1837 Brit RR Watch

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  1. #1
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    1837 Brit RR Watch

    As far as I know there were no railroad designated watches in England. Some one told me short distances precluded need. However, there were a few used as such in U.S. Showing here what I call my English rr watch. Fine tight fitting slim plain case, fully jeweled, bimetallic compensated balance, diamond, best 30 tooth Massey lever escapement, plain legible dial. Relatively modern for 1837 with its thin for a fusee movement. I really like the shiny unpolished black silver case and plain classic precisely scaled dial. O.K. as a rr ?
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    Last edited by artb; January 6th, 2011 at 14:57.

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    Re: 1837 Brit RR Watch

    Nice!
    I am alwaus impressed by the detailing.
    I imagine there was little need for precise timekeeping as in US, as most of Europe had a 2 track system, where there was no or little risk of head-on collisions.
    Well, in the 1830's there were not many railroads?

  3. #3
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    Re: 1837 Brit RR Watch

    With the greatest respect, you couldn't be more wrong about time keeping on early railways in Britain. It was the railways that introduced a universal standard time across the UK as before the railways, different parts of the country were either ahead or behind by up to 30 minutes.

    Some early railway companies managed their signalling system by time intervals and prior to the railways, horse drawn coaches carrying passengers and mail would have a guard who carried a timepiece to regulate arrival and departure.

    With the intricate network of rail travel that developed in the UK along with the telegraph and the Royal Mail, accurate, standard time keeping was critical.

    A more detailed history of adoption of standard time in the UK is available here.

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    Re: 1837 Brit RR Watch

    Interesting reference about UK time complications. Apparently accuracy became more important because of the railroads but no standards were ever official for rr used clocks and watches. My interest here is in this particular watch being good enough to be useable for early rr in UK or US. I think it was as good or better than the early American made models that were used. In fact some Liverpool watches were used in Pennsylvania and Vermont early rr. In 1890+ my grandfather was narrow gauge engineer for Denver, S. Park, and Santa Fe. Hazards were big rocks, snow drifts, animals, washouts, not other trains and tight schedules. An hour was close enough and travel speed was a horse trot. He never had a good watch.
    Last edited by artb; January 7th, 2011 at 00:52.

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    Re: 1837 Brit RR Watch

    Point taken about standard for railway operation. Its more likely that accuracy of watches and clocks for timekeeping in the UK was imposed by the Admiralty for the Royal Navy. Liverpool was an important port for trade with the colonies and accurate navigation by sea was reliant on accurate ships clocks. Liverpool was one of the centres of watch and clock making in the UK. Although I am no expert or historian, I would say that clock and watch makers in Liverpool probably worked towards accuracy for the Royal and Merchant Navy and therefore, a high standard of accurate watches already existed before the railways and so there was no need for the railways to stipulate a standard. But this is just a proposition. Perhaps someone else could prove it?

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    Re: 1837 Brit RR Watch

    Quote Originally Posted by artb View Post
    As far as I know there were no railroad designated watches in England. Some one told me short distances precluded need. However, there were a few used as such in U.S. Showing here what I call my English rr watch. Fine tight fitting slim plain case, fully jeweled, bimetallic compensated balance, diamond, best 30 tooth Massey lever escapement, plain legible dial. Relatively modern for 1837 with its thin for a fusee movement. I really like the shiny unpolished black silver case and plain classic precisely scaled dial. O.K. as a rr ?
    I guess you are in the US, so a comparison with 'Railroad' watches is natural, however I would say you've sort of got it back-to-front. In the UK it was not the railways that were the major drivers of horological development, it was the navy. The fame of the early pocket chronometers led a fashion for plain 'tool watch' dials and cases. This in turn had a strong influence over the later American watches, and in particular the Railroad watches.

    Ironically it was probably the great success of the English watch as an 'elite' device that hampered the development of modern mass-production techniques in the industry, and ultimately led to the death of the 'English' watch industry (as opposed to the 'British' watch industry of post-WWII).
    Chascomm
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    Re: 1837 Brit RR Watch

    In my post, I stated that there was no need to introduce a precision time keeping (similat to the US one) to avoid collisions. Nothing else.
    The Admiralty introduced precision timekeeping was needed due to lots of navigational errors, that resulted in huge loss of life.

    With the greatest respect!

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    Re: 1837 Brit RR Watch

    Quote Originally Posted by Sekondtime View Post
    Point taken about standard for railway operation. Its more likely that accuracy of watches and clocks for timekeeping in the UK was imposed by the Admiralty for the Royal Navy. Liverpool was an important port for trade with the colonies and accurate navigation by sea was reliant on accurate ships clocks. Liverpool was one of the centres of watch and clock making in the UK. Although I am no expert or historian, I would say that clock and watch makers in Liverpool probably worked towards accuracy for the Royal and Merchant Navy and therefore, a high standard of accurate watches already existed before the railways and so there was no need for the railways to stipulate a standard. But this is just a proposition. Perhaps someone else could prove it?
    The railroads of the Victoraian era in the UK did not need observatory rated chronometers
    by which to operate. The needs of ocean going vessels, Royal Navy or otherwise, were
    different to the nth degree and demanded time pieces which were an order of magnitude
    more accurate than the simple lever watches a guard on a train might carry.
    Tis true that the best makers in the major ports...London, liverpool, Southhampton etc
    produced chronometers but I doubt if any of these found their way onto early steam
    trains. Railway stations had clocks which would be set by telegraph signal and so the
    guard would be able to check his pocketwatch constantly throughout the day as
    they passed through stations.

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    Re: 1837 Brit RR Watch

    I think the Telegraph came later than 1835?

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