (Figure 2). The Waltham Traveler consisted of a 7 jewel movement and was favoured for the export market in the early 20th century. Tens of thousands were sent to the UK where they were mostly cased in Dennison gold or gold plated cases. These watches were robust and many have survived in good working order. They represent a very good investment for those wishing to buy a good antique watch. The real benefit of these watches is that because they were mass produced, the parts are readily sourced and are fully interchangeable.

By the First World War Waltham had become a major supplier of watch movements in the UK, but the market was changing. Pocket watches were of little use in the trenches of the European battle fields and troops had started to modify their watches by the addition of wire lugs. Dennison, having his business located in the UK was in a prime position to take advantage of this. By 1914/15 Dennison had started to make transitional or trench watch cases consisting of what looked like pocket watch cases fitted with wire lugs (Figure 3). These were designed to fit Waltham movements and were a favorite with British officers heading of to war. The design actually gained such popularity with the conservative British that the Dennison transitional watch cases were made right through the 1920s and into the mid to late1930s. The latest example we at Penrose Antiques Ltd have encountered dated from 1938.Fig 3a

Post WW1 there were also drivers to further refine wristwatch design. This was very much a period of the tank watch, a design first created by Louis Cartier in 1917. Virtually all watchmakers leaped on the tank watch bandwagon, and Waltham, was no different. By the 1920s Waltham was producing a range of movements designed to fit slim rectangular dress watchcases. Many of these movements made it to the UK to be encased in lovely simple but elegant slim lozenge shaped curved art Art Deco Dennison cases.

In the history of watch making, many watch manufacturers had watch movements made to fit their watch cases, for example the American Ball Watch Company used Swiss made Avia watch movement. Thus one could argue that the Walthams assembled in the UK form English made Dennison cases represent a special bread of English Walthams. After all many of the Dennison cases, although designed to fit Waltham movements were also designed for the English market. For example the early trench watch cases made by Dennison specifically met the needs of the British heading off to the trenches. The design was only later adopted by Waltham in the US to meet the needs of American troops post April 6th 1917 when the USA entered the war. So perhaps Britain, via the efforts and perseverance of Aaron Dennison can bathe in a small portion of the glory of the historically great American Waltham Watch Company.

The association with Dennison and the English market may also have played a part in the eventual downfall of the Waltham Watch Company. The British were by nature very conservative, but the UK was a major market for Waltham. Perhaps to meet the needs of this market, Waltham maintained a more conservative output, and it may have been that the English conservative influence led  Waltham watches to be perceived as a bit boring in the home US market. This perception of conservatism was believed to have played a part in a decline of sales and the eventual bankruptcy of the Waltham Watch Company  in 1949 and closure of the American Waltham Watch factory in 1957.

The Great Ocean Liners Potter

The popularity of cruise holidays has grown in recent years and represents a continuation of a great elegant tradition, that of the great ocean liners of the late 19th and early 20th Century. Opulence was the word from luxurious fabrics to state of the art gadgets combined with the best dining experience and sumptuous state-rooms, the great age of the ocean liners was truly a Bishop & Stonier Water Jug and Bowl 1playground for the well healed traveler. Obviously only the best was good enough and this applied to everything, including the china. One major supplier of china to the luxury shipping industry was the company Bishop and Stonier. The company Bishop and Stonier was formed by William Livesley, Edwin Powell and Fredrick Bishop under the name of Livesley Powell & Co in 1851. Livesley and Powell were both potters, but Bishop was a lawyer who funded the operation. Much of their wares were shipped to the USA, for example in 1851 over one million items were recorded as having been shipped to New York. On Livesley’s retirement in 1866 the company name changed to Powell and Bishop. In 1878 Powell and Bishop were joined by John Stonier. John Stonier was a glass and china merchant based in Liverpool who had built up a considerable business fitting out the great liners of the day, including the ships of the White Star Line. In 1891 Stonier formed a new company with Duncan Watson Bishop using the trade mark Bisto incorporating the first two letters of both their names along with the Wand of Caduceus. Their advertising slogan was “The sun never sets on Bisto ware” and of course this implied a link with Bisto ware and the glamour of the great liners plying the oceans of the world. Stonier and Co was the supplier of china for the Titanic and unsurprisingly Bisto ware featured highly on board the ill-fated ship, including plates carrying the small pattern used in 1st Class along with the Delft pattern and Flow pattern used in 2nd Class. By the 1920s many producers of pottery had started to experiment with more flamboyant patterns and colours. Bisto was amongst these and produced a number of quite eye catching art deco bathroom sets (Figure 1) along with the now famed Aztec ware. Bisto was sold to George Jones & Sons in 1933 and they continued to use the Bisto mark until 1939. For more details about the china aboard the Titanic see “A look at the china patterns used on Titanic“. For more details about Bishop & Stonier marks see the Potters Index.

