Family heirloom

Thread: Family heirloom

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  1. #1
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    Family heirloom

    I picked up this watch from my parents' this afternoon. It's been in the family for generations and I'd love to get it working again. I'd appreciate it if someone here could help with identification, as it's missing its balance bridge and I suspect there's issues with the mainspring as well. The number on the movement is 38391.

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    The only thing I've been able to find out about it so far is from what's on the case and that doesn't really help me with the movement. The case was made in 1888, by Albert Kemp in Birmingham.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Member Border-Reiver's Avatar
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    Re: Family heirloom

    A good start would be to supply an image of the inner side of the case with the hallmarks. What I can guess, more than see, is a lion (sterling silver) and an anchor (for Birmingham). To determine the date when the case was made (or hallmarked), the letter is important. I can't make this one out. It is very important to see that sharp and clear. The letters go through the alphabet in lower- and upper case version, different shapes, and different shields around. You might find hallmarks in other places, most likely also on the inner side of the outer lid (if there is one which I can't see either). Perhaps there are also initials, which could lead to identifying the case maker.

    The number on the movement doesn't help at all.

    I would guess it's a pointed tooth lever escapement (successor to the verge escapements) and the watch should be made before 1900, but the indentification of this letter on the case would make it possible to narrow that down.

    Another thing: You should be able to take the balance wheel with staff out with the bridge missing (you can leave it out if it has to be fixed anyway). A picture of this, and posibly an image from the side, to see more of the movement, would also be helpful.

    Very nice timepiece. I am always fascinated by these pocket watches and meanwhile, after decades of collecting, I could fill a household bucket with them. They were products of a mass market (for the rich of course) in their time, but what makes it special in your case is the fact, that it is a family heirloom.

    Hands are original, glass as well I presume. The dial is perfect and I hope the lids all close well. The silver case will look nice again when treated and polished. That's half the job already to get it restored. If nothing else is wrong with the movement, the missing bridge should be no mayor problem and the hair spring might still be long enough. My watchmaker can even fix/extend a hairspring by glueing things together or adding a piece in this way. I still don't know exactly how he does that and which technique he is using.
    Last edited by Border-Reiver; November 22nd, 2015 at 14:17.

  3. #3
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    Re: Family heirloom

    Thanks Border-Reiver. I'd already managed to date the case, see the bottom of my original post. :) Although it was made by Abraham Kemp, not Albert.

    I'll get some more pics of the inside when time permits. Apart from that missing bridge and the fact it badly needs a clean, it seems to be in pretty good condition.

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  5. #4
    Member Border-Reiver's Avatar
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    Re: Family heirloom

    Quote Originally Posted by SteveP64 View Post
    Thanks Border-Reiver. I'd already managed to date the case, see the bottom of my original post. :) Although it was made by Abraham Kemp, not Albert.

    I'll get some more pics of the inside when time permits. Apart from that missing bridge and the fact it badly needs a clean, it seems to be in pretty good condition.
    Sorry, have overlooked the text underneath the images.

    I guess, there is not much more that can be said in view of having this watch restored. The year of manufacture is what I have presumed, very late 19th century, last two decades, and it is a pointed tooth lever escapement. The cost should be within reason, especially seeing this as a family heirloom. You can leave in the balance wheel, as the escapement is identified. There is also no need anymore for more detailled images from the movement. Have a look inside and see if the chain is still there and unbroken. The power is transferred via chain and fusee. This gives a leverage effect to compensate for a constant reduction of the power of the mainspring as it relaxes. Today, this is not necessary anymore, amongst other things due to better materials used. If the chain is broken or missing, that would add to the cost of restoring. In any case, you have to find and see a good watchmaker and get an estimate. He can also find out if there is more to be done. Perhaps some Aussies here in the forum can be helpful in this case.

    What concerns the identification of the watch in view of the maker, I am afraid you won't get any further information. It is one of the many unsigned movements, put in a case, and you would have the name of the watchmaker engraved to get this additional information. So it's England, unknown watchmaker (most likely London), case by Abraham Kemp, sterling silver, hallmarked Birmingham 1888, pointed tooth escapement, key wind, chain and fusee, family owned, Brisbane Australia.
    Last edited by Border-Reiver; November 23rd, 2015 at 10:45.

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