The Bulova Watch Company

by Morgan Denyer  (Penrose Antiques Ltd)

The Bulova’s story starts with the immigration of a certain Joseph Bulova to the United States. Joseph Bulova was born in 1851 and emigrated to the US towards the later quarter of the 19th century to establish a small New York jewellers, J Bulova Company. By 1911 Bulova had started to make small table clocks and pocket watches, a venture aided by the opening of Bulova’s first watch factory in Bienne, Switzerland in 1912. Bulova Figure 1This was very much a time of growth and innovation in the watch making industry, partially drivBulova Figure 2en by the needs of the military. The 1st World War, saw Bulova working towards meeting the need for the new fangled wristwatches, and by 1919 Bulova was the first watch manufacturer to launch a full range of men’s wristwatches. At this time Bulova’s business was growing fast and to facilitate continued growth, Bulova, in 1920, moved to 580 Fifth Avenue, where Bulova built the first ever Observatory on top of a skyscraper (Figure 1). Accuracy was everything, thus the observatory was apparently under the direction of a mathematician, whose calculations were reputed to guide the factory’s watchmakers in their efforts towards absolute accuracy. Ever the opportunistic advertiser, the move provided Bulova with an opportunity to re-brand itself in 1923 as the Bulova Watch Company Inc. At this time Bulova’s methods of mass production allowed the production of high precision interchangeable components allowing rapid repair and servicing. The Bulova’s were always ready to support risky projects with the aim of grabbing a headline. For example it was the Bulova Watch Company that made the first ever radio advertisement in 1926, and it was Ardé Bulova, Joseph’s son, who offered a $1000 prize to the pilot who could make the first non-stopBulova Blog Figure 3 single-handed flight across the Atlantic. It seems that those who attempted this feet were all given a Bulova before they took off, and it is reputed that the first pilot, Charles A. Lindberg, who managed the trip wore a Bulova during the flight. It is also believed that Lindberg actually earned himself two Bulova watches and of course a nice large cheque as a result of his efforts. The first watch was given to him before the flight, and the second as a presentation watch after the flight in a blaze of publicity. Not to miss a trick, Bulova capitalised on this my creating the Lone Eagle model, the first ever commemorative watch. This watch seemed to be rather fittingly based on what was called the Bulova Conqueror (Figure 2 – see http://www.watchophilia.com/general-information/bulova-lone-eagle-series/ for more details). Rather perversely, prior to the successful flight the Conqueror didn’t actually sell that well, but on touch down, sales rocketed with the Bulova records showing 5000 sales within the first 3 days of landing. There is still considerable debate as to whether these were actual sales of physical watches to individual customers, or orders from jewellers. The latter seems most likely. The company continued innovating, producing the very first electric clocks in 1931 and making the first ever television advertisement in 1941. During WW2 Bulova dedicated its time to producing timepieces for the US military. After the war Bulova produced some truly lovely watches combining stunningly creative designs with the small sleek look of the late 1940s and early 1950s. Many of these watches were very high quality watches consisting of high calibre movements within 14ct solid white or yellow gold cases (Figure 3). Bulova Figure 4The 50s also saw social changes, this was an era of steadily increasing wealth, and massive technological advances. In the watch industry the race was on to produce the first electric watch. This was perceived as an almost impossible task because it required the miniaturisation of electrical components. However, by 1960 Bulova had developed the Bulova Accutron. This watch was remarkable in that it basically contained a mechanical movement driven by a 360 hertz tuning fork. The concept was brilliant, very ingenious and beautifully simple. Basically what Bulova did was to fabricate a means of driving a 25mm long tuning fork with an electronic unit consisting of a couple of coils, a battery unit and a couple of transistors. The tuning fork was manufactured so that one arm possessed a post from which extended an arm like structure terminating in a jewelled square (Figure 4a-c see http://www.decadecounter.com/accutron/history.htm for further details). The vibrations of the tuning fork allowed the arm to drive a micro-toothed wheel, tBulova Figure 5ooth by tooth. It was this micro-toothed wheel, which drove the mechanical gear chain allowing the hands to move. These watches don’t tick they give of a faint high-pitched hum, and it is down to the micro-toothed drive wheel that in these watches the second hand seems to move with a mystical smoothness. The Accutron was the very first highly accurate electric watches, and this was recognised by the Bulova Accutron wristwatch being the first wristwatch to be awarded the US Railroad Certificate. The value of this accolade should be explained. In the early years of the US railroad, accidents tended to happen because train drivers and signallers had watches that were not terribly accurate. To try and circumvent this, strict standards were set for the accuracy of watches used on the US railways to insure the appropriate coordination of time dependent tasks. Thus Bulova, because of the accuracy of its Accutron wristwatches, could market their wristwatches to the rail industry. To market these new watches, Bulova produced versions without a formalised face, thus the all-new movement could be viewed. These watches were meant to be display items only. However, customers wanted to buy them, and thus the Accutron Spaceview watches were born. These were, and still are, highly popular and when combined with the asymmetrical watch designs of the 1960s resulted in some lovely timepieces (See http://oldfathertime.com/accutron_photo_gallery.htm for details of some of the designs). One of my particular favourites is the so called Tilty (or floppy) Football (Figure 5), which consisted of a tilted asymmetrical almost circular 14ct solid gold case combined with the space view – a real peach of a watch! The Space View versions are very collectable and unsurprisingly kits are available to convert a standard Accutron to a Spaceview Accutron. The 60s also saw the race to the moon. Bulova was heavily involved in the space race. Their main rival in this market was Omega. Both competed to have the first watch on the moon. Unfortunately for Bulova, Omega won that race race, on the basis that Bulova didn’t guarantee 100% dust proofing, whilst Omega did. So the Omega Speedmaster Professional became the official NASA astronauts watch. However, all of the timepieces for the spacecraft, were based around the Accutron 214 movement, because NASA couldn’t be certain how purely mechanical timepieces would function in a zero gravity environment. The Accutron based watches were made between 1960 and 1977. The demise of the tuning fork based movement was driven by the invention of the quartz based movement which could be made much more cheaply. Bulova is still a major force in the watch manufacturing industry. The company was bought by Citizen in 2008 and continues to make watches branded as Bulova, Caravelle, Wittnauer Swiss, Marine Star and Accutron (which are now quartz based, although 1000 50th anniversary true tuning fork based Accutrons were made in 2010).

The Elgin Watch Company

The Elgin National Watch Company started its commercial life in 1864 when Philo Carpenter, Howard Z. Culver, Benjamin W. Raymond, George M. Wheeler, Thomas S. Dickerson, Edward H. Williams and W. Robbins established the National watch Company of Chicago, Illinois for the princely sum of $100,000. This new company poached a number of highly skilled machinists (the so called Seven Stars) from the newly founded Waltham watch company with what was considered as a considerable salary of $5000 a year plus $5000 bonus and an acre of land. The first watch movements were made in 1867 with each movement taking up to 6 months to build.  The early versions acknowledged their founders with their names, so for example some movements were signed H. Z Culver, etc.  In 1909 Elgin built an observatory so that their timepieces could be timed by the starts. Could this be said of many modern watch manufacturers, I think not!

14ct Lord Elgin wristwatch 1951During World War1 Elgin ceased civilian watch production and focused on the production of military watches, with the US Army having Elgin train more than 350 men to make repairs of precision time keeping instruments in the battlefields of Europe. Between the wars Elgin like many of its direct competitors made numerous beautiful watches including stunning art deco pieces incorporating a range of luxurious components, including white gold cases and jeweled faces. During the Second World War, Elgin dedicated their timepiece production to the development of military watches, chronometers and timed fuses.

After the war the company off course returned to the commercial market again producing a range of lovely watches and by the 1950s Elgin was producing highly fashionable watches, of which  the Lord Elgin watches were considered as the cream of the crop. Take for example the 14ct Gold Lord Elgin in Figure 1. This watch is typical of the quality produced by Elgin in the early 1950s, consisting of a very heavy 14ct gold lozenge shaped case encasing a lovely high grade 556 grade 21 Jeweled Elgin signed movement. What seems strange about this watch is that by modern standards tit seems a very small gentleman’s, watch, it only measures 36mm from lug to lug by 28mm (including the crown). This very much reflected the style of the time, in the 1950s small and sleek was very much the in look and this watch reflects that almost understated but very elegant fashion.

Elgin was a prolific American watch maker, however, the company steadily lost momentum until eventually Elgin made their last watch movement in 1968.

Avia Watches, the Digital Revolution and the Near Death of the Mechanical Watch

As collectors and dealers in vintage watches, we quite frequently come across the Swiss brand Avia. (Figure 1) However, not a great deal seems to be known about the Avia Watch Company, but a little bit of research has revealed that Avia had a very big impact on the watch manufacturing industry.

The history of the Avia Watch Company goes way back to 1887 when HV Degoumois was established at La Chaux de Fonds. The company then moved to Neuchâtel in 1933 and and the Avia brand was formally registered by Degoumois on the 30th of January 1937 (See Mikrolisk – The horological trade mark index). Avia made good quality mechanical lever movement watches, in a range of cases from solid gold through to gold plated and stainless steel. During their history Degoumois provided watches and movements for a number of other brands including A. Wittnauer & Co., New York, and the Ball Watch Company. This is very much a testament to the quality of the Avia mechanical watches.Avia blog figures

In 1968 Avia became part of a consortium of 6 watch manufacturers, including Avia, Invicta and Sandoz, who then bought Waltham of Chicago USA. It was this consortium that developed the very first quartz digital watch with an LCD (liquid crystal display) and revealed it to the world on the 6th of March 1972 at the Basle Fair. The impact of this was tremendous, and meant that watches capable of unparalleled accuracy could be cheaply mass-produced. The invention took the market by storm and left competitors manufacturing traditional mechanical watches floundering. The popularity of the Avia digital watch (Figure 2) was so great that it was an Avia advert that made the cover of the July edition of the Horological Journal in 1975. Avia seemed to be one of the brands to keep an eye on, however, the technology was easily copied, and by the 1980s digital watches were no longer seen as luxury items and could be bought incredibly cheaply or even acquired free with a full tank of petrol! Thus the brand waned in popularity, eventually being bought by the Fossil group. To this day Fossil still manufacture and sell Avia quartz watches.

History of The Helvetia Watch Company

The history of the Helvetia watch goes way back to 1848, when a certain Louis Brands established a sales office for manufacturing watches. By 1880 Louis and his brother César set up a watch manufacturing business, La Generale Watch Co (General Watch Company). Clearly names for their product were required and the two brothers picked a number of names for their watches including Patria, Jura, Celtic and Helvetia, with Helvetia, being the female personification of the Swiss nation, bearing testament to the Swiss origin of their watches. The watches produced by the Brands brothers were highly thought of and by incorporation of the new lever movements in 1885, they produced timepieces that were accurate to within an astounding 30 seconds per day. Four years later the General Watch company was producing more than 100,000 watches per year and became the largest producer of watches in Switzerland. They formed collaborations with other manufacturers, most notably Audemars Piguet and produced highly desirable watches such as the minute repeating wrist-watch in 1892. This was way ahead of its time bearing in mind that wrist watches only gained popularity during the 1st World War.

By 1894 the General Watch Company had developed a new type of watch movement incorporating the revolutionary idea of having component parts that were interchangeable. This of course decreased manufacturing costs, made the manufacture of watches more efficient and also made watch repair easier. I simple name for this new product was required and it was the companies banker Henri Rieckel who came up with the simple and quite elegant name Omega. The Omega brand was a tremendous success and by 1903 it was decided that Omega would split from the General Watch Company as an independent enterprise, with the General Watch Company focusing its attentions on the manufacture of cylinder watches under trade names such as Helvetia.

In the depression of the early 1930s the Swiss watch manufacturing industry was in turmoil. There was a significant risk that many watch manufacturers and allied businesses would face bankruptcy. To prevent this the Swiss government and the Swiss banks provided funds to form Allgemeine Schweizerische Uhrenindustrie AG (ASUAG) as a vehicle to allow watch manufactures to pool resources and thus protect employment. ASUAG basically consisted of two arms, a conglomerate of movement blank manufacturers and movement part manufacturers, and a conglomerate of watch assembly companies under the company name of the GWC (General Watch Company) Ltd.  HelvHelvetia Naval Pocket Watch FIg 1 for Blogetia was one of the brands made by this newly merged company. At the time GWC Ltd made high quality watches for both the domestic and the military market. Emerging from the early 1930s was a growing trend toward rearming. This drove developments in the watch industry with the German military for example ordering high quality watches from Swiss manufactures incorporating design features such as the then new (1934) Incabloc shock proofing. Other countries followed, although the UK for example tended to buy comparable watches but of a lower specification that lacked the Incabloc shock-proofing modification. ThusHelvetial Watch Blog  Figure 2a Helvetia watches, being one of the major brands of GWC Ltd, found their way into the armed forces of both the German and Western Allies. Helvetia military pocket watches are currently quite readily available, although there are some quite rare examples such as the mid 1930s Royal Navy Helvetia pocket watch shown in Figure 1. This particular silver nickel cased black dialed Helvetia pocket watch carries British broad arrow, the Royal Navy Pattern No 301 and the serial number 4014547 on its back and has a Swiss made Helvetia signed caliber 32A movement (Figure 2). Understandably such watches had a habit of disappearing a fact that is probably related to the high losses of shipping experienced by the British Royal Navy during the 2nd World War.

After the 2nd World War, GWC Ltd continued to make high quality watches under the Helvetia name, including this absolutely stunning wrist watches. (Figure 3).  In 1968 the Helvetia movement factory in Reconvillier was bought by the SGT (Societe des Garde-Temps SA) although it seems the that the Helvetia  watch factory in Bienne remained independent. Sadly the invention of the quartz movement in the 1970s had a seriously negative impact on the manufacture of Swiss mechanical watches and Helvetia was one of the victims of this new innovation. UntitlHelvetia Blog Figure 3b

Another Mantique a WW2 Military Timor Wrist Watch

Just picked up this great watch – my husband loves it, he even made a quick video of the watch on a turntable . Its quite a hard to find Timor military wrist watch dating to the later part of WW2. At this time the British War Department provided very specific specifications to a number of watch makers for watches designed for use by British military servicemen. These specifications included a 15 jewel highly accurate movement, a black luminous dial with a subsidiary second hand, a shatterproof perspex crystal, a rugged case design and water resistance. These watches are now very collectable and are in high demand. Our last military watch dating from this period  was sold within a few days of us acquiring it.  These watches all carry the markings WWW and a serial number on the back. The WWW standing for Wristwatch Waterproof.

1940s Timor Military Watch 1

This particular watch will be for sale at the next Yorkshire Antiques Fair in Harrogate 0n the  25th and 26th May 2013 and is currently for sale on our Rubly Lane shop from the 27th (if we still have it). Prices for military watches of this period are currently shooting up so they are great investments.

The Doulton Biscuit Barrel

Every antique has its own history, and that history is often linked to the history of the region of origin or the manufacturer. A nice example is a lovely Doulton Burslem Biscuit barrel with silver plated mounts and decorated with the Doulton Persian Spray pattern. This particular item screams about the history of a small pottery maker Pinder Bourne and how Pinder Bourne became incorporated into what is now known as Royal Doulton.

Doulton Burslem Biscuit Barrel 1886-1891 a

 

 

A lovely Doulton Biscuit Barrel decorated with the Doulton Persian Spray pattern dating to between 1886 and 1891. This item is currently for sale via our Ruby Lane shop

Pinder, Bourne and Co was established at the Swan Bank Works, Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire in around 1848 by Thomas Pinder. They manufactured a range of earthenwares. By 1851, the company had moved to Fountain Place Burslem and the company name changed to Pinder Bourne and Hope. The company moved yet again to Nile Street, Burslem in 1860, and once again changed its name to Pinder Bourne and Co in 1862. In 1877, Henry Doulton was offered the opportunity of becoming a partner in Pinder Bourne and Co for the princely sum of £12,000, however Doulton and Pinder did not really get on very well, partially because the company wasted the £12,000, and matters were only resolved via arbitration. Pinder retired and Henry Doulton took over the firm, changing the company name to Doulton and Co. Pieces dating from about this time represented a mix of artistic influences, many of the old Pinder Bourne patterns were retained, but re-branded. For example, the Doulton Persian Spray pattern seen on our biscuit barrel was actually the Pinder Bourne and Co Pomegranate pattern.

At about the time of the Doulton takeover, John Slater the Pinder Bourne art director persuaded Doulton to expand into china as well as earthenware. The range of items produced increased incredibly and Doulton produced a vast array of figurines, character jugs, vases, and decorative wares. The products became steadily more popular eventually coming to the attention of King Edward the VII who granted the Royal Warrant that allowed Doulton to incorporate a crown into their back-stamp giving rise to what we now know as the excellent pottery company Royal Doulton.

